Oct 19 2011

Our Foremost Duty

This past Sunday I preached a message called “Our Foremost Duty.”  The text for my message was Psalm 148.  In this beautiful psalm the psalmist plays a role similar to an orchestra director.  He motions to the sun and says it’s time to praise the Lord.  He next turns to the moon and indicates that it is the moon’s turn to praise the Lord.  Following the sun and the moon the psalmist motions to the sea creatures, lightning and hail, snow and clouds, the mountains and all hills, the trees and wild animals and tells them likewise to praise the Lord.  Finally, the psalmist turns to humans—rich and poor, young and old—and beckons them to praise the Lord.

After the psalmist called all of Creation to praise the Lord he goes on to say why.  He says we should all praise God “for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.” (v. 13)  Everything that has been created is to praise God because He alone is worthy of praise.  The Creator is far greater than the Creation for “he commanded and they were created.” (v. 5)  Because of His greatness God is worthy of our praise and worship.  In fact, the Bible indicates that praising God is our foremost duty. 

There are a couple of things I’d like to emphasize about this ultimate call to worship.  First, the psalmist includes humans in his long list from Creation.  We are no different from the rest of Creation in our obligation to praise God.  Old Testament scholar James L. Mays says, “We human beings are one with all beings in our relation to One whose name alone is exalted and whose majesty is above earth and heaven.”  It truly is important that we remember our oneness with the rest of Creation.  Our failure to do so has resulted in many destructive practices.

Second, somehow, someway, the rest of Creation praises God with or without us.  Some may see the psalmist’s call to those other than humans as being fanciful or symbolic, but there appears to be more to it than that.  The psalmist is quite serious in this call to worship.  Concerning this James Mays says “The creation and the creatures praise in their very being and doing, by existing and filling their assigned place.”  The sun by shining praises God.  The winds by blowing praise God.  Mountains and hills praise God just by being there.

Mays sees in Psalm 148 a unique role for humans.  He believes humans “are given the praise with which to voice the unspoken praise of all creation.  Praise is their place and purpose.  In the praise of the people of the Lord, the name that is the truth about the entire universe is spoken on behalf of the rest of creation.”  Personally, I’m not so sure the rest of Creation doesn’t have its own voice to offer praise but if Mays is correct then our duty to praise God is even greater than most of us have realized.  We are responsible for giving voice to all the trees and plants, birds, fish and animals, the hills and mountains, the oceans and deserts.  If we don’t offer God our praise, we let Creation down. 

There are many ways today we do, in fact, let Creation down.  In some of these ways we may not have a lot of personal control.  In this area we do.  Each of us has the ability to praise and worship God and no one can stop us from doing so.  So for God’s sake, and that of Creation, let’s just praise the Lord!

–Chuck

(The pictures used above are some I took yesterday here in southeast Kentucky.)