The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Psalm 148

Psa 148:1

See Lesson, Psalms, "Hallelujah".

Psa 148: "Psalm 148 is called 'Creation's Praise for the Purpose of Yahweh', and presents the glorious picture of the millennium, as the correction of the curse fallen upon all creation through the transgression of Adam. The heavenly creation is called upon to praise Yahweh (vv 1-6), and then a summons is issued for all the earth to similarly praise Him (vv 7-13). The final verse shows the reason for praise" (GEM).

Vv 1,2: "From the heavens": Praise of God by angels (cp Psa 150:1; 103:21; Rev 7:11,12; 1Ki 22:19). The rest of vv 1,2 -- heights (Psa 103:20-22), angels, and hosts (Psa 103:21; 1Ki 22:19) -- clearly continue the same idea.

"What is praise? What does it mean to praise the Lord? Praising is not just a form of words or an outward exercise. It is no praise for God just to have words of praise coming out of a tape recorder, or a record player. Praise is a living condition -- a joyful, thankful state of the mind and heart. We may remember God. We may keep Him in mind as the central reality of life. We may acquire knowledge and understanding of Him -- but if all this does not lead us to be filled with praise and rejoicing in God, it is no good to us. It is mechanical. It is lifeless.

"We must be filled constantly with the joyful spirit of praise. It must be the air we breathe -- the influence we radiate. God is a Person, a Father, a Center -- not only of wisdom and power and righteousness and truth -- but of love and goodness and kindness and joy. The people of God -- the true people of God -- are a glorious, joyful family, rejoicing in love for one another and for the Father of Love who has called them all unto Himself.

"Most people are too wrapped up in themselves to praise God. Their own little circle of activity is all their cramped little minds can reach out to. They never learn how to live in the largeness and fullness of life. Their potential for spiritual growth and expansion lie dormant and useless, like the wings of a caged bird. They are miserable prisoners of their own self-centeredness. This can happen to any of us.

"But the spirit of praise opens the doors of the cage, and lifts us up to the vast heavenly expanse, and all the petty problems of the present shrink below us into insignificance. Praise to God is the mind's great healer and purifier. It is no meaningless coincidence that the last five psalms are all dedicated to this glorious theme, and that the final words are: 'Praise ye the Lord'!" (GVG).

Psa 148:2

HOSTS: Heb "tzvaoth", or "sabaoth" (cp Jam 5:4): may ref to angels, or (Psa 148:3,4) to heavenly bodies (Deu 4:19; Gen 2:1; Isa 40:26).

Psa 148:3

SHINING STARS: "Stars of light" (AV) seems to imply the existence of "stars of darkness". These "black holes" have become a commonplace phenomenon in modern astronomy: the counterpart is the Bible teaching about angels of "evil" (but not "wicked" angels!) as well as angels of good (see Psa 78:49n).

Psa 148:4

HIGHEST HEAVENS: Lit, "heaven of heavens" = poss, beyond clouds...

WATERS: Poss, clouds (Gen 1:7; 7:11; Psa 29:10)...

SKIES: Poss, expanse between earth and clouds?

Psa 148:5

FOR HE COMMANDED: Whom did He command? 'The angels busy in creation' seems to be the only possible answer. (But the angels must themselves have been created! So surely they were the first of God's creation -- so that they, the Elohim, might participate in, and rejoice in, the remainder of His creative work: Gen 1:26,27.)

AND THEY WERE CREATED: Psa 33:6. Thus they "praise" the name of the Lord -- by their very existence (cp Psa 19).

Psa 148:6

A DECREE THAT WILL NEVER PASS AWAY: The stars and other heavenly bodies praise God by their unchanging "obedience" to divine Law. Likewise, Israel (= stars, etc): Jer 31:35,36; 33:20,21: God's purpose with Israel is as fully controlled as are the stars in their courses.

Psa 148:7

SEA CREATURES: Heb "tanninim" (dragons: AV; sea monsters: RSV), porpoises, dolphins, whales (Gen 1:21; Psa 104:26).

Psa 148:8

Lightning (Psa 18:12; 105:32). Snow (Psa 147:16).

Psa 148:9

FRUIT TREES AND ALL CEDARS: All "trees", cultivated and uncultivated.

Psa 148:10

Likewise, all animals, both wild and domesticated. Even the ox and ass acknowledge their master (Isa 1:3). And the fowls, by their orderly migration (Jer 8:7), testify to the wisdom of their Creator.

Psa 148:11

Kings, princes, rulers: In general, but also esp the Arabs of David's day (2Sa 8), and the Assyrians of Hezekiah's day.

Psa 148:13

THE EARTH AND THE HEAVENS: This order of words comes only in Gen 2:4, perhaps suggesting that this psalm be read as a psalm of the "New Creation". It is useful to go back and review vv 1-12, assigning the various Days of Creation: See, for examples, (a) how the angels sang and rejoiced when the "New Creation" began with the birth of God's Son (Luke 2:10-14; cp Job 38:7), and (b) the "stormy wind" of Holy Spirit power on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:2), when the church was "born".

And surely the greatest splendor the name of Yahweh is in His Son: "The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word" (Heb 1:3). "Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phi 2:9-11).

Psa 148:14

HORN: Sym power in general: Deu 33:17; 1Sa 2:1; Psa 75:10; 89:17,24; 92:10; 132:17.

ISRAEL, THE PEOPLE CLOSE TO HIS HEART: Prob, (1) Israel, and (2) Gentiles, made "close" to God (Eph 2:13,17).

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