Praise God in His sanctuary
Where is the “sanctuary” mentioned in verse 1, where we ought to praise God?
Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. (Psalm 150:1 KJV)
The Hebrew word “sanctuary” is usually translated “Holy”, such as in its first occurrence in the Bible:
And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. … And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. (Exodus 3:2, 5 KJV)
So it’s not necessarily speaking of a separate place, but a nearness to God. In the case of Moses and the burning bush, it was the ground around the presence of the angel that was holy, and where Moses had to alter his behaviour to signify his humility and obedience.
With our prayers and praise, is it possible that there is a state of mind, of reverence and tranquillity, that we could say is set apart for God? It would be a state of mind that recognises that God’s name, purpose and character are Holy and separate.
If God is separate and Holy, we need to get to know who God is through His word rather than assuming who He is. Thus while this Psalm seems to be advocating praise without any limits it is in fact referring to specific instruments and songs. These were ordained by the prophet David to be played and sung in front of the Ark of the LORD:
And he appointed certain of the Levites to minister before the ark of the LORD, and to record, and to thank and praise the LORD God of Israel… with psalteries and with harps; but Asaph made a sound with cymbals; Benaiah also and Jahaziel the priests with trumpets continually before the ark of the covenant of God. Then on that day David delivered first this psalm to thank the LORD into the hand of Asaph and his brethren. Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people. Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works. (1 Chronicles 16:4-9 KJV)
These were specifically appointed people, specifically appointed instruments, and specifically commissioned songs. Once the Ark was placed in its tent, David set up ministers to “do according to all that is written in the law of the LORD, which he commanded Israel”. In other words, to be fully obedient to the word of God:
So he left there before the ark of the covenant of the LORD Asaph and his brethren, to minister before the ark continually, as every day’s work required: … To offer burnt offerings unto the LORD upon the altar of the burnt offering continually morning and evening, and to do according to all that is written in the law of the LORD, which he commanded Israel; (1 Chronicles 16:37, 40 KJV)
For us there are no set songs or set prayers, since we are able to approach God in prayer through our high priest, the Lord Jesus. Yet the Psalm draws on what David did, and if we are to praise God as the Psalm requires, we are to do so with minds set apart to God. These minds must be prepared by reading, meditating on, and understanding of God’s word. This is how we can praise God in His sanctuary.
Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD.
Praise ye the LORD.