Psalms 148

PSALM CXLVIII

The psalmist calls on all the creation to praise the Lord. The

angels and visible heavens, 1-6;

the earth and the sea, 7;

the meteors, 8;

mountains, hills, and trees, 9;

beasts, reptiles, and fowls, 10;

kings, princes, and mighty men, 11;

men, women, and children, 12, 13;

and especially all the people of Israel, 14.

NOTES ON PSALM CXLVIII

This Psalm has no title: but by the Syriac it is attributed to

Haggai and Zechariah, and the Septuagint and the AEthiopic

follow it. As a hymn of praise, this is the most sublime in the

whole book.

Verse 1. Praise ye the Lord from the heavens] The Chaldee

translates, "Praise the Lord, ye holy creatures from the heavens.

Praise him, ye armies of supreme angels. Praise him, all ye angels

who minister before him." min hashshamayim signifies

whatever belongs to the heavens, all their inhabitants; as

min haarets, Ps 148:7, signifies all that belongs to the earth,

all its inhabitants and productions.

Verse 3. Praise ye him, sun and moon] The meaning of this

address and all others to inanimate nature, is this: Every work of

God's hand partakes so much of his perfections, that it requires

only to be studied and known, in order to show forth the manifold

wisdom, power, and goodness of the Creator.

Stars of light] The brightest and most luminous stars: probably

the planets may be especially intended.

Verse 4. Heavens of heavens] Heavens exceeding heavens. Systems

of systems extending as far beyond the solar system, as it does

beyond the lowest deeps. The endless systematic concatenation of

worlds.

Ye waters that be above the heavens.] This refers to Ge 1:7,

where see the notes. Clouds, vapours, air, exhalations, rain,

snow, and meteors of every kind.

Verse 5. He commanded, and they were created.] He spake the word

expressive of the idea in his infinite mind; and they sprang into

being according to that idea.

Verse 6. He hath also stablished them] He has determined their

respective revolutions, and the times in which they are performed,

so exactly to show his all-comprehensive wisdom and skill, that

they have never passed the line marked out by his decree, nor

intercepted each other in the vortex of space, through revolutions

continued for nearly 6000 years.

Verse 7. Praise the Lord from the earth] As in the first

address, he calls upon the heavens and all that belong to them; so

here, in this second part, he calls upon the earth, and all that

belong to it.

Ye dragons] tanninim, whales, porpoises, sharks, and

sea-monsters of all kinds.

And all deeps] Whatsoever is contained in the sea, whirlpools,

eddies, ground tides, with the astonishing flux and reflux of the

ocean.

Every thing, in its place and nature, shows forth the

perfections of its Creator.

Verse 8. Fire, and hail; snow, and vapours] All kinds of

meteors, water, and fire, in all their forms and combinations. And

air, whether in the gentle breeze, the gale, the whirlwind,

the tempest, or the tornado; each accomplishing an especial

purpose, and fulfilling a particular will of the Most High.

Verse 9. Mountains, and all hills] Whether primitive, secondary,

or alluvial; of ancient or recent formation, with all their

contents, quarries, mines, and minerals. But what a profusion of

wisdom and skill is lavished on these! To instance only in the

different metals, earths, and minerals; especially the precious

stones.

Fruitful trees] ets peri, fruit trees of all kinds.

And all cedars] Every kind of forest tree. The formation of the

fruits, their infinitely varied hues and savours, proclaim the

unsearchable wisdom and goodness of God: not less so, the growth,

structure, and various qualities and uses of the forest trees.

Verse 10. Beasts] hachaiyah, wild beasts of every kind.

All cattle] behemah, all domestic animals; those used

for the service of the house, and those for agricultural purposes.

Creeping things] All the class of reptiles, from the boa

constrictor, that can combat, kill, and swallow whole the royal

tiger, to the cobra de manille, a poisonous reptile as small as a

fine needle; with those still smaller animals that are found in

water, and require the power of the microscope to bring them to

view. In the production, preservation, habits, and properties of

all these, there is a profusion of wisdom and economy that would

require ages to exhibit.

Flying fowl] The structure of fowls is astonishing; and the

exact mathematical manner in which flying fowls swim the air, and

steer their course wheresoever they will; the feathers, and their

construction, with the muscles which give them motion; strike

the observer of nature with astonishment and delight.

Verse 11. Kings of the earth] As being representatives of the

Most High; and all people-the nations governed by them. Princes,

as governors of provinces, and all judges executing those laws

that bind man to man, and regulate and preserve civil society;

praise God, from whom ye have derived your power and influence:

for by him kings reign. And let the people magnify God for civil

and social institutions, and for the laws by which, under him,

their lives and properties are preserved.

Verse 12. Both young men, and maidens] Who are in the bloom of

youth, and in the height of health and vigour; know that God is

your Father; and let the morning and energy of your days be

devoted to him.

Old men, and children] Very appropriately united here, as the

beginning and conclusion of life present nearly the same

passions, appetites, caprices, and infirmities: yet in both the

beneficence, all-sustaining power, and goodness of God are seen.

Verse 13. Let them] All already specified, praise the name of

Jehovah, because he excels all beings: and his glory, as seen in

creating, preserving, and governing all things, is al, upon or

over, the earth and heaven. All space and place, as well

as the beings found in them, show forth the manifold wisdom and

goodness of God.

Verse 14. He also exalteth the horn] Raises to power and

authority his people.

The praise] Jehovah is the subject of the praise of all his

saints.

A people near unto him.] The only people who know him, and make

their approaches unto him with the sacrifices and offerings which

he has himself prescribed. Praise ye the Lord!

O what a hymn of praise is here! It is a universal chorus! All

created nature have a share, and all perform their respective

parts.

All intelligent beings are especially called to praise him who

made them in his love, and sustains them by his beneficence. Man

particularly, in all the stages of his being-infancy, youth,

manhood, and old age: all human beings have their peculiar

interest in the great Father of the spirits of all flesh.

He loves man, wheresoever found, of whatsoever colour, in

whatever circumstances, and in all the stages of his pilgrimage

from his cradle to his grave.

Let the lisp of the infant, the shout of the adult, and

the sigh of the aged, ascend to the universal parent, as a

gratitude-offering. He guards those who hang upon the breast;

controls and directs the headstrong and giddy, and sustains old

age in its infirmities; and sanctifies to it the sufferings that

bring on the termination of life.

Reader, this is thy God! How great, how good, holy merciful, how

compassionate! Breathe thy soul up to him; breathe it into him;

and let it be preserved in his bosom till mortality be swallowed

up of life, and all that is imperfect be done away.

Jesus is thy sacrificial offering; Jesus is thy Mediator. He has

taken thy humanity, and placed it on the throne! He creates all

things new; and faith in his blood will bring thee to his glory!

Amen! hallelujah!

The beautiful morning hymn of Adam and Eve, (Paradise Lost, book

v., line 153, &c.,)-

"These are thy glorious works, Parent of good;

Almighty, thine this universal frame," &c.

has been universally admired. How many have spoken loud in its

praises, who have never attempted to express their feelings in a

stanza of the hundred and forty-eighth Psalm! But to the rapturous

adorers of Milton's poetry what is the song of David, or this

grand music of the spheres! Know this, O forgetful man, that

Milton's morning hymn is a paraphrase of this Psalm, and is

indebted to it for every excellency it possesses. It is little

else that the psalmist speaking in English instead of Hebrew

verse.

ANALYSIS OF THE HUNDRED AND FORTY-EIGHTH PSALM

The psalmist calls upon the whole creation to he instrumental in

praising God. By which he shows,-

I. His ardent desire that God be praised. As if creatures,

endowed with reason, were too few, therefore he calls on inanimate

things to join and be heralds of his wondrous works.

II. His intention; what he would and could have done.

III. That what could be done should be done.

IV. That all really do praise him in their kind and manner.

This Psalm is disposed into excellent distribution.

1. He calls upon celestial creatures in general; 2. In

particular. 1. On angels: "Praise ye the Lord from the heavens,"

&c. Ye of celestial order. 2. "Praise him in the heights," &c. The

heavens above. 3. "Praise him, all his hosts," &c. Which in St.

Luke are called the heavenly host.

2. "Praise ye him, sun, moon, and stars." Though not with the

voice, yet by your beauty, motion, light, efficacy, &c.

He mentions the whole body of the heavenly orbs.

1. "Praise him, ye heavens of heavens," &c. The highest state of

bliss.

2. "And ye waters," &c. All the orbs above the air, in Scripture

called heavens; and the waters that are above the firmament.

And in the two next verses he gives the reason.

1. "He commanded," &c. They are his creatures, therefore,-

2. "He hath established them," &c. They are incorruptible.

From the heavens he now descends to the earth, air, water, &c.:

"Praise the Lord from the earth," &c. All ye elementary

substances.

1. "Ye dragons." Whales, great fishes.

2. "All deeps." All kinds of waters.

3. "Fire and hail," &c. Meteors, &c.

4. "Mountains and hills," &c.

5. "Fruitful trees," &c. Trees fit to build with and

fruit-trees.

6. "Beasts and all cattle." Both wild and tame.

7. "Creeping things," &c. Worms and serpents.

8. "And all flying fowls."

And, lastly, he cites all mankind to praise God.

1. "The highest kings," &c. They who command, and they who obey.

2. "Princes, and all judges," &c. All inferior magistrates.

3. "Both young men and maidens." Both sexes.

4. "Old men and children,"-all ages: "Let them praise the name

of the Lord."

And for this reason:-

1. "For his name is excellent alone." No name is so sublime and

worthy.

2. "His glory is above the earth and heaven." All good comes

from him.

The prophet concludes this Psalm with God's goodness to the

Church, which furnishes him with another reason:-

1. He also "exalts the horn," &c. The power and glory of his

people.

2. "He is the praise," &c. The Guide of Israel.

3. "Even of the children of Israel," &c. A people consecrated to

God. All which is to be understood not merely of Israel according

to the flesh, but God's spiritual Church. Now those who are true

Israelites, and those especially, he excites to sing,-

"Hallelujah! Praise ye the Lord!"

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