Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word!
Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars!
Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds!
Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth!
Young men and maidens together, old men and children!
Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his majesty is above earth and heaven.
He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his saints,
for the people of Israel who are near to him.
Praise the Lord! (Ps. 148:7-14)
The first six verses deal with things “in the heights.” Angels, stars, sun, and moon are all exhorted to praise God because He “commanded and they were created.” The remainder of the Psalm demands that everything “from the earth” give glory to God.
What I find fascinating about this passage is that when it comes to praising God, there is a delightful disregard for status, maturity, or earthly prominence. God has certainly given humans a unique position in the created order. We carry the distinction of being the only ones who have been created “in the image of God.” When God placed Adam and Eve in the garden, they were responsible to lead creation in giving intelligent, willing praise to God for his steadfast love and kindness.
But in this Psalm human beings are included with all of creation as those who should rightfully give praise, honor, and worship to the Creator. And the order is humbling. God appropriately commands praise from those who in the world’s eyes are exalted: kings, princes and rulers. But in the previous verse God invites the same response from beasts and creeping things. Right afterwards, he commands praise from maidens and children. What a diverse group! There are a few things I’m struck by as I reflect on this passage.
First, everything was created to bring glory to God. Nothing is excluded. No matter how exalted or seemingly insignificant, God created everything for his own pleasure and worship. The galaxies and microscopic particles that scientist are just discovering were all brought into being long ago to bring glory to their Creator. That means nothing is without purpose, nothing is without meaning.
Everything is meant to direct our attention to the wisdom, kindness, and power of the God who created it.
Second, worship isn’t about my value, but God’s. God values our worship primarily because he is the object, not because we are the subjects. It’s a crucial distinction. That’s not to say that He doesn’t take special delight in receiving the worship of those whom He has redeemed through the atoning sacrifice of His Son. He does. As vs. 14 says, we are the people who are “near to him.” But worship is always God’s gift of grace to us before it is our gift to Him. Worshipping God is simply the greatest privilege we will ever know.
Third, I think this infers something about the kinds of churches we should be seeking to build. It highlights the glory of the Gospel when international businessmen, political dignitaries, young girls, old men, and children worship God alongside each other. Multiple generations, various socio-economic classes, and different races gather together to give praise to the only One Who deserves it. That highlights the truth that it is God’s glory and gifts that bring us together, not our own.
To "praise the Lord" is humbling and unifying. May it look that way in our lives and our churches.