Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.
Psalm 150:1-3, Psalm 150:6
I. Consider the nature of praise. (1) From such passages as Isaiah 6:1-3, Revelation 4:8, Revelation 14:1-3, we collect with certainty thus much: that praise is the main element of the homage of saints and angels in the eternal world. And indeed it is difficult to imagine what besides it could be. The worship which created beings render to the Almighty is divisible into two acts: prayer and praise. But from the nature of the case the spirits of the blessed can hardly be considered as having occasion for the former. With the necessities of the saints, their prayers, as far as regards themselves, must have an end; but, on the contrary, the passing away of these necessities will itself minister occasion for the commencement of an unbroken service of praise. From the simple fact that prayer is the religious exercise of those still in the flesh, and praise the employment of the redeemed from among men, we seem at once to deduce the greater nobility of praise itself. (2) The perfection of praise is not found in thanksgiving. We are to thank God not for what He has done for us, but for what He is. Praise is the travelling forth of the mind into the depths of the Divine nature; it is the folding of the mantle around us, so as to shut out the visible creation, and to be alive only to the sense of the uncreated Majesty.
II. Consider the application of music to the purposes of praise. (1) Whatever has a tendency to withdraw the mind from care must promote in a measure the disposition required for praise. (2) All along God has recognised the principle of making religion a visible, tangible thing. Adam possessed in paradise a perfect nature, and what was his religion? Essentially a sacramental one. He was to refrain from the fruit of one tree and systematically eat of another to secure his immortality. If ever outward rites could be dispensed with, surely they might have been in paradise, with the creature so elevated and God so near; and yet even there an outward sign was made to accompany inward grace. Just in the same way with music as a help to praise. We grant that the mind which without extrinsic aid can rise to the level of this great employment is more angelic than that which must be stimulated by luxury of sound; but are we therefore to neglect a means which God has furnished of elevating the weak, and warming the cold, and carrying away, in spite of itself, the earthly heart?
Bishop Woodford, Sermons in Various Churches, p. 283.
Psalm 150:6Consider in what praise consists, what are its elements, or rather from what source it flows.
I. It arises from a consciousness of blessings already received, as, for example, the gift of regeneration, the grace of conversion, the spirit of repentance, the spiritual food of the body and blood of Christ, and the numberless, and therefore nameless, blessings and gifts of this world and the next, both for the body and for the soul, of which our life is full. The spirit of conscious gratitude consists in a watchful, minute attention to the particulars of our state, and to the multitude of God's gifts, taken one by one. It fills us with a consciousness that God loves and cares for us, even to the least event and smallest need of life; and that we actually have received, and do now possess as our own, gifts which come direct from God.
II. Another source of praise is a sense of our own unworthiness. To receive blessings as if they were no more than we might expect betrays a strange unconsciousness of what we are, and of what they imply. Every blessing is to us as the ring and the best robe which were given to the prodigal: a token of forgiveness and fatherly compassion. The more conscious we are of our unworthiness, the larger will God's gifts appear, the more full of all kinds of sweetness. It is this that fills the humble with such especial joy.
III. This sense of unworthiness opens another, and that the highest, source of praise: the pure love of God. The pure love of God is to love Him as He loves us, freely, because He is love. God is the desired end of love, as the running brook is of thirst. Here is the true fountain of praise and worship, love ascending out of self to rejoice in God. This is the meaning of the psalmist. Let all created life bow itself before the majesty of God, before the beauty of holiness, the glory of uncreated love. "Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord." (1) Praise is a sacrifice most acceptable in the sight of God. (2) Praise is most blessed for us. To live in a spirit of praise is to live a life as near to heaven as earth can be.
H. E. Manning, Sermons, vol. iii., p. 276.
References: Psalm 150:6.—Bishop Ryle, Homiletic Magazine, vol. ix., p. 1; A. W. Hare, The Alton Sermons, p. 371.
Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.
Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.