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.
And he established them for ever 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! …
It’s been a very full summer and I’m afraid I haven’t been able to write as often as I would have liked. This morning I have just one quick thought from reading Psalm 148. It’s a great rush of a psalm, and I really enjoy the spirit of exhortation that brings all creation into a mighty chorus of praise. Planets and sea monsters, fire and hail, and everyone from Kings to children come together. What an image! And as I read, I was struck by the words, “For he commanded and they were created” and “stormy wind fulfilling his command!” That word, “command.” The psalmist says that we should praise God because he speaks a command and it happens. God’s words (however it is that words come out of the mouth of God) are enough. He has authority.
As I mused a bit, this reminded me of the stories of the Centurion’s servant in Matthew 8, and of Jesus calming the winds and the sea–also, and perhaps not coincidentally, in Matthew 8. They echo this idea of authority:
As he entered Caper′na-um, a centurion came forward to him, beseeching him and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion answered him, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard him, he marveled, and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.” And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; be it done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment….
…”“Why are you afraid, O men of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”
We struggle in this earthly life with the gap between words and deeds. We command, and nothing happens. That schoolyard taunt, “You can’t make me!” will come back again and again–at work, at home, even between nations. And the truth is, we cannot even make ourselves do the good that we will (Romans 7:19). No wonder the psalmist is amazed.