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Christ has now taken His rightful place and is seated on His own throne (Revelation 3:21). Just as creation has been subjected to futility and corruption through the fall of man in sin (Romans 8:20-Ecclesiastes :), so creation will be set free from these consequences of sin through Christ. The longing of creation is now fulfilled (Romans 8:21). All creation, heaven and earth and all their inhabitants, share in the revealed glory.
In this psalm, two mighty choirs are formed. First, the heavens and all that is in them are called to participate in the great “hallelujah” to praise the LORD. He created the heavens and all that is in them and keeps everything in place (Psalms 148:1-Joshua :).
Then He calls the earth and all that is upon it to join in that praise. It is about praising Him whose Name alone is highly exalted and whose majesty is over heaven and earth (Psalms 148:7-1 Chronicles :).
Finally, God’s special relationship with Israel is sung. They are “His people”, “His godly ones”, “a people near to Him” (Psalms 148:14). The people of Israel are here the place where heaven and earth meet to praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD From the Heavens
The psalm, like the previous two psalms, begins with “hallelujah!”, “praise the LORD!” (Psalms 148:1), with “praise the LORD” again immediately in the next line. It is not a mere repetition, however. We hear the tone swell. The praise becomes more and more extensive. It begins “from the heavens”. There, “in the height” in creation (cf. Job 16:19), the LORD is to be praised.
There, in His throne room, are “all His angels” and “all His hosts” (Psalms 148:2). They were created first; they were present at the creation of heaven and earth and rejoiced (Job 38:4-Judges :). They are also present at the re-creation, to which all of God’s ways with the earth culminate, and rejoice again in the process. This begins as early as the coming of Christ to earth, when there was “a multitude of the heavenly host praising God” (Luke 2:13).
In this psalm the elect angels, the non-fallen angels, are addressed (1 Timothy 5:21). The fallen angels also have access to the throne room (1 Kings 22:19-Isaiah :; Job 1:6-Judges :; Job 2:1) – this is the case until Revelation 12, for then Satan is cast out of heaven (Revelation 12:8) – and cannot do anything but what God commands them to do. They will be forced to confess that Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2:10-1 Kings :).
Then the psalmist turns to what is in the sky: the “sun and moon” and “all the stars of light” (Psalms 148:3). To them, too, the call to “praise Him” is heard. Sun and moon were placed in the heavens by God as “the two great lights” to control the day and night (Genesis 1:16-Job :). They are of great significance to man’s life on earth. The same is true of the stars, especially “the stars of light” that provide orientation for people at night. All these impressive heavenly bodies are there to sing the praises of God.
They were created first of all as signs of fixed times (Genesis 1:14), that is, the times appointed by the LORD for His people to celebrate with Him (Leviticus 23:2). The LORD’s appointed times are determined by the sun and the moon. Second, they tell something of God’s glory, they show something of His eternal power and divine nature (Romans 1:20). They proclaim without words a silent message of majesty, of impressive power, perfection and beauty (Psalms 19:1-Judges :).
Even the “highest heavens, and the waters that are above the heavens” are called to “praise Him” (Psalms 148:4). The “highest heavens” or the ‘heaven of heavens’ is the highest division of the created sky from which the LORD rules (Psalms 68:33; 1 Kings 8:27). The water that is above the heavens is the water of the cloud heaven. All this high region, from the highest heaven of the angels to the lowest cloud heaven, where the water is, and where man cannot come and look into, proclaims the praises of God.
Everything in the universe above the earth is told to “praise the name of the LORD” (Psalms 148:5). The reason for this, represented by the word “for”, is that He is their Creator. Only by commanding did He create them (Psalms 33:6; Psalms 33:9). The re-creation will be the result of what He has spoken in His Word (Isaiah 65:17-Lamentations :).
He has also given everything a fixed place in His creation (Psalms 148:6). Nothing stands where it stands by chance. That fixed place is fixed “forever and ever.” No one can change that. Everything also stands in its proper relationship to everything else. He has made a decree which will not pass away, He has given everything an order, which none of them shall transgress. No change takes place in the order He has given. This will find its perfect fulfillment in the realm of peace.
The first reason to praise the Name of the LORD is because He is the Creator (Psalms 148:5), the second reason to praise the LORD is that He upholds and sustains creation by the word of His power (Psalms 148:6; Hebrews 1:2-Leviticus :). That He upholds creation is evidenced by the laws of nature and the order of creation that He has established. In them also we recognize the majesty of God, they proclaim without words His glory to the praise of His Name.
Praise the LORD From the Earth
Then the earth is called to join the “praise the LORD” from heaven (Psalms 148:7). The “praise the LORD” is also to sound from the earth. The “praise the LORD” sounds once at the beginning of this section and then no more. All and sundry who are called to praise the LORD form a whole, as it were.
It is all earthly and on earth and everything, inanimate and animated, forms one mighty, harmonious chorus praising the LORD. The order here is reversed compared to the order of heaven. Here it begins at the deepest point and ends with man, the crown of creation.
The first to be addressed to praise the LORD are the “sea monsters and all deep”. These are animals and areas that awe man and are unfathomable to him. God created the sea monsters, as well as all the deep waters, which are the areas in which they live (cf. Job 38:16). He knows everything through and through, everything is under His control and reflects His majesty and thus expresses His praise.
Then it is the turn of “fire and hail, snow and clouds; stormy wind” (Psalms 148:8). The fire or flaming lightning, the deadly hailstones, the all-covering snow, the elusive vapor or mist, the destructive storm wind or hurricane, all are impressive and uncontrollable phenomena to man. They are manifestations of His majesty that magnify His praise. They are under the complete control and authority of God, which He exercises through “His word”. We see here again the power of His Word (Psalms 147:15; Psalms 147:18; 2 Peter 3:5-Judges :).
Next we come to the earth itself. There are the “mountains”, the symbols of unshakability, which defy the ages, “and all hills”, which cover the landscape in a rolling way and on which the flocks graze (Psalms 148:9). We also see the “fruit trees and all cedars”. Of the fruit trees man may eat and the cedars he may use to build houses, among other things. From the lofty mountains, rolling hills, and useful trees, the “praise the LORD” sounds.
Then the animal world also mingles with the chorus that sings the praises of the LORD (Psalms 148:10). “Beasts and all cattle; creeping things and winged fowl” raise their voices. Again, like the previous groups, it is a voice without words, but unlike the previous groups, it is the sound of living creatures.
Fruit trees and cedars represent cultivated (planted) and uncultivated (unplanted) trees, respectively. The beasts and all cattle represent non-tame and tame animals, respectively. The classification of plants and animals in Genesis, and again here, is connected to the relationship to man.
Finally, humanity is called to praise the LORD (Psalms 148:11-2 Kings :). Various groups of people, named according to status, quantity, gender, and age, are called upon to join to praise the LORD. “Kings of the earth”, those who hold highest positions of authority on earth, and who have so often opposed God, sing the praises of God in the realm of peace (Psalms 148:11). The same is true of “all peoples, princes and all judges of the earth”. They have worshiped other gods or attributed divine attributes to themselves. They have also taken advantage of God’s people. Now they honor God and bring Him their praise.
After the high-ranking and all the nations, even “both young men and virgins; old men and children” hear the call to praise the LORD (Psalms 148:12). The young men and virgins point to youthfulness, the new beginning of what God has given. Old men and children point to the unity between the two groups, there is no generation gap.
All creation, heaven and earth, is to “praise the name of the LORD” (Psalms 148:13). The name “LORD”, Yahweh, recalls His connection to man and His covenant with His people Israel. For the sake of man and His people, He has worked this “regeneration” (Matthew 19:28) of the earth. He has done everything, and therefore “His name alone is exalted” and “His glory is above earth and heaven”.
In the realm of peace, heaven and earth will be brought together under one Head, which is Christ (Ephesians 1:10). Then everything will be subject to Him. There are two exceptions to this. The first exception is God, Who has subjected all things at the feet of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:27). The second exception is the church, for it is joined to Christ, the Head, as His body (Ephesians 1:22-Isaiah :).
A People Near to Him
The great Creator, Whom heaven and earth must praise, is the God of Israel and Israel is His people. In the midst of creation, heaven and earth, He has “lifted up a horn for His people”. Christ is the “horn of salvation” of God’s people (Luke 1:69). Through Him, God’s people have become the head of the nations. He is the “praise for all His godly ones”. The godly ones Him praise Him because of His undeserved favors.
They are “the sons of Israel, a people near to Him”. Because of their sins, He has had to reject them for a time. He had to call them “Lo Ammi”, which means “not My people” (Hosea 1:9). Now they are “Ammi” again, “My people” (Hosea 1:10-1 Kings :; Hosea 2:1). They are no longer distant from Him, but brought close to Him. They may dwell in His presence. With that comes a new “hallelujah”, “praise the LORD”. All praise belongs to the LORD.
In summary, we can say that Israel has three reasons to praise the LORD:
1. Israel is the LORD’s people. That people is His property and He has lifted up its horn, that is, given it strength and power.
2. Israel is the LORD’s godly one, that is, His covenant people. That people, by virtue of the covenant, through the blood of the new covenant, receive the rich blessing of the LORD.
3. Israel is the people near to LORD, which speaks of fellowship. The LORD dwells in their midst and they have access to draw near and sing praise to Him and glorify Him.
Who can remain silent in the face of such glory? Therefore, the psalm concludes with the exclamation “hallelujah!”
We, New Testament believers, have also been brought close to God, but in a more exalted and also more intimate way. Our home is not earth, but heaven. We have been set in Christ in the heavenly places and there in Him blessed with all spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3). We are of God’s household and know Him as Father, to Whom we have free access (Ephesians 2:18-Psalms :). The response that fits us is worship the Father in spirit and truth (John 4:23-Jeremiah :).
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Psalms 148". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Sixth Week after Easter