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Praise the LORD!

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“Praise the LORD!” God’s love in giving us Praise Psalms.

Today we are going to continue and our study of Psalms in particular we'll be looking at praise songs. If you remember weeks ago Dennis opened this series with considering lament psalms. And we learned that the lament psalms have been given to us that we might learn to express emotions of The soul in a way that honors God and reminds us of his faithfulness.
Then on the following Sunday Paul opened up Psalm one so that we could get a glimpse of a wisdom psalm.
Today with Gods help I want to do four things
Explain the genre of praise Psalms
Show how the praise Psalm's functioned in the lives of the Old and New Testament Saints as well as the church down through the ages.
I want to demonstrate how the command given by God that we praise him reveals his supreme wisdom and and demonstrates his loving kindness
I want to show how the command that we praise God is an invitation to continually know him more.
Let’s look at
Psalm 103:1–2 ESV
1 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! 2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
Praise Psalms (or hymns as they often referred by) are easily recognized by their exuberant praise of the Lord. The psalmist pulls out all the stops in his rejoicing in God’s goodness. His praise is exuberant because the psalmist is very conscious of God’s presence.
There are many different types of Praise Psalms, but nearly all of them share a similar basic structure.
Praise Psalm structure
Begin with a call to worship the LORD.
They continue by expanding on the reasons why God should be praised.
Praise Psalms often include, and sometimes conclude with, further calls to praise.
A Call to Worship
So the psalmist begins the Praise Psalm with a call to worship. Usually this call is extended to other worshipers, but occasionally (as in Ps 103) it is a call to the psalmist himself to worship the Lord. So sometimes the Praise Psalm is a call to the congregation, in our corporate worship and sometimes it’s for an individual, in our private worship.
Many times a Praise Psalm will open with a simple command to “Praise the Lord!” which in Hebrew is the familiar Hallelu’ Yah. Such is the case in Psalm 113 and Psalms 146-150. Listen to the opening of these six Psalms
Psalm 113:1 ESV
1 Praise the Lord! Praise, O servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord!
Psalm 146:1 ESV
1 Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul!
Psalm 147:1 ESV
1 Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.
Psalm 148:1 ESV
1 Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights!
Psalm 149:1 ESV
1 Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly!
Psalm 150:1 ESV
1 Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens!
So, number one, Praise Psalms begin with a call to worship the LORD.
Number two, following the call to worship the LORD, we are told why the Lord is worthy to be praised. In the Praise Psalm this is the most significant part of the Psalm. God is to be praised for how he has dealt with his people. Primarily, how he saves them. It’s easy to spot the transition from the call to worship to the reason(s) for worship since most of the time the reasons for worship are introduced by a Hebrew word that most often is translated, ‘for’ or ‘because.’
Here’s
Psalm 92:1 ESV
1 It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
Psalm 92:4 ESV
4 For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy.
And…
Psalm 96:1 ESV
1 Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth!
Psalm 96:5 ESV
5 For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens.
The Psalms give varying reasons as the basis of praise such has extolling God as the Creator in Psalm 19:1-4
Psalm 19:1–4 ESV
1 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. 2 Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. 3 There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. 4 Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun,
Allow me to pause for one moment here and point out that although the Psalms do not teach biblical theology and doctrine, they do however give expression to biblical theology and doctrine. Just here in Ps. 19 we can that according to the word of God all people, tribes and tongues have evidence for a Creator that is to be worshiped. Now the apostle Paul likely has the truths expressed in Ps. 19 in mind when he wrote Romans 1:18-20.
Romans 1:18–20 ESV
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
More on how the Praise Psalms function in scripture in a moment.
Just as the Praise Psalms extol God as Creator they also praise God as King. We’ll hear about kingship Psalms in a few weeks, but for now listen to Psalm 47:5-6
Psalm 47:5–6 ESV
5 God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet. 6 Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
Finally, as far as structure goes, I said that the Praise Psalms have three parts and most of them do they do. This third part most often is an expansion on the reason for praise and conclude with this expansion.
So there’s the basic structure of Praise Psalms
Praise Psalm structure
Begin with a call to worship the LORD.
They continue by expanding on the reasons why God should be praised.
Praise Psalms often include, and sometimes conclude with, further calls to praise.

Write your own Praise Psalm.

We’ve spent some time understanding the structure of Praise Psalms but ‘what does it mean to praise God?’ and ‘why is it commanded that we praise God?

What does it mean to praise God?

243 times in the Old Testament Hallelujah or some form of Hallelujah gets translated praise, praises or praised or refers to singing praises.
When we include the New Testament equivalents, 272 times the word praise is used to communicate the senses or ideas of praise.
109 times praise is used in the sense of extolling the greatness of God or His works as an act of worship.
55 times its offering words of respect, honor, or admiration as an act of worship.
To praise God means to offer words of respect, honor, or admiration to Him in light of His greatness and/or the greatness of His works.
But what separates the praise of God from the praise of some other being. Since I could offer words of respect, honor, or admiration and so on… to a human that is deserving. Is there is any difference? My answer is, yes, and the praise psalms give us a clue.
When we spoke of the structure of the praise psalms we observed that the third part of the praise psalm is most often an expansion or even expounding of the reason for praise in part two. I believe it is in the expansion of the Praise Psalms that we discover God’s supreme praise worthiness over and above any man. Turn to Psalm 146.
Psalm 146 ESV
1 Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! 2 I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. 3 Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. 4 When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. 5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, 6 who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever; 7 who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free; 8 the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. 9 The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. 10 The Lord will reign forever, your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the Lord!
I hope you already see from Psalm 146 how a human is entirely different from God.
Now I know the you already knew that but someone new to the Christian faith might not. And certainly in ancient Israel it would have been important that the worshiper be reminded that Yahweh was not like the idols of other nations.
The praise of God is greater praise than the praise man because He is greater and only He can save. He is supremely greater. No, He is supremely, supreme in His greatness. How about this, He is supremely supreme in His supreme greatness? My is point is that praising God is not even remotely similar to praising men.
When we say that the praise of God should be exuberant praise we’re only getting started and the Praise Psalms demonstrate that time after time.
So then, perhaps a good working definition would be... To praise God is to supremely magnify His greatness with words and/or actions of respect, honor, adoration, or admiration for who He is and what He has done.
Now on to our next question.
Why are we commanded to praise God?
It is possible that the command to praise God escaped your notice. If it did then it is likely because of the sentimentalism with which we view the Psalms in general. When many think of the Psalms they immediately recall Psalm 23 and images of a gentle shepherd, tenderly watching over sheep come to mind. Or perhaps we think of one of the great Praise Psalms like Psalm 100, “Make a joyful noise to the Lord all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness…” and so on. So thinking of the Psalms as ‘arrestors of the human will’ might be new. Turn to Psalm 46
Psalm 46 ESV
To the choirmaster. Of the Sons of Korah. According to Alamoth. A Song. 1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah 4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. 5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. 6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. 7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah 8 Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. 10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” 11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
Psalm 46 is what some would call a ‘descriptive’ praise psalm. The Psalm describes God’s greatness and magnifies His presence with us and ability save us and restore peace. This Psalm is one that evokes or stirs up praise. It is calm, gentle, inviting and yet still a praise psalm. It is like a friend who has placed his/her hand on your shoulder and whispered, “Peace be still. Give God praise, He will deliver.” So then, here, the praise of God is drawn from of us. The praise of God is not less in this season of life it only has a different expression. Psalm 46 and others like it are gentle reminders of the command to praise.
This is not the case for Psalms 146-150. Turn to Psalm 148.
You see elements of the basic structure here and the imperative, the command to Praise the Lord opens the Psalm and it rings forth in its entirety. The reasons for praise are not found in this Psalm and that’s likely because the last five Psalms function as a doxological unit, a closing Praise, to the entire Psalter. But what you do find is the command to praise the Lord again and again.
You know many find all this insisting that God be praised offensive.
"When I first began to draw near to belief in God and even for some time after it had been given to me, I found a stumbling block in the demand so clamorously made by all religious people that we should 'praise' God; still more in the suggestion that God Himself demanded it. We all despise the man who demands continued assurance of his own virtue, intelligence or delightfulness; we despise still more the crowd of people round every dictator, every millionaire, every celebrity, who gratify that demand. Thus a picture, at once ludicrous and horrible, both of God and His worshippers, threatened to appear in my mind. The Psalms were especially troublesome in this way ---'Praise the Lord,' 'O praise the Lord with me,' 'Praise Him.' . . . Worse still was the statement put into God's own mouth, 'whoso offereth me thanks and praise, he honoureth me' (Psalm 50:23). It was hideously like saying, 'What I most want is to be told that I am good and great.'... [Furthermore], more than once the Psalmists seemed to be saying, 'You like praise. Do this for me, and you shall have some.' Thus in [Ps.] 54 the poet begins 'save me' (1), and in verse 6 adds an inducement, 'An offering of a free heart will I give thee, and praise thy Name.' Again and again the speaker asks to be saved from death on the ground that if God lets His suppliants die He will get no more praise from them, for the ghosts in Sheol cannot praise ([Pss.] 30M10; 88M10; 119M175). And mere quantity of praise seemed to count; 'seven times a day do I praise thee' (119M164). It was extremely distressing. It made one think what one least wanted to think. Gratitude to God, reverence to Him, obedience to Him, I thought I could understand; not this perpetual eulogy. . . .
[Part of my initial problem is that] I did not see that it is in the process of being worshipped that God communicates His presence to men. It is not of course the only way. But for many people at many times the 'fair beauty of the Lord' is revealed chiefly or only while they worship Him together. Even in Judaism the essence of the sacrifice was not really that men gave bulls and goats to God, but that by their so doing God gave Himself to men; in the central act of our own worship of course this is far clearer --- there it is manifestly, even physically, God who gives and we who receive. The miserable idea that God should in any sense need, or crave for, our worship like a vain woman wanting compliments, or a vain author presenting his new books to people who never met or heard him, is implicitly answered by the words, 'If I be hungry I will not tell thee' (50M12). Even if such an absurd Deity could be conceived, He would hardly come to us, the lowest of rational creatures, to gratify His appetite. I don't want my dog to bark approval of my books[!].
But the most obvious fact about praise --- whether of God or anything --- strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honour. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise unless . . . shyness or the fear of boring others is deliberately brought in to check it. The world rings with praise --- lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favourite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favourite game --- praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars. . . . Except where intolerably adverse circumstances interfere, praise almost seems to be inner health made audible. . . . I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: 'Isn't she lovely? Wasn't it glorious? Don't you think that magnificent?' The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about. My whole, more general, difficulty about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can't help doing, about everything else we value.
I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and not to be able to tell anyone how good he is; to come suddenly, at the turn of the road, upon some mountain valley of unexpected grandeur and then to have to keep silent because the people with you care for it no more than for a tin can in the ditch; to hear a good joke and find no one to share it with....
If it were possible for a created soul fully . . . to 'appreciate', that is to love and delight in, the worthiest object of all, and simultaneously at every moment to give this delight perfect expression, then that soul would be in supreme beatitude. . . . To see what the doctrine really means, we must suppose ourselves to be in perfect love with God --- drunk with, drowned in, dissolved by, that delight which, far from remaining pent up within ourselves as incommunicable, hence hardly tolerable, bliss, flows out from us incessantly again in effortless and perfect expression, our joy is no more separable from the praise in which it liberates and utters itself than the brightness a mirror receives is separable from the brightness it sheds. The Scotch catechism says that man's chief end is 'to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.' But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him" (C.S. Lewis, Reflections in the Psalms, pp. 90-98).
Wherever He is worshiped he is present
Hebrews 13:15 (ESV)
15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.
Psalm 150 ESV
1 Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! 2 Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! 3 Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! 4 Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! 5 Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! 6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
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