The final psalm returns to music as our response to God’s “mighty deeds”, upon which all our activity and work are founded. Praise God with trumpets, lutes, harps, tambourines, strings, pipe, cymbals—both clanging and crashing— and dance. Coming as the climax of five songs full of work, and as the ultimate end of the entire collection of psalms, it gives the impression that music is very important work indeed. Not music for its own sake alone, however, but because it allows us to praise the Lord louder. We can take this both literally and metaphorically. From the literal perspective, we might hold music, dance and the other arts in a bit higher regard than is customary in the Christian community, which is not always welcoming to music (except within narrow borders) and the arts (at all). Or at the least, we might hold our own music and art in a bit higher esteem. If we cannot seem to find time to express our own artistic creativity, is it possible that we are missing the value of the songs that God puts in our hearts?
Metaphorically, could Psalm 150 be inviting us to go about our work as if it were a kind of music? We could probably all do with more harmony in our relationships, a steadier rhythm of work and rest, an attention to the beauty of the work we do and the people we work among. If we could see the beauty in our work, would it help us overcome work’s challenges, such as ethical temptations, boredom, bad relationships, frustration, and low productivity at times? For example, imagine you are so frustrated with your boss that you are tempted to stop doing your work well. Would it help if you could see the beauty in your work beyond your relationship with your boss? What kind of beauty does your work bring to the world? What beauty does God see in what you do? Is that enough to sustain you in difficult times or to lead you to make the changes you need to make in your work or the way you do it?
In any case, no matter how we perceive our work, God intends our work to praise him. The 150 psalms in the Bible cover every aspect of life and work from the darkest terrors to the brightest hopes. Some speak of death and despair, others of prosperity and hope. But the final conclusion of Psalms is praise. “Let everything that breathes praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 150:6).
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