A good reporter asks the following questions: who? what? where? when? why? and how? in any order of sequence. Now, I shall examine the body of this psalm from the standpoint of a news reporter. Within this will be shown, also, elements of music and physics.
In verse 1, we are told to praise God in His sanctuary and in the sky, His stronghold. Other versions use His holy place and the expanse of His might; his temple and heaven, his mighty fortress; his Temple and his mighty heaven. There are numerous variations of these terms. One version defines temple as a building where people worship. It further states that God told the Jewish people to worship him at the Temple in Jerusalem. We are told to worship God in His earthly dwelling and in His heavenly dwelling. Since we cannot praise Him in heaven during our lifetime, we can praise Him throughout His creation. After we are resurrected, we can praise Him in heaven. Here is a hint of eschatology. Our praise is not limited to our presence in a synagogue or a church when the saints meet. If we are in a place where we feel that we cannot worship God, we probably should not be there. The question “Where?” is answered in this verse.
In verse 2, we are told to praise God for His mighty acts and for His exceeding greatness. Other versions use almost the same wording. Here we are to recognize that He has limitless power and exact order in His creation. We are nothing in comparison. We can do nothing without Him. It requires study of the Scriptures to be aware of these things. This would speak against the theory of evolution. The question “Why?” is answered in this verse.
In verses 3 to 5, we are told to praise God with musical instruments. Verse 4 includes dancing. One version uses circle dance. Another version uses processional, noting that “the word connotes a whirling or circular kind of dance performed by separate individuals, not be dancing partners or the like.” Satan has so corrupted the dance that it is difficult to see it as being used to praise God. Dancing for praising is not what can be seen in school gymnasia, at weddings, in ballrooms, or even at recreational functions in some churches.
The following instruments may be used: horn, harp, lyre (like a harp), timbrel (like a tambourine), lute (like a mandolin), and cymbal. Other versions substitute stringed instrument, flute, trumpet, psaltery (like a dulcimer), tambourine, gong, and organ. The cymbal is mentioned twice. In each version, the naming of the instruments end with cymbals (or gongs, in one version), with the second one being louder. One version uses a mighty song in place of the second cymbal. The question “How?” is answered in verses 3 to 5.
There is more to be shown in these three verses. The instruments can be classified into groups as follows:
- harp, lyre, lute, stringed instrument, psaltery
- pipe, flute, organ
- horn, trumpet
- timbrel, cymbal, tambourine, gong.
In a symphonic orchestra, these groupings are known as (1) strings, (2) woodwinds, (3) brass, (4) percussion. Thus, the four families in the orchestra are represented. Consequently, any instrument can be used in the praise of God. Traditionally, the organ is the instrument that is used in churches. However, the psalmist lists other instruments as well. When the focus is on praising God, the instrument used is not important.
There is an element of physics also shown in these verses when we follow the order of the instruments in each line. Blasts of the horn give a loud sound. Harp and lyre give a softer sound. Timbrel and dance are louder. Lute and pipe (or flute) are softer. The cymbals are louder. In naming the cymbal twice, there is a crescendo. There are three peaks and two valleys. Thus, from start to finish, there are two wavelengths.
In verse 6, we are told all that breathe should praise the Lord. That includes both believer and non-believer. It would condemn the person who states a belief in God but does not praise Him. The questions “Who?” and “What?” are answered in this verse.
Nowhere in the six verses are we told specifically when to praise God. Yet, it is implied that there is no set time, but that we should always praise Him. Possibly the psalmist felt that he did not need to state a time because it is important to praise God constantly. Therefore, the question “When?” is answered throughout this psalm.
Those who read the Book of Psalms can see the poetry. Psalm 150 shows, in addition, a skillful writing style and a knowledge of reporting and of music, all of the future in a different cultural setting, in addition to the insertion of an element of physics. Truly, the psalmist was inspired of God as he composed this psalm of praise for God.