The Heavens Praise
(1) HALLELUJAH! Praise Yahweh from the heavens! Praise him in the heights! (2) Praise him all his angels! Praise him all his hosts! (3) Praise him sun and moon! Praise him all you shining stars! (4) Praise him you highest heavens and you waters above the heavens! (5) Let them praise the name of Yahweh, for he commanded and they were created, (6) and he set them in place forever and ever. He gave a decree, and it will not pass away.
The opening verses of this psalm are distinguished by seven repetitions of the command to “praise Yahweh (him)” after the opening “Hallelujah” (vss. 1-4). Here we also find three occurrences of the word, “heavens.” The first half of this psalm calls on everything in the heavens above to praise Yahweh.
In the next section, the focus shifts to the earth itself. In essence, the entire psalm constitutes an extended merism, a figure of speech in which two opposites, in this case the heavens (vss. 1-6) and the earth (vss. 7-14), represent everything that exists in all creation.
I. What the heavens should do: praise Yahweh. (1-4)
II. Why the heavens should praise Yahweh: because he created and set them in place. (5 & 6)
The heavens should forever praise Yahweh because he created and sustains them.
What’s in a name? In the case of Yahweh, whose name means “self-existent, eternal one,” quite a lot. “Praise the name of Yahweh” (vs. 5) occurs in other passages in the Psalter such as Psalm 30:4, 33:21, and 103:1. We know that Yahweh, himself, is worthy of our praise, but why should we specifically “praise his name?” In brief, God’s name reveals who he is. His name represents “all that fullness of divine power, holiness, wrath, and grace which he has revealed as his character” (The New Bible Dictionary, ed. J. D. Douglas, p. 863). When we praise the name of Yahweh we are praising him for all that he has revealed to us about his creating and sustaining the universe.
In our earthbound existence, we can only begin to scratch the surface of what praising Yahweh’s name implies. God in his infinite wisdom and glorious majesty exists far beyond the capacity of our limited minds to understand. However, when we receive our new resurrection bodies and are transformed into the likeness of Christ, we will spend eternity probing the depths of what it means to praise the name of Yahweh. At that point, Paul’s great prayer will finally be fulfilled in us: “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:17-19).