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The Rev. Jonathan Pryke: “The Splendour of God” (Psalm 148)

August 31, 2006

The people and staff of Jesmond Parish Church in the United Kingdom have graced us with another in their end-of-summer series on the Psalms–this one being The Splendor of God by the Rev. Jonathan Pryke. This sermon is on Psalm 148, and Rev. Pryke has two main points he wishes to make: 1) the calling of all God’s creatures is to draw attention to the splendour of their Creator; 2) the calling of all God’s people is to draw attention to the splendour of their Saviour. Both of these callings involve praise of our God and King, and this is what Rev. Pryke writes about the second of these points:

Mankind’s rebellion has marred and put in jeopardy God’s creation. But God adds glory to glory and piles splendour upon splendour with his plan to rescue a people for himself. That last verse of the Psalm says this:

He has raised up for his people a horn, the praise of all his saints, of Israel, the people close to his heart.

What does that mean: ‘he has raised up for his people a horn’? In the Old Testament that is metaphorical language for a strong deliverer and ruler. That God raises up a deliverer of course implies the need for God’s people to be delivered. We need rescuing. What from? From sin, Satan and death.

Who is this strong deliverer, this rescuer? From the perspective of the New Testament, we can see more than the Psalmist. We can see that this strong deliverer sent by God is Jesus – the suffering servant Saviour and King. He is the supreme revelation of God’s splendour. And in him we see greatness stooping low out of the deepest love. Jesus is the ‘horn’ raised up by God, who is ‘the praise of all his saints, of Israel’.

Those who believe in Jesus are the heirs of this description of God’s people. And do you see the wonderful final phrase: ‘the people close to his heart’. God’s people – the church, the body of believers – are the people close to the heart of God. We are close to the heart of God in the sense that God loves us. Such love could be from a distance. But this love has not stayed at a distance from us. So we are also ‘close to his heart’ in the sense that he has brought us close to himself through the blood of Jesus. Our majestic Creator has become our Saviour.

That is indeed good cause for a river of endless praise to flow from the church and to add to the song of all creation. The calling of all creatures is to draw attention to the splendour of their Creator. We need eyes that enable us to hear their praise. The calling of all God’s people is also to draw attention to the splendour of their Creator – but to do more than that. God’s people have a particular calling, because we have been on the receiving of God’s redeeming grace. We are called to draw attention to the splendour of the one who is not only our Creator, but also our Redeemer.

This is certainly a fitting sermon for such a Psalm, as both the Psalm and the sermon will lead us to praise our King, if we have “ears to hear” this message. May we live up to our calling to praise the Lord.

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