“Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.” (Psa. 150:1-6)
As a “praise/worship leader” in a contemporary church setting, Psalm 150 is one of my go-to Scriptures for reminding people that God not only created us to praise Him with music, instruments, and dancing, but that He EXPECTS us to do so! Forewarning, this may end up being more of a rant than anything since this topic is near and dear to me. 😉
Before I share my thoughts, I want to give the caveat that this is largely a “non-essential to salvation” matter, meaning it’s not a critical component of one’s salvation or necessarily even one’s level of faith. This is merely my response to reading God’s Word, recognizing biblical patterns of praising God, and sharing my heart’s desire that all children of God have the freedom to express praise in the way that I believe God originally intended us to.
I know that people have different ways of expressing their praise to God and some people are more naturally “reserved” or “shy” or “quiet” than others. Some people may chalk it up to personality, some to personal preference, and others to culture or upbringing. These may all be valid reasons as to why our default mode of expression leans one way or the other, but that doesn’t mean that it was the way God originally designed us, nor the rest of creation, to praise. It also doesn’t mean that we have to stay that way.
This passage (as well as many others in the Bible), are a clear indication that we are to sing and praise Him with JOY, gladness, and triumphant sound! Our praise shouldn’t be limited to what we hear in our own heads or “feel in our own hearts”, but our praise is to manifest into a palpable and evident expression of worship! It’s similar to faith being evident by genuine fruit. Even in heaven, many passages reveal that the angels, elders, and heavenly creatures are continuously engaging in praise, falling to their faces worshipping, crying out in loud voices of adoration and awe, praising with the song of the Lamb. How magnificent would it be to praise God on earth, in the same way that we will praise Him in heaven?
In my opinion (which may not be popular), you can’t just completely ignore these types of passages and say, “Well I’m gonna praise God my own way, because I just don’t do all that singing and clapping and raising hands and dancing. That’s just not me, so I ain’t gonna do it. Anyway, God knows my heart, that’s all that matters!”
To me, and again this is just likely my unpopular opinion, but to me I truly believe that attitude may come from one or a combination of things: self-conscious emotions, worldly influence, lack of surrender, or lack of acknowledgment of who God is and what He deserves. It’s true that God does know our hearts, so He also knows why we choose to praise Him the way we do.
I feel licensed to say this because when I first started to attend church many years ago, I WAS the guy who was completely self-conscious and didn’t want to look “uncool” and be like those people who were “acting a fool” in church. I cringed at the feeling of letting go, and my mind played tricks on me and I would feel the eyes of others burning into me as I attempted to more openly praise. But thank God that He tore down my pride and self-consciousness, and that I have been freed by His Spirit to praise Him as He deserves and as He calls me to!
“Self-conscious emotions, such as guilt, shame, embarrassment, hubris, and pride, are emotions that relate to our sense of self and our consciousness of others’ reactions to us.” (Wikipedia) These emotions put the focus on ourselves and what others think of us, rather than putting our focus on God and what He calls us to do in obedience.
Psalm 150 doesn’t say “Praise the Lord with singing, dancing, and instruments WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE IT.” No, it says to praise Him in this way PERIOD- meaning DESPITE the way you feel that day, DESPITE what your circumstances look like, and DESPITE what others around you may think.
And guess what? Doing things that the Lord calls us to, even when it goes against what our flesh wants to do- that’s called OBEDIENCE. And we all know that the Lord calls us to obedience to Him in all things!
This may be a touchy subject for some, but I think it’s an important subject. We must remember that God created us for HIS glory and not our own. We were created to worship HIM and to praise HIM. If we can grasp that foundational truth, then it shouldn’t matter how we feel or what others think, because the praise is for HIM and not for ourselves or those around us. Failing to give Him the praise that He deserves likely means we are more focused on ourselves than Him.
Brothers and sisters, the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. (2 Cor. 3:17) If you don’t yet have the freedom to worship and praise Him the way He calls us to, it’s never too late. Ask God to bring you to a place of full surrender in your life, and to break you free from the chains of guilt, shame, embarrassment, hubris, and pride.
I have no doubt that if you sincerely want to give Him biblically-modeled expression of praise, that He will free you and give it to you. How do I know? Because He did that for me! Thank you Lord!
“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.” (Psa. 150:6)
[From November 30, 2018]