JULY 12 — Joshua 16—17; Psalm 148; Jeremiah 8; Matthew 22
ALL OF THE FIVE CLOSING PSALMS begin with the single Hebrew word Hallelujah— “Praise the Lord.” This psalm (Ps. 148) is remarkable for its emphasis on the sheer range and comprehensiveness of beings and things in the universe that unite the whole creation in praise. The first six verses begin with angels, sweeping down through unconscious participants in the heavens; the next six verses—mirror-images of the first six—begin with the unconscious participants on the earth, and rise to human beings (148:7-12). The last two verses (148:13-14) draw the people in covenant with him. Some notes:
(1) There have always been people who attach their affections and worship to angels (e.g., Col. 2:18), even though angels are our fellow servants (Rev. 22:8-9). Others foolishly think that their destinies are controlled by the stars, even though stars are nothing more than God’s creation. Both angels and stars—the one sentiently, the other not—bear witness to God’s greatness; in that sense they join together in worship (148:2-3).
(2) The phrase “highest heavens” is literally “heaven of heavens,” a way of expressing the superlative (like “holy of holies”). The expression “waters above the skies” is a Hebrew poetic way of referring to rain (148:4). Whether one thinks of “the heavens” as the sphere in which the rain condenses out of the atmosphere, or as the abode of God Almighty, there is nothing that has not been created: “he commanded and they were created” (148:5). So there is nothing that does not bear witness to the Creator-God.
(3) The denizens of the earth’s oceans, the varied precipitation that waters the ground, the fury of unleashed storms, the majesty and beauty of mountains and hills, the spectacular diversity and color and beauty of earth’s flora and fauna, the scarcely imaginable array of the earth’s births—all attest, mutely but powerfully, to the goodness and greatness of God. As part of that creation, human beings, in all the diversity of their ranks and stations in life, join this universal chorus of praise (148:11-12), not simply because he is bigger than we are, but because no matter how highly we envisage his glorious splendor, it is higher yet, higher than anything and everything in all creation (148:13).
(4) This unimaginably great God has not only called out his own people, but has raised up for them a “horn” (a symbol for a king), the praise of all his saints (148:14). Living this side of Jesus’ incarnation, death, and resurrection, we know who the ultimate King in the Davidic line really is. And so our praise joins that of the rest of the universe with peculiar intensity and gratitude.