A Universal Hymn of Praise

Bible Book: Psalms  150 : 1-6
Subject: Praise
Series: Psalms - Kirksey

“A Universal Hymn of Praise” is an appropriate title for Psalm 150. Dr. John Ker (1819-1886) shares in his Psalms in History and Biography, “This last Psalm is the great Hallelujah, the triumphant acclaim to Him Who hath gotten the victory, after the manifold sorrows and conflicts through which the Church of God and the believing soul have passed. The temple thrills and throbs with the burst of gladness, as all the powers of man, and all creatures in the universe are summoned to aid the song. It seems as if this were the very summit and climax of the praise that can ascend to God, the loftiest wave of many waters that break at the foot of His throne, and yet it yields to that joy of which the Apostle speaks is ‘unspeakable and full of glory.’”[1] That is a good introduction to this psalm! Rev. Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) gives another one in The Treasury of David. Here he explains, “We have now reached the last summit of the mountain chain of Psalms. It rises high in the clear azure, and its brow is bathed in the sunlight of the eternal world of worship. It is a rapture. The poet-prophet is full of inspiration and enthusiasm. He stays not to argue, to teach, to explain; but cries with burning words, “Praise Him, Praise Him, Praise ye the LORD.”[2]

From Psalm 150 we read, “Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary; / Praise Him in His mighty firmament! 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 lute and harp! Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; / Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes! Praise Him with loud cymbals; / Praise Him with clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!”

Allow me to share some elements of this psalm.

I. The Music with Praise

Dr. Martin Luther (1483-1546) stated, "WHOEVER despises music, as all fanatics do, with him I am not content. For music is a gift of God, not of man. It drives away the devil and makes people joyful. Through music one forgets all anger, impurity, pride, and other vices. Next to Theology I give to music the highest place and honor. And we see how David and all the Saints have wrought their godly thoughts into verse, rhyme, and song, quia pacis tempore regnat musica (for music reigns in times of peace)."[3]

Not all “music” praises the living and true God. Some “music” is “earthly, sensual and demonic” (James 3:15) according to the wisdom of the god of this age. Regardless of the lyrics, some “music” is not worthy of the One who is our God. This should come as no surprise. From Ezekiel 28:11-19 we read, “Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre, and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord God: ‘You were the seal of perfection, / Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; / Every precious stone was your covering: The sardius, topaz, and diamond, / Beryl, onyx, and jasper, / Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes / Was prepared for you on the day you were created. ‘You were the anointed cherub who covers; / I established you; / You were on the holy mountain of God; / You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, / Till iniquity was found in you. ‘By the abundance of your trading / You became filled with violence within, / And you sinned; / Therefore I cast you as a profane thing / Out of the mountain of God; / And I destroyed you, O covering cherub, / From the midst of the fiery stones. ‘Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; / You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; / I cast you to the ground, / I laid you before kings, / That they might gaze at you. ‘You defiled your sanctuaries / By the multitude of your iniquities, / By the iniquity of your trading; / Therefore I brought fire from your midst; / It devoured you, / And I turned you to ashes upon the earth / In the sight of all who saw you. All who knew you among the peoples are astonished at you; / You have become a horror, / And shall be no more forever.’”

The “king of Tyre” obviously represents that serpent of old, known as, Lucifer, Satan, and the devil. Remember Lucifer led the worship of the Most High God in heaven. “The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes” refers to his musical ability as “the anointed cherub who covers”. Not only is Satan a master musician, he is a master manipulator and misleader of men and angels. God created Lucifer, who became the devil by his iniquity and the sin of pride. We read in Isaiah 14:12-15, “How you are fallen from heaven, / O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, / You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; / I will also sit on the mount of the congregation / On the farthest sides of the north; / I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, / I will be like the Most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, / To the lowest depths of the Pit.” Dr. Luke records in Luke 10; 18, “And [Jesus] said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” Lucifer, also known as, “a fiery red dragon” in Revelation 12:3. From Revelation 12:4a we read, “His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth.” The phrase “a third of the stars of heaven” refers to one third of the angelic host who followed Lucifer in rebellion.

From Psalm 150:1a and 6b we read, “Praise the Lord!” This is the music of praise also highlighted in Revelation 5:8-10; 14:1-2; 15:2-4, where we read, “Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll, / And to open its seals; / For You were slain, / And have redeemed us to God by Your blood / Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, / And have made us kings and priests to our God; / And we shall reign on the earth. . . Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth. . . And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God. They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying: ‘Great and marvelous are Your works, / Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, / O King of the saints! Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, / For Your judgments have been manifested.”

II. The Mission through Praise

In Psalm 150:1b we read, “Praise God in His sanctuary; / Praise Him in His mighty firmament!” The mission of praise is worship of the living and true God. This is true whether “in His sanctuary” or “in His mighty firmament”. We should not sing praises just because we like the music, but because we desire to praise Him who alone is worthy of our worship. It is an act of worship or it is just an act of hypocrisy.

Remember, it is not worship unless it is “in spirit and truth”, according to Jesus. From John 4:23-24 we read, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Dr. Vance Havner (1901-1986) laments, “We spend much of our time in church these days trying to work up what is not there. Song leaders try to create a joy the singers do not really feel. Church workers try to create an enthusiasm, a spirit of giving, a love for souls, a zeal for God’s house that does not exist. In our desperation we arouse a simulated interest and we become play-actors, pretending what only the Holy Spirit can produce and maintain.”[4]

Without the Holy Spirit we cannot properly worship God. Cain attempted to worship God his way and it not accepted (Genesis 4:1-15). When we try to worship God our way, he does not accept it either.

From Exodus 32:17-24 we read, “And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, ‘There is a noise of war in the camp.’ But he said:

‘It is not the noise of the shout of victory, / Nor the noise of the cry of defeat, / But the sound of singing I hear.’ So it was, as soon as he came near the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing. So Moses’ anger became hot, and he cast the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. Then he took the calf which they had made, burned it in the fire, and ground it to powder; and he scattered it on the water and made the children of Israel drink it. And Moses said to Aaron, ‘What did this people do to you that you have brought so great a sin upon them?’ So Aaron said, ‘Do not let the anger of my lord become hot. You know the people, that they are set on evil. For they said to me, ‘Make us gods that shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ And I said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold, let them break it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I cast it into the fire, and this calf came out.’”

There is a tendency toward idolatry in worship. However, they were without excuse as we read in Exodus 20:1-6, “And God spoke all these words, saying: ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. ‘You shall have no other gods before Me. ‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”

John closes his first epistle with these words recorded in 1 John 5:21, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.”

III. The Motive for Praise

We read in Psalm 150:2, “Praise Him for His mighty acts; / Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!”

Rev. Charles Haddon Spurgeon suggests, “There is nothing little about God, and there is nothing great apart from him. If we were always careful to make our worship fit and appropriate for our great Lord how much better should we sing! How much more reverently should we adore!”[5]

IV. The Method of Praise

From Psalm 150:3-5 we read, “Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet; / Praise Him with the lute and harp! Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; / Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes! Praise Him with loud cymbals; / Praise Him with clashing cymbals!”

Rev. H. Elderkin shares the following on “THE USE OF INSTRUMENTS”, “Any musician, apart altogether from questions of moral qualifications and religious fitness, can ‘play’: only a worshipper can ‘praise.’ Whether, then, the instrument be an organ or a harp, a violin or a trumpet, it must become a medium between the soul and God.”[6]

An unknown author shares, “There was once a Shakespearean actor who was known everywhere for his one-man shows of readings and recitations from the classics. He would always end his performance with a dramatic reading of Psalm 23.

Each night, without exception, as the actor began his recitation – ‘The
Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want’…the crowd would listen attentively.
And then, at the conclusion of the Psalm, they would rise in thunderous
applause in appreciation of the actor's incredible ability to bring the
verse to life.

But one night, just before the actor was to offer his customary recital of
Psalm 23, a young man from the audience spoke up. ‘Sir, do you mind if
tonight I recite Psalm 23?’ The actor was quite taken back by this unusual
request, but he allowed the young man to come forward and stand front and
center on the stage to recite the Psalm, knowing that the ability of this
unskilled youth would be no match for his own talent.

With a soft voice, the young man began to recite the words of the Psalm.
When he was finished, there was no applause. There was no standing ovation
as on other nights. All that could be heard was the sound of weeping. The
audience had been so moved by the young man's recitation that every eye was
full of tears. Amazed by what he had heard, the actor said to the youth, ‘I
don't understand. I have been performing Psalm 23 for years. I have a
lifetime of experience and training - but I have never been able to move an
audience as you have tonight. Tell me, what is your secret?’

The young man quietly replied, ‘Well sir, you know the Psalm...I know the

On the phrase “Praise Him with the timbrel and dance”, Dr. Henry M. Morris (1918-2006) explains, “This will not be sensuous dancing, of course, but dancing which is appropriate as a testimony to the glory and grace of God.”[8]

Dr. Richard C. Halverson (1916-1995), former Chaplain of the United States Senate, shares the following in The Timelessness of Jesus Christ: His Relevance in Today’s World, “Another news item in the magazine reported that the Judson Memorial Baptist Church in New York’s Greenwich Village had a dance program which included a number in which a man and woman, both naked, moved across the stage in face to face embrace!” Dr. Halverson comments, “There is no mystery about the popularity of modern pornography and obscenity. Pleasure in such things is consistent with the Godless existentialism.”[9]

When almost anything goes in worship, everything goes including the clothes! Some tell us worship should be fun. There is nothing in the Bible to support that theory. Worship must be according to God’s Word or it is unacceptable. While there can be great pleasure in worship, some aspects of worship are painful. Discipline in necessary to properly worship the living and true God.

V. The Mandate to Praise

In Psalm 150:6 we read, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord!” Here we see “THE INCLUSION OF ALL” as Rev. H. Elderkin explains, "Let every breath you breathe praise the Lord." Rev. Elderkin continues, “Thus rendered, it is not an extensive appeal addressed to the universe, including birds, animals, insects, fish; so much as an intensive appeal addressed to the audience already in mind. The thought is climatic. Breathing, with its double function, is to become symbolic of prayer and praise. By every inspiration we are to take in more than breath, viz. the oxygenized air of the Divine presence; and by every expiration we are to give out more than breath, viz. the thought and feeling of the very soul. A worshipper may say when thinking of the service of praise and his own limitations, ‘I cannot sing, nor can I play, and speech is inadmissible.’ ‘Granted,’ replies the psalmist, ‘but you can breathe: let that exercise become a medium between you and God. If the vocal and the instrumental be denied you, the inspirational is not."[10]

Rev. Herbert Lockyer, Jr., shares in All The Music of the Bible, “While the entire text of Ps. 150 may have served as the doxology for the Psalter as a whole, Ps. 150:6 probably functioned as the conclusion for the book.”[11]

As we fast forward to Revelation 5:11-14 we read, “Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain / To receive power and riches and wisdom, / And strength and honor and glory and blessing!’ And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: ‘Blessing and honor and glory and power / Be to Him who sits on the throne, / And to the Lamb, forever and ever!’ Then the four living creatures said, / ‘Amen!’ And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.” What a day that will be!


Growing up in Memorial Baptist Church in Citronelle, Alabama, I remember singing the hymn by Fanny Jane Crosby (1820-1915), “Praise Him! praise Him! Jesus, our blessed Redeemer, / Heavenly portals, loud with hosannahs ring! Jesus, Savior, reigneth for ever and ever; / Crown Him! crown Him! Prophet and Priest and King!”[12] This hymn published in 1869 demonstrates that Baptists have been people of praise for many years. We are also a people of the Book, the Bible. We do not believe in giving ourselves over to some “unseen power”, but we do believe in giving ourselves over to the Holy Spirit. When we do He will control us as alcohol controls a drunkard (Ephesians 5:18). He controls what we think, say and do. Only by the Holy Spirit can anyone say that Jesus Christ is Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3). Only by the Holy Spirit can we think God’s thoughts after Him. Only by the Holy Spirit can we do what pleases God.

What a blessing is Psalm 150! It is truly “a universal hymn of praise”.


[1]John Ker, Psalms in History and Biography (Edinburgh: Andrew Elliot, 1886), p. 175

[2]Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Treasury of David: Spurgeon's Classic Work on the Psalms: Abridged in One Volume, Abridged by David Otis Fuller, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1968, 1976), p. 686

[3]Martin Luther, Watchwords for the Warfare of Life From Dr. Martin Luther, (New York: M. W. Dodd, 1869), pp. 239-240

[4]Vance Havner, Pepper ‘n Salt, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1966), p. 106

[5]Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, Vol. 3., (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1876), p. 463

[6]H. Elderkin, “A Psalm Study”, Sermon Notes, (Psalm 150:1-6), Available from: http://ibiblestudies.com/auth/elderkin/a_psalm_study.htm Accessed: 01/06/13

[7]Author Unknown, “I Know the Shepherd”, Available from: http://www.godswork.org/emailmessage446.htm Accessed: 01/06/13

[8]Henry M. Morris, Sampling the Psalms (El Cajon, CA: Master Books, 1991), p. 269

[9]Richard C. Halverson, The Timelessness of Jesus Christ: His Relevance in Today’s World (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1982), p. 35, [This information originally appeared in Christianity Today, April 23, 1965, and was part of sermon by Dr. Richard C. Halverson on May 2, 1965, at the Fourth Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C.

[10]H. Elderkin, “A Psalm Study”, Sermon Notes, (Psalm 150:1-6), Available from: http://ibiblestudies.com/auth/elderkin/a_psalm_study.htm Accessed: 01/06/13

[11]Rev. Herbert Lockyer, Jr., All The Music of the Bible: An Exploration of Music Expression in Scripture and Church Hymnody, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2004), p. 86

[12]Fanny Jane Crosby, “Praise Him! Praise Him!”, (1869)Available from: http://www.hymnal.net/hymn.php/h/235#ixzz2HEInnJCB Accessed: 01/06/13

By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice Available on Amazon.com and WORDsearchbible.com



fkirksey@bellsouth.net / (251) 626-6210 / © January 6, 2013 All Rights Reserved