The Who, What, When, Why, Where, and How of Praise (Psalm 148)

By Stushie Art

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
    praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels;
    praise him, all his host!

Praise him, sun and moon;
    praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens
    and you waters above the heavens!

Let them praise the name of the Lord,
    for he commanded, and they were created.
He established them forever and ever;
    he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.

Praise the Lord from the earth,
    you sea monsters and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and frost,
    stormy wind fulfilling his command!

Mountains and all hills,
    fruit trees and all cedars!
Wild animals and all cattle,
    creeping things and flying birds!

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.
He has raised up a horn for his people,
    praise for all his faithful,
    for the people of Israel who are close to him.
Praise the Lord! (New Revised Standard Version)

By Stushie Art

Everything in all creation points to a Creator who cares for us. The 12 days of Christmas (December 25–January 5) are a great celebration. King Jesus has come; he is the rightful Sovereign over all creation. Believers recognize Christ’s incarnation – affirming the identity of Jesus as both full human and fully divine. 

Worshipers praise the Lord. It’s in our spiritual DNA to give adoration, praise, and honor to God. Today’s Psalm is not only meant for good times; it’s also for the despondent, difficult, and downright hard times. There’s always an open season on praising the Lord, no matter what’s going on in and around us. 

Psalm 148 helps to re-orient us around praise to God, instead of remaining stuck in being disoriented.  Whether in good times or bad, we praise the Lord. 

Who should praise the Lord?

Everyone. Everything. 

God has created and continues to impact every nook and cranny of creation. Therefore, the entire universe – every creature and all humanity – acknowledge the Lord with praise. 

The outer reaches of the universe, on everything out there which we cannot even see, praise the Lord. 

The earth and everything in it praise the Lord. 

The forces of nature praise the Lord. 

The landscape, the flora and fauna, animals and humans, together with all creation, praise the Lord. 

Young people, old people, men and women – no matter who they are or where they come from – praise the Lord. 

The proper purpose of everything and everyone that exists is giving adoration and praise to God.

In the Ancient Near East, the sun, moon, and stars were considered gods by the various people groups. This Psalm was, therefore, more than a summons to praise – this was a call to recognize the One true God as the sovereign and the rightful ruler of all. Thus, the ancient peoples understood this psalm as a claim that their gods must bow to Israel’s God.

What is praise to the Lord?

Praise to the Lord is a recognition that God deserves praise from everyone and everything. Praise is physical posture and a heart stance of bowing, yielding, and submitting to God. “Praise the Lord” in the Hebrew language is “hallelujah.” And “hallelujah literally means “to raise the hands.”

We are told 10 times in the 14 verses of Psalm 148 to praise the Lord, that is, to raise our hands. It’s a symbol of submission and joy. To have open hands lifted toward heaven conveys our obedience and commitment to God. 

When do we praise the Lord?

Praising the Lord and lifting the hands, is not only to occur in church or worship setting; praise happens everywhere.

We lift our arms in reverent submission at our workplaces when we land a client or have a good day; and when cranky and critical people demean us. Praising the Lord isn’t limited to good circumstances.

We raise our hands and praise the Lord when our neighbors care about us and look out for us, as well as when they make noise and irritate us with their less than kept up yards and houses. Yielding to God’s purposes for our lives is not dependent upon whether we have good neighbors or not. 

We praise the Lord and raise our hands when our marriages are life-giving and thriving, as well as when our relationship with our spouse is dry, dull, and going nowhere. It’s always open season on praising the Lord and reflecting his image through love. 

By Stushie Art

We praise the Lord for our kids, not only when they do what’s right; but also when they’re complete stinkers and drive us nuts. We are to use our hands for praise and enact obedience, and not for violence through finger pointing or physical punishment.

In adversity, we praise the Lord because it gives us a chance to put our faith into action. In times when someone is being insensitive and callous, it provides the opportunity to praise the Lord and love them because God loves us.

At all times, in all places, in every circumstance, and with each situation we raise our hands in hallelujah to Jesus for saving us from our misguided ways and bringing us back into fellowship with God. 

Lift your hands, always! And when, like Moses, we can no longer lift them, let others help hold them up we so that we can keep praising God. (Exodus 17:11-12)

Why praise the Lord?

Because God created everything and everyone. 

The Lord designed every living thing and fashioned a man and a woman in the divine image as the pinnacle of creative work. 

Adam and Eve walked with God and had perfect praise of the Lord and fellowship with each other. Yet, tragedy happened. The people God formed were deceived into thinking that the Lord was holding out on them by not letting them eat from a certain tree in the garden. So, they disobeyed, ate the fruit, and so plunged the world into darkness.

However, God did not turn away from humanity. Holy Scripture is the revelation of a God who goes out of the way to do whatever it takes to reclaim people back to fellowship so that they can fulfill their original design to praise the Lord. 

The height of God’s love is sending the Son, the Lord Jesus. God became one of us so that he could save us from ourselves. 

Whenever we have exhausted all the avenues this world has to offer in bringing fulfillment, satisfaction, and peace to our lives – there stands Jesus, crucified, risen, ascended, and waiting with open arms for you and me to lift our hands and see that he has the only way for us to live. 

The reason you have felt for so long that you are a square peg in a round hole is that your life is meant to praise the Lord. You are not meant to fit into the world; you are meant for God.

Where do we praise the Lord?

From the heavens and the earth. From everywhere in all creation, and from everyone as creatures, there is to be praise to the Lord.

Humanity is one part of a big grand chorus of praise that arises from all creation. Some of the psalmist’s pairings of praise are quite informative. 

The sun that praises God during the daytime and the moon that offers its praise at night, reminds us that God’s praise is never silenced. 

The highest heavens and waters above the sky, along with the earth and what’s under its waters, helps us recall that God’s creation, from top to bottom, praises the Lord. 

The mountains and hills, with creatures and flying birds on them and circling them, communicates to us that both the noticeable and scarcely noticeable offer their praises to our God and King.

All creation burps out their praise – which means that some folk really are dumber than rocks because even the rocks know enough to praise the Lord. 

We praise the Lord – outdoors, indoors, at home, at work, in the neighborhood, with family, church, from every place there is to be a lifting of the hands to God.

How do we praise the Lord?

Of course, we raise our hands in adoration for the God who gives us life and watches over us in such a way that not a hair on our heads can fall apart from the divine will. 

We praise the Lord by being the people God created us to be – walking in fellowship with the Lord and enjoying the divine/human relationship forever.

No matter our current situation, every day and every situation is a summons to praise the Lord. God’s claim upon our lives leads us toward raising our hands to heaven. 

The person who praises God is marked by a deep humility of understanding that they are not God; expressive gratitude for God’s actions; patient confidence in God’s promises; and a sense of unity, participating in harmony with God, others, and all creation in praising the Lord!

Most High, all-powerful, all-good Lord,
All praise is Yours, all glory, honor and blessings.
To you alone, Most High, do they belong;
no mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your Name.

We praise You for all Your creatures,
especially for Brother Sun,
who is the day through whom You give us light.
He is beautiful and radiant with great splendor,
of You Most High, he bears Your likeness.

We praise You for Sister Moon and the stars,
in the heavens You have made them bright, precious and fair.

We praise You for Brothers Wind and Air,
fair and stormy, all weather’s moods,
by which You cherish all that You have made.

We praise You, for Sister Water,
so useful, humble, precious and pure.

We praise You for Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night.
He is beautiful, playful, robust, and strong.

We praise You for Sister Earth,
who sustains us
with her fruits, colored flowers and herbs.

We praise You for those who pardon,
or who for love of You bear sickness and trial.

Blessed are those who endure in peace,
by You they will be crowned.

We praise You for Sister Death,
from whom no-one living can escape.
Woe to those who die in their sins!
Blessed are those that She finds doing Your Will.
No second death can do them harm.

We praise and bless You Lord,
give You thanks,
and humbly serve You. Amen.

 – A canticle of praise from St. Francis of Assisi

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