12th Sunday after Trinity 8am
St Barbara’s 08.09.2019
Rev Tulo Raistrick
Today we begin a new series, a series on the Psalms. The psalms is an amazing songbook and poetry book, expressing people’s heartfelt worship and prayer to God. Written between 2,500 to 3,000 years ago they still remain relevant and full of truth to this day.
There are 150 psalms in the Bible and today we are going to look at the very last one – Psalm 150.
If you watch TV or listen to radio programmes, you’ll find many games shows and comedies use catchphrases. In fact, they repeat their phrases so often, you’ll remember them long after you’ve forgotten the programme itself. Which of these catchphrases can you complete:
Anne Robinson on a BBC quiz used to say: “You are the… (weakest link. Goodbye)
Victor Meldrew in One Foot in the Grave: “I don’t… (believe it)”
The Two Ronnies: “Goodnight from… me and it’s goodnight from him. Goodnight!)
Bruce Forsyth in The Generation Game: “Nice to… (see you; to see you, nice”)
Craig Revel Horwood on Strictly Come Dancing: “Three words, darling… Fab U lous!
Del Boy in Only Fools and Horses: “Lovely… jubbly”
Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story: “To infinity… and beyond”
The last five Psalms in the Book of Psalms all start and end with the same word, or catchphrase: “Hallelujah”. In fact they’ve become known as the Hallelujah Psalms. Hallelujah means “Praise God” or “Praise the Lord”. Each one of these final five psalms is a wonderful hymn of praise to God. They are still used in Jewish daily worship to this day.
Listen to them:
Read Psalm 146:1-2, 5-10
Read Psalm 147:1,3-7
Read Psalm 148: 1-13
Read Psalm 149: 1,3-5
That catchphrase, “Praise the Lord”, may seem at times a little bit trite, a bit too simplistic, a bit out of touch with the difficulties and challenges of life.
But as we will find out over the next few weeks as we read the Psalms together, we will find that the psalms wrestle with all kinds of emotions and situations, from true joy and elation to desperation to grief and sadness. We’ll read prayers of intimacy, prayers of doubt; prayers crying out for justice for the poor; prayers crying out for deliverance from illness or from ones enemies; prayers of trust in God when times are hard; prayers acknowledging failure and asking for forgiveness. The psalms cover the whole range of human emotion.
And if you were to read the Psalms in order, from 1 to 150, you may begin to spot a subtle shift. At the beginning, most of the Psalms are laments – psalms crying out to God, complaining, pleading with him to fix things. By the end of the Book of Psalms, most of the psalms are psalms of praise. Its not that bad things, difficult things, no longer happen. Its just that the Psalmists have come to a recognition that we are to praise God for who he is, whatever our situation.
And hence the catchphrase – Hallelujah!
In Psalm 150, the psalmist lists a whole range of instruments to be used in worship of God – trumpets, harps, lyres, tambourines, strings, flutes, and cymbals.
But its not just every musical instrument that should be used to praise God. Its everything.
The Psalmist cries out: Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Whatever has life, should praise God.
It is the purpose of all life; its what we exist to do, to praise God.
It is nature’s purpose – to reflect the beauty and the wonder of God; it is our purpose – through the way we live our lives, through what we say, what we do, what we think, to live lives that praise God – that thank him for his goodness, that acknowledge our need of him, that look to give him praise, to do things not for our benefit but for his glory.
Praising God is the purpose of all life, and so the catchphrase “Hallelujah – praise the Lord” is the perfect conclusion to 150 psalms of depth, honesty, faith, doubt, helplessness, pleading, intercession, thanksgiving and trust.
As we begin our series on the psalms, it is helpful to see where we will be ending up: with that wonderful encouragement: “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord”
There may be times when you don’t feel like doing so; there may be times when for good reason or for no reason we feel irritable, grumpy, frustrated, sad, depressed. But the psalmists words still apply: Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. May our lives be a Hallelujah this day.