Psalms 146–150 are sometimes called “the final hallel.” These closing five psalms all begin the same way: “Praise the LORD” (or, in Hebrew, hallelujah). It is generally thought that Book 5 of the Psalms (107–150) was compiled long after the return from exile. These psalms wrestle with several exilic themes, but the compiler deliberately chose to end the collection with five psalms of resounding praise.
Christians recognise that the reasons we have to praise the Lord are limitless. We can never exhaust his praiseworthy attributes. Sometimes, however, there is wisdom in pausing to reflect on some specific reasons we have to praise the Lord. The writer of Psalm 147 does just that.
Interpreters widely recognise that this psalm can be divided neatly into three sections: vv. 1–6, 7–11, 12–20. Each of these sections begins with a cry of praise to Yahweh and offers praise for a particular reason. The reader is invited to praise God for the same three reasons that the psalmist praised him.
First, the psalmist praises Yahweh for his power (vv. 1–6). He recognises that “it is pleasant” and “fitting” to “sing praises to our God” (v. 1) and proceeds to talk about God’s powerful acts on behalf of his people. He shows that God builds (v. 1) and heals (v. 2) his people. He speaks of God’s power in creating and sustaining the universe (v. 3) and concludes that he is “great” and “abundant in power” and that “his understanding is beyond all measure” (v. 5). In his power, he preserves the humble but punishes the wicked (v. 6).
If you ever struggle to find reasons to praise God, consider his power. Consider the fact that he raised you from death in your trespasses and sins to glorious new life in Christ. Consider that he daily sustains you and holds the affairs of the universe in the palm of his hands. He is, indeed, a God “abundant in power” and therefore worthy of praise.
Second, the psalmist praised Yahweh for his provision (vv. 7–11). Again, the writer opens this section by inviting us to “sing to the LORD with thanksgiving” and to “make melody to our God on the lyre” (v. 11). And why should we do so? Because he is a God who so kindly provides. He provides rain that waters the grass (v. 8). He provides food even for the beasts of the field (v. 9). And since he provides so kindly for plants and animals, how much more will he provide for his people in whom he finds delight (vv. 10–11). Those who fear him and place their hope in him can rest in his providence.
As you ponder reasons to praise God, consider his kind provision to you. Consider that, apart from him, you would have nothing. Sing with gusto, “All I have is Christ” and then thank God that Christ is all you need. His provision gives every reason for praise.
Third, the psalmist praises God for his privileges (vv. 12–20). Here, he shifts from thinking of God’s power and providence generally displayed in the world to focus instead on God’s covenant privileges to his people. He calls Jerusalem and Zion to praise, recognising God’s particular kindness to his covenant people (v. 12). He summarises his thoughts in vv. 19–20: “He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and rules to Israel. He has not dealt thus with any other nation; they do not know his rules. Praise the LORD!”
As you sit before the Lord today, consider the many reasons you have to praise him. If you struggle to think of any, allow Psalm 147 to instruct you. Praise God for his power. Praise God for his provision. And, as a child of God, praise God in a special way for his unique privileges to his covenant people. He is worthy of our praise.