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Let All Things Praise YHWH! Reflections on Psalm 148

In memorable poetry, the psalmist announces that nature is in continuous praise of the God who made it. But of course it does not use words in its praise, as we do, since it has no words like ours. It is not only the dolphins and whales, lovely parts of nature, that speak one to the other; the rocks, hills, and trees communicate as well, and what they "say" is "God be praised!"

Is such talk mere romanticized foolishness? Are we all to join Wordsworth on his daffodil-bedecked Cumbrian hills and "wander lonely as a cloud"? Such questions are to miss the point entirely. All of nature is from the hand of God; it is not finally up to us to determine the value of nature, to determine whether or not it is "useful." This sort of thinking has plunged us into the potential disasters we now face. Nature is intrinsically useful to God, because it, all of it, is crucial for God's hopes for the universe. Job demanded that God pay closer attention to Job's individual human justice, and God responded that Job needed to pay more attention to the mountain goat and the eagle and the raven in order to find his true place in the world.

Just read Psalm 148 aloud. Note it is not until verse 11 that humans are mentioned, and when they are, all are called to praise from kings to "all peoples." In short, when it comes to the praise of God all hierarchies fall away, because at the last all are equal in the command to praise God. And that "all" includes nature in its manifold manifestations. In short, the whole creation is in the business of divine praise, and because that is so, the whole creation is ours to love and to serve as partner and friend.

Again I quote myself from my book: "It is far past time for us to see the world as it really is, not as we always assumed it was or as we assumed it always would be. We preachers need to join the chorus of the earth in praise to God and in protest against those of us who would needlessly destroy the good earth and its creatures given to us so freely and lovingly by our creator. It is not too late for our conversion to become lovers of and partners with God's world. But we must be honest; it is surely getting very late." (Holbert, 110.)

12/23/2014 5:00:00 AM
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