Reading Time: 5 mins

Old Testament: Psalm 148 (Easter 2: Series B)

Reading Time: 5 mins

Psalm 148 turns our focus back to the giver of all good things, God Himself, and the greatest gift He has intentionally given for all creation, the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord

The dilemma in Eastertide for preacher’s hoping to use the Old Testament pericope is that there is of course NO Old Testament pericope. So, I suppose this could be the untimely end for this homiletical help! However, rather than capitulate and claim some hidden Machiavellian Pseudo-Marcionite motive behind the lectionary, we shall soldier on and see what we can do with this preaching challenge. Each week we are in Eastertide, the goal will be to preach the appointed Psalm of the day. This will keep us on track for the Old Testament and it will also help us exercise our homiletical skill on an all too often underrepresented category of preaching: Preaching Christ from the Psalms.

Of course, Luther famously pointed out that all the Psalms are about Christ. Therefore, the potential for gospel proclamation from these texts remains high. The message of our selected Psalm is fairly obvious: All things are called to praise God. All creation and everything in it will Praise the Lord! Well, that seems easy enough. Now comes the conundrum of how to make enough of that singular point to produce a sermon. I would say the connection between the resurrection and its effects on all of creation will help us to know what to praise the Lord for!

Praising the Lord seems easy until you remember we are in the midst of a consumer culture. In advertising, words of praise are easy and quickly become empty as we hear the ads again and again. Consider how we praise the convenience and ease with which we receive material gifts of creation from commercial distributors and all the while forgetting to praise the Lord for those gifts! In this cultural context, engaging in praise requires careful attention and intention. Psalm 148 turns our focus back to the giver of all good things, God Himself, and the greatest gift He has intentionally given for all creation, the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord. There are four points you can develop for this sermon. You can choose one, a few, or all of them. Each point of development should have a story to connect the hearer to the content of the Psalm in the context of Eastertide. This will hold the sermon together in a narrative unity.

1. Noticing

Praise requires noticing both what has occurred in the past and what is going on in the present. Psalm 148 demonstrates just how much noticing; in the sacred past beyond our direct access, in the universe with sun, moon and stars, in the nearly invisible depths of the oceans, among unseen things in creation which allude us, in the uncontrollable weather, in wild places, among wild animals, and among humans. In all these places and among all these beings, God has been active through the creating Word which is Christ (John 1:3) and the Word of the Gospel which He commanded us to preach to all creation (Mark 16:15). Those who are called upon to praise are always noticing, always asking themselves, “What is God already doing here in this place, in this moment?”

In all these places and among all these beings, God has been active through the creating Word which is Christ and the Word of the Gospel which He commanded us to preach to all creation.

A sermon on this text would also ask, “What has God done for me in this place, in Easter time?” We notice He has placed the empty tomb in our midst and the faith to praise the Lord for the gift of Jesus’ resurrection and what that means for us as creatures and what it means for the whole creation. Here you can connect to Paul’s teaching in Romans 8:18-25 to draw the connection between creation, redemption, and praise. You can put that text together with Psalm 148, which directs our attention primarily to God’s creative activity but also calls us to praise God for all we can see when we look carefully around us. It is often easier for people to “Praise the Lord” because of their own individual experiences. Psalm 148 invites us to reflect on resurrection realities as we grow in our faith, as well as healing of old wounds, of harmful patterns of behavior, of injuries, and of illness. Redemption leads praise on into all these places where Christ is alive in and for us. This Psalm helps us to name what God has done for us and with us through Christ. Learning to praise the Lord in this Psalm is a public practice of noticing what the resurrection means for us today.

2. Gratitude

Praise becomes empty words when creation and redemption do not move us to gratitude for what we see God doing. We resist gratitude in the moments when we are unwilling to acknowledge our dependence on God. Typically, we resist gratitude when we are unwilling to acknowledge our interdependence along with the rest of the creation on God. In a culture which celebrates independence, it is not surprising to find ourselves avoiding gratitude. If we acknowledge our interdependence, it might just remind us of the fragility of our lives. Then we would be confronted with our vulnerability, the very thing we are trying to avoid. It is easier for us not to notice what God is doing than to trust that God’s activity in the interconnected web of life will sustain us. Gratitude for the Resurrection of Jesus brings our noticing into the spiritual realm of trust in the midst of our vulnerability. This can deepen our relationship with God by acknowledging our dependence on God and His Christ on Easter morning. It is there our vulnerability is dealt with in the mighty resurrection of Jesus. All the more reason to praise the Lord.

3. Particularity

Psalm 148 calls us to praise with a type of particularity. God’s people are called to praise through an intentional appreciation of the unique gifts and opportunities He has given us, and none more obvious than Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. If all creation is called to praise, then let our praise have a crescendo in the living Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This includes not only the things we delight in, but also things we used to consider negative. For instance, we can thank God for the resurrection of Jesus which we delight in, but we also praise Him for the gift of the cross. If we deeply trust God’s activity in and through creation and redemption, then we might begin to trust that even moments which seem negative, like the cross, can contribute to our praise. Here you could tell a story of a faithful believer who struggled but praised God in the midst of it. This kind of practical application can teach your hearers how to pray this Psalm in the good times and the troubled times of life.

4. Speak Our Praise

Finally, because we are God’s creatures gifted with language, we speak our praise. We do this in gathered worship, in prayer, at meals, in the morning, and at surprising moments in the day, in rejoicing for the Gospel given to us in Christ. We speak this Psalm of praise to notice together all our God has done, but chiefly what He has done for us in Christ. We speak this Psalm to intensify gratitude for God in Christ. We speak this Psalm to name our living Lord as praiseworthy. We speak this Psalm to invite others to praise the Lord together with all of creation for what our God has done for us. We speak this Psalm in order to recognize that God is present in this creation through the incarnation, and the substitutionary life, death, and resurrection of our living Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Speaking praise to God in Christ gives us the source of life in God’s presence. Praise the Lord!


Additional Resources:

Craft of Preaching-Check out out 1517’s resources on Psalm 148.

Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching Psalm 148.

Text Week-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach Psalm 148.

Lectionary Kick-Start-Check out this fantastic podcast from Craft of Preaching authors Peter Nafzger and David Schmitt as they dig into the texts for this Sunday!