The Anatomy of Praise
Passage: Psalm 150–150
Community Group Questions: For Every Season - Psalm 150 - "The Anatomy of Praise"
Printing Instructions: To print these discussion questions for use in your Community Group or other study, first highlight the text, then right click and select "print" from the dropdown menu that appears.
Read Psalm 150 aloud as a group and then work through the following questions:
- Psalm 150 is the last Psalm in the book of Psalms. As we’ve been learning this summer, the Psalms express a whole spectrum of emotions and they relate to a wide variety of life-seasons. Why do you think the final Psalm is centered on the theme of praise? (In fact, the last five Psalms in the Psalter deal explicitly with the theme of praise). How does praising God relate to the ultimate goal of our lives? (Note the Westminster Catechism which famously asks, “What is the chief end of men?” Answer: “To glorify God and enjoy him forever”).
- Psalm 150 commands us 13 different times, to praise God! Is it arrogant of God to command us to praise him? Why or why not? (Note the observation of C. S. Lewis: “I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment.” - from Reflections on the Psalms, chapter 9).
- According to verse 1, we are commanded to praise God in two places: in the “sanctuary,” and in his “mighty heavens.” The “sanctuary” is a reference to the Old Covenant temple, where Israel’s priests would minister, where sacrifices were offered, where God manifest his presence to the people, and where praises were continually offered. However, in the New Covenant, everything about the temple has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ (see John 1:29, John 2:21, Hebrews 4:14-16). Furthermore, every individual Christian’s body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Cor. 6:19) and the gathered church is pictured as a living temple, where God’s Spirit dwells (see 2 Cor. 6:16, Eph. 2:22, 1 Peter 2:4-5, Matt. 18:20). In light of these fulfilments, what does Psalm 150’s command to “worship God in his sanctuary” teach us about the importance of worshiping God, through Christ, as a gathered church?
- We’re also told in verse 1 to worship Christ “in his mighty heavens.” The word “heavens” refers both to the realm of heaven where angels worship God, and the sky where sun, moon, stars, and clouds proclaim his praise by displaying his power (see Psalm 148:1-4). What does this verse teach us about the importance of “scattered worship” (that is, worshiping God everywhere we go, and in all that we do)? How do “gathered worship” as a church, and “scattered worship” in the world, relate to one another in the Christian life?
- Verse 2 commands us to praise God for his “mighty deeds” and for his “excellent greatness.” In other words, we should praise God for what he does, and for who he is (his deeds and his character, his works and his worth). How do these two categories of worship relate to our songs, our prayers, our Scripture reading, and our understanding of God? What practical things can we do to ensure that we regularly praise God for BOTH his deeds and his character?
- Verses 3-6 command us to praise God with dynamic music! String, wind, and percussion instruments of various kinds are mentioned. Also, the human voice is implied in verse 6: “let everything that has breath praise the Lord!” What do we learn from these verses about God’s delight in musical worship? Why is it that Christianity has always been consumed with joy-filled music making before God? How does singing relate to the gospel?
Prayer suggestion: Spend time praising God for who he is, and for what he has done. If possible, invite a group member to lead the group in songs of praise as a fitting way to respond to Psalm 150.