Psalm 95:2 says, “Let us come to him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to him” (NLT). A psalm is a song intended to be sung with musical instruments. The book of Psalms is a divinely inspired songbook that was used by the Israelites in corporate worship. The psalms were penned by various songwriters and musicians, but most were written by David. Among other contributors to the book of Psalms were Asaph, the sons of Korah, Moses, Solomon, and several unknown writers.
Psalms are poetic expressions of a variety of emotions, just as modern music is, and there are several types of psalms in the Bible: laments, thanksgiving songs, songs of ascent, etc. One common theme in the book of Psalms is praise to God. Many individual psalms were written with the primary purpose of praising God. These are properly called psalms of praise. Psalm 150 is a short psalm of praise. It begins and ends with the Hebrew word hallelujah and contains the word praise thirteen times in the English translation as it gives instructions about musical instruments and dancing as ways to praise the Lord.
Even when the psalmists expressed fear, sorrow, doubt, or anger in their songs, they often ended the laments with words of praise. Psalm 13 expresses dismay at the speaker’s suffering at the hands of an enemy, but it ends with these words: “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me” (verses 5–6).
The psalms of praise extol the virtue and power of the Lord. The God of Israel is praised for His handiwork in nature (Psalm 19:1; 89:5; 148:3), His deliverance of His people (Psalm 18:10; 111:9), and His wonderful attributes, such as lovingkindness and patience (Psalm 89:13–14; 130:7).
Psalm 147 is a good example of a psalm of praise. In this psalm, which also begins and ends with the Hebrew word hallelujah, the singer expresses praise to God for the following reasons:
♪ The Lord preserves Israel (verse 2)
♪ He heals the brokenhearted (verse 3)
♪ He possesses great wisdom and power, as seen in creation (verses 4–5)
♪ He metes out justice (verse 6)
♪ He sends rain to sustain His creatures (verses 8–9)
♪ He protects Jerusalem and grants His people peace (verses 13–14)
♪ He controls the weather and the seasons (verses 15–18)
♪ He has revealed His Word to Israel and blessed them above all other nations (verses 19–20).
Since the Israelites were a people set apart to praise the Lord (Jeremiah 13:11), it is only fitting that the majority of their songs were psalms of praise. We, too, have been saved “for the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:12), and our songs should reflect our grateful praise. “How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!” (Psalm 147:1).