Psalm 148

Submitted by admin on Sun, 2007-07-29 07:10.

Posted in | printer-friendly version »

In the Masoretic Text, this psalm does not have a superscription. The Septuagint superscription is, “Hallelujah. Of Haggai and Zechariah.”

Psalm 148 starts with the imperative, “Praise Yah (Yah being the abbreviated form of the divine name YHWH). The praise “from the heavens” and “in the heights” evidently refers to the praise of the angels, as “all his angels” and “all his host [hosts or forces, LXX]” are then called upon to praise him.

The sun, moon, and stars are to join in this universal expression of praise. The Masoretic Text uses the expression “stars of light” (probably meaning the stars that shed light), but the Septuagint reads, “all the stars and the light.”

In view of the reference to the “waters above the heavens,” the expression “heavens of heavens” probably refers to the celestial dome. From the standpoint of the human observer, that celestial vault is exceedingly high, making it the “heavens of heavens.” Apparently with reference to the overcast sky, the psalmist spoke of the “waters above the heavens.” Both the “heavens of heavens” and the “waters above the heavens” are to participate in praising YHWH.

Everyone and everything should praise the “name of YHWH” or the Most High who is the bearer of the name, “for he commanded, and they were created.” All creation came into existence as an expression of his will, for what he declares is certain of accomplishment.

YHWH’s making his creative works “stand” could refer to his keeping them in existence for limitless time. This is according to his “decree,” which will not pass away. The Hebrew word (choq) for “decree,” “statute,” or “enactment” has also been understood to denote “limit” or “boundary.” This meaning is followed in verse 6 of the New Revised Standard Version, “He established them forever and ever; he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.”

At this point, the psalmist’s focus is the earth. Everyone and everything on earth should praise YHWH—the huge creatures (“dragons,” LXX) in the sea, the deeps (“abysses, LXX; the deep bodies of water), fire (probably meaning “lightning”), hail, snow, thick smoke (probably meaning the dark clouds that have the appearance of smoke; krystallos [“ice,” LXX]), and raging wind. The psalmist perceived lightning, hail, snow, dark clouds, and storm to be under God’s control and, therefore, used to fulfill his command.

Mountains, all the hills, fruit trees, all the cedars, wild and domestic animals, crawling creatures, birds, kings, princes, and all peoples, young and old, boys and girls should praise the “name of YHWH” or the God who bears the name. This name is exalted, far grander than the impressive creative works. YHWH’s glory or magnificence is above “earth and heaven” or possesses a splendor that outstrips the entire universe.

YHWH is spoken of as having “raised up the horn for his people.” This may mean that he granted them strength and prosperity, for the word “horn” is used to represent power. By his thus dealing with them, YHWH made his “holy ones” (the “sons” or the people of Israel who are “near” him as his worshipers) an object of praise. So they had good reason to heed the imperative, “Praise Yah.”


Regarding the divine name (YHWH), see Psalm 1.

In verse 5, the Septuagint has an expanded text. “Let them praise the name of the Lord, because he spoke, and they came to be; he commanded, and they were created.”

In the concluding verse, the Septuagint says of the “sons of Israel” that they are a “people drawing near to him [God].”