“Sovereign Lord, I cannot be content unless I praise you, because you made me for yourself” (Augustine, A.D. 354-430).
Read PSALM 148:1-14
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“The praise of God is an obligation as well as a privilege and a joy. It is at the heart of Christian service” (Alton H. McEachern).
After contemplating the storms of life, what a relief to sing this song of undivided praise: 12 times the word “praise”; ten times the word “all”! If possible, I say this psalm out loud; or, even better, sing it. Like a John Coltrane saxophone jazz serenade flooding into the sky, I add outriders of my own–personal reasons for praise, improvisations of adoration. From topmost sky and stars, from bottom-most monsters and deeps, all are invited to join the song “for ever and ever” (6). There is no other appropriate destination for our praise–the ten “alls” are invited to praise the one and only “alone”–the Lord’s name (13), meaning “everything that he has revealed himself to be.”
Inanimate nature praises God by its extraordinary and particular createdness (more visible than ever to us through amazing TV programs). If I live in a tornado belt, I may stumble over “stormy winds that do his bidding” (8), but the song rises to clearer articulation. Japanese macaques and whales have systems of sound signals, but only human beings rise to speech–only we can understand revelation; we thank God for the “horn” he has raised up (14)–probably the king (Psa. 89:17-18; Lam. 2:2-3), but perhaps “strength” in general. We thank God that we can become “the people of his nearness” (14, literally). Who the saving Horn really is (the King who will never disappoint us), and how close to the Lord’s heart we really are, is revealed to us more fully as we read on in this wonderful story.
Praise is a polemical act, a dismissal of every rival claim. Praise is a compass to follow when the path is unclear. Praise is the topping of delight on the cake of remembering. Praise is the articulation of loyalty, the out-loudness of trust.
Why not memorize this psalm? It can provide a path for your heart to follow when the reasons for not praising are strident and pressing.
Lord, I echo the words of the psalmist: “Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, O my soul. I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live” (Psa. 146:1-2).
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