I am always grateful when another person sees something in scripture I have missed. Biblical scholar Artur Weiser worked for years on his commentary on the book of Psalms. A man of keen intelligence and deep piety, he produced a work that reads as if he prayed every paragraph he wrote. When he came to Psalm 148, he wrote exactly what I expected he would. In spare, stunning language he highlighted the all-encompassing Praise the Lord surging through this psalm (Alleluia! in the magnificently energetic Hebrew tongue). Line by line, Weiser gradually assembled a whole thundering cosmos of praise.
To my surprise, he then did more. Weiser turned to a single phrase near the psalm’s end as cause for all the praise: “He has raised up a horn for his people.” This, he wrote, was the horn of salvation. The Hebrew listeners would have understood instantly. Why all this praise? Because the Lord God is giving salvation, a gift that reaches all realms of creation. And at its deepest level, Weiser noted, the psalm points far beyond itself to the salvation the heavenly host announced to the entire world at the birth of Jesus.
The Bible offers multiple portraits of the immeasurable gift we receive at Christmas. No single image can contain it. In coming days, we will look at several biblical portraits. Most are tightly focused. Today’s calls for our widest vision: A prayerful scholar looked at Psalm 148, and he saw all heaven and earth break into praise at the coming of Jesus. I ponder this. As I do, and as Christmas now approaches, I hear a gentle invitation for us all to pause and consider the immensity of the gift that is coming.
Loving Lord, open our eyes today so that we may see the people, landscapes, and realms you seek to bless by your saving presence among us. Amen.
As we celebrate the birth of our Savior, we do so with cries of praise to God. Isaiah delights and rejoices in God, who will bring reconciliation to all nations. Psalm 148 declares that all of creation praises the Lord, for creation knows who formed and sustains it. Paul explains to the Galatians that God sent Jesus to redeem us, and as a result we may now call out to God as God’s children. In the Gospel reading, Luke sets the story of Jesus within the history of the Israelites. Both Simeon and Anna are devout people, filled with the Holy Spirit. They have been praying for God to send the Redeemer, and God gives them insight to recognize him as Jesus. Praise be to God for this indescribable gift!
Read Isaiah 61:10–62:3. How do you yearn for righteousness? How do the prophet’s words give you hope?
Read Psalm 148. Pause and consider the joy of God’s coming salvation for the whole world.
Read Galatians 4:4-7. Consider your identity as a child of God through Christ. What joy does this identity bring you?
Read Luke 2:22-40. How can you, like Anna, joyously proclaim the freedom and redemption Christ brings all of humanity?
Respond by posting a prayer.