“Praise the LORD.

Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise him in the heights above.

Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his heavenly hosts.

Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars.

Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies.

Let them praise the name of the LORD, for at his command they were created, and he established them for ever and ever—he issued a decree that will never pass away.

Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding, you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds, kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth, young men and women, old men and children.

Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.

And he has raised up for his people a horn, the praise of all his faithful servants, of Israel, the people close to his heart.

Praise the LORD.” (Psalm 148, NIV)

I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite things is watching fireworks. Whether it’s Independence Day or any other occasion, fireworks displays get my attention and I love watching and hearing them. My favorite part of any fireworks show is the grand finale, where everything seems to be going off all at once.

Psalm 148 is part of “The Grand Finale” of the Book of Psalms.  Beginning with Psalm 145, which serves as an introduction, Psalms 146-150 raise repeated and glorious praise to God. Unlike another group of Psalms, called “The Hallels” (Psalms 113-118), which were used only during Jewish Holidays, the Hallelu Yahs of Psalms 145-150 came to be used as everyday Psalms to be recited before prayers were offered up.

Psalm 145:1-2 points to this daily devotional idea; “A psalm of praise. Of David. I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever.” The remaining Psalms, 146-150, all begin and end with the Hebrew words halal yahh (literally praise Yahweh), from which we get the English word hallelujah. It is likely that, as Psalm 145 is attributed to David, 146-150 are also his compositions.

There are five Psalms in this section, Psalm 148 being the centerpiece. Unlike Psalm 145, which is a prayer to God, these five ‘hallels” are directives, centering us on the Lord and His works. The old acrostic about prayer, A.C.T.S., calls us to Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and then Supplication in prayer. The Lord’s Prayer directs us to address our Father in heaven with “Hallowed be your name” before we begin with any petitions. We often forget our manners and jump right in to voice our concerns to God. David calls us to center our souls and hearts on the greatness of God first and foremost.

As we look at Psalm 148, we are directed to Praise the Lord, from the heavens and in the heavens. The angels and all the heavenly hosts are called upon to praise the Lord. The visible heavens of the sun, the moon and the shining stars are instructed to praise the Lord. The reason is given in verses 5-6; “Let them praise the name of the LORD, for at his command they were created, and he established them for ever and ever—he issued a decree that will never pass away.”

God’s power created the visible universe, which, without words glorifies God with praise. The reader and reciter of this Psalm is called to recognize that as the extraterrestrial universe expresses the praise due only to God the Creator, we are called to the same kind of praise.

Perhaps David is reprising some of his earlier thoughts about God, as expressed in Psalm 8; “LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens.” And Psalm 19; “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Certainly, we should see and realize that God’s fingerprints are everywhere, and we are quite insignificant in comparison. Speechless as the universe, our speech should ring out in praise to our Creator.

In verses 7-12 we are directed to the closer world in which we live. The sea creatures, ocean depths, powerful weather systems, mountains, hills, fruit bearing trees, mighty cedars, all animals big and small, the birds of the air and the kingdoms and nations of people are all displays of God’s splendor and worthiness of exaltation.

Once again, we seem insignificant as individuals. Yet, in verse 14 we find just how significant each of us is in God’s eyes. “And he has raised up for his people a horn, the praise of all his faithful servants…” Here is a reference to the Lord’s special favor to His own people, for he has raised up strength for us.

Our strength is found in our Creator LORD God and especially in our Savior, Jesus Christ. Nothing is stronger than the power of God who came to earth as a baby and died on the Cross as the one and only atonement for our sin, who then rose from the grave as our one and only hope for eternal life.

Psalm 148 is the centerpiece of the grand finale of the Psalms. The centerpiece of our praise should be the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As we come to the finale of one year, looking forward to what a new year brings; may we spend time each day to center our praise and prayers on Christ.

Looking back, praise the Lord for all the things He has done to bring you through another year. Perhaps we didn’t get through this year unscathed, but we got through none the less. Looking ahead, let us resolve to praise the Lord for all things that come our way.

Looking back to Advent and Christmas, praise the Lord for the strength of Jesus, who came to do what we could never do for ourselves, make atonement for our sins. Looking forward to Christ’s Second Advent, praise the Lord every day, knowing that our strength is the horn God has raised up for us; Jesus Christ, His one and only Son.

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul encourages us; “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” [Rom. 8:31b-39]

Hallelu Yah. Praise the Lord. Adore the Lord for all that He is. Confess to the Lord all that we fall short. Thank the Lord for all His grace, mercy and inexplicable peace. Seek the Lord in prayer: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” [Phil. 4:6-7]

Blessed and Happy New Year.