This praise psalm enthusiastically declares God’s sovereignty over the heavens and the earth. It uses an imperative “praise” form of the verb eleven times, thus urging us to action. Go and do! Saint Francis’s “Canticle of the Sun” echoes this even earlier hymn, Psalm 148.
In this psalm we sense the scope of God’s creative essence as each part of the known universe receives the call to acknowledge and praise God. It calls upon not only human beings but also inanimate elements of creation to praise God. I can just see the psalmist whirling around in a joyous dance of recognition of all that is good and praising the Creator for it.
In reaching out to human beings, the psalmist covers the whole spectrum from rulers to all people and becomes even more specific naming men, women, young and old. He leaves no one out. This gamut of people is called upon to “praise the name of the Lord,” which leads us to ponder God’s name.
What’s in a name? To many of us, naming a child can represent our hopes for him or her, or it may serve as a way of recognizing a family member or a friend. In many cultures, a baby does not receive a definitive name until the child has evidenced his or her character. So what does this psalm tell us of God’s character? God’s name revealed to Moses was “I Am Who I Am” (Exod. 3:14). God refuses to be pinned down. Here we can see God as creator and feel the joy of relationship and, in naming God, feel God’s presence.
May we never cease to praise God’s name and being.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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