PSALM 148 TALK:  PRAISE OF THE CREATED

PSALM 148 TALK:  PRAISE OF THE CREATED

 (This is the third of the last five Psalms of the book of Psalms often called The Hallelujah Psalms and this Psalm features a call for all of creation in heaven and on earth to praise God because he is the magnificent creator and preserver of everything and everyone.)

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INTRODUCTION

My wife and I have been to Europe on sightseeing trips twice and of course both times we have had a look at some of the great churches and cathedrals there but I’m afraid they simply left me thinking what is all the fuss about to me they are simply enormous structures built by man in an attempt to glorify God.

However, what really impressed me on those trips was the magnificent scenery in so many places particularly in Norway where I stood high up on majestic high mountains overlooking below breath taking Fjords. I have always had a great sense of the beauty of nature demonstrating the splendour and wonder of God as David writes in Psalm 19 verse 1,

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the works of his hands”.

 I grew up in my younger days with the phrase “works of his hands” being translated in older versions of the bible as “Handiwork” and the logic of David is that if God made everything than everything declares how glorious and powerful or great God must be as we can see his handiwork in the many wonders of nature.

My often-poetic imagination ever since my early twenties inspired me to write many poems under the general heading of “Prayers of the Created” and these poems run into dozens of poems where the scene of nature that inspires me seems to speak or inspire in me a prayer or praise of the God who made it.

Like my “Prayers of the Created Poem” called “The healing Light”

Floating into nothingness the morning mist now breaks

And out of darkness comes the light our lowly form remakes.

 

His light is like the rays of Sun which bear a warming glow

And in our soul’s, it reaches deep to give our lives a glow.

 

The darkness sometimes reaches back to block his living rays

But light reforms and kills the night to bring us brilliant days.

 

We walk in light for God is light his glow is all so warm

And darkness though it be around in light is transformed.

 

Floating into nothingness our fears and pains will go

For Jesus is a healing light his blood has cleansed like snow.

Here nights and mornings speaks to me about God’s gift of light and the cleansing he ultimately has given us in the death of his Son Jesus Christ to cleanse and remake us.

Psalm 148 to me is not just a Prayer of the Created but it is a Praise of the Created a call to Praise the God of the bible by all that is in heaven and earth because this God deserves our praise because he is its creator and he sustains his creation every day and hour.

The Psalm like the previous two seem to fit into the post Babylonian exile period for its time of composition especially when we read these words in Nehemiah 9: 5 – 6,

“And the Levites—Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah and Pethahiah—said: “Stand up and praise the Lord your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting.“Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise. You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you”.

 Another clue to post exile in Babylon time of writing is the reference in the last verse, 14 to God raising up for his people a horn which many commentators believe is a reference to God raising up King Cyrus the Persian King to free the people of God from their powerless position in Babylonian captivity. This is because the symbol of the horn is used in two ways in the Old Testament, one a symbol of strength and the other a symbol of some kind of king or powerful ruler who brings salvation to Israel.

So, in this Psalm talk I will treat it as a “Praise of the Created” and even from time from time share when applicable not only New Testament insights but quotes from one of my many Prayers of the Created poems.

My outline then for this Psalm talk is:

  1. (1 – 6) PRAISE GOD CREATED HEAVENS
  1. (1 – 4)    Praise God created heavens high and low
  2. (5 – 6)    Why created heavens high and low should praise God

     2.  (7 – 12) PRAISE GOD CREATED EARTH

  1. (7 – 10) Praise God created sea, land and animals
  2. (11 – 12) Praise God created humanity high and low

     3. (13 – 14) PRAISE GOD CREATED PEOPLE OF GOD

  1. (vs. 13) Praise by the created for the name and splendour of God
  2. (vs. 14) Praise by the created and saved people of God

Let’s then have a closer look at this amazing Psalm of praise with these headings in mind.

    1.  (1 – 6) PRAISE GOD CREATED HEAVENS

  1. (1 – 4)    Praise God created heavens high and low

Like all of these final five Psalms in the book of Psalm it starts with the Jewish call for praise, “Hallelujah” which we translate in our English bibles with the words “Praise the Lord” it of course should literally read, “Praise Yahweh”.

Yahweh, we know is that special covenantal name for God that has far reaching and deep meaning and carries with it the major concept of the eternal nature of God.

As God told Moses his name is “I am who I am” which in Hebrew is something like “Yahweh” as the Jews only wrote this name down with its consonants and not also it Hebrew vows as they thought the name was so special and Holy it could only be spoken in a Holy way usually by the Levites and Priests in Old Testament times.

The point I would like to make here is the answer to the often- asked question of if God made everything who made God?

The answer to that is no one made God because he is God and particularly “Yahweh” or the God who was, is and will be forever more. This eternal nature of God makes God, God and you have only two choices you either believe in eternal matter or an eternal God because nothing comes out of nothing.

 Then in verse 1 we have the first of twelve uses of the Hebrew word for praise which is the same Hebrew word for praise each time which Allan Harman says is “halal” and he goes on to explain this word for praise and the wording of this first verse and the second verse as well is similar to the last two verses of Psalm 103, which says,

“Praise the Lord all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will. Praise the Lord all his works everywhere in his domain.”

 Psalm 148 verse 1 says,

“Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights above”.

The second verse of Psalm 148 then goes on to call the angels in heaven and then refer to heavenly hosts to praise God again similar to those last two verses of Psalm 103.

Psalm 148 verse 2 reads this way,

“Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his heavenly hosts”.

The question arising out of this is what are Heavenly hosts?

This phrase is either another way of describing Angels or heavenly hosts like the sun moon and stars which verse 3 directly refers to.

I believe because of parallelism which I call rhyming thought heavenly host in verse 2 is another term for God’s many angels in heaven who are always seen in the bible as spiritual beings who constantly praise God like Revelation 7: 11 – 12,

 “All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:

“Amen!Praise and gloryand wisdom and thanks and honourand power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.Amen!”

 So, in highest heaven or as verse 1 puts it “the heights above” praise is constantly given to the Great God of heaven and earth.

Then in verses 3 and 4 the heavens of the natural world are called on to join in this great chorus of praise to the great God of heaven and earth.

First the great cosmic bodies of the sun, moon and stars in verse 3,

“Praise him, sun and moon; praise him all you shinning stars”

In Old Testament times a person could see in the night sky a vast domain of shinning stars along with the great sun in the day and the moon at night but we as modern men and women know that the stars are so much more vast and amazing with the aid of telescopes. This means that if one great God made and controls all of the heavens above how incredibly great and powerful he must be.

I find the thought of one great God making everything that is so vast and beautiful mind blowing but so often our view of God is so limited but the God of the bible is as we will see the closing words of verse 13 of this Psalm states,

“His splendour is above the earth and the heavens”

 I now believe the greatness and splendour of God actually cannot be fully grasped by our finite puny brains but by faith we can only imagine how great God is as that old hymn puts it,

“O Lord my God,
When I in awesome wonder
Consider all
The works Thy Hand hath made,
I see the stars,
I hear the mighty thunder,
Thy pow’r throughout
The universe displayed

 Then sings my soul,
My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art!
How great Thou art!
Then sings my soul,
My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art!
How great Thou art!”

 I would like to also comment on the intriguing aspect of this Psalm that the writer calls on innate objects like sun, moon and stars to praise God and I like David Guzik comments on this that says,

“Though they have neither speech nor language, and want the tongue of men, yet their splendour and magnificence, their motions and their influences, all regulated and exerted according to the ordinance of their Maker, do, in a very intelligible and striking manner, declare the glory of God”.

 As I mentioned in my introduction David recognised this and declared it in Psalm 19: 1,

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the works of his hands”.

Truly the created praise God by simply being created by God and by showing what the handiwork of that God can produce and maintain. Just as an artist demonstrates his talent by his paintings so God demonstrates his amazing power, splendour and might by his creation of the high and low heavens.

Finally, in verse 4 our calls on the waters above the sky to praise God,

“Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies”.

 What is the writer referring to here when he speaks of the waters above the skies?

It is obvious here that ancient people like the Hebrews believed that above the sky and clouds lay a vast vault of water from which came the rain. In modern times, we know how rain is made through the process of precipitation but this does not take away from what Tremper Longman 111 says this verse is saying when he writes,

“Even weather should join the chorus of praise”.

 The big difference between the ancient Israelites and all other ancient people is how they were called by God to worship or give praise to him. These great natural objects God created like sun, moon, stars, weather where not to be worshipped. This is because these great and wonderful objects of nature rather than being objects of worship are according to this Psalm objects of praise and worship of the God who made them so wonderfully.

As Paul pin – points in Romans 1: 21 – 23,

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles”.

 These verses from Romans become even more appropriate in the next section of the Psalm as Paul picks out particularly how the false God’s of rebellious mankind made where made to look like created animals and even human beings that are called on to praise God in verses 7 – 12.

In my prayers of the created set of poems I have this following poem of praise for God through the inspiration of the sun and the new day God gives us through the rising of the sun. The poem also features the love I believe God has given to me through my beautiful wife of many years.

NEW EVERYDAY

New every day a flower blooms

To rise towards the sun,

New every day our love grows strong

Because God has made us one.

 

Alpha and Omega Lord

You fill our cup with joy

And by God’s fountain of new life

Our thirst God does destroy.

 

New every day the sun does rise

To freshen up the air

New every day our Lord renews

The love we have to share.

 

O Lord you give us life and hope

Which by your grace is won

And now we know you as our God

And you declare us sons.

New every day we know God’s love

So, wonderful to share

New every day we realise

His love we must declare.

  1. (5 – 6)    Why created heavens high and low should praise God

The next two verses actually say why the created heavens high and low should praise God,

“Let them praise the name of the Lord, for at his command they were created, and established them for ever and ever – he issued a decree that will never pass away”.

 I see these two verses telling us why all created things should praise God and they are threefold:

  1. God brought them into being by his powerful word
  2. God established them or maintains them always
  3. God makes them possible and maintains them by his laws of nature

Let me now flesh out these three reasons why all created beings and things should praise the God who made them.

  1. God brought them into being by his powerful word

The writer of Psalm 148 speaks of how everything was made by God as the first reason for them praising him, he writes,

“For at his command they were created”.

 This is a clear echo of the first chapter in the bible Genesis 1 where ten times we read the words,

“Then God said”

 How then did God create everything?

According to verse 5 of Psalm 148 and Genesis 1 God simply spoke and his word was so powerful and effective that what he commanded to be was. This means the very word of God is both all-powerful and effective and this is the significance of Jesus stilling the storm in a passage like Mark 4: 35 – 41.

In this passage Jesus is on a fishing boat and is awakened by his disciples during a violent storm and Jesus stands up and simply commands the storm,

“Quiet! Be still!”

 Then verse 39, Mark goes on to report,

“Then the wind died down and it was completely calm”

 The significance of what happened that day on that fishing boat on Lake Galilee was not lost on the disciples as Mark records in verse 41,

“They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waters obey him”.

God created all that is created so he alone deserves to be praised and he created it all by his powerful word. What then is the bible?

It simply is the expressed word of God to us described in the book of Hebrews this way, Hebrews 4: 12,

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart”. 

  1. God established them or maintains them always

In verse 6a we read these words,

“And he established them for ever and ever”

 Albert Barnes sums up well what these words both mean and imply when he writes,

“He (God) has made them firm, stable, enduring. That they may be eternal is possible; that they will not be, no one can prove. Matter, when created, has no necessary tendency to decay or annihilation; and the universe – the stars, and suns, and systems – which have endured so many million of ages may continue to exist any number of million of ages to come. Of course, however, all this is dependent on the will of God”.

 So, all created things and beings should praise God because he not only created them but he also sustains them according to his good will and pleasure.

Paul in Romans 8 speaks of how sin or the fall of man has caused pain and strife in the created realm of God in this world yet he goes on to point out that God has a plan for this to one day gloriously change, Romans 8: 18 – 21,

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God”.

 Even though mankind’s sin has corrupted the created world God is still in control of it and has established a plan to redeem both humanity and the frustrated created world it dwells in.

So, because God established and maintains all that has been created we must praise him.

  1. God makes them possible and maintains them by his laws of nature

The third and final reason why all that has been created should and must praise God is made clear in verse 6b, when it says,

“He issued a decree that will never pass away”.

 The word decree could also be called a law and many scientists in the past and present have become believers in a God simply because they have realised that all of the natural world is governed by laws that can be mathematically described and relied upon.

Many scientists say they only believe in something they can see and prove which means if it cannot be scientifically investigated then they will not believe in it.

The problem is if the universe is just an incredible accident that came about over a very long period of time then how the hell can it be investigated by scientific investigation without laws that need someone to make them. The truth is the natural world and universe is governed by amazing laws that point not only to order and structure but an incredible designer and law maker.

Recently I read the testimony of a former atheist scientist named Francis Collins. Francis Collins is an American biologist who was the founder of The Human Genome Project and who discovered the genes associated with a number of disease’s. Collins in his study of diseases had to work with many people dying of a disease he was studying and he was struck by the way many Christians he sat with as they tragically died of this horrible disease not only had faith in God but praised him for his love and goodness to them.

This led Collins to seek an answer to the question of whether there is a God and one day a Methodist minister gave him a copy of a book written by C.S Lewis called, “Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe”.  Collins discovered Lewis was a former Oxford scholar who was himself a former atheist who asked the same questions Collins was now seeking answers to. Collins says this about Lewis,

“He asked those questions who had travelled the same path from atheism to belief, kicking and screaming the whole way”.

 Collins spent another two years investigating other world religions but it was Christians he had come to know and respect that helped him the most and then he wrote this,

“But I also began to appreciate that even from the area of science that I was most comfortable in, there were a lot of pointers to God,” Collins added. “It was the fact that there is something instead of nothing. … The fact that the universe seems to be fine-tuned to make complexity possible and therefore life possible. That actually, nature follows these elegant mathematical rules of second-order differential equations that I had so loved. Why should that be? Why should nature be like this? 

“It seems like there should be a mathematician and a physicist behind all this. Oh my gosh, that sounds like God.”

 Collins eventually gave in to the God he now knew was real and gave his life to his Son who he believed saved him from his sins and he says in his testimony that he has never changed from that day. Collins went on to write a book called “The Language of God” and help set up an organisation called “Biologos” which has a web site to help people realise that there should be no conflict between science and biblical faith.

So, all created things should praise the creator who made them and who also maintains their existence by the laws of nature which are really simply the laws of God for the natural world.

      2.   (7 – 12) PRAISE GOD CREATED EARTH

  1. (7 – 10) Praise God created sea, land and animals

 As I referred to in the previous section only Israel and their one and only God of the bible did not worship or in Psalm 148 terms praise an image of either a celestial body like the sun or moon or an earthly creature like animals and even a human being or combination of both like the many Egyptian God’s.

All creatures on earth and in the sea according to verse 7 and verse 10 are not to be worshiped or praised but are in fact to praise the God of the bible who created them,

Vs. 7 – “Praise the Lord from earth, you great sea creatures and all oceans depths”

 And verse 10,

“Wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds”.

 The anti- worship the created message of the bible is very clear in verses like Deuteronomy 4: 15 – 19,

“You saw no form of any kind the day the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore, watch yourselves very carefully, 16 so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman, 17 or like any animal on earth or any bird that flies in the air, 18 or like any creature that moves along the ground or any fish in the waters below. 19 And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars—all the heavenly array—do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the Lord your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven”.

 This worship of God’s represented by celestial bodies or created animals was prominent in the Canaanite religion that continued in Israel in various forms throughout its history before the Jews were taken in exile in Babylon. One of the reasons God judged them so harshly was the fact that the majority of the Jews before the Babylonian exile had turned to these God’s that were no more than false God’s represented by created creatures like bulls or as verse 10 points to cattle and even birds and sea creatures.

Then in verse 8 we have the weather praising God and weather is a creation of God and it is God who controls its complicated daily operations, verse 8,

“Lightning and hail, snow and clouds stormy winds that do his bidding”.

 In my “Prayers of the Created” set of poems I have this following poem devoted to the inspiration of the wind entitled, “The Thunderous Voice of God in Wind”,

“Over hill and mountain wonder

Through the trees and telegraph poles

The voice of wind is howling, growling

God is great and has no foes”.

 

Tossed about in stormy thunder

A tiny craft is smashed around,

Across a vast and turbulent ocean

The voice of God now shouts aloud.

 

Pushing down the tallest timbers

Breaking them like pencil sticks

Wind is strong and knows no conqueror

So much like God which wind depicts.

 

In an open field in winter

Feel the force of a mighty gale

Becomes me to seek out shelter

Man is weak and very frail.

 

Howling, storming, mighty blowing

Pushing all around like leaves

Now declaring God is glorious

For God is there behind the breeze”.

This poem speaks of how even the wind can and does glorify or praise God when we realise he created it and controls it day after day.

Finally, in this first part of the second section of Psalm 148 we have verse 9 which speaks of mountains, hills, fruit trees and cedars praising God,

“You mountains and all hills, fruit trees and cedars”.

 Israel is set in a landscape that hills and mountains dominate the landscape either the people of Israel lived in the mountains like Jerusalem or looked up to the mountains from the desert plains and therefore the Psalmist includes mountains, hills and fruit trees that would have dominated the foot hills of the mountains and the great Cedar trees that filled the forests of the northern mountains of Israel as created objects of praise to the God who made and sustains them.

I live in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney Australia and have lived there for over 30 years and I never get tired of appreciating the spectacular scenery of the mountains and rugged valleys all around me where I live. As I said in the introduction great cathedrals and churches don’t inspire praise in me but beautiful mountain scenery does.

This does not mean I don’t look forward to going to church but I go not for the building but for the fellowship and worship of the people who gather in that building. Paul spoke many times to the churches about praising God or giving God the glory for what he has done in us as individuals and as a church and Ephesians 3: 20 – 21 is a good example of this,

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen”.

 We will look more closely at our call to praise God in the second part of the second section of this Psalm 148.

  1. (11 – 12) Praise God created humanity high and low

In this second part of the second section of Psalm 148 the writer turns to calling humanity to praise God again because he made them and continues to uphold them. In his two verses, he uses poetic images of humanity that seek to include all humanity both high and low, he writes,

Kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth, young men and women, old men and children”.

 The writer of Psalm 148 started with Kings, princes and rulers and these are the human beings who rule and lead humanity and it has always been a trap that their powerful positions in human society has corrupted them and instead of praising and worshipping God they often end up seeking praise and worship for themselves. I like the advice Spurgeon gives to those who hold positions of power in human societies,

“Monarchs must not disdain to sing, nor must their people refrain from uniting with them.

Those who lead in battle and those who decide in courts must neither of them allow their vocations to keep them from reverently adoring the Chief and Judge of all. All people, and all judges, must praise the Lord of all”.

 Paul makes it clear that the people who rule over us are only in such a position because God has put them there, Romans 13: 1,

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God”.

 This does not mean all people in authority are righteous or always do the right thing for they like all of us are sinners and need to be saved and this is why Paul instructs the church through Timothy for us to always pray for those who rule over us, 1 Timothy 2: 1 – 4,

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth”.

 Note Paul says God wants all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth and this all people of course includes Kings, Princes and Rulers.

Then in verse 12 the lowlier people in human society are called on to praise God,

“Young men and women, old men and children”

These terms represent all humanity young and old alike and we all must praise and worship God alone because he made us and sustains us daily. Christians often give thanks for the food they are about to eat as a way of acknowledging God’s good provisions for their daily needs.

Jesus in his model prayer includes asking for God to give us our daily need of food, Matthew 6: 11,

“Give us today our daily bread”.

 We need to praise God for all he has given us in this life and particularly for the salvation and forgiveness we have in Christ as Peter exhorts us to do in 1 Peter 1: 3 – 5,

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time”.

 I close this second section of Psalm 148 with my Prayers for the Created poem called,

“God’s Alive”

This world is full of mystery there is much we do not know,

Like why does a mother love her child

And what causes winds to blow?

And yet I seem surrounded by arrogance supreme,

They tell me that they know it all

And God is but a dream.

 

Then tell me who has made this world

With order and contrast?

Who and why decided what, life should come to pass?

Just take the tiny caterpillar

Who starts life so small

And changes to a butterfly to fly the skies so tall.

 

We only believe in things we see and yet we rely each day

On electricity and the air, we breathe

And the hidden tidal sway.

So, think again when you say God is surely dead

For without his help the world would stop

And non- one would be fed.

 

Yes, God’s alive and must be feared

His word does clearly proclaim

For through his love he sent his Son

To save our lives through sacrificial pain.

So, look to God and know his love

And glorify his name.

       3.   (13 – 14) PRAISE GOD CREATED PEOPLE OF GOD

  1. (vs. 13) Praise by the created for the name and splendour of God

The writer brings his short but amazing Psalm to a close with two verses that achieve two important things:

  1. He states again the central reason why all of the created should praise God (vs. 13)
  2. He calls on God’s special people / his faithful saved ones to praise God (vs. 14)

I will deal with the first of these final important things in this section namely:

  1. He states again the central reason why all of the created should praise God (vs. 13)

Verse 13 contains similar information about why all of the created universe should praise God as we read back in verses 5 and 6 for verse 13 says,

“Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his splendour is above the earth and the heavens”.

 These wonderful facts about God spoken here in verse 13 relate to the praise of his special people for it is God’s word or revelation to them that makes them the ones who know the three things this verse speaks of namely:

  1. The name of God
  2. His exalted position in all things
  3. His splendour that is above the earth and heavens

I will now seek to explain what each of these three wonderful facts about God actually are:

  1. The name of God

I said that only God’s special people known as Israel in the bible know what verse 13 is speaking about and this is because God chose to create a special people.

Through God’s special people God made himself known to the world and his name is all that he is that he made known to them.

We see this clearly in God’s words to Moses on Mount Sinai when God set down his covenant of love in Exodus 19: 5 – 6,

“Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, youwill be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation”.

 You see a priest is a go between and here God will make himself known to Moses and the people he represented. Israel was to take the message of who God is and what he wants the world to know about him to the world. They would be God’s go between or priests.

Isaiah understood perfectly what this Kingdom of priests really meant in Isaiah 43: 10 – 13 where he speaks of how God would reveal his name, who he really is to Israel and they would be his witnesses to the world,

“You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen,
so that you may know and believe meand understand that I am he.Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.11 I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no saviour.12 I have revealed and saved and proclaimed— I, and not some foreign 
god among you.You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “that I am God.13 Yes, and from ancient days I am he.No one can deliver out of my hand.When I act, who can reverse it?”

 We of course now know who God really is and what he is really like because Israel at least for filled this part of their calling and of course through Israel God made himself even more clearly known through the Lord Jesus Christ who established the new covenant and called us to be his priests or witnesses to the world.

We see this in two important New Testament references, Hebrews 1: 1 – 3,

“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven”.

 Then 1 Peter 2: 9 – 10, speaking of how we are now God’s priests, special nation and witnesses to the world,

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy”. 

  1. His exalted position in all things

The second important reason in verse 13 why all of the created must praise God is expressed in the words,

“For his name alone is exalted”

 Albert Barnes gave me the cross reference of Psalm 8 verse 1, which says,

“Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens”.

 Barnes comments on this verse points out that God’s majestic name could actually be translated excellent or exalted and he then goes on to make this comment,

“Name being often used to denote the person. The idea is,” How glorious art thou in thy manifested excellence or character.”

So, God is the exalted one and as creations creator he has set his glorious character or attributes in the heavens and of course the earth as well. This means we and all of creation must praise God and God alone.

Paul boldly presents Jesus as the image of the invisible God who is this great creator God who deserves our praise and worship in Colossians 1: 15 – 20,

“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross”.

  1. His splendour that is above the earth and heavens

This expression then above the heavens makes God’s majesty, power and glory the highest and most supreme thing there is in any sense. David made it plain the heavens declare God’s glory or splendour and he himself sits above all that he has made in holy splendour or glory which Isaiah got a glimpse of which he recorded in Isaiah 6: 1 – 3,

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

 The apostle John also saw a vision of the glory and splendour of God in highest heaven which he records in Revelation 4: 1 – 8,

“After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spiritsof God. Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.In the centre, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle.

 Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’who was, and is, and is to come.”

 David Guzik sums up well what this term “his splendour is above the earth and the heavens” and how that applies to us when he writes,

“Yahweh deserves such praise from all things on earth because He is immeasurably greater and more glorious than anything on earth. We should reserve our praise for only that which is truly greater and more glorious, not for the lesser things (such as the idols of men’s hands)”.

 The idols of today are so puny and pathetic when compared to great and glorious God of Heaven and earth. Idols like money, fame ad even worship of the human body itself such things are so shallow and useless in satisfying us in this life let alone the life to come.

Paul calls the Colossian Christians to turn away from the false God’s of our age and set their hearts on The Lord Jesus Christ, he says this in Colossians 3: 1 – 3,

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory”.

 The setting our hearts on the things above involve our praise and worship of the God who sits above earth and heaven as verse 13 of Psalm 148 states clearly.

“Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his splendour is above the earth and the heavens”. 

  1. (vs. 14) Praise by the created and saved people of God

The writer of Psalm 148 then addresses the special chosen people of God, Israel directly and states three wonderful realities about them that should inspire their praise and worship joined to the general praise of all created things:

  1. They are a people that have been miraculously saved by God
  2. They are a people that should faithful serve their God
  3. They are a people that are close to the heart of God.

I will now seek to explain what each of these three wonderful realities of God’s special chosen people are and how they apply to us in The Lord Jesus Christ:

  1. They are a people that have been miraculously saved by God

The reality of God’s special chosen people is expressed in a curious controversial phrase that reads this way at the start of verse 14,

“And he has raised up for his people a horn”

 To understand what this phrase meant at the time of writing, after the return from Babylonian exile we need to understand what the image of “a horn” means in the Old Testament. In my study of this term I was led to two key Old Testament verses:

1 Samuel 2: 1,

Then Hannah prayed and said:“My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my horn is lifted high.My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance.

 And Psalm 133: 17 – 18,

“Here I will make a horngrow for David and set up a lamp for my anointed one.18 I will clothe his enemies with shame, but his head will be adorned with a radiant crown.”

 The horn then denotes strength and power particularly for the powerless as Hannah prayed saying God saved Israel when they were weak and powerless like a horn who lifted them high.

Then Psalm 133: 17 speaks of David and his descendants being a horn making God’s people victorious over their enemies.

Putting this in the context of the Jews return from exile in captivity in Babylon Leopold writes,

“Israel had almost completely deprived of strength during the captivity”.

 Then after 70 years God raised up a horn in the pagan king Cyrus who acts as a Saviour by defeating the Babylonians and then making Israel strong by restoring or making it possible for them to be restored to the promised land of Israel.

The second reference of David and his descendants being God’s horn or God’s instrument of making the weak strong by saving them and raising them up is a beautiful prophecy of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ who is David’s greater son who saves us from our weakness of our sins and raises us up to eternal life a greater salvation than from captivity and slavery.

As Peter explained to the crowd in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2: 29 – 36,

“Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,“‘The Lord said to my Lord:  “Sit at my right hand35 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

 Jesus then is the promised Messiah a great descendant of David who is God’s horn or saving strength that lifts us up from the captivity or slavery of sin. Paul speaks of this great rising up of us from the captivity or slavery of sin this way in Ephesians 2: 1 – 7,

 “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our fleshand following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus”.

 Through Christ and what he has done for us we become God’s chosen people or the special people of God which is what Paul goes on to declare in Ephesians 2: 11 – 13,

“Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ”.

 Paul makes this even more clearer in what he says in verses 19 – 22,

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit”.

 David Guzik makes the connection of this miraculous salvation of God’s chosen people to the overall theme of “Praise of the Created” with these words,

“Yahweh deserves such praise from all things on earth because He has rescued and established his people”.

 This means the work of The Lord Jesus Christ miraculously rescuing us from our weak and powerless state of sin has cosmic consequences and is in fact the ultimate plan of God for all of creation as Paul makes clear in Romans 8: 18 – 21,

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God”.

  1. They are a people that should faithful serve their God

The second description of God’s people that should inspire them to praise and worship their God which should join with the praise of all created things is expressed this way in verse 14,

“The praise of all his faithful servants, of Israel”

 This term “faithful servants” many commentators point out is the Hebrew word for “Saints” which carries with it the idea of being set apart also a Hebrew word similar to “being holy” but of course the people of Israel where only made holy and where made separate by God for his service by his covenant of love which in Old Testament symbolized the need for a sacrifice for their sins by animals.

This need for a sacrifice for the payment of our sins was only made possible by the coming of The Lord Jesus Christ who even John the Baptist knew was the perfect sacrifice for our sins when he declared in John 1: 29,

“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”

 The writer to the Hebrews makes it clear that Jesus is the mediator of a New Covenant through his death for our sins on the cross in Hebrews 9: 15,

“For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant”.

 So, because of what God did for his people Israel through the Old covenant they are his saints or as translated in the NIV translation, “his faithful servants” and because they can be called this through the miraculous workings of God they joined by all created things should praise and worship this great saving God.

We have even more reasons to join this great chorus of praise because we are made God’s “Saints” or “Faithful Servants” through the work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross for us winning for us forgiveness of our sins and the gift of eternal life as Paul made clear so many times in his letters to the churches like these words in Colossians 2: 13 – 15,

“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made youalive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross”.

 Paul calls the church in Corinth those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus called to be his holy people or “Saints” as this term can be translated as in 1 Corinthians 1: 2,

“To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours”.

So, all true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are “Saints” not some special super Christians like the Roman Catholic church teaches. 

  1. They are a people that are close to the heart of God.

The final reality of God’s special chosen people that should lead to their praise and worship of their God is expressed this way by the writer of Psalm 148 at the end of verse 14 and his Psalm,

“The people close to his heart”.

 This last term is miraculous because it presents the amazing idea that God’s chosen people have a special relationship to the God who made and controls the entire universe, Spurgeon writes,

“Those who are children of privilege should be children of praise. A people near unto him, near by kin, and near by care; near as to manifestation and near as to affection. This is a highly honourable description of the beloved race; and it is true even more emphatically of the spiritual Israel, the believing seed”.

 Spurgeon’s expression “the spiritual Israel, the believing seed”, is a beautiful description of those who have come close to the heart of God through Christ who Paul describes this way in Ephesians 2: 13,

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ”.

We must praise our wonderful God because we have been brought near to him through the work of Christ for us on the cross and through Jesus death and resurrection Paul goes on to say in verses 17 and 18 of Ephesians 2,

“He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit”.

 We come to then to the end of Psalm 148 which started with the popular term for praise in the Psalms, “Hallelujah” or Praise to Yahweh and then concludes with a “Hallelujah”.

All of the created things of this world and universe has been called upon to praise their creator and sustaining God and we especially as God’s chosen people must lead this praise not only with our lips but also with our lives as Paul exhorts us to do in Romans 12: 1,

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship”.

 I close as usual with an original poem / song a new “Prayers of the Created Poem” or for this Psalm “A Praise of the Created poem and a final word of prayer:

LET US PRAISE THE NAME OF THE LORD

(Based on Psalm 148)

Praise the Lord

From the heavens above

Praise him all you angels

Praise him for his love

Praise him sun and moon

Praise him shinning stars

Praise him highest heavens

For all God’s wonders above the skies.

 

Chorus:

 

Let us praise the name of the Lord

For at his command he created all

He established it by his powerful word

That will surely live for evermore.

 

Praise the Lord

Praise him earth and sea

Praise him ocean depths

Praise him now for me.

Praise him wind and storms

Praise him mountains and plains

Praise him creature’s great and small

Praise the Lord who always reigns.

 

Chorus:

 

Let us praise the name of the Lord

For at his command he created all

He established it by his powerful word

That will surely live for ever more.

 

Praise the Lord

Praise him nations and kings

Praise him all mankind

For he alone made everything

Praise him for his splendour

seen on earth and heaven above

Praise him all faithful servants

Who have responded to his love.

 

Chorus:

 

Let us praise the name of the Lord

For at his command he created all

He established it by his powerful word

That will surely live for evermore.

 

By: Jim Wenman

 

PRAYER:

 We join with all of creation in praise to you Father of Heaven and earth, Lord and creator of all things. We thank you for your wonderful creation, we thank you for your continual maintaining of this world, we thank you for your bountiful provisions of our daily needs. But above all we thank you for your love in sending your Son Jesus Christ to this world to die on the cross for our sins so that we can be forgiven to be one with you in Praise and service both now and for evermore, In Jesus Name we pray this, Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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