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Bible Commentaries

Utley's You Can Understand the Bible

Psalms 148

Psalms 148:0

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASBNKJVNRSVTEVNJB
The Whole Creation Invoked to Praise the LordNo MT IntroPraise to the Lord from CreationHymn Calling Upon All Created Things to praise the LordA Call for the Universe to Praise GodCosmic Hymn of Praise
Psalms 148:1-6Psalms 148:1aPsalms 148:1-2Psalms 148:1aPsalms 148:1-2
Psalms 148:1-4 Psalms 148:1-2
Psalms 148:3-4Psalms 148:3-4Psalms 148:3-4
Psalms 148:5-6Psalms 148:5-6Psalms 148:5-6Psalms 148:5-6
Psalms 148:7-12Psalms 148:7-12Psalms 148:7-8Psalms 148:7-8Psalms 148:7-8
Psalms 148:9-10Psalms 148:9-10Psalms 148:9-10
Psalms 148:11-12Psalms 148:11-12Psalms 148:11-12
Psalms 148:13-14Psalms 148:134dPsalms 148:13-14Psalms 148:13-14cPsalms 148:13-14
Psalms 148:14e Psalms 148:14d

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. Remember the Bible is an earth-oriented book. This planet was the focus of God preparing a special place to fellowship with His highest creation (i.e., made in His image and likeness, cf. Genesis 1:26-27).

B. All of the different levels of creation

1. celestial (i.e., “from the heavens,” Psalms 148:1b)

2. earthly (i.e., “from the earth,” Psalms 148:7a)

3. covenant people

are called on to praise YHWH, the Creator and Sustainer of all life on this planet and related to this planet (i.e., angels).

C. This is the choir of heaven and earth, animate and inanimate!

Verses 1-6

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 148:1-6 1Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; Praise Him in the heights! 2Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts! 3Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all stars of light! 4Praise Him, highest heavens, And the waters that are above the heavens! 5Let them praise the name of the Lord, For He commanded and they were created. 6He has also established them forever and ever; He has made a decree which will not pass away.

Psalms 148:1-6 The verb “praise” (BDB 237, KB 248) dominates this Psalm. Each of the three strophes begins with it. Psalms 148:1-4 contains all Piel imperatives, as does Psalms 148:7, Psalms 148:14.

This first strophe focuses on “above the earth” things (cf. Psalms 103:19-22).

1. “from the heavens” (BDB 1029) - this refers to the atmosphere above the earth; see SPECIAL TOPIC: HEAVEN, also note Psalms 69:34; Psalms 96:11; Isaiah 44:23; Isaiah 49:13

2. “in the heights” (BDB 928) - this is parallel to “heavens”

3. “all His angels” (BDB 521) - this refers to the conscious servants of God (cf. Psalms 103:20); they are not said to be created in any specific OT text, but their inclusion here strongly suggests that, Colossians 1:16 also strongly assumes this truth

There are three Special Topics related to angels:

a. SPECIAL TOPIC: THE ANGEL OF THE LORD

b. Special Topic: Angels and Demons

c. Special Topic: Angelic Levels in Paul's Writings

4. “all His hosts (BDB 838) - this term is used in two senses

a. in military contexts it refers to a heavenly army of angels

b. in an astral worship context it refers to the lights in the sky (i.e., sun, moon, stars, comets) which were thought to be gods who affected human life; notice “a” could relate to Psalms 148:2a or “b” could relate to Psalms 148:3 (cf. Psalms 103:21)

5. “sun and moon” - these are the greater lights of Genesis 1:14-16; both were worshiped in the ANE; see SPECIAL TOPIC: MOON WORSHIP

6. “all stars of light” - see note at Psalms 147:4

7. “highest heaven” - see Special Topic: The Heavens and the Third Heaven

8. “the waters that are above the heavens” - this alludes to Genesis 1:6-8; God controls the ancient waters; see Special Topic: Waters

Psalms 148:5a “Let them praise” This is a Piel imperfect used in a jussive sense. It would denote a call to prayer/praise to the Creator (cf. Psalms 148:5-6).

The “name” stands for YHWH Himself. See Special Topic: “The Name” of YHWH.

Psalms 148:5b This alludes to creation by the spoken word of Genesis 1:0 (cf. Psalms 33:6, Psalms 33:9; Hebrews 11:3).

Psalms 148:6 This is a hyperbolic statement of the permanency of this planet and its seasons (cf. Jeremiah 31:35-36; Jeremiah 33:20, Jeremiah 33:25). We know from 2 Peter 3:7, 2 Peter 3:10-12 that the polluted, fallen creation shall be cleansed. From science, moderns know that we live in a violent, unstable universe. This solar system is not eternal. These are faith statements of God's eternality (cf. Psalms 93:1; Psalms 96:10d) and His promises that those who know Him will be with Him!

“forever and ever” See Special Topic: Forever ('olam).

NASB, NKJV“a decree which will not pass away” NRSV“he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed” NJB“by an unchanging decree”

This phrase can refer to

1. God's decree/plans (cf. Psalms 33:11)

2. God's fixed boundaries of the land/sea/rivers (cf. Job 38:8-11; Psalms 104:9; Jeremiah 5:22)

The verb “pass over,” “pass through,” “pass on,” “pass away” (BDB 716, KB 778, Qal imperfect) obviously has a wide semantic field which can support #1 or #2.

Verses 7-12

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 148:7-12 7Praise the Lord from the earth, Sea monsters and all deeps; 8Fire and hail, snow and clouds; Stormy wind, fulfilling His word; 9Mountains and all hills; Fruit trees and all cedars; 10Beasts and all cattle; Creeping things and winged fowl; 11Kings of the earth and all peoples; Princes and all judges of the earth; 12Both young men and virgins; Old men and children.

Psalms 148:7-12 This strophe focuses on the praise (one verb covers Psalms 148:7-12, each line assumes “praise”) of living things on this planet.

1. “sea monsters” (BDB 1072) - this is used in several senses

a. snake - Exodus 7:9, Exodus 7:10, Exodus 7:12; Deuteronomy 32:33; Psalms 91:13

b. dragon - Jeremiah 51:34 (also note name of the gate in Nehemiah 2:13)

c. sea monsters - see online notes at Genesis 1:21; Isaiah 27:1

2. “all deeps” (BDB 1062) - this is used in several senses

a. subterranean waters (salt), cf. Genesis 7:11; Genesis 8:2; Job 28:4; Job 38:16; Psalms 33:7; Psalms 107:23-26; Psalms 135:6; Isaiah 51:10; Amos 7:4

b. fresh water - usually in reference to crossing of the Red Sea, cf. Exodus 15:5, Exodus 15:8; Psalms 77:17; Psalms 78:15; Psalms 106:9; Isaiah 63:13

c. primeval waters - Genesis 1:2; Psalms 104:6-7; Proverbs 8:27, see Special Topic: Waters (water is never said to be spoken into existence in Genesis 1:0)

d. Sheol - Psalms 71:20 (see Special Topic: Sheol)

3. Psalms 148:7-8 lists weather and topological features of the earth

4. Psalms 148:10 covers all created animal life

5. Psalms 148:11-12 lists human beings of all social levels and ages

Verses 13-14

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 148:13-14 13Let them praise the name of the Lord, For His name alone is exalted; His glory is above earth and heaven. 14And He has lifted up a horn for His people, Praise for all His godly ones; Even for the sons of Israel, a people near to Him. Praise the Lord!

Psalms 148:13-14 The strophe starts like Psalms 148:5, with a Piel imperfect of “praise” used in a jussive sense. It focuses on the praise due YHWH from His covenant people.

Psalms 148:13 “His name alone is exalted” This is

1. a literary expression of monotheism (see SPECIAL TOPIC: MONOTHEISM)

2. a way to contrast YHWH with mankind (cf. Isaiah 2:11, Isaiah 2:17)

“glory” See SPECIAL TOPIC: GLORY (kabod, OT).

Psalms 148:14 “horn” The Hebrews viewed animal horns (esp. “ox,” cf. Deuteronomy 33:17; Psalms 92:10) as an expression of power (cf. Psalms 18:2).

1. the altars in the temple had horns

2. a person's life was characterized as a “horn” to be

a. lifted up (cf. 1 Samuel 2:1; Psalms 89:17, Psalms 89:24; Psalms 92:10; Psalms 112:9)

b. put in dust (cf. Job 16:15)

c. cut off (cf. Psalms 75:10)

Psalms 148:14 “all His godly ones” See notes at Psalms 16:10 and Psalms 145:10 online.

Here the phrase is parallel to “His people.” They are further characterized as

1. sons of Israel

2. a people near to Him - this at first referred to priests/Levites who served in the temple but later came to be used of all covenant people who worship YHWH

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk n the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. How is Psalms 148:1-6 related to Psalms 148:7-12?

2. Define “hosts” of Psalms 148:2b. Does it relate to Psalms 148:2a or Psalms 149:3?

3. How does one reconcile Psalms 148:6 with 2 Peter 3:7, 2 Peter 3:10-12?

4. Define “sea monsters” of Psalms 148:7b.

5. Does Psalms 148:14 refer to “praise” to Israel or to YHWH?

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Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Psalms 148". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/psalms-148.html. 2021.