Praise That Plunges

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Psalm 148

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Introduction

This is a psalm of praise in action. It begins in the highest heaven, and descends to the deeps, and invites everyone and everything in between to join in with this chorus of praise. Moreover, this wonderful psalm concludes with a promise that attaches to all heartfelt praise. God is exalted in a particular kind of praise, and He makes sure to exalt that kind of praise in turn. There is a reciprocity in praise that will usher in tremendous blessings when we come to understand it.

The Text

“Praise ye the LORD. Praise ye the LORD from the heavens: praise him in the heights. Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts. Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light. Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens. Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created. He hath also stablished them for ever and ever: he hath made a decree which shall not pass. Praise the LORD from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps: Fire, and hail; snow, and vapour; stormy wind fulfilling his word: Mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars: Beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl: Kings of the earth, and all people; princes, and all judges of the earth: Both young men, and maidens; old men, and children: Let them praise the name of the LORD: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven. He also exalteth the horn of his people, the praise of all his saints; even of the children of Israel, a people near unto him. Praise ye the LORD” (Ps. 148:1-14).

Summary of the Text

We have here another hallelujah psalm. It begins with yet another hallelujah. Praise ye the LORD (v 1). But this is praise that begins on the high dive—up in the heavens, praise Him from the heights (v. 1). The residents of this high heaven are summoned to praise Him—the angels and heavenly host (v. 2). Moving through the high places, the sun, moon and stars are called into the rising praise (v. 3). The heaven of heavens, and the waters that are above the heavens are told to join in (v. 4). Let everything that is high praise the name of their Creator (v. 5). He is the one who established them for good and all (v. 6).

But then the psalmist takes a leap, and all that praise plunges to earth—praise the Lord, you dragons and deeps (v. 7). What down here shall praise the Lord? Well, fire does, and hail, and snow, and vapor. Then there are the stormy winds that do His pleasure (v. 8). Remember the astonishment of the disciples—even the winds and waves obey Him (Matt. 8:27). The choir includes both mountains and hills, fruit trees and cedar trees (v. 9). We then move out to the animal kingdom—beasts, cattle, and birds (v. 10). And don’t forget the creeping things (v. 10). One of the things we know about our Creator is that He has, as the fellow said, “an inordinate fondness for beetles.” There are over 400,000 species of beetle.

We come finally to the human part of the choir. At the risk of sounding like a Christian nationalist, kings and princes are told to praise Jehovah (v. 11). As Calvin noted, they are likely to be among those who are the most reluctant to do so, and so they are singled out. But all the people, and all judges, receive the same summons (v. 11). Executive, legislative, and judiciary—praise ye the Lord. The psalmist leaves no one out—young men, old men, maidens, and children (v. 12). All are to praise Him, and the reason is then given to us—His name is excellent, and His glory transcendent (v. 13). And then comes the great promise. When we exalt Him, He exalts us (v. 14). He exalts the kind of praise that exalts Him. This is actually the meaning of revival—when the Spirit of God anoints and adorns the worship and praise of God. So praise ye the Lord.

Not Dead Matter

The cosmos is not simply an inert collection of atoms. It is not a mass of dead matter. The cosmos is teeming with life—angels, the heavenly host, principalities and powers, thrones, and dominions. And there are some things that are commonly assumed by modern materialists to be simply inanimate objects, but Scripture tells us otherwise. As was said to Eustace in Dawn Treader, “Even in your world, my son, that is not what a star is, but only what a star is made of.” The heavenly host—exhorted here to sing louder—is the very same heavenly host that came down and announced to the astonished shepherds that they needed to go into town to see something (Luke 2:13). And then there are things in this stretch of the Psalms that really are inanimate—cymbals, say. Nevertheless, everything that makes noise need to be employed in this triumph of praise.

So there is far more here than human beings looking at the stars and praising God for them. Rather, this would be the stars themselves doing the praising. A cascading waterfall praises God. Thunder in the mountains, and echoing valleys, praise the Lord. Cows grazing in the meadow, apparently not doing much, are praising God. All the insect life on the floor of that meadow—that too is a constant stream of praise. 

Reciprocity and Revival

We live in an astonishing world. When God gives the gift of a quickening revival, we get a glimpse of that astonishing world—both material and spiritual, both creational and redemptive, and we begin to praise. The praise catches fire—and the Holy Spirit is that fire—and the praise ascends to Heaven, tracing its way back up by the path that this psalm came down. The psalm is given by God from the heights, and it lands in the deeps. We pick it up, and offer it back to God. And what does He do?

He exalts our horn. A praising people is exalted by God, and one of the things He exalts is the nature of that praise itself. God Himself inhabits the praises of His people (Ps. 22:3), which is what makes it glorious. This is why we can go out to battle with the choir in the vanguard. This is the beauty of holiness, which does not mean the cuteness of holiness. The beauty and holiness of God is truly sublime. It is truly dreadful, and awesome, and terrible, and worthy of all praise (2 Chron. 20:21). The God who created the choir of all creation is the same God who anoints that same choir. And when He does this, there is no standing against Him. Reformation and revival are not when it all happens. It is when we finally see. God gives astonishment to a jaded world, and we marvel at the mundane, seeing that it is not really mundane. We are given the great grace of surprise.

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Pete Benedict
Pete Benedict
1 month ago

Praise the Lord! Amen