Eternal Roots

pexels-photo-2A truly blessed man is a man who has been redeemed by the blood of Jesus. In fact, the ultimate example of the blessed man of Psalm 1 is Jesus himself. This psalm is a great description of Jesus, the one in whom his Father was well pleased (Matt. 3:17). By God’s grace and the sinner’s God-initiated faith in Jesus, a man is saved. Through union to the Blessed God-man is a man truly blessed.

Psalm 1 is very figurative and eloquent in its description of a truly happy person in God. This glorious Psalm is a continuous contrasting distinction between the righteous and the wicked. One way leads to life, and the other leads to death. The difference is where the righteous and wicked have been rooted. The righteous are rooted in God, while the wicked are rooted in the world or themselves.

Rooted in God

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers (Ps. 1:3).

The Psalmist compares a blessed and righteous person to a tree. All trees have roots. The stronger and healthier the roots, the stronger and healthier the tree will be. The same goes for fruit on a vine. The fruits of a vine are utterly dependent on the strength and health of the vine. The reason a man is blessed is because he has been rooted in the Word of God by meditating on it and delighting in it (Ps. 1:2). He has therefore rooted himself in God, sinking into the rich soils of his delightful Word.

The psalmist continues the metaphor by saying that the tree (the blessed man) is planted by streams of water. This water, this stream, flows directly from the heart and mind of God. We can be certain of this since the tree yields proper fruit for the season, and the leaves do not wither. The resourceful supply of the life-giving stream produces fruit in this tree.

If fruit did not yield from this tree, then there is an issue with the roots. There is no negative issue with God, and therefore fruit is yielded; “its leaf does not wither.” Commenting on Psalm 1, John Calvin writes, “[T]he children of God constantly flourish, and are always watered with the secret influences of divine grace, so whatever may befall them is conducive to their salvation.”[1]

Those who are in Christ Jesus will produce fruit because of the Soil they are rooted in. It is good soil, and it is planted beside the stream of life flowing from the fountain of God. These fruits greatly benefit others and glorify God. God is glorified greatly when it is clear that without him there would be no fruit. Without the stream flowing in an otherwise dry land, the tree would indeed wither and not bear fruit. The tree is utterly dependent on the life-giving streams of water.

Likewise, those who are in Christ are utterly dependent on God for life and for fruit bearing. We only prosper by his grace for the sake of his glory and the sake of others. Blessed is the man who is rooted in God, for he indeed will know God and know eternal life (Ps. 1:6; John 17:3).

Rooted in the World

The only alternative to being rooted in God in this life is being rooted in either the world or being rooted in self. These two are basically the same, as ultimately what the man is rooted in rather than God is sin or wickedness. Verse one describes men who are not rooted in God as “wicked,” “sinners,” and “scoffers,” which directly contrasts the way of the righteous and blessed man who is rooted in God. It can easily be deduced from the psalmist’s images of a blessed man that a wicked or sinful man is a tree in a dry land, not by streams of water.

Therefore, this tree will not produce good fruit, and it will ultimately die. Living a life filled with wickedness, sin, and scoffing is a life rooted in the world, and it is a life that is slowly decaying under the hot sun of fleeting pleasures. The wicked are also described as chaff, which is the husks and straw removed by threshing.

There is another place in Scripture where the wicked and sinners are compared to chaff. In comparing those who repent with those who do not, John the Baptist describes how Jesus is both a Savior King and a Sovereign Judge: His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat [blessed men; righteous men] into the barn, but the chaff [wicked men] he will burn with unquenchable fire” (Matt. 3:12, emphasis added).

Now that is a picture to behold! Jesus gathers his people to himself, and the rest he burns with an unquenchable fire. This is evidence that Jesus clearly believed hell is most definitely real. The illustration of the chaff is indicative of the truth that the wicked will not see the kingdom of God. All who are not tied tightly to Jesus Christ, and all who are not rooted in the Word of God will perish eternally. Period. There are no questions asked.

If you are rooting your life in sin, in this world and in yourself, take a long look at this text and see that you are a tree without fruit; a tree in a dry land without a supply of water; and a chaff that is blowing about in the wind only to be tossed out and burned with a fire that is unquenchable, for you have forsaken the living water of King Jesus.

Drink and Be Satisfied

While both trees in this metaphor are in a dry land, one will live and one will die. The tree by the streams of water will live, and the other will die in the desert. This world we live in is a massive desert, and we are all trees in it. The deciding factor for our eternity will be whether or not we are rooted in the Son of God, Jesus Christ, delighting in him beside the streams that flow from the overflowing spring of God’s grace which leads to eternal life.

The only alternative is that we are rooted in the desert of this world and the sin that corrupts it which leads to eternal death.In the words of the psalmist, “the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish” (Ps. 1:6).

Delight in the Word of God today, and drink living water at the spring of God. It may take deep reading and meditating, for the fight against temptation and sin is real and tiring, but the joy at the end of the journey is more than sufficient and is truly satisfying, as God will be greatly glorified. The spring flowing with living water is high at the top of a mountain, and the trek is difficult and wearisome. But when the climb is over, those huge gulps of water will be so satisfying, and the Spring will be glorified.

Read. Meditate. Delight. Live.

*This post originally appeared as a chapter in my book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God.

[1] John Calvin, Commentary on the Psalms, Abr. ed. David C. Seale (Carlisle: Banner of Truth Trust, 2009), p. 2.


Don’t Raise Your Hands in Vain: Reflections on True Worship from Psalm 111

Photo Creds: lapideo on Flickr

Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them. –Psalm 111:1-2

When you hear the word worship what is the first thought that comes to your mind? For many of us, we think of worship as the thing we do on Sunday mornings as a faith family. We gather for a worship service in the worship room to sing worship songs led by a worship leader. But did you know it is possible to attend worship services every single Sunday and never actually worship?

It makes me think of the time I went to watch Duke play Indiana in the NCAA tournament in 2002. The game was played at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. It was a great game! But I really didn’t care who won. Kentucky basketball fans hate few things more than Duke and Indiana basketball. My granddad and I joked that it would be awesome if they could both lose. Even though I didn’t like either team, I found myself clapping for the first player who was introduced…for Duke! My granddad quietly leaned over and asked politely, but firmly, “What on earth are you doing?” I didn’t know! I definitely wasn’t cheering for Duke to win. I wasn’t a Duke fan. Being in the place where Kentucky played their home games and seeing Duke sitting on Kentucky’s bench and hearing the same announcer from every Kentucky game caused me to clap from habit. I had no love for Duke in my heart even though my hands made it look like I did.

Many people do the same thing I did at Rupp Arena in church buildings on Sunday mornings. Their hands, words, and actions make it look like they are worshiping God, but their hearts are far from him. True worship is less about physical acts and more about the direction of the heart. Worship begins in the heart and directs love, joy, and obedience toward God in every area of life.

Psalm 111 begins with three simple words: “Praise the Lord!” This psalm is all about worship. What do you notice about the psalmist’s worship in verses 1-2?

First, his worship is God-centered. The eyes of his heart are gazing on God and his awesomeness.

Second, his worship flows from his heart. While you can hide your heart from others by singing the lyrics of worship songs, you can’t hide the desires and motives of your heart from God.

Third, his worship is both personal and corporate. That means he personally worships the Lord with his whole heart, but he also worships the Lord “in the company of the upright.” It is important to practice personal worship every day without forgetting how important it is to worship the Lord together with your faith family.

Finally, his worship is not mindless or joyless. I love verse two. In it, the psalmist says that those who delight in the works of God will study them. Do you see that? There is an inseparable connection between the mind and heart. Between thinking and rejoicing. The greatest motivation you could ever have to study your Bible, labor over theological truths, or teach a biblical theme to your children is found in this verse. Those who study the Lord’s works delight in them. Deep, God-centered joy is insatiable motivation to know the Lord. In this sense, theology is never boring! The whole goal of theology is joy!

We don’t worship God because someone forces us to do it. And we don’t worship God without thinking. We think deeply about who God is and all the things he has done. This deep meditation on God fuels worship in those whose joy is in him. Any kind of worship that is forced isn’t really worship to begin with. True worship is free. It is the free and glad-hearted desire of God’s people to meditate on his works and delight in what they see. Worship involves the full capacity of the mind and the full range of emotions of the heart.

You never have to prepare your heart to worship falsely. That’s easy. You just show up and go through the motions. You just ignore the daily reading of Scripture and prayer. You just build your own kingdom in your own image in your family, work, and leisure. But to worship truly? Oh, this requires much work–not to earn God’s favor. But to truly rejoice more in God than anything else, you will need to work hard to know and meditate on the things of God.

When was the last time you studied God? If you are struggling to come to a place of genuine and robust worship in every area of your life; if you are struggling to worship the Lord with your whole heart, then give yourself to the study of God. Meditate on who he is and what he has done for you in Jesus and see how your heart responds. I pray your experience would be that of the psalmist,

Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them.

Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (Westbow Press, 2016). He is a M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.

Quick Quotes: 12 Quotes from “Reflections on the Psalms” by C.S. Lewis

Q-train-logoEvery Friday, I plan to share select quotes from a book I am either currently reading or have previously read. Few things have impacted my faith and life as much as reading has. This will be just one way I promote books and reading. These articles will be for the dedicated reader who loves to gain insight from as many books as possible. They will also be for the Christian looking for new books to read. I am always on the lookout for new books to read. Hopefully some things I share will lead you to pick up a new book. Finally, these articles will be for those of you too busy to read. Hopefully these quick quotes will provide you with easy access to books you would otherwise not have time to read. Each article will include a brief discussion of the author and his work followed by ten (or more) pertinent quotes from the book. 

C.S. Lewis has become one of my favorite authors. One of the things I love most about Lewis is his candor and honesty. It comes across as false modesty, but it isn’t. Lewis is sincere, but his frequent confessions of struggling with a certain idea or topic or biblical truth is refreshing and educational for a young minister and writer like myself. As much as I learn from Lewis’s insights, I learn even more from his demeanor and tone. It helps that he is a colossal writer. Not many since Lewis can say they are in his class of writers.

91L1rEe7EpLI began reading Reflections on the Psalms because my pastor has been preaching through various psalms over the past few weeks. We are heading into the final week of that series, and as the children’s pastor I have been preparing and preaching sermons to the kids of our church on the same texts my pastor has been preaching to the rest of the congregation. Walking with Lewis through various themes, ideas, tensions, and truths in the psalms has been a delight. This book is in a class of its own. It’s not a commentary. It’s not a devotional. It’s not a collection of essays. It is one man’s reflections on one of the most popular and impactful books of the Bible. Through penetrating prose, Lewis probes our hearts and while he definitely reflects on many psalms, his work is more a reflection on the human condition than anything else. The Psalms are like a mirror, which simultaneously exposes our true selves while reflecting the glory of God. Lewis’ Reflections on the Psalms holds that mirror up so we can better see.

Here are twelve important quotes from Reflections on the Psalms to whet your appetite:

1. A man can’t be always defending the truth; there must be a time to feed on it.

2. The most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express that same delight in God which made David dance.

3. [The Law is] like mountain water, like fresh air after a dungeon, like sanity after a nightmare.

4. I take [Psalm 19] to be the greatest poem in the Psalter and one of the greatest lyrics in the world.

5. In so far as this idea of the Law’s beauty, sweetness, or preciousness, arose from the contrast of the surrounding Paganisms, we may soon find occasion to recover it.

6. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.

7. If it were possible for a created soul fully to “appreciate,” that is to love and delight in, the worthiest object of all, and simultaneously at every moment to give this delight perfect expression, then that soul would be in supreme beatitude.

8. Our “services” both in their conduct and and in our power to participate, are merely attempts at worship.

9. I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation.

10. I had not noticed how the humblest, and at the same time most balanced and capacious, minds, praised most, while the cranks, misfits and malcontents praised least.

11. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.

12. These conjectures as to why God does what He does are probably of no more value than my dog’s ideas of what I am up to when I sit and read.

396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is the Children’s Pastor at First Baptist Church in East Bernstadt, KY. He is an M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their son, Jude Adoniram.

The Sun Will Not Strike You: Reflections on Psalm 121:5-6

What follows is an entry from the Family Devotion Guide for the families at First Baptist Church in East Bernstadt, KY. You can access all the Family Devotion Guides, including this week’s (Week 34) by visiting the First Kids page.

“The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.” –Psalm 121:5-6

Image Credit: Flickr | Soroush95

Think of your absolute best friend. You know, that friend who would do anything for you; the one you play with, hang out with, and maybe even have over at your house for sleepovers. Would you say this friend cares for your when you are having a bad day? Is he or she there for you when you need someone to talk to? It is good to have a friend like this. We all need someone to have our back in a tough situation.

Well, God is the ultimate friend to his people. He will always have the backs of those who trust in him through Christ. Psalm 121:5-6 say, “The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.” This passage teaches us that God will always guard his people.

The Lord is our keeper. This is another way of saying, “the Lord is our guardian.” He watches over his people. He knows what we will face and he even guides us by the hand into tomorrow. Some people believe Psalm 121 was written after the people of Israel were rescued from exile. Many years ago, other nations invaded Israel and took the people back to foreign countries. They were taken from their homes. God rescued them from exile and they returned to Jerusalem. This psalm was a great reminder for the people of Israel that their God would be their keeper or guardian no matter what happened to them. Even through God’s judgment, he never abandoned his people.

We have that same promise in the gospel. Jesus died to rescue his people from the exile of sin. Sin put chains on our hands and feet and took us from our home with God. Through his death on the cross, Jesus rescued us by breaking the chains of sin. By faith in him, we are no longer slaves of sin, but sons of God. Because of Jesus, God is our keeper. He will never leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:2). God will always have our backs and will never let us go (John 10:28).

The Lord is also our shade. When this psalm was written, the people of Israel knew how deadly the sun could be. In that time, a hot, sunny day didn’t equal a fun day at the pool. It meant you better find some shade or you will die. A journey to Jerusalem when the sun was out meant you had to have shade.

God promises to be our shade. He will not let the sun strike us. This means he will protect us from things that will do us harm. Does this mean bad things won’t happen to you? No. Because God is most concerned about your life in Christ. If you have trusted Jesus for salvation, God will not let anything kill your faith. He will guard you and protect you from temptation, Satan, and sin. No spiritual enemy will be able to defeat you. In Christ, you have been rescued. And by God’s grace, you will stay rescued forever!

396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is the Children’s Pastor at First Baptist Church in East Bernstadt, KY. He is an M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their son, Jude Adoniram.

Throwback Thursday: John Calvin on Psalm 139

Throwback ThursdayI would never even consider visiting a historic location without my wife, Erica. She has eyes that see things I just can’t see. It’s hard not to be amazed and overcome with emotion when visiting Gettysburg. The battlefields, nostalgic town, and careful placement of canons and flags makes missing the grandeur and importance of that historic Civil War battle nearly impossible.
Still, when Erica and I visited Gettysburg a couple years ago, she saw things that I hadn’t even thought to look for. I would see the house where a certain General was stationed, but she would see a bullet hole on the far side of the house. As we drove around that hallowed ground, she continually pointed out the little intricacies I would not have seen without her. My joy was increased in Gettysburg because of Erica’s keen eye for intricate details. That is the role of a good Bible study resource or commentary.

As I have worked through John Calvin’s commentary on the Psalms over the past few weeks, it has served as a significant daily devotion for my soul. I think commentaries make the best devotionals. They deal directly with the text and are usually written with more biblical integrity and insight than most traditional devotionals. I would recommend the abridged version of Calvin’s commentary on the Psalms as a resource to accompany your Bible reading, particularly if you are reading through the Psalms. It will be a great friend to help point out the intricacies of the Psalms that you would otherwise miss.

As an example of Calvin’s eye for the small, yet significant biblical details, note his comment on Psalm 139:6, 11-12. Here you will feel a scathing cut to the heart in a practical comment. Marvel with Calvin at the grand, immense, unreachable, and penetrating knowledge of God.

David now exclaims against the folly of measuring God’s knowledge by our own, when it rises infinitely high above us. Many stupidly think of God as if he was like themselves, but David confesses him to be beyond comprehension. The divine knowledge has neither bounds nor measure; therefore to think we can determine its extent is patently beyond our feeble capacity…If even the speed of light cannot help us to evade God, perhaps the darkness might give us some respite from his all-seeing gaze. But God sees equally well in the darkness as at noon-day. Both verses have the same meaning. We all pay lip-service to the divine omniscience; however, although we are ashamed to let others witness our wrong-doings, how many of us are indifferent to what God may think of us as if our sins could be veiled from his inspection. Unless such stupidity is reproved, our limited light will be soon changed into darkness.

396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is the Children’s Pastor at First Baptist Church in East Bernstadt, KY. He is an M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their son, Jude Adoniram.

“Psalms: An Introduction and Commentary” by Tremper Longman III

Psalms by Tremper Longman III is published by IVP in 2014. It is apart of the Tyndale Old Testament Commentary Series.

Dr. Longman is the professor of biblical studies at Westmont College. He has authored numerous books and commentaries. His study and comprehension of the Old Testament have been very beneficial in my life.

In this work, Longman states in the preface that the Psalms is the Heart of the Old Testament. I could not agree more. In the introduction, Longman gives helpful information regarding the Psalms in their title, composition, organization and use. He also discusses the types, styles and theology behind the Psalms which leads to Worship when we read and reflect upon the Psalms. This introduction is very helpful and shows readers how to think, use, and read the Psalms.

Longman throughout the rest of this useful commentary breaks each Psalm down with context, comment, and meaning. This is very important for Pastors, Teachers, or anyone who desires to study the Bible. In this format, the student of the Bible is able to comprehend the text in its context, understands its complexities, and then go onward to application. The Bible student who desires to reflect upon the Psalms would benefit from purchasing Longman’s commentary published by IVP.

Friends, You only get one life, and it will soon pass. Only what is done for Christ will last.

1557562_10153227664651515_1796309980_nEvan Knies is an undergraduate student at Boyce College where he studies Biblical and Theological Studies. He lives in Louisville, KY with his wife, Lauren. You can follow him on Twitter @Evan_Knies.

Let Everything That Has Breath Praise the Lord: Meditation on Psalm 150

The Psalms have been frequently read, used, and treasured since their individual writing and corporate collection. God’s people throughout the ages have run to the Psalms for comfort, wisdom, joy, and worship. They have existed as a means of grace for the believer and a source for proper worship for the Church for centuries. Due to its placement, genre, content, and surrounding context, Psalm 150 can be understood as a psalm that can serve both of these purposes—a means of grace for the believer as well as a source of worship for the church. God is supremely glorious and therefore worthy of his people’s worship and this worship from his people should reflect his worthiness and glory.

Genre: A Unique Praise Hymn

The book of the Psalms as it appears in our English Bibles consists of 150 songs organized into five separate subsections called books. There is a great variety of types or genres of psalms that occurs within this ancient hymnbook (e.g. praise, thanksgiving, wisdom, penitential, imprecatory, and lament psalms). While all of the psalms—though some are obviously personal (e.g. Ps. 51)—call the entire congregation of Israel to worship, the praise and thanksgiving psalms most strikingly above the rest call for all of Israel to praise the LORD. The praise psalms are all similar in their proper address of the object or person of their adoration and worship (God). These psalms not only praise God, but they are specific in the motivation for their worship. Rather than repeating a Hallelujah chorus, the praise psalms of Israel state the reason for their praise.

Psalm 150 is such a praise psalm, however it is noticeably unique. While this psalm does include an address to the one who is being praised (YHWH, v. 1), there are no “actual clauses to give content to the praise of Yahweh.”[1] However, there are two expressions that indicate to the reader why the LORD is worthy of worship (v. 2). Willem Van Gemeren observes this very thing in his commentary.[2] This psalm is a very unique praise psalm in this regard and the author gives us little more than an elevated and beautiful exhortation to praise the LORD.[3] It seems to be in a category by itself.

Proper Placement

This makes sense due to the placement of this psalm. Psalm 150 is the closing bookend of the Psalter. This placement was not by accident. Just as the first entry in the Psalter is positioned with a purpose, so is the last. While the Psalter begins with a wisdom psalm pleading with Israel to be obedient to the law of God, the Psalter ends with a joyful and exclamatory, almost climactic psalm of praise imploring the congregation to worship. This indicates that “obedience is not the goal of Torah-keeping.”[4] Rather, praise and worship of and ultimate satisfaction and joy in the LORD God is the end to which the Psalter and the entire Old Testament is pointing. In this light, obedience to a God in whom we find joy will be viewed as much as a delight as it is a duty.

The placement of this psalm also serves as a summation of the praise due God. Throughout the Psalter, everything in all of creation has been called to give the Creator sacrifices of worship. Therefore, this final song to close out Israel’s hymnbook is not a farewell to praising the Lord. On the contrary, the psalm itself functions as a source of praise and “everything that the previous 149 psalms have affirmed about Yhwh offers the reasons and the content for this praise.”[5] There is no question left to ask. It is the LORD, the creator of heaven and earth, the One who performs mighty deeds and who is excellently great (v. 2), that is ultimately worthy of worship.

Content of Praise

The content of Psalm 150 itself gives the most evidence for why the author sought to show his readers the worthiness of God and the response his people should give.

The phrases “praise the LORD,” “praise God” and “praise him” occur thirteen times in six verses. This is no coincidence. The author did not just run out of exhortations and resorted to repeating the only one he knew or perhaps his favorite. This psalm functions as a chiasmus beginning with the exhortation to praise God in heaven (v. 1, A) and ending with the exhortation to praise God on earth (v. 6, A’). In the middle of these places of worship occur the reasons (v. 2, B) and means of worship (vv. 3-5, B’). The center of this chiasmus is the worthiness of God coupled with the delight and intensity with which his people should worship him. In heaven and on earth, God is to be praised both for what he does and for who he is. God’s abundant power and greatness call for a “symphonic hymn of praise”[6] from those in heaven and earth. Everyone is to exult in the greatness of YHWH!

God’s worthiness should be evident in the manner in which the congregation worships their Maker and Master. God’s supreme greatness and power flows over into the souls of those whom he has redeemed (Israel in the immediate context). The response is delightful and intense worship. Just as the repetition of “praise the LORD” phrases indicates God’s supreme worthiness, the repetition of the instruments used to worship God indicates the great delight and devotion his people are to give him. John Calvin comments, “this multiplicity of songs was enjoined that God might lead his people from vain pleasure to a holy and profitable joy.”[7]

God’s greatness therefore not only attests to his glory, but also to his people’s joy. Sacrificial worship to God is a means for holy worship and holy joy. God is glorified and his people are satisfied in praising the LORD. Due to our sin, the psalmist calls us to praise the LORD in order to find a satisfying and lasting joy.[8] Every means of worship is called forth from heaven and earth to magnify the glory of YHWH.[9] In the words of Calvin, “we cannot apply ourselves too diligently to God’s praise.”[10] Though terms of adoration or satisfaction are not explicitly used by the psalmist, the author makes his point clear through the emphasis on a multiplicity of instruments of melodious sound that devotion and delight in God from the congregation are what is desired.

It therefore seems clear from the genre, placement, and content of Psalm 150, that the psalmist intends his readers to understand the magnitude of God’s worthiness of praise and the delightful duty of the worshiper to diligently praise God by showing that the end of living under God’s grace under the Law was joyful praise of God. Exaltation of God’s glory and the joy of man meet in this closing hymn of the Psalter. The final expectation of the Old Testament is therefore “not finally obedience, but adoration.”[11]


There are many implications that flow from this meaning and interpretation of Psalm 150 that are vital to both the Christian as an individual and the corporate body of Christ as a whole.

Firstly, Christians must view our obedience to God with lenses of delight. Our obedience to God should not be viewed as a begrudging duty given to a distant King. No, our devotion to this sovereign King, who resides in utter omnipotence that we cannot take in,[12] should be delightful, joyful, and satisfying. When we realize that our joy will be found in glorifying the greatness and power of YHWH, our obedience to him and praise of him will be exceedingly intense in love and adoration. Our worship to God on Sunday morning should not be dull, boring, or unenthusiastic. Rather, our offerings of worship should be joyful and exciting responses of adoration of the LORD for who he is and what he has done. And this has nothing to do with musical style.

Secondly, the Church must be diligent in gospel proclamation among all peoples. There is no distinction given by the Psalmist: “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD” (v. 6)! John Calvin asserts this in his commentary:

“The Psalmist implies that the day will come when the songs of Zion will resound throughout the world, uniting Gentile believers in harmony with his ancient people, until, gathered into heaven, we sing with elect angels an eternal Hallelujah.[13]

We must proclaim the gospel to all without exception, because God will extend his saving grace to a remnant from all peoples (not every person without exception) who will be satisfied in glorifying the LORD God (Rev. 7:9).

Thirdly, our modern-day worship services must continue and forever be God-centered. Praise and worship among the people of God must always be focused on and directed to Yahweh. This should impact our choice of worship hymns and contemporary songs to sing. They should be rooted in the Word of God that outlines the “mighty deeds” of God as well as his “excellent greatness” (v. 2). Any hymns or worship songs focused on our circumstances or ourselves have no place in congregational worship of God. God-centeredness in worship services is vital to proper praise of the LORD.


[1] John Goldingay. Psalms 90-150, in vol. 3 of Psalms in Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms, ed. Tremper Longman III (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008), 747.

[2] “In contrast to other hymns, Psalm 150 is an enlarged introit, lacking the descriptive praise” Willem Van Gemeren, Psalms, in vol. 5 of The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein et al., (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991), 878

[3] John Goldingay. Psalms 90-150, in vol. 3 of Psalms in Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms, ed. Tremper Longman III (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008), 746

[4] Walter Brueggemann, The Message of the Psalms (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1984), 167

[5] John Goldingay. Psalms 90-150, in vol. 3 of Psalms in Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms, ed. Tremper Longman III (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008), 747

[6] Arthur Weiser. The Psalms: A Commentary. OTL. London: SCM, 1959. p. 841 as cited in Willem Van Gemeren, Psalms, in vol. 5 of The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein and Richard P. Polcyn (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991), 879

[7] John Calvin. Commentary on the Psalms, Abr. ed. David C. Seale (Carlisle: Banner of Truth Trust, 2009), 659

[8] Ibid. 659

[9] John Goldingay. Psalms 90-150, in vol. 3 of Psalms in Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms, ed. Tremper Longman III (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008), 748

[10] John Calvin. Commentary on the Psalms, Abr. ed. David C. Seale (Carlisle: Banner of Truth Trust, 2009), 659

[11] Walter Brueggemann, The Message of the Psalms (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1984), 167

[12] John Calvin. Commentary on the Psalms, Abr. ed. David C. Seale (Carlisle: Banner of Truth Trust, 2009), 659

[13] Ibid. 659

396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies, Dec. ’14). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.