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Psalm 148

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The Whole Creation Invoked to Praise the Lord
No MT Intro
Praise to the Lord from Creation Hymn Calling Upon All Created Things to praise the Lord A Call for the Universe to Praise God Cosmic Hymn of Praise
148:1-6 148:1a 148:1-2 148:1a 148:1-2
  148:1b-4   148:1b-2  
    148:3-4 148:3-4 148:3-4
  148:5-6 148:5-6 148:5-6 148:5-6
148:7-12 148:7-12 148:7-8 148:7-8 148:7-8
    148:9-10 148:9-10 148:9-10
    148:11-12 148:11-12 148:11-12
148:13-14 148:13-14d 148:13-14 148:13-14c 148:13-14
  148:14e   148:14d  

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. Remember the Bible is an earth-oriented book. This planet was the focus of God preparing a special place to fellowship with His highest creation (i.e., made in His image and likeness, cf. Gen. 1:26-27).

B. All of the different levels of creation

1. celestial (i.e., "from the heavens," Ps. 148:1b)

2. earthly (i.e., "from the earth," Ps. 148:7a)

3. covenant people

are called on to praise YHWH, the Creator and Sustainer of all life on this planet and related to this planet (i.e., angels).

C. This is the choir of heaven and earth, animate and inanimate!

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 148:1-6
 1Praise the Lord!
 Praise the Lord from the heavens;
 Praise Him in the heights!
 2Praise Him, all His angels;
 Praise Him, all His hosts!
 3Praise Him, sun and moon;
 Praise Him, all stars of light!
 4Praise Him, highest heavens,
 And the waters that are above the heavens!
 5Let them praise the name of the Lord,
 For He commanded and they were created.
 6He has also established them forever and ever;
 He has made a decree which will not pass away.

148:1-6 The verb "praise" (BDB 237, KB 248) dominates this Psalm. Each of the three strophes begins with it. Psalm 148:1-4 contains all Piel imperatives, as does Ps. 148:7,14.

This first strophe focuses on "above the earth" things (cf. Ps. 103:19-22).

1. "from the heavens" (BDB 1029) - this refers to the atmosphere above the earth; see SPECIAL TOPIC: HEAVEN, also note Ps. 69:34; 96:11; Isa. 44:23; 49:13

2. "in the heights" (BDB 928) - this is parallel to "heavens"

3. "all His angels" (BDB 521) - this refers to the conscious servants of God (cf. Ps. 103:20); they are not said to be created in any specific OT text, but their inclusion here strongly suggests that, Col. 1:16 also strongly assumes this truth

There are three Special Topics related to angels:

a. SPECIAL TOPIC: THE ANGEL OF THE LORD

b. Special Topic: Angels and Demons

c. Special Topic: Angelic Levels in Paul's Writings

4. "all His hosts (BDB 838) - this term is used in two senses

a. in military contexts it refers to a heavenly army of angels

b. in an astral worship context it refers to the lights in the sky (i.e., sun, moon, stars, comets) which were thought to be gods who affected human life; notice "a" could relate to Ps. 148:2a or "b" could relate to Ps. 148:3 (cf. Ps. 103:21)

5. "sun and moon" - these are the greater lights of Gen. 1:14-16; both were worshiped in the ANE; see SPECIAL TOPIC: MOON WORSHIP

6. "all stars of light" - see note at Ps. 147:4

7. "highest heaven" - see Special Topic: The Heavens and the Third Heaven

8. "the waters that are above the heavens" - this alludes to Gen. 1:6-8; God controls the ancient waters; see Special Topic: Waters

 

148:5a "Let them praise" This is a Piel imperfect used in a jussive sense. It would denote a call to prayer/praise to the Creator (cf. Ps. 148:5b-6).

The "name" stands for YHWH Himself. See Special Topic: "The Name" of YHWH.

148:5b This alludes to creation by the spoken word of Genesis 1 (cf. Ps. 33:6,9; Heb. 11:3).

148:6 This is a hyperbolic statement of the permanency of this planet and its seasons (cf. Jer. 31:35-36; 33:20,25). We know from 2 Pet. 3:7,10-12 that the polluted, fallen creation shall be cleansed. From science, moderns know that we live in a violent, unstable universe. This solar system is not eternal. These are faith statements of God's eternality (cf. Ps. 93:1; 96:10d) and His promises that those who know Him will be with Him!

▣ "forever and ever" See Special Topic: Forever ('olam).

NASB, NKJV"a decree which will not pass away"
NRSV"he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed"
NJB"by an unchanging decree"

This phrase can refer to

1. God's decree/plans (cf. Ps. 33:11)

2. God's fixed boundaries of the land/sea/rivers (cf. Job 38:8-11; Ps. 104:9; Jer. 5:22)

The verb "pass over," "pass through," "pass on," "pass away" (BDB 716, KB 778, Qal imperfect) obviously has a wide semantic field which can support #1 or #2.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 148:7-12
 7Praise the Lord from the earth,
 Sea monsters and all deeps;
 8Fire and hail, snow and clouds;
 Stormy wind, fulfilling His word;
 9Mountains and all hills;
 Fruit trees and all cedars;
 10Beasts and all cattle;
 Creeping things and winged fowl;
 11Kings of the earth and all peoples;
 Princes and all judges of the earth;
 12Both young men and virgins;
 Old men and children.

148:7-12 This strophe focuses on the praise (one verb covers Ps. 148:7-12, each line assumes "praise") of living things on this planet.

1. "sea monsters" (BDB 1072) - this is used in several senses

a. snake - Exod. 7:9,10,12; Deut. 32:33; Ps. 91:13

b. dragon - Jer. 51:34 (also note name of the gate in Neh. 2:13)

c. sea monsters - see online notes at Gen. 1:21; Isa. 27:1

2. "all deeps" (BDB 1062) - this is used in several senses

a. subterranean waters (salt), cf. Gen. 7:11; 8:2; Job 28:4; 38:16; Ps. 33:7; 107:23-26; 135:6; Isa. 51:10; Amos 7:4

b. fresh water - usually in reference to crossing of the Red Sea, cf. Exod. 15:5,8; Ps. 77:17; 78:15; 106:9; Isa. 63:13

c. primeval waters - Gen. 1:2; Ps. 104:6-7; Pr. 8:27, see Special Topic: Waters (water is never said to be spoken into existence in Genesis 1)

d. Sheol - Ps. 71:20 (see Special Topic: Sheol)

3. Psalm 148:7-8 lists weather and topological features of the earth

4. Psalm 148:10 covers all created animal life

5. Psalm 148:11-12 lists human beings of all social levels and ages

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 148:13-14
 13Let them praise the name of the Lord,
 For His name alone is exalted;
 His glory is above earth and heaven.
 14And He has lifted up a horn for His people,
 Praise for all His godly ones;
 Even for the sons of Israel, a people near to Him.
 Praise the Lord!

148:13-14 The strophe starts like Ps. 148:5, with a Piel imperfect of "praise" used in a jussive sense. It focuses on the praise due YHWH from His covenant people.

148:13 "His name alone is exalted" This is

1. a literary expression of monotheism (see SPECIAL TOPIC: MONOTHEISM)

2. a way to contrast YHWH with mankind (cf. Isa. 2:11,17)

 

▣ "glory" See SPECIAL TOPIC: GLORY (kabod, OT).

148:14 "horn" The Hebrews viewed animal horns (esp. "ox," cf. Deut. 33:17; Ps. 92:10) as an expression of power (cf. Ps. 18:2).

1. the altars in the temple had horns

2. a person's life was characterized as a "horn" to be

a. lifted up (cf. 1 Sam. 2:1; Ps. 89:17,24; 92:10; 112:9)

b. put in dust (cf. Job 16:15)

c. cut off (cf. Ps. 75:10)

 

148:14 "all His godly ones" See notes at Ps. 16:10 and 145:10 online.

Here the phrase is parallel to "His people." They are further characterized as

1. sons of Israel

2. a people near to Him - this at first referred to priests/Levites who served in the temple but later came to be used of all covenant people who worship YHWH

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk n the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. How is Ps. 148:1-6 related to Ps. 148:7-12?

2. Define "hosts" of Ps. 148:2b. Does it relate to Ps. 148:2a or 149:3?

3. How does one reconcile Ps. 148:6 with 2 Pet. 3:7,10-12?

4. Define "sea monsters" of Ps. 148:7b.

5. Does Ps. 148:14 refer to "praise" to Israel or to YHWH?