ARE YOU SOLD OUT TO GOD –
It would not be uncommon for many pilgrims to leave the Holy City and return to their everyday life without expecting God to continue blessing them and showing them with His favor. So the compilers of the Psalter wanted to include a song that would make all pilgrims stop and think about the fact that they already owed Him everything for who they are and what they have received in their lifetime. So they chose this psalm written by a weary exile that came back from captivity to see the city and temple rise again from the ruins. They wanted this to become a message of unity for all God’s people, to help them in times of chaotic fragmentation in the world; in their society; and in their families. They must realize that everything around them, whether good or bad, helpful or hurtful, all play a role in what our Creator God has planned for His people and their eternal good.
“Say, Hallelujah! Come on everybody, let the heavens, the universe, the angels, the armies of heaven, the sun, the moon, the shining stars, the atmosphere and the stratosphere, let them all celebrate the LORD Eternal for the great God He is. After all, He is the One who spoke them into existence; He’s the One who insures that they will last forever, and issued a command that they never be moved! Yes, celebrate the LORD Eternal all over the earth and throughout the ocean depths; including the lightning and hail, the snow and mist, the stormy winds who follow His commands, the mountains and the hills, the fruit trees and the cedars, the animals – wild and tame, the insects and birds, earth’s rulers and all the nation’s governors and judges, the boys as well as the girls, the elderly along with the young. Let them all celebrate the LORD Eternal for the great God He is; for His fame is unique and unparalleled; impacting the earth and sky in a spectacular way. He is the One who increased the stature of His people; the One who made His saints well-known; His chosen people, a people near and dear to Him. Say Hallelujah!” Psalm 148:1-14
Reflection: In the 1980 movie, “The Jazz Singer,” starring Laurence Olivier as Cantor Rabinovitch, who admonishes his son, Yussel Rabinovitch, played by Neil Diamond, a jazz singer, for not following in his footsteps as a Synagogue Cantor. It led to them not talking to one another for over a year. In one scene, Neil Diamond, as Yussel, says to his father, “God doesn’t pay so good Pop. This is a poor synagogue, they pay what they can but I can’t live on that.” Olivier responds angrily, “God doesn’t pay so good! The debt you owe to God, you can never repay!” Sounds like Canto Rabinovitch was familiar with the contents of this 148th Psalm, called Tehillim in Hebrew, which means “Praises.”
In this case the psalmist implores all creation to begin praising their Maker, for who He is, and what He has done, and what He continues to do for them. They owe their very existence and continued survival to Him; what they are, what they represent; their very purpose in the universe. How can we then not join in, seeing that we owe Him everything because of Christ. There is a hymn by Ellis J. Crum that goes like this: “He paid a debt He did not owe; I owed a debt I could not pay.” That’s why we praise Him, not out of forced obligation or guilt, but out of sheer love for who He is and what He has done. In fact, He has already done so much for us, it would take several lifetimes to thank Him for what He’s already given without receiving another blessing.