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  • Writer's pictureVicar Matt Doebler

Matins Devotion: November 22, 2023

In the book of Psalms, occasionally you find these clusters of psalms that all begin with the word Hallelujah. Hallelujah is actually a combination of two words—praise and YHWH. Essentially the word is a call for the whole community of Israel to praise the Lord. To put it in the vernacular of the south (where I’m from), we might say “Hey ya’ll—praise the Lord!”

Why was Israel told to praise the Lord? Well the psalms give all kinds of reasons. In fact, one of these Hallelujah clusters---or Hallelujah choruses we might say—actually occurs at the very end of the book of psalms. Psalms 146-150 are all calls to praise the Lord, ya’ll. Israel is to praise the Lord because he keeps his promises, because he executes justice, because he feeds the hungry, because he sets the prisoners free. Hallelujah—praise the Lord, ya’ll—because he heals the brokenhearted, he binds up their wounds, he lifts up the humble, and he casts the wicked to the ground. Hallelujah—praise the Lord, ya’ll—praise him all the time and everywhere---in his sanctuary, in his mighty heavens. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!

That’s how the book of psalms concludes. With one final Hallelujah. And then we never hear that word in the Scriptures again. Nowhere else in the Old Testament. Not in the gospels. Not in Paul’s epistles. It’s as if the Hallelujah chorus goes silent. Until we get to end. Only here, in Revelation 19. In one of John’s final visions. Does the Hallelujah chorus return. John looks out over the throne room of heaven—and he sees this great multitude that no one can number. Those who have come out of this been delivered from the wrath being poured out on this unrepentant world. Those who have been washed and who have made their robes white in the blood of the Lamb. John looks out and he sees this multitude and he listens and he hears them sing this heavenly Hallelujah chorus.

Hallelujah-praise the Lord ya’ll—because salvation belongs to our God, because his judgements are true and just, because he has avenged the blood of his servants. Hallelujah—praise the Lord, ya’ll—all his servants who fear him, small and great, give him praise. Hallelujah—praise the Lord, ya’ll—for the Lord God Almighty reigns. Let’s rejoice and give him glory, because the marriage of the Lamb has come.

Right now, we live in a world where it often seems like the Hallelujah chorus has gone silent. The music we often hear as we live in this world of sin and despair is sad, and tragic—full of sour notes—like God’s entire good creation is singing out of tune. But there is a Day coming when the conductor will appear. When the music will be set right. When the band will get back together. When all the voices of God’s people will join together and say to one another Hallelujah—praise the Lord, ya’ll.

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