Praise the Lord…(Psalm 150).
This morning I came to the end of a five-month cycle of reading one psalm every day. There are one hundred fifty psalms, which makes reading one a day a five-month experience. This is a great way to periodically read through the psalms. Whatever the date is, you have a psalm in your cycle that correlates.
The final psalm is filled with praise. How appropriate! The psalms in our bibles contain the “lyrics” to songs used in Israel’s worship. You could think of them as “God’s greatest hits”. They span the entire range of human emotion and experience and connect with us at a visceral level, much like they must have at the time they were being sung in the Temple at the time of David. After all the ups and downs of complaint, depression, pleas for escape from or victory over enemies, thanksgiving for grace and mercy contained in the psalms, the final word of the book is “hallelujah” (literally). It is the Hebrew word for “Praise YHWH”.
Praising the Lord is an act of the will. We can choose to give God our praise. Sometimes we do that when our emotional state is one of joy and gratitude. It is easy to give God our praise in those times (although I find we often neglect to do so!) But we can choose to praise God when we are not really feeling so joyful or upbeat. We can praise him in the midst of difficulty. We can praise him in the midst of emotional slumps. We can praise him when we are feeling like the floor just fell out from underneath us. We can praise him when things are not going the way we would like them to go. We can praise him when we are feeling disappointed. We can praise him when we are discouraged. We can praise him when it seems that life has thrown us a tough curve. And we can praise him when it seems like we are stuck in a rut and nothing is going to change.
When we choose to praise the Lord, it changes things. It might not change our circumstances, but it certainly can change our attitude about our circumstances and even give us hope and faith when human understanding finds no reason for such optimism. I have written a little “H” on my hand today. It stands for “hallelujah”. I put it there to remind me to take some time throughout the day and simply say, “I praise you, Lord.” Want to join me?