In the New American Standard Bible both Psalm 149 and 150 begin and end with the phrase “Praise the Lord.” In fact, Psalm 150 ends with a double usage of this exclamation. The word “praise” is used 6 times in Psalm 149 and 13 times in Psalm 150. The Hebrew term is actually, “Hallelujah!” It is made up of two words. One word means “to boast” and the other means “Jehovah.” Thus, the words means, “to boast in Jehovah.” It is asserting glory and honor to God.
In Psalm 149, there are 3 ways that we are exhorted to “boast in Jehovah.” The first is to sing to the Lord. This is to be a new song showing freshness and spontaneity. It is to be done publicly, obviously showing that God loves our corporate worship. It also involves instrumental music (the timbrel and lyre are mentioned).
Second, we are to be glad. This is the idea of rejoicing or throwing a party. Again, you cannot separate excitement and emotion from worship. Two reasons are given for our celebration. First, God is our Maker and second, God is our King!
Finally, we are to praise His name. This is the idea of “letting it out” or “letting loose.” In other words, don’t hold it in. Dancing is even mentioned. I know that this is a stretch for many, and though I am in no way advocating anyone doing “the jig” in church this Sunday, the truth is that dancing was one of Israel’s most expressive modes of showing joy. King David danced in the street when the ark was brought back into the city (Second Samuel 6:12-15) and Miriam (Moses’ sister) danced in praise of God after Israel crossed the Red Sea (Exodus 15:20-21). An additional way that is seen to praise the Lord is with the Word of God. Israel executed God’s righteousness with a literal sword. The Church is to execute God’s righteousness through His Word, the Sword of the Spirit.
In Psalm 150, the Lord is to be praised both in His sanctuary (His heavenly dwelling place) and in His mighty expanse (In all of His creation…everywhere). Why are we to “boast in Jehovah?” Because of WHAT He does (His mighty deeds) and because of WHO He is (His excellent greatness).
How is the Lord to be praised? Psalm 150:3-5 teaches that we are to praise Him with everything we have. Take time to note the variety of instruments and activities used in praising Him. Take time to note the variety in styles and even levels of sound. There were loud styles like the trumpets, cymbals, and resounding cymbals. There were soft sounds like the harp and lyre. There were very expressive instruments and styles like the timbrels (tambourine) and dancing. And there were the more mild instruments like the stringed instruments and pipes (flute).
Who is to praise the Lord? Psalm 150:6 is clear. Everything that hath breath is to praise the Lord. Everything that is alive is to praise the Lord. Read Revelation 5:8-14. This is not limited to people. Worship is to be uninhibited.