Each of these psalms begin and end with the phrase, “Praise the LORD.” It is the English translation of a Hebrew word we are familiar with, “Hallelujah”. If you’re reading the King James Version of the Bible, you’ll notice “Hallelujah” starts and finishes all of these psalms. The “hallelu” part means “praise to”. The “Jah” (pronounced “Yah”) portion of the word refers to the personal name of God, Yahweh. And this is perfectly proper for psalms whose major themes are singing about the praises and majesty of God.
His name alone is exalted (Psalm 148:13) — As you read through this psalm, you may find the words and phrases familiar; there is a fairly well known hymn “Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah” based directly on this psalm — in fact, one hymnal I’ve used in the past deliberately gave it the number 148. Anyway, as this psalm calls on all the created world — animate and inanimate — it begins to wind things up with the statement that His name alone is exalted. And indeed, there may be plenty of titles given among men: “Your honor”, “Your majesty”, “Your excellency”, “Mr. President”, and others that ramble on like “Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the State of Vatican City, Servant of the Servants of God”, or “Queen Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God Queen of this Realm and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.” But despite the exalted titles, there is only one name that is truly exalted, the LORD, whose glory is above earth and heaven.
A victory psalm (Psalm 149) — Its easy to imagine that this psalm would be used as a song of praise and celebration upon achievement of a victory over Israel’s enemies. “Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, And a two-edged sword in their hand, To execute vengeance on the nations And punishment on the peoples, To bind their kings with chains And their nobles with fetters of iron, To execute on them the judgment written; This is an honor for all His godly ones. Praise the LORD!” It might be a little challenging to imagine how Christians might apply this psalm to their lives, but it does remind me of Paul’s triumphant and even aggressive exclamation, “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,” 2 Corinthians 10:5, NAS95. We continue to be at war, a spiritual war — “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12, NAS95. And indeed it is an honor to be engaged in such a warfare; are you engaged?
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD (Psalm 150) — You know, sometimes passages in the Bible don’t need too much elaboration. This just might be one of them. And what a wonderful way to end the book of Psalms.
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.