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Author:Rev. Sjirk Bajema
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Congregation:The Reformed Church of Oamaru
 Oamaru, New Zealand
Preached At:Reformed Church of Mangere
 South Auckland, New Zealand
Title:True Praise Is Pulling Out All The Stops!
Text:Psalms 150 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

(Reading: Revelation 5)
True Praise Is Pulling Out All The Stops!
Congregation in our Lord Jesus Christ...
     The divine organist further increases the crescendo.
          The tremendous climax draws near.
              Truly this is a fortissimo!
                   The most majestic, imposing, and grandeur-filled finale breaks through!
     The stops are all quickly being pulled out.
          The tension in the musician’s fingers is at its most agitated.
              The atmosphere is electrifying!
     The Psalm collection is being brought to a triumphant and earth-shattering end.
          The concluding joyous theme begun in Psalm 146 reaches its absolute peak!
     For haven’t these last five psalms really brought that home?
          “Praise the LORD,” they all begin.
              “Praise the LORD,” they all end.
                   And all that they say in-between so powerfully enforces that “Hallelujah.”
     But there is often something else that occurs in the concluding piece of a musical performance.
          The music and lyrics become louder - true.
     Listen further, though.
          What do you often notice?
              This is the music and these are lyrics you have heard before.
                   The culmination here of all these psalms of praise is a repetition of all these psalms of praise!
     The musical term they use for this is ‘reprise’.
          The strands of the theme become tied together in a way that it’s clear now everything comes together!
     This is what happens with this very last psalm also.
          It reprises what has been sung of in the previous four psalms.
              And it does that in a way that there’s no way you don’t get what it’s all about!
     I mean, how could you miss it?
          This psalm not only begins and ends like the rest with “Praise the LORD,” it also says it another eleven times in-between!
              Every single line in this poem says “Praise the LORD!”
                   The same word, “praise,” is used thirteen times.
     Do you think you would miss the point of this psalm?
          What’s it about?
              Praise the Lord!
     Even with it being so wrapped up in this word, however, this is still a true psalm.
          It is no mindless chorus which you keep on saying or singing until you’re lost in some trance-like state!
     This is shown in the different parts of this psalm.
          In fact, in a quite succinct way we meet here the essential characteristics of true worship.
              It’s as though the psalmist wraps it all up by wrapping it up!
     And so we come to the first one of these attributes in verse 1.
     “Praise God in his sanctuary,” the psalm begins.
          “Praise him in his mighty heavens,” it adds.
     The “sanctuary” refers to the Holy of Holies in God’s earthly shrine.
          The call goes to God’s earthly worshippers to meet Him at His appointed place.
     This is the place where the God of unapproachable holiness has appointed a sacrifice through which sins may be forgiven.
          Here is the way sinners can come righteous before Him.
     This theme flows well from Psalm 149.
          Here is the glory of all His saints verse 9 there concludes with.
              For they are meeting in worship of God.
     Note the name used here.
          In the Hebrew it is ‘El’ – the one only all-powerful God.
              They come praising the ‘strong one’ in His holy place.
     It’s what we do now as part of Christ’s Church.
          For Jesus Christ Himself fulfilled all that the earthly sanctuary looked forward to.
              Mark 13 verse 38 tells of how in His death He tore the curtain separating the Holy of Holies.
     Hebrews 9 verse 24 brings home how much more glorious the sanctuary is in Christ.

          It says, “For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence.”


     That’s why it is here right now, and amongst so many other thousands of thousands of congregations across the earth today, that true praise is being offered up.

          With reverence and awe we meet Him.
     Then, together with what’s being offered from all over here below, there is the praise He constantly receives up above!
          “Praise him in his mighty heavens,” the psalmist calls to the heavenly hosts.
              Earth and heaven can be completely united in this.
                   In the words of Derek Kidner, “His glory fills the universe; His praise must do no less.”
     Then following the ‘where’ of true praise, the psalmist goes on to address the reason for true praise.
          In the words of a second aspect to this psalm, this is THE REPRISE OF ‘WHY’ YOU TRULY PRAISE.
     You see, verse 2 in exhorting us to “praise him for his acts of power” lays before us God Himself.
          I mean, you show what you’re really like in what you do.
              So how much don’t we see the Lord in all He does?
     And because all His works are good and true what else can you do but praise Him?
          His deeds of creation and providence and redemption call for our adulation.
              Indeed, there’s not one single action He does which doesn’t summon our veneration!
     The people first singing this psalm may well have just experienced God’s act of power in their deliverance.
          They had been saved.
              And that being saved reminds them and us of how God sovereignly rules over all circumstances and directions.
     Don’t we see that even more clearly this side of the Cross?
          There God’s power was shown in the most ultimate way.
     The second line in verse 2 brings that home all the more.
          Praising Him for His surpassing greatness shifts us from recognising what He does to seeing who He is.
     Charles Spurgeon says of this phrase, “His being is unlimited and his praise should correspond therewith.
          “He possesses a multitude or a plenitude of greatness, and therefore he should be greatly praised.
              “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!
              “Such excellent deeds should have excellent praise.”
     Congregation, true worship comes from the worthiness of God – not the needs of man.
          This is the answer to those who would say it doesn’t matter what you believe – it’s only important that you believe.
              Because that’s saying the object of worship isn’t significant, only that you do worship in some way.
     So, what do we see in so much of modern worship?
          There’s that loss of the sense of majesty.
              People are not coming in fear and trembling any more.
     There isn’t that prayerful silence any more.
          And believers wonder why moral practices have declined and why all these wrong ideas about God are so popular.
              How could those heretical televangelists make so much money?
     Ah, Christians are not thinking of God as they should.
          The spirit of Isaiah has virtually gone!
              For he cried out in Isaiah 6 verse 5 upon being brought into God’s presence, “Woe to me!
     “I am ruined!
          “For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”
     Do you see God as He really is?
          Are you time and again being reminded of how great He is compared with how insignificant you are?
              Is that humbling you – again and again?
     This is why you truly praise – because of who He is.
          And so the psalmist turns next to the way in which we worship.
              In the words of the third aspect to this text, this is THE REPRISE OF ‘HOW’ YOU TRULY PRAISE.
     This part covers the verses 3 till 5.
          Quite a list!

              But listen to it: “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.”

                   Nine different ways to praise!
     So, why these instruments?
          And how are they meant for us today?
     Well, it is a veritable orchestra.

          Indeed, the Oxford Dictionary defines an orchestra as “a large group of musicians with string, woodwind, brass, and percussion sections.”

     Such an orchestra is represented here, except for two exceptions.
          Because there was no brass.
              The trumpet mentioned here is not the metallic kind used in temple ceremonies.
     This trumpet is actually a ‘shofar’ – or Hebrew trumpet.
          This is the curved horn of a ram through which one blew.
              It was the official means by which the people were summoned together.
                   You will still find it used today in synagogues.
     And there is also dancing which doesn’t fit into an orchestra.
          That’s a response which has been brought out in the previous psalm.
     But we go now to verse 3 again.
          After the official and loud and clear call of the shofar, there are the sweet and dulcet sounds of the harp and the lyre.
              Remember, it was the harp that David played in 1st Samuel 16 to sooth Saul when he was being tormented by the evil spirit.
     These were stringed instruments that were plucked.
          And they were usually played together.
              They are also known as the vertical and horizontal harps.
                   They were part of the instruments that were used amongst the general populace.
     Now, the Levites conducting the temple worship had an orchestra.
          They used the whole range of these instruments.
              They also had a choir too.
     But these are here the instruments of the people.
          This is what David and the people played as the ark came into Jerusalem in 1st Chronicles 13.
              They are instruments played by prophets back in 1st Samuel chapter 10.
     It’s these free and most thankful responses to what the Lord has done which rings through here.
          Because they are what mark true revivals.

              And they would certainly mark the ultimate revival of all when everyone will be praising God in the most complete and everlasting way!

     That’s the theme coming through this third aspect.

          Just as these instruments cover the whole range within an orchestra of that time, so they show us that this is a praise coming from everyone in the fullest possible way.

     This is where dancing fits in.
          For this is a group on the move.

              Because whenever there was a procession of these instruments in the hands of the people, there was dancing as they travelled along.

     You couldn’t but help it!
          You really got in the swing of it!
     Augustine says here, “No kind of faculty is left out.
          “All are enlisted in praising God.”

              The breath is used in blowing the trumpet; the fingers are used in striking the strings of the harp and lyre; the whole hand is exerted in beating the tambourine; and the feet move in the dance.

     So, this is not a justification for dancing in public worship today.
          Nor should we see this range of instrumentation as justification for a band in church!
              It certainly didn’t make the music ministry done by the Levites in the temple then redundant.
     Rather, this is representing what’s coming from the hearts of the people themselves.
          Everyone is a part of making this joyful praise to the Lord all the time!
     One commentator said that all aspects of Hebrew life then was covered in this description.

          Whether it was the great national and sacred occasions, with the curved horn; the joyous celebrations of victory, by the tambourine and dance; simple music making, to judge by the everyday associations of the strings and flute; or being so sharp as to stir everyone up, as the resounding cymbals would do.

              You just cannot get away from it!
                   Every possible instrument then is called upon to praise the Lord their God.
     And so it is that we come unerringly to the last aspect of all.

          For having seen again where you truly praise and why you truly praise and how you truly praise, we come to see which One you truly praise.

              This is, fourthly, THE REPRISE OF ‘WHO’ YOU TRULY PRAISE.
     When verse 6 declares, “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD,” it means absolutely every living thing!
          This is the glorious variety Psalm 148 spoke of in the verses 7 till 12.

              These are the great sea creatures, wild animals, all cattle, small creatures and flying birds, joined by the whole family of mankind from kings to kids!

     This is the scene we read symbolically pictured in Revelation 5.

          In the words of verse 13 there, “Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honour and glory and power, for ever and ever.’”

     All of history has come together!
          And it has to!
              Because it was always His Story.
     He is the LORD – the God of the covenant.
          He is the One who not only created the whole world and all that’s in it, He’s also recreated us.
              He has redeemed us for Himself in His own dear Son.
                   This will be the final triumph of the Church of Christ.
     What a crescendo!
          This climaxes absolutely everything the psalms have said.

              Because here the whole range of emotions and experiences and everything else the psalms express become subsumed in the joy which is forever.

     “Praise the LORD!
Let’s pray…
     Dear God, we are with that great congregation in spirit.
          We so much look forward to that great and coming day when all will be completely fulfilled.
              And so help us now to live every part of our lives as those pictured in this psalm.
     May all we think and say and do be praising You.
          Through Christ our Lord, we pray, Amen.

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2007, Rev. Sjirk Bajema

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