A New Dimension Of Worship
The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.
Praise the Lord, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
who obey his word.
Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will.
Praise the Lord, all his works
everywhere in his dominion.
Praise the Lord, my soul.
One of my favorite moments in worship happens in our church every Sunday morning when we all stand after the offering and sing the Doxology. I thrill at the words: “Praise him, all creatures here below. Praise him above, ye heavenly host.” Those words get me to thinking about the wonder of our voices joining with the “heavenly host” in universal praise of our God. I imagine the shining seraphim as Isaiah heard and saw them singing: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3). I think of the heavenly scene as the apostle John says he saw it, with “many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand,” singing praise to God and the Lamb (Revelation 3:11-12). “Therefore with Angels and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify thy glorious Name, evermore praising thee…” (The Book of Common Prayer)
In a similar way to the Doxology, today’s psalm text calls on the heavenly host to join David in praising God. David began Psalm 103 exhorting himself to praise God: “Praise the LORD, my soul.” David then expands his call to praise to all of Israel, all of creation, and now, to all the angelic hosts. “Amid starry distances, amid heights and depths, far beyond sunrise and sunset, God’s all-including kingdom stretches and blesses all. Therefore all creatures are called to bless Him, since all are blessed by Him.” (Alexander Maclaren, Exposition of Holy Scripture: Psalms) The Lord is King over all! The Lord extends His goodness to all! Therefore, praise Him!
Living amidst a secular, mechanistic culture I find it necessary to remind myself of spiritual realties. The Message nicely conveys the spiritual realities of today’s text: “So bless God, you angels, ready and able to fly at his bidding, quick to hear what he says, bless God, all you armies of angels.” Like the prophet Elisha prayed that God would open his servant’s eyes to the angel hosts (II Kings 6:17), so I must frequently pray that God open my eyes. So I sing: “Praise him above, ye heavenly host.”
I now read the psalms in this added dimension “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways” (Psalm 91:11). “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him” (Psalm 34:7). How natural that David would invite “angels…mighty ones…all his heavenly hosts” to join him in praising God!
This morning as I prayed, I pictured David in a wilderness cave surrounded by Saul’s army and beasts. How it must have emboldened and inspired him to know that as he prayed and praised, heavenly hosts joined with him. Occasionally when I visit an Eastern Orthodox Church I see the painted icons of angels to remind the worshippers that they are surrounded by heavenly hosts. Today’s psalm text wakens me to this wondrous spiritual world. We do not worship angels (Colossians 2:18), but recognize that they are God’s “ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14).
Lest David get lost in the heavenly grandeur of angel praise he returns us to the very place he began the psalm: “Praise the LORD, my soul.”
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