1 Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights above.
2 Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
3 Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars.
4 Praise him, you highest heavens
and you waters above the skies.
5 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for at his command they were created,
6 and he established them for ever and ever—
he issued a decree that will never pass away.
7 Praise the Lord from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
8 lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
stormy winds that do his bidding,
9 you mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,
10 wild animals and all cattle,
small creatures and flying birds,
11 kings of the earth and all nations,
you princes and all rulers on earth,
12 young men and women,
old men and children.
13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.
14 And he has raised up for his people a horn,
the praise of all his faithful servants,
of Israel, the people close to his heart.
Praise the Lord.
(Psalm 148:1-14 NIV)
Like the two preceding psalms, Psalm 148 begins and ends with the familiar worship phrase “Praise the Lord”.
Before we take a closer look at this psalm, it’s worth noting several obvious themes in the text. The first is the focus on worship. The word “praise” occurs 13 times across 14 verses. The second is the inclusiveness of this praise to the Lord. The word “all” occurs 10 times in the text. The writer of this hymn was not writing this as a personal or private worship time – this psalm was meant to be shared in community, in corporate worship.
There are two main sections to this psalm:
- From the heavens (vv. 1-6)
- From the earth (vv. 7-12)
Verses 13-14 then wrap up or summarize the previous two sections.
As we look at verses 1-6, we see the psalmist inviting the created heavens and heavenly beings to worship the Lord. Note that the psalmist did not tell us to worship the created beings – the sun, the moon, the stars, the angels. Instead, the psalmist invites the created beings and God’s creation to worship their Creator.
And why would God’s created objects and beings in the heavens worship Him? Verses 5-6 give us the answer – because God created them all, and established them forever. Since God spoke them into existence, these objects and beings have had both a place and a purpose in His grand design.
Don’t believe me? That’s OK – go check it out yourself. Go back and read the Creation account in Genesis chapter 1.
Verses 7-12 invite all of God’s creation on the earth to join in worshiping Him. The psalmist is all-inclusive:
- The ocean and its depths, including all its inhabitants (v. 7)
- The weather across all four seasons (v. 8)
- The mountains and all plant life (v. 9)
- All creatures on the land and in the air (v. 10)
- All rulers and human authorities (v. 11)
- All people on the earth – young and old, men and women (v. 12)
Note that the psalmist uses some poetic license in the lists. For instance, verse 10 lists wild animals and cattle. The “cattle” represent all domesticated animals such as sheep, horses, pigs, llamas, etc. Another example is “small creatures” (v. 10). This is meant to cover everything from insects and creepy-crawly bugs to small animals like cats and dogs, rabbits, etc.
So why does the psalmist invite all heavens and earth to worship the Lord? Verses 13-14 give us the answer. As the Creator of all the heavens and the earth, everything and everyone, God alone is worthy of our praise and honor. He alone deserves the glory for all He has done.
And is all this glory one-sided? No. Verse 14 tells us that God designed this to be a relationship between Himself and His people, the nation of Israel. In the Old Testament, God shared His glory with Israel as an example of His goodness and love toward His creation. In the New Testament, God opened this door to everyone – Jew or non-Jew, young or old, male or female, slave or free – all are offered His love and eternal life if they so choose to accept it. Salvation and eternal life with God cannot be bought, earned, or demanded – it can only be accepted as a free gift from God to us through His son Jesus.
Here’s an old hymn that puts to music the thoughts of this psalm. Originally penned as part of his Canticle of the Sun poem, these words were written about 800 years ago by Saint Francis of Assisi. In the early 1900’s, William Draper paraphrased Psalm 148 and Saint Francis’ poem into the hymn we know as “All Creatures of Our God and King”.
Join me in worshiping our Lord:
All Creatures of Our God and King