31 Aug 2020

The Big Bang of Praise: Creation’s Worship in Psalms 148-150

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: A Gathered People, Hebrew Bible, Jesus, Jewish Backgrounds, Prayer, Psalms, Spiritual Disciplines, Worship
Worship is the Shema in 3D

Day 31, August 31, 2020. With this post we wrap up our eighth journey thru the Psalter for 2020. Though I have been doing this for 20ish years or so, each journey thru the Psalter has been unique.

I can look back over my Psalm prayer journal and see earthquakes in my life. I see times when the days prayer time seemed perfunctory. I can see times when I did it out of a sense of obligation.

I also can look over the whole and see great changes in how individual psalms hit me. I see love notes (interestingly enough) I’ve written to former Valentines. Stuff I wrote when Rachael was in the hospital and Talya got her license. I see places that were bitter pills during a firing and divorce.

The Psalms are the river of the Spirit and the rhythm of grace that has engulfed my life. They frame my life … at least after 1997ish.

I have come to believe the Jew from Nazareth did the same thing. I know beyond a doubt that Jesus/Yeshua prayed the Psalms daily and had the book memorized. It is interesting that though the Psalms are an “Old Testament” text, I have come to know the Nazarene on a much deeper level than I ever had before because of the Psalms. That alone is worth immersion in the Psalms daily. To paraphrase Augustine, to read the Psalms is like thinking Jesus’s thoughts after him.

Today we finish this month’s journey through the Psalter (Pss 148-150). It is one Hallelujah. One Big Bang over the top praise.

Psalms 145-150 form an extended, and fitting, doxology to the entire Psalter. Give everything you have, and more, to the praise of Yahweh the God of Israel and Father of Jesus/Yeshua. Everything in the entire Psalter has been pointing to this. It is no naive call but quite deliberate. The mountains and valleys of life, all honored in the Psalter by placing them before God, bring us to unabashed exuberant praise.

Psalm 148 ushers us into not just a worship assembly on earth but a cosmic cathedral of praise. It takes eyes to see “where we are” and ears to hear what is truly going on in our worship assemblies. Psalm 148 brings us into the throne room of God, like Hebrews 12 and the Revelation does throughout.

Here, in this temple, all creation continuously praises the Creator God as King. The sun, the moon, fire, snow, mountains and even “creeping things” (148.10). In this Psalm, it is humans that are called to join with the rest of creation in praise. This is why trumpets, lyres and even dancing (149.3; 150.4) are given to God in worship – because everything belongs to him already! We join them in worship that never ceases. We are taken into the throne room by the Spirit of God to join the thundering chorus singing to the audience of One. All people, all faux kings, young men, maidens band together to glorify the one King.

Psalm 149 extends this wholesome creation theology. Praise is given to the “Maker” (v.2). Praise is “in their throats” (v. 6). Worship is relational for God “takes pleasure in his people” (v.4). Churches today could learn a lesson or two from Israel about what it means to worship God in body, soul and spirit … in Spirit and Truth!

Worship is an application of the greatest command to love God with all our heart, our soul, our mind and our strength. Worship is the Shema in 3D. Israel had no dualistic dichotomies between “physical” and “spiritual” worship … if you are presenting your body as a sacrifice then even dance and music was sacred. Since Israel is commanded to love God with body, soul, spirit, and strength their worship parallels that (that is what v.3 is about). Some today love God only with their propositions and sometimes worship reflects the lack of joy and energy this Psalm demands of the People of God. Sometimes what gets called spiritual and reverent among us is actually more indebted to pagan Platonic dualism and assimilated Victorian values than Scripture. (See also my article, Worship is the Shema in 3D: Vitamins for Worshiping with Heart, Mind, Soul & Strength).

Crowning the whole Psalter, Psalm 150 moves beyond both 148 and 149. Those psalms give us “reasons” to praise. And we have millions of them to bow before the Lord God our Maker. But Psalm 150 seemingly gives no reason. Supreme worship does not flow merely from any of the benefits we receive from God. Supreme worship flows to God simply because God is God. God is just worthy of praise.

This pure, holy, worship in Psalm 150 makes some modern disciples “uncomfortable” to say the least. Undignified. Outrageous. Over the top. No holds barred. But two things must be remembered always.

First, Jesus sang this song. Jesus sang this song. Jesus joined the festive throng in shouting to God the Father with lutes, harps, clapping and even dance (v.4). The only way to say he did not is to deny he is a faithful Bible reading Jew!

Second, If we believe that the Holy Spirit is ultimately responsible for Scripture then this psalm, like all of them, is here because he wants it there. Humans always think they are holier and more Spiritual than God, so we not infrequently embrace some neo-Platonic spirituality or neo-gnostic contemplation.

But God loves embodied and full bodied material – the stuff of Creation – worship. Thus Psalm 150 caps off the entire book of Praise. The Book of Praises ends with a big bang of praise!

In our journey we have gone through mountains, valleys, sheol, darkness, enemies of God, pain, suffering … and ultimately into the joy of being the People – blessed to be in God’s glorious Presence in sweet communion with one another and Yahweh.

My prayer meditation is,

“Lord God of Israel purify my heart so I desire to worship you with my mind, with my soul, with my strength, with my body, with my whole being, in communion with your family simply because you are the Glorious King.”


Leave a Reply