Theme: False Worship
In this week’s lessons, we see the comprehensive scope of worship—that all creation, both in heaven and on earth, is to praise the LORD.
Scripture: Psalm 148:1-14
In the final analysis, that is what we all do apart from God’s grace in drawing us to faith in Jesus Christ; we put ourselves in God’s place. Adam and Eve did it in Eden. Nebuchadnezzar did it in his prideful boast over Babylon (Dan. 4:30). We do it too, often subtly—we put our own interests before God’s or other people’s—but also blatantly sometimes. In our day, the worship of man is most visible in the delusions of the New Age movements that I mentioned earlier.
An example is Shirley MacLaine, who did a television special based on her New Age book Out on a Limb. She is shown cavorting on the beach at Malibu, crying out gaily, “I am God.” MacLaine has written, “A great awakening is taking place. Individuals across the world are tapping in to their internal power to understand who they are and using that knowledge to elevate their lives and their circumstances to a higher octave of happiness and productivity.”1 That deifies man and his ability and is an apt description of what many deluded people actually believe is happening. Another New Age writer, Carol Christ, wrote, “I found God in myself, and I loved her fiercely.”2
And that is why we have the last stanza of Psalm 148. Throughout the psalm the writer has been calling on the entire creation to worship God, which the angels, animals and nature do. But the psalmist is no fool. He has called on the “kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth, young men and maidens, old men and children” to worship God (vv. 11, 12). But he knows that kings, princes and people as a whole do not and will not do that, though they should. Hence, in the last verses of the psalm he turns to those who have experienced God’s salvation and holds them out as ones in whom the heathen may see God’s saving acts and learn to worship God rightly.
“Horn” in verse 14 is a biblical way of talking about strength. So what the writer is thinking about here is probably the restoration of strength to Israel after the weakness they had known during the days of their exile. H. C. Leupold wrote, “The destiny of Israel is so important, and what God had recently done for his people in their restoration is of such vital importance to all nations and creatures that, if they grasped what it involved, they would be glad to add their praises to Israel’s praises.”3
1Shirley MacLaine, Going Within: A Guide for Inner Transformation (New York: Bantam, 1989), pp. 56, 57.
2Carol Christ, “Why Women Need the Goddess,” in Carol Christ and Judith Plaskow, Womanspirit Rising: A Feminist Reader in Religion (New York: Harper and Row, 1979), p. 277.
3H. C. Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1969), p. 1000.
What does the New Age movement demonstrate?
Whom does the psalmist hold out as examples for the heathen?
Identify the symbol of the horn.
Reflection: Think of ways in which you may worship yourself rather than God.