Church Write-Up: Psalm 150 and Christian Sanctification

At church, had our final class on the Book of Psalms, studying Psalm 150. Class will not meet next week because of the Fourth of July, but, the week after that (July 12), a class will start on Paul’s Epistle to the Romans.

Some items from church:

A. “Hallel” is frequent in Psalm 150. “Hallel” is shouting out praise to God, giving one’s whole self into doing so. Professional trumpeters, musicians, and dance leaders facilitated this collective praise.

B. Psalm 150:1 states: “Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power” (KJV). The worship occurs in a physical sanctuary, where God meets God’s people. But it also touches eternity, which is the firmament (raqia), what God spreads out. When people worship God, they also worship with the angels and the company of heaven, as well as the saints before and after (Revelation 5, 7).

C. There is a kingdom of power. God operates in this kingdom according to God’s law, natural, moral, and national (insofar as nations reflects God’s standard for societies). God upholds order. But there is also a kingdom of grace, which is the church, where the Gospel operates. The pastor did not say this today, but perhaps mercy is an aspect of the kingdom of power, not only the kingdom of grace, for God is loving and merciful towards God’s creation, even the parts that do not believe in him. God, in this day and age, does not operate according to strict justice.

D. The pastor said that rabbis applied the thirteen hallelujahs of Psalm 150 to the thirteen hallelujahs of Psalm 150. But he was also saying that Psalm 150 has ten hallelujahs. Ten symbolizes that God is complete and inexhaustible: we never run out of God, and God is always and continually there when we praise him.

E. All creation anticipates God’s voice (cp. Luke 19:40; Romans 8:24). The Psalmist foresees a restored world, and Christians have a foretaste of that and anticipate it when they gather for worship.

F. The imperfect occurs in the final verse. Worship is to be and will be ongoing, even after Psalm 150.

G. The Book of Psalms is divided into five books, corresponding to the five books of the Pentateuch. A student asked if each book of Psalms echoes the themes of the corresponding Book of the Pentateuch (Book 1 of Psalms corresponding with Genesis, etc.), or if the compiler simply divided the book into five because he liked the number. The pastor responded that he thinks the latter is the case, but that the compiler, on some level, may have thought the former. Psalm 90 introduces Book 4 and reflects themes in the Book of Numbers: human temporality and endurance of divine wrath, as Israelites in Numbers were condemned to die in the wilderness under God’s wrath. The pastor said that Deuteronomy is about the relationship of the Ten Commandments to Israel’s journey, but Book 5 of Psalms does not reflect that. I would say that parts of it do: Psalm 119 is emphatic about God’s law and commandments, and it is part of Book 5. One might also observe that prominent Psalms about creation—-Psalms 8, 19, and 29—-are part of Book 1, the “Genesis” part. But, ultimately, I agree with the pastor: these themes occur throughout the Psalms, so they cannot be confined to a particular book within the Psalms. Psalm 144 is about creation yet is in Book 5, the “Deuteronomy” part, rather than the “Genesis” part. The patriarchs occur throughout the Psalms, not only in the “Genesis” part. Maybe the compiler made his division, thinking that it corresponded, on some level, with each book of the Pentateuch, but the correspondence falls apart, after a while.

H. In the service, the youth pastor talked about how Christian sanctification occurs. He said that he thinks it occurs when Christians share their faith with one another, building one another up and encouraging one another in the faith. Matthew 10:42 presents giving a cup of cold water to a believer as a way to share the faith.

I. The pastor told a story about when his brother was trying out for the wrestling team. The brother dehydrated himself in an attempt to qualify for a lower weight class, since he figured he would win more matches against a lower weight class. The pastor, somehow, was comparing that with Christian attempts at sanctification. I think about my own life. If the bar is low—-if people are nice and appreciative of my help—-I can easily feel good about my Christian sanctification. If I am placed in a testy, challenging situation, then I perceive my sinfulness and shortcomings quite clearly. I feel humbler in the latter situations than in the former, which is good. At the same time, I fear that God is disappointed in me and that I regularly fail as a Christian in the latter.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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