New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary

Psa 148:1

Praise Yah! Praise Yahweh from the heavens! Praise Him in the heights!-
The LXX attributes Psalms 146-148 to Haggai and Zechariah. According to the LXX titles, there were certain Psalms which were written for the dedication of the rebuilt temple, and others written by Haggai and Zechariah. They include: Psalms 96,138,147,148. These all seem to speak as if the time of a glorious temple was to be the time of God’s Kingdom; this was the possibility, and it was the prevailing hope in the minds of the faithful minority. But the Psalms had to remain prophecies of the future day of Zion’s glory, for the temple was not rebuilt by the returned exiles according to the specifications of Ez. 40-48. Although I suggest they are all initially Psalms of David, relevant to his experiences, but used under inspiration in these later contexts.

Psa 148:2

Praise Him, all His angels! Praise Him, all His army!-
The praise in the context of the exiles (see on :1) was not for what God had already done, but for what they believed and hoped He would do in the ultimate restoration. Because at the time of the restoration, the exiles were experiencing famine and judgment for their impenitence.

Psa 148:3

Praise Him, sun and moon! Praise Him, all you shining stars!-
The praise is because of their creation by a Divine word (:5). The stars and heavenly bodies were representative of the exiles in Ps. 147:4 (see notes there); who were to be part of a new creation according to God's prophetic word of restoration. This is why otherwise inanimate bodies are presented as praising God.

Psa 148:4

Praise Him, you heavens of heavens, You waters that are above the skies-
The "heaven of heavens" seems to refer to the dwelling place of God personally. There was to ecstatic praise there because of how God would restore His people and forge a new creation out of them by the means of His word. That the exiles largely refused this great potential is tragic; the joy of Heaven itself was precluded by their disinterest. 

Psa 148:5

Let them praise the name of Yahweh, for He commanded, and they were created-
The Genesis creation is unique amongst creation accounts for the way that the true creation was called into being by Divine words. As explained on Ps. 147:18, a new creation was envisaged at the restoration. And the exiles were bidden praise God for this; even though ultimately that restoration to its full extent was not to be at that time, due to their general impenitence.

Psa 148:6

He has also established them forever and ever. He has made a decree which will not pass away-
The reestablishment of a new heavens and earth at the time of the return from Babylon is a major theme of the restoration prophets. A Divine decree would eternally establish them. The decree of Cyrus to return and rebuild the temple could have been that decree. But it was not to be, because Israel refused to repent and truly return to their God and their land. Perhaps God did indeed make the decree, and that of Cyrus was a human articulation of it upon earth; but Israel failed to respond, and so God's eternal decree would therefore have a later and different fulfilment.

Psa 148:7

Praise Yahweh from the earth, you great sea creatures, and all depths!-
The "waters" would refer to the Gentiles around Israel; see on Rev. 16:5. LXX "serpents" supports the idea that it is the mythical creatures feared by the Middle Eastern peoples who were finally to praise God. The intention was that the exiles would be restored, judgment would come upon Babylon, and this would lead to Babylon and the other great nations repenting and praising God. Their destruction would be in allusion to God's division of the Red Sea and destruction of the "monsters" of Egypt. The chariots of Pharaoh are likened to sea monsters. The same idea is presented to the exiles in Is. 51:9. People of the time found the sea mysterious, and believed in a vast sea dragon lurking there which was invincible, rather like folks tend to believe in a supernatural devil figure. The simple point was that God has and can destroy such entities at ease, to the point that effectively God's people need not believe in them.

Psa 148:8

Lightning and hail, snow and clouds; stormy wind, fulfilling His word-
LXX "the things that perform His word". Hail and lightning (AV "flaming fire") are the words used for the destruction of Assyria / Babylon (Is. 30:30; and see on Ps. 105:32). They are also associated with theophany (Ps. 18:12,13). Hail and lightning could have been used to destroy Babylon and thereby fulfil God's prophetic word of restoration for the exiles. But these great potentials were not realized because the Jews didn't repent and didn't for the most part actually want the restoration of the Kingdom. They preferred the good life in Persia. Ultimately all the elements of the natural creation will be used in the last days to bring about the reestablishment of the Kingdom, although not exactly in the terms initially envisaged for the restoration of the exiles from Babylon.

Psa 148:9

mountains and all hills; fruit trees and all cedars-
The Psalm looks ahead to a time when the entire creation would praise God's Name. This could be simply poetic language representing a general situation of praise. But the restored Kingdom could well be a time when the natural creation realizes some latent spiritual potential within it, and praises God's Name (Rom. 8:22,23).

Psa 148:10

wild animals and all livestock; small creatures and flying birds-
See on :9. The list of things which will praise Yahweh's Name here and in :9 is taken from the record of the Genesis 1 creation. Perhaps what is envisaged here is a new creation, where all the components of that creation have a spiritual potential, which is used to praise God's Name (:13).

Psa 148:11

kings of the earth and all peoples; princes and all judges of the earth-
The kings of the eretz promised to Abraham are typically presented in the Bible as being against God's people. But here we have then envisioned as praising Yahweh's Name. Or we could read this Psalm as an invitation to them to do so. The prophetic intention was that the nations in the eretz would repent; this Psalm may be looking forward to that time, or it could be read as an appeal to them to accept Yahweh and praise His Name (:13). 

Psa 148:12

both young men and young women; old men and children-
The praise of the entire Gentile society within the eretz promised to Abraham (:11) is to parallel the praise of God's people Israel (:14). The impression given is of Jews and Gentiles united in a new multiracial people of God, giving the same praise to the same God. We note that "children" are equally invited to praise the name of Yahweh (:13); they are felt to be capable of appreciating His Name / characteristics.

Psa 148:13

let them praise the name of Yahweh, for His name alone is exalted; His glory is above the earth and the skies-
Heb. 12:8: “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, to day, and for ever” suggests that the three tenses of the Yahweh Name were  supremely manifest in the Lord Jesus. Which is surely why ‘Jesus’ in the NT becomes the Name above every Name (Phil. 2:9,10; Eph. 1:21); for only ‘Yahweh’ was exalted above every other name (Neh. 9:5; Ps. 148:13). It is praise of Yahweh through the Lord Jesus which will be the scene of the  eternally reestablished kingdom of Yahweh.

This Psalm may well have originated in the victory over Goliath, for it is very similar in spirit to Psalm 8, and here quotes from Ps. 8:1,10. After that, it was David's name which was much set by (1 Sam. 18:30); but David's desire was that it should be Yahweh's Name which was now made majestic after the defeat of Goliath, and not his name.

Psa 148:14

He has lifted up the horn of His people-
The idea of the horn of the righteous being exalted is used about what David envisaged happening for God's people in this life (s.w. Ps. 148:14), although the final fulfilment was to be at the last day, when the horn of the wicked is cut off (Ps. 75:10). But there are potential foretastes of the last day in this life. Jeremiah appears to struggle with the Psalms which taught that the horn of the righteous would be lifted up, lamenting that instead the horn of their enemies had been lifted up (s.w. Lam. 2:17). The truth was that the horn of God's people would only be lifted up if they were identified with the lifting up of the horn which was Messiah (Ps. 89:17,24). And because this didn't happen, their horn was not exalted.

David is here alluding to Hannah's prayer (1 Sam. 2:10). He appropriates her words to himself personally in Ps. 92:10, but there he also bids all Israel apply the words to themselves every Sabbath (Ps. 92:1). Hence "our horn shall be exalted... his horn shall be exalted" (Ps. 89:17,24). Israel were to see themselves as somehow "in" David, as we are "in Christ".

Inspiring the praise of all His saints, even of the children of Israel, a people near to Him. Praise Yah!-
The reason why space is so deep and huge may simply be because God wants to show us His humility: in that although He is so far from us, He will come to us, such an infinite distance in human terms, and live here with us. And this Almighty, so distant God... describes Israel as "a people near to Him"- using the very word elsewhere translated "near of kin" or "kinsman". This is how close He comes to His people. The Hebrew means literally, 'next to', 'neighbour / relative to'. This is how close God feels to the broken hearted and crushed; and conversely, how far He is from the self satisfied and self congratulatory, 'the strong' in secular terms. It is this feature of Yahweh which makes Him unique; no other God has this characteristic of 'nearness' (s.w. Dt. 4:7).