Creation’s Praise, Psalm 148

If you’re familiar with the blue Psalter Hymnal, published by the Board of Publications of Christian Reformed Church in 1976, you may well know and love #304, “Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah,” which is based on Psalm 148. The song’s rousing refrain contains antiphonal singing between the men’s and women’s parts. You may be able to listen to Kirkpatrick’s “Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah” on the “Cyber Hymnal” at hymntime.com  My familiarity with the song makes the tune flow through my mind while I read the psalm.

We’ve reached a bittersweet point in our reflections, since the Bible’s psalter contains only two more short psalms. But it’s impossible to be sad about seeing these reflections end when the psalms radiate such marvelous praise!

Notice all the exclamation points and instances of the word “praise” in the first six verses:

Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD from the heavens;
   praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels;
   praise him, all his hosts!

 Praise him, sun and moon,
   praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
   and you waters above the heavens!

Let them praise the name of the LORD!
   For he commanded and they were created.
And he established them forever and ever;
   he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away (Psalm 148:1-6, ESV).

What a beautiful picture of angels and stars, all the heavenly hosts, exuberantly praising God! God gave the word and the angels came into being. He spoke, and the sun, moon, and stars sprang into space. God established them and placed them all in their proper sphere; they will not be moved until he releases them from his decree.

The psalmist then turns his attention to more earthly parts of the created order (Psalm 148:7-14, ESV):

Praise the LORD from the earth,
   you great sea creatures and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and mist,
    stormy wind fulfilling his word!

Mountains and all hills,
    fruit trees and all cedars!
Beasts and all livestock,
   creeping things and flying birds!

Kings of the earth and all peoples,
   princes and all rulers of the earth!
Young men and maidens together,
   old men and children!

Let them praise the name of the LORD,
   for his name alone is exalted;
    his majesty is above earth and heaven.
He has raised up a horn for his people,
    praise for all his saints,
   for the people of Israel who are near to him.
Praise the LORD!

Remarkable creatures swimming deep in the sea and disparate precipitation swirling wildly through the air fulfill God’s purpose. 

Jagged peaks projecting toward the sun, diverse trees silhouetting on the horizon, amazing animals frolicking along the ground, incredible insects buzzing in the grass, and beautiful birds soaring in the sky praise God.

All people, from the greatest ruler to the poorest peasant and from the oldest man to the youngest child, are called to join in corporate praise.

God alone is worthy of all honor and glory. His name is the name above all other names. His majesty far surpasses all the beauty and variety of the heavenly hosts and the earthly creatures.

Yet God deigns to give power and praise to his saints. The Lord cares for all those who call on him in truth. We join with all his people in all places and times as we proclaim:

Praise the LORD!

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