psalm 148… universal hallelujahs

Psalm 148

1 Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD from the sky!
Praise him in the heavens!
2 Praise him, all his angels!
Praise him, all his heavenly assembly!
3 Praise him, O sun and moon!
Praise him, all you shiny stars!
4 Praise him, O highest heaven,
and you waters above the sky!
5 Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for he gave the command and they came into existence.
6 He established them so they would endure;
he issued a decree that will not be revoked.
7 Praise the LORD from the earth,
you sea creatures and all you ocean depths,
8 O fire and hail, snow and clouds,
O stormy wind that carries out his orders,
9 you mountains and all you hills,
you fruit trees and all you cedars,
10 you animals and all you cattle,
you creeping things and birds,
11 you kings of the earth and all you nations,
you princes and all you leaders on the earth,
12 you young men and young women,
you elderly, along with you children!
13 Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for his name alone is exalted;
his majesty extends over the earth and sky.
14 He has made his people victorious,
and given all his loyal followers reason to praise –
the Israelites, the people who are close to him.
Praise the LORD!

The last five psalms of the Psalter are psalms of joyful praise to the Lord. Psalm 148 calls on all creation, both heaven and earth to praise the Lord. Praise from heaven and earth create the structure of the psalm.

  • Vv1-6. Praise from the heavens
  • Vv7-14 Praise from the earth

Perhaps, before a brief scan of the psalm, we should note who is the subject of praise. It is the Lord, Yahweh the God of Israel. The psalmist recognises that he is Lord not only of Israel but all things. His reign is cosmic and universal.


Kidner entitles this psalm ‘the choir of creation.’

Intelligent life in the heavens, angelic beings and the armies of heaven are called to praise the Lord. They exist in the ‘heights’ (v1) however the contrasting depths are also called to praise (v7).

Inanimate objects are then called to praise, the heavenly bodies (sun moon and stars). The rain clouds too are urged to worship. Most if not all of these have been turned into objects of worship but far from receiving worship they are called to offer worship. They should worship because the Lord is their Creator by his spoken word and he is their sustainer. He upholds them by the spoken word of his power (Hebs 1:3). The has placed them in their course or position.

Vv 7- 14

The focus turns from the heavens to earth. It seems that those elements of life that are menacing or chaotic are called to praise the Lord – sea creatures, all deeps, fire and hail, snow, mist and stormy wind (although some come from heaven the writer is thinking about their impact on earth). They may seem to have a mind of their own but actually they fulfil his word. We should remember that the ‘acts of nature’ are ‘acts of the Lord’.

The psalmist goes on to range over various aspects of creation animate and inanimate, cultivated and uncultivated, wild and domesticated and creatures low and high, all are summoned to praise.

The camera then turns to humanity. Once again the extremes are named and the assumption is all in between are included. The kings of the earth and all the nations, the youth male and female, the young and the old are called with all else to a united symphony of praise to the name of the Lord. In a divided world unity will only be found in praise of the Lord. Notice the frequent repetition of ‘all’ throughout. None are exempt from worship.

Why should they praise? Because of the excellence of the Lord. He is exalted far above them all. His majesty excels and alone deserves praise. He is Creator and all else is creation.

The lens of the camera now turns to Israel. They are ‘his people’, ‘the saints’ and ‘those who are near to him’. A special relationship exists. Why should they praise? Here we have both a contrast and a climax. Praise is enjoined not because the Lord is the exalted Creator but because the Lord has raised up a horn* (a king?) for his people (Lk 1:69; Ps 132:17). The Lord’s redemption in Messiah making Israel his people is the reason for Israel’s praise an act even greater than his majesty as creator (Rev 5:9,10). The name ‘Lord‘ implies redeemer for it was when he was about to redeem Israel that he revealed himself as ‘the Lord’ (Ex 3:13). Zechariah, father of John the Baptist, develops the redemptive blessings the messianic king will bring to Israel… redemption, deliverance from enemies, mercy, fulfilment of the promises (Lk 1 Cf. Ps 2). The messianic king that God gives his people and the redemptive blessings given is the chief reason for their praise.

It seems that all of creation is the choir of praise with Israel, diminutive Israel, out front as a focal yet contrasting lead. Two songs are blending seamlessly – the song of creation and the song of Israel, the redeemed – into one joyous concert of praise to the Lord ( Cf. Rev 5).

The psalm ends as it begins with a ‘hallelujah’.

Praise the Lord of heaven, praise him in the height; praise him, all his angels, praise him, hosts of light. Sun and moon together, shining stars aflame, planets in their courses, magnify his Name!

Earth and ocean praise him; mountains, hills and trees; fire and hail and tempest, wind and storm and seas. Praise him, fields and forests. birds on flashing wings, praise him, beasts and cattle, all created things.

Now by prince and people. let his praise be told; praise him, men and maidens, praise him, young and old. He, the Lord of glory! We his praise proclaim! High above all heavens. magnify his Name!

Timothy Dudley-Smith

*It may be that Israel is the horn. God has raised them up and given them strength. They are to praise him for this. Either way God’s redemptive raising of Israel is a cause for praise. In one sense it is an example of the dilemma of the close relationship between Christ and his people who are one yet distinct (Dan 7:13,18).


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