1 Praise ye the LORD. Praise ye the LORD from the heavens: Praise him in the heights. 2 Praise ye him, all his angels: Praise ye him, all his hosts. 3 Praise ye him, sun and moon: Praise him, all ye stars of light. 4 Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, And ye waters that be above the heavens. 5 Let them praise the name of the LORD: For he commanded, and they were created. 6 He hath also stablished them for ever and ever: He hath made a decree which shall not pass. 7 Praise the LORD from the earth, Ye dragons, and all deeps: 8 Fire, and hail; snow, and vapour; Stormy wind fulfilling his word: 9 Mountains, and all hills; Fruitful trees, and all cedars: 10 Beasts, and all cattle; Creeping things, and flying fowl: 11 Kings of the earth, and all people; Princes, and all judges of the earth: 12 Both young men, and maidens; Old men, and children: 13 Let them praise the name of the LORD: For his name alone is excellent; His glory is above the earth and heaven. 14 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. (Psalm 148)
Psalm 148:1 Praise ye the LORD. Praise ye the LORD from the heavens: Praise him in the heights.
What does it mean to praise the Lord?
The word “Praise” (halal) is used twelve times in this Psalm (the second-to-last “praise” in the psalm is a different Hebrew word).
The entire phrase, “Praise ye the LORD” is, in Hebrew, halelû-yāh. Whenever you hear someone, even an unbeliever, saying, “Hallelujah,” they are literally saying, “Praise ye the LORD”!
What is praise? It is the act of glorifying God; of telling of his goodness and greatness. Praise is giving honor and worship to the One to whom honor and worship is due.
If a person pulled you from a burning car, you would naturally want to praise them. You might say, “Thank you, thank you…I can’t tell you how much what you did means to me!” You might give them presents. You would tell others about this person. In short, you would give them praise.
Does the Lord deserve our praise? Why? Do we need to praise him?
One way of seeing that the Lord deserves our praise is to notice what else in creation gives him praise and to see why they give him praise. So we should look at…
I. THE PRAISE OF CREATION
A. The Heavenly Creation
Psalm 148:2 Praise ye him, all his angels: Praise ye him, all his hosts.
The angels should and do praise the Lord. One of the most famous examples to us is when the angels praised the Lord at the birth of Jesus:
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, Good will toward men. (Luke 2:13–14)
The angels continually give praise to the Lord without fail for eternity. Why? In the book of Revelation we read:
11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, 12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. (Revelation 7:11–12)
The angels praise God because glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, honor, power, and might belong to him. He no mere man—he is the wonderful, infinite, and powerful Creator God. How could he not deserve our praise?
If someone invented a cure for all cancer, we would say that he deserved the Nobel Prize—rightfully so. And at the reception afterwards, someone might raise their glass in a toast and say, “Sir, to you belong scientific smarts and honor and the gratitude of mankind for conquering this awful disease.”
Throughout the world, high schools and colleges would be named after him; history textbooks would have a sidebar with his biography. His name would still be spoken two hundred years from now.
The angels look at God and say, “Lord, you created us, and the stars and the galaxies—to you belong glory and honor, power and might, forever and ever.”
We might praise a man for the creation of a cure for cancer. How much greater does God deserve praise for the creation of absolutely everything that exists! His name should never be forgotten!
The heavenly angels praise the Lord, as do the heavens themselves:
2. Sun, Moon, and Stars
Psalm 148:3 Praise ye him, sun and moon: Praise him, all ye stars of light.
Psalm 148:4 Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, And ye waters that be above the heavens.
All of outer space praises God. The Psalmist lists sun, moon, and stars. He also lists the “waters that be above the heavens,” which some say are the vapors in the clouds, but I suppose it’s a mystery as to what they are.
Mystery is such a good word to describe much of outer space. What really is out there? It’s so vast. The current estimate is that there are 500 billion stars in our galaxy and there are 100 billion galaxies in the universe! There’s possibly 70,000 billion billion stars in the universe. And God created each one and knows their names!
Recently, scientists have said that they think there are billions of earth-like planets in our galaxy. Is there life on other planets? I don’t know, but you would really have some big theological questions to figure out:
Did people on other planets sin? Did Jesus die for the sins for people on earth and on the other planets also? Or, did Jesus go to each planet and die for the people on that planet?
Those questions make me doubt that there can be life on other planets. But I suppose if someday we did make contact with an alien species, the first thing I would want to know if there was visit from a Savior in their planet’s history.
Here is the reason I bring up the possibility of life on other planets: If there isn’t life on other planets, then why did God create such a vast universe? Isn’t it all really wasted space?
The reason that he created all those stars is that, all those stars, and the planets that orbit those stars, declare praise to the Lord God. God is infinite and there would have to be an infinite number of stars to rightfully give him the praise he deserves.
1 The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament [the expanse] sheweth his handywork. (Psalm 19:1)
How does a star praise God? Or a planet, or mountains and hills (in verse 5) for that matter? They cannot speak, can they?
No, but they do praise God simply by being there for us to see. We can look at creation and shake our heads in wonder at the mighty power of God himself!
20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: (Romans 1:20)
No one can ponder creation without being amazed by the design and beauty that is that written on every star, and asteroid, and gravitational force. Praise him! Praise him!
3. Why Does The Heavenly Creation Praise?
Psalm 148:5 Let them praise the name of the LORD: For he commanded, and they were created.
Psalm 148:6 He hath also stablished them for ever and ever: He hath made a decree which shall not pass.
The reason that the heavens praise the Lord is that he is their Creator. He “commanded, and they were created.”
Genesis tells us that God merely spoke and everything was created—“Let there be…light…space…land…plants…animal…and it was so—and it was good.” No wonder Creation praises it’s Creator—he is an awesome and wonderful Lord.
He establishes the courses of the planets and stars. He makes the laws of nature “which shall not pass” away from existence. God designed all that. The Lord made it all come into being. Praise him! Praise him!
In the next verses, we move down to earth.
B. The Earthly Creation
1. The Unseen Creatures Of The Sea
Psalm 148:7 Praise the LORD from the earth, Ye dragons, and all deeps:
What is meant by “dragons”? The KJV is not using it in the sense of a fire-breathing dragon, but in the sense of a serpent, most likely a sea-serpent, because the “all deeps” refers to the sea (Most of the time that the KJV uses “dragons,” it’s in clear reference to the sea or a river).
The mention of “all deeps” raises a question: In the depths of the sea are creatures that no one has ever seen before. How do they praise God?
We can’t see them, so they can’t testify to us about God’s wonderful creative ability. We can’t look at them and say, “What an awesome Creator we have!”
As a matter of fact, most of God’s creation is unseen to the human eye. We can see but a fraction of stars that he has made. How does the unseen creation praise the Lord? It’s a little like the old question, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” How does creation praise the Lord if we cannot see it?
The answer is that everything in creation praises God simply by being what it was created to be. The Creator God looks at his work and smiles, because it is good. It praises him by being and working as he designed.
It’s like when you make something—a piece of furniture, a cake, a dress, a computer program—and when you look at it, you are pleased with how it turned out.
This is how creation praises it’s Creator—even when we can’t see it—because the Lord God sees his handiwork and is pleased.
2. The Storms Of The Sky
The Psalmist then jumps to weather phenomena:
Psalm 148:8 Fire, and hail; snow, and vapour; Stormy wind fulfilling his word:
Notice that these weather phenomena are “fulfilling his word.” In our scientific culture, we tend to think of the weather as being controlled merely by with whims of atmospheric conditions. That’s true, but what we are increasingly reluctant to see, even as Christians, is that God is behind everything. The weather is “fulfilling his word,” and since it does, it praises the Lord!
3. The Mountains And Hills
Psalm 148:9 Mountains, and all hills; Fruitful trees, and all cedars:
12 For ye shall go out with joy, And be led forth with peace: The mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. (Isaiah 55:12)
4. The Cattle And Creeping Things
Psalm 148:10 Beasts, and all cattle; Creeping things, and flying fowl:
Like the other non-human and non-angelic parts of creation, the mountains and the hills and the animals praise God by being a testimony to their Creator’s power and creativity and they praise God by being what they were designed to be.
Humans also are a testimony to God’s creative ability; we are, after all, made in God’s own image. We are all “a chip off the block,” as it were.
Humans, however, have the unique ability to choose, which makes us able to praise God in a way that the rest of creation cannot. And so we turn to…
II. THE PRAISE OF PEOPLE
It’s interesting that all of creation praises the Lord, except for fallen angels and humans. Sure, some humans do praise the Lord, but do we praise him all the time like the mountains or the faraway stars?
In our society today, the call is that everyone should be able to have their own truth. If you want to praise God, fine, but I don’t have to. Look at the next verses in this psalm and ask:
A. Who Is Called To Praise?
Psalm 148:11 Kings of the earth, and all people; Princes, and all judges of the earth:
Psalm 148:12 Both young men, and maidens; Old men, and children:
Who, among humanity, should praise the Lord? Do not think that being a powerful person makes you exempt—kings, princes, and judges are all called on to praise the Lord.
Young men, and you women, and older folks, and children—everyone is called to praise the Lord.
No one is exempt—we are each called to give praise to our Creator, but…
B. Why Are We Called To Praise?
Psalm 148:13 Let them praise the name of the LORD: For his name alone is excellent; His glory is above the earth and heaven.
1. The Lord Has An Excellent Name
One reason we ought to praise the Lord is that “his name alone is excellent.” The “name” of the Lord is a way of referring to his reputation, just as we might mean when we say things like, “You’re giving me a bad name,” or “They have a good name in their industry.”
So we are to praise the Lord because he has an excellent reputation. In what ways does the Lord have an excellent reputation?
He has a reputation for being a powerful and wonderful Creator.
He has a reputation for being a holy God—without sin and completely pure.
He has a reputation for being a just God—so much so that he would send his Son to die for our sins so that his justice would be satisfied.
He has a reputation for being a loving God—so much so that he would send his Son to die for our sins instead of giving us our deserved punishment.
The Lord has a praiseworthy reputation, but we also should praise the Lord because…
2. The Lord’s Glory Is Great
Also we are to praise the Lord because “His glory is above the earth and heaven.” Really, who is like him? How can humans think that they can choose between the Lord and the lesser gods that many spend their lives following?
How can we possibly think that the god of money is anything compared to the Lord of the Universe? Why, all the gold in Fort Knox wouldn’t amount to a gleam in the eye of the Lord!
The Lord’s glory is great and…
3. The Lord Is Our Strength and Salvation
Another fantastic reason to praise the Lord has to do with the salvation he gives us through Jesus Christ.
Psalm 148:14 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.
The word “horn” is a metaphor referring to strength. When you think of a horned animal, such as a bull or a buck, their strength is in their horns. That’s what they fight with—so it’s the symbol of their power.
Here it’s saying that the Lord will make strong “his people.”
Throughout the Old Testament, we can see how Israel would find itself weak (usually because they had sinned and forsaken the Lord), and an enemy like Egypt, or the Philistines, or Babylon, would come in and seize the nation. Then the Lord would intervene and save them—by parting the Red Sea, for example.
What about us today? How does the Lord give us strength? There are many ways that the Lord gives his people strength. He gives us strength to face trials, to endure hardship, to speak boldly in his name, and really, to do anything.
But the first and most important way the Lord provides strength for us is by providing salvation.
The image of the “horn” is used in Psalm 18:2 in connection with salvation—
2 The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. (Psalm 18:2)
Why do we need the Lord’s strength to be saved? Because we are too sinful and weak to save ourselves—despite what most humans think. To be acceptable to God, you must be perfect (Matthew 5:48), but no one is. All have sinned.
We’re all marred, broken, impure. Despite what the laundry detergent commercials claim, once you get a stain on a white shirt, you can never get it perfectly pure white again. We are stained.
But God has the strength to cleanse us:
18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; Though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. (Isaiah 1:18)
The reason that he is able to make us as white as snow again is because, instead of making us pay for our sins, which would mean that we would spend eternity in Hell, he sent his Son Jesus—who never sinned—to pay for our sins instead.
How does that work? Our shirts are stained with sin, but Jesus’ shirt has never been stained with sin. When we place our trust in Christ to save us, God covers our sin-stained shirt with Christ’s perfectly white shirt.
What must we do? Only trust in Christ…“The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;” As the song goes, “Praise Him! Praise Him! Jesus, our blessed Redeemer!”