Psalms For Life
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Psalm 148

Brother sun, sister moon

Contrary to what our secular society says, all of creation belongs to God. This psalm calls us to join the rest of creation in worshipping our creator God, which leads to true freedom, joy, and rest.

Praise YHWH!
Praise YHWH from the heavens
praise him, heavenly heights.
2 Praise him, all his angels
praise him, all his heavenly armies.
3 Praise him, sun and moon
praise him, all you shining stars.
4 Praise him, highest heavens
and you cloud-seas of the sky.
5 Join together in praising YHWH’s name
for he commanded and they were created.
6 He assigned them their places forever
setting boundaries that cannot be crossed.

7 Praise YHWH from the earth
you sea monsters and all you ocean deeps
8 lightning and hail, snow and fog
storm winds that obey his commands
9 mountains and all hills
fruit trees and all cedars.
10 Animals wild and tame
crawling creatures and all flying fowl.
11 Kings of the earth and all the nations
the powerful and all leaders on earth
12 young men and women
seniors and children alike.
13 Join together in praising YHWH’s name
for his name alone is exalted
and his majesty towers over
everything in earth and heaven.
14 He has lifted high the horn of his people
the praise of all those devoted to him
the Israelites, the people near him.
Praise YHWH!


This psalm, the inspiration for St. Francis’ “Canticle to the Sun,” issues the third of the Psalter’s last five calls to praise YHWH, Lord of all. Evoking Genesis 1, it begins by calling everything in the heavens to praise God: his angel armies, sun, moon, stars, and the rain-filled cloud-seas he created. We moderns consider such things as stars and clouds mute, inanimate objects. But the psalmist knows better:  since God fires the sun, moves the clouds, and holds all the elements together, they’re all alive with the glory of God. Moment-by-moment, they all ascribe majesty and greatness to him.

The psalm’s second half brings in the earthly chorus: oceans, forces of nature, land forms, flora and fauna, and all earth’s peoples. The storm winds that, even today, are so beyond our control unfailingly obey God’s every word. Indeed, everything he’s created ascribes glory to him by doing just what he created it to do. Thus, as choirmaster, the psalmist cues humankind—earth’s most powerful people included—to join the rest of creation in ascribing glory to God without restraint.

The psalm ends with a declaration that YHWH has raised up the horn of the Israelites who love him—their horn, surprisingly, being their praise of God. That is, his people’s strength, dignity, fame, and joy all lie in their dedication to give God the honor and glory he deserves.

When you came to reign over your creation, Jesus, we all—Gentile and Jew alike—rejected you as king. But your unfailing love overcame our hate and won you the name above every name. Lord, let me glimpse more of your glory so that I may wholeheartedly join creation in worshipping you. Amen.

In your free moments today, meditate on these words:

Join together in praising YHWH’s name
for his name alone is exalted
and his majesty towers over
everything in heaven and earth.

Why YHWH?

Every translator of the Psalms must decide how to handle God’s personal name, YHWH or YHVH, which occurs repeatedly in its Hebrew text. Translators of the King James Version usually translated it “LORD” (all caps) and sometimes transliterated it (badly) as “Jehovah.” Likewise, all modern translations either translate or transliterate it. Some other options for translating it are “the Eternal,” “the Almighty,” or “the Sovereign Lord.”

While translating it aims to make it more accessible to readers, transliterating it seems to me more faithful to the text since it’s not a word at all, but rather God’s uniquely personal name. This roots it more firmly in the biblical story as the name God revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai. Meaning “the self-existent One who answers to no one,” the name YHWH set Israel’s God apart from all the gods of Israel’s neighbors.

Personal names are, well, very personal. Even the sound of a name can evoke strong emotion. I’ve chosen to transliterate only YHWH’s consonants since the earliest Hebrew manuscripts contain only consonants, the vowels being added much later. My aim in doing so is to honor God’s name and set it apart, as unique.

One problem with YHWH is that we aren’t sure how it was pronounced since Jews long ago stopped saying it out of reverence. (They read Adonai instead whenever they come to YHWH in the text.) I take the advice of my esteemed Hebrew professor, Raymond Dillard, who advocated pronouncing it as Yahveh (Yah·vay). He favored that over the standard Yahweh since the modern Hebrew pronunciation of its third consonant makes the name sound more robustly Jewish. It also makes it sound more robust, period.

Finding strength in the ancient psalms

May these psalms be a light to you in dark times. You can read more of Mark Anderson's writings on Christianity, culture, and inter-faith dialogue at Understanding Christianity Today.