Excerpted from Sermon and Class Helps, Year C: Old Testament, Jane M. Gardner, editor, Herald House, 2015, pp. 74–75
Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth! Young men and women alike, old and young together! Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his glory is above earth and heaven.
The book of Psalms is a collection of poetry and prayers of ancient Israel and Judah. Many scholars believe they were originally meant to be sung. Psalm 148 is one of the hymns or songs of praise that are especially prominent. The author takes us on a journey to explore the glory of God through all facets of life. The verses are paired and remind us of the many ways God is praised at all levels of creation.
The first group of verses begins with praise of God in the heavens, with the heavenly beings. Then, we move down from the spiritual realm into the natural realm where the moon, sun, and stars are invited to praise. This is especially important because the sun and moon were objects of worship by many people who lived in the same part of the world as the ancient Israelites.
By invoking praise from the sun and moon, the author is reminding readers that Israel’s God is the God of all; these heavenly bodies were all created and are commanded by the Lord.
We move from the heights of the sky to the depths of the Earth in the next series of verses. The psalmist calls for praise to the Lord from sea monsters and the deep, the threatening weather, mountains, trees, wild animals, and flying birds—in essence, all of creation on Earth. Humans of all socioeconomic levels, genders, and ages are also called to praise the Lord.
The final set of verses invoke praise through Earth and heaven for the name of the Lord and the Lord’s glory. God is depicted as raising a horn, which was a display of pride and affection in ancient times. It was a symbol of God’s care for those who are faithful and held close.
From the beginning, this hymn of praise echoes the creation story found in Genesis 1. It highlights the connection between Creator and creation, and the role praise plays in keeping us close to God. Sometimes the beauty and intricacy of the world around us can steal our breath.
Creation itself is a declaration of God’s goodness and a song of praise.
When has praising God helped you see a circumstance or issue in a new light?
Patient God, open our eyes, ears, and hearts to your world in need. As your disciples, move our hands, feet, and our words to bring your blessing. Amen.
Embodying God’s Shalom
Find a way to express and embody God’s shalom. Begin by prayerfully listening to your longing for peace and wholeness. Become silent and imagine you can hear the groaning of the Earth’s people, nations, and creatures. Prayerfully open yourself to God’s yearning for peace and the divine vision of shalom.
What images, feelings, and words come to you? What prayer for peace comes to you from your time of listening? Speak or write this prayer. What act of justice, kindness, healing, or peacemaking does God invite you to consider this day?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.