Psalms 148-150 are too lengthy for me to include in the text of this meditation, and too important for any of us to ignore. So I encourage you to open your Bible and read them now. After you are finished, consider these four themes that emerge.
First, worship is a universal privilege. I could have said “obligation”, for worship is a duty we are commanded to fulfill. But I don’t want to give the impression that it is burdensome or oppressive. Exulting in the exaltation of God is an unparalleled privilege that is permeated by joy and satisfaction. But it is the universal dimension that I want you to note, especially as it is delineated in Psalm 148.
There are no people who are excluded, or a place where praise is not proper. In vv. 1-6 the whole of the celestial or heavenly universe is called on to praise God and in vv. 7-12 it extends to the whole of the terrestrial or earthly universe.
He is to be praised both “from the heavens” (v. 1) and “from the earth” (v. 7). “All his angels” (v. 2a) form an innumerable choir and join in the song (cf. Rev. 5:11). Even the “sun” by day and the “moon” by night (v. 3a) declare his power, never leaving their Creator without a witness.
All “shining stars” (v. 3b) add their voice to the chorus of praise! Billions and trillions and quadrillions of thriving heat and energy and blinding brightness testify to his immeasurable power and artistic skills. The Babylonians, from whose captivity these worshipping Israelites had recently been released, believed the stars were deities that controlled their destiny. But here we see that they are but one section in the celestial choir that echoes the glory of their Maker!
Every “creature” of the “sea” (v. 7) has a song to sing: whether diminutive perch or massive whale, be it the majestic dolphin or the ravenous shark. Stingrays and moray eels and starfish and barracudas and bass and trout and salmon together draw attention to him who is worthy of all worship.
As we saw in Psalm 147, so also in 148 “fire and hail, snow and mist,” even “stormy wind” fulfill his word (v. 8). “It is a grand orchestra which contains such wind-instruments as these! He is a great leader who can keep all these musicians in concert, and direct both time and tune” (Spurgeon, 3:B:439).
By means of “mountains and all hills,” whether the towering Himalayas or the foothills of central Kansas, be it Everest or an ant hill, God is glorified (v. 9a).
“Fruit trees and all cedars” (v. 9b) testify to his splendor: yes, apple trees and cheery trees and sycamores and oak and elm and sweet gum and weeping willow and sequoia and pine and, well, you get the idea.
Let us not forget the “beasts and all livestock” (v. 10a), both longhorn and lion, both jersey and jackal, even simbrah and stallion.
For some of us it’s hard to imagine that “creeping things” (v. 10b) such as tarantulas and ticks could praise God, but indeed they do; as also do all “flying birds”, both bluejay and buzzard, whether cardinal or crow.
Of course, we mustn’t forget the human race! “Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers” (v. 11), “young men and maidens” together with “old men and children” (v. 12) are to praise the name of the Lord!
All that have “breath” (Ps. 150:6) should praise him with every breath until they are out of breath!
“We sing the greatness of our God that made the mountains rise,
That spread the flowing sea abroad and built the lofty skies.
We sing the wisdom that ordained the sun to rule the day,
The moon shines full at His command and all the stars obey.” (Isaac Watts)
Second, the focus of such adoration is always and ever God alone for who he is and what he’s done. We do not worship the world or revere the reflection. We fix our hearts on the Original, the Source, the First Cause of all subsequent causes (see Ps. 148:5-6, 13-14).
We are to “praise him for his mighty deeds” and “according to his excellent greatness” (Ps. 150:2). There is a limit to praise only if there is a limit to God. Ah, but there is an infinite plenitude to his greatness that our worship could never exhaust.
Third, worship is an exhilarating experience, both for God and us! We are to “be glad” in our Maker and to “rejoice” in our King (Ps. 149:2). We are to “exult in glory” and “sing for joy” (Ps. 149:5a), even while on our “beds” (Ps. 149:5b). Whether as we go to bed, or perhaps during seasons of sleeplessness, or as we rise up in the morning, or even when laid prostrate from affliction, let praise fill our hearts and mouths.
Why is worship so pleasing and satisfying? Because, as C. S. Lewis noted, “all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise unless . . . shyness or the fear of boring others is deliberately brought in to check it. . . . Except where intolerably adverse circumstances interfere, praise almost seems to be inner health made audible” (94). I think we delight to praise what we enjoy, said Lewis, “because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed” (95).
In worship we see and God is seen, and in both is unrivaled pleasure, ours and his! We enjoy him who is eternally enjoyable and he enjoys being exalted in our enjoyment!
God commands that we “praise his name with dancing” and make “melody to him with tambourine and lyre” (149:3) because he“takes pleasure”in his people when they do (149:4a).
Fourth, and finally, there can be no mistaking the extravagant and exuberant nature of godly worship of God. It involves not only singing (149:1,5) but also dancing (149:3; 150:4) and a wide array of musical instrumentation (149:3; 150:3-5). Said Spurgeon:
“Let the clash of the loudest music be the Lord’s; let the joyful clang of the loftiest notes be all for him. Praise has beaten the timbrel, swept the harp, and sounded the trumpet, and now for a last effort, awakening the most heavy of slumberers, and startling the most indifferent of onlookers, she dashes together the disks of brass, and with sounds both loud and high proclaims the glories of the Lord” (3:B:464).
As this series of meditations on the Psalms concludes, what might be said to have constituted the central and controlling theme throughout? I think the answer is obvious:
Big God! Beautiful God! Faithful God! Great God! Gracious God! Powerful God! Loving God! Loyal God! Righteous God! Merciful God! Majestic God! Enjoyable God! Joyful God! Judging God! Holy God! Happy God!
And to top it off, he’s our God!