Part 3: Psalm 148. Doug & the Slugs, Music from a Sick Man’s Bedroom

Song Two, Psalm 148 (by Rosie)

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Praise Him from the heavens;
    praise Him in the heights.
Praise Him, all the angels;
    praise Him, stars at night.

Let the waters that are above the heavens;
Let them praise the name of the Lord,
    for He commanded and they were created,
He has established them forever.

  Praise Him from the heavens;
    praise Him in the heights.
Praise Him, all the angels;
    praise him, stars at night.

Let them praise the name of the Lord,

for His name alone is exalted;

His glory is above heaven and earth;

He has made his people strong,

Honoring his godly ones.

 Praise Him from the heavens;
    praise Him in the heights.
Praise Him, all the angels;
    praise Him, stars at night.

Praise Him from the heavens;
    praise Him in the heights.
Praise Him, all the angels;
    praise Him, stars at night.

Written by a college friend of Doug’s, the lyrics of this song are taken from Psalm 148 but are not a direct word-for-word rendering.

You can listen to the song by clicking on the arrow below. Allow some time for the song to load.

Doug&Rosiesingingatchurchpicnicwichita

Doug and Rosie performing together at a church picnic in Wichita, KS around 1986.

I listened carefully to the words as Doug sang them and found that they focused my attention up – to the heavens – where the angels, the stars, and even “the waters that are above the heavens praise the name of the Lord.” Look up…and when you do, you can’t help but praise God as you take in what He created and established. As the writer looks up into the night sky he is overwhelmed with awe for the creator.

Who looks up to the heavens these days? Who is paying attention to what the heavens are saying in their silent way? For thousands of years humans paid a great deal of attention to the heavens.  Before electricity, the lights of the sky were studied and used to guide travelers by land and by sea.  The movement of the sun by day and the stars by night was discovered and used to plan life.  People were always looking up to the heavens and thereby also noticing God’s creation daily.  Many marveled at the soundless message of God’s glory, but many chose to ignore it.

Now with our modern conveniences we produce fake light at night and are distracted by our technology.  Who looks up at the night sky?  Who notices and sings along with the silent praise that is pouring out of the heavens?

The angels, the night stars, and even the waters above the heavens are praising God and invite us to look up — and notice – and join the everlasting chorus of praise. For God’s glory and greatness exceeds what you see in the heavens.

The refrain “praise him” is repeated over and over in this song.  What does it even mean to praise God?  Well, the Psalms were originally written in the Hebrew language, so if we go to the Hebrew, there are several words that are translated as the word “praise” in our English translations.

Here are a few Hebrew words we translate as praise: 1) yadah means praise, give thanks, confess; 2) hala means to praise, glorify, boast, commend; 3) zamar means to make music or sing praise. [i] The end result of praise is that God’s name is exalted.  As we read more in the Biblical book of Psalms, which speaks much about praising God, we find we can praise God in song, in dance, in prayer, through speaking, studying God’s Word, and in honoring God before all other people or things.

In Psalm 148, God’s creation in the heavens is giving him praise.  It makes me think of another Psalm:

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.

They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. (Psalm, 19:1-4)

Tucked in this song of praise, Psalm 148, is the phrase I had the hardest time understanding from the recording,

            He has made his people strong, honoring his godly ones.

You only hear this phrase once.  And at first I couldn’t understand the words.  I listened over and over to these two lines.  As a singer, I was impressed with Doug’s final “t” at the end of the last word “night” but the rest of the words were unclear, muffled somehow. Now that I understand the words, it is obvious that this is truly a praise song – exalting God, and not people.  However, God’s attention to his “godly ones” is what He is praised for in these two short lines, and that makes all the difference to people of faith.  God is with us, making us strong, honoring us.

The action in this song all belongs to God which makes Him worthy of praise….the creator of the majestic heavens…He has made his people strong.  In the end, through all the ups and downs of Doug’s illness, Doug was strengthened by God to persevere in faith right to the end of his life.

He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor.  (I Sam. 2:8)

Reflection

As if fighting cancer wasn’t enough, Doug and his family had to evacuate their home during Doug’s chemo treatment due to a large flood.

FamilyatHoferFarm

During the weeks of evacuation Doug and his family were living on his in-law’s farm outside of Freeman, SD. I can picture Doug sitting outside at night with his guitar, looking up at the sky and singing this song of praise to the Lord.

On a clear night, spend some time outside, looking up.  Listen to this song and contemplate, or think with God, about what you hear and see. Contemplate the God who made the heavens.  Is God important in your life? Do you praise God with your actions, songs, words, study, prayer?  Talk with God about what you discover.

[i] https://answersingenesis.org/answers/biblical-authority-devotional/what-does-praising-god-mean/

2 thoughts on “Part 3: Psalm 148. Doug & the Slugs, Music from a Sick Man’s Bedroom

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