God’s Greatest PraiseNovember 17, 2013 - 5:00 am
“Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars.”—Psalm 148:3
One thing Jews and Christians have in common is that we love to sing praises to God. There are church choirs and there are synagogue choirs, each with their own stirring melodies and traditions. However, in Psalm 148, the psalmist asks nature to join in the praises as well. How is it possible for inanimate objects to praise the Lord?
If I asked you to name one of the most brilliant music composers who ever lived, you might answer Beethoven or one of the other musical greats. If I asked you to name a great artist, you would probably answer Michelangelo or one of the many other Old Masters of the Renaissance. But how do you know? How do you know that Michelangelo was an amazing painter or that Beethoven was a genius composer? The answer, of course, is because you have either seen or heard their work. You heard Symphony No. 9 or saw the Sistine Chapel and that’s how you know that these artists were great.
It works the same way with God. When we experience one of His creations, they testify to the awesomeness of the Creator.
The Sages explain this concept by taking a deeper look at the sun. The Talmud tells a story about a Roman ruler who demanded to be shown the God of the Jews. A Sage told him to look at the sun. When the Roman replied that he was unable to look directly at the sun, the Sage replied, “If you can’t even look at the sun, how can you expect to gaze at its Creator?”
The splendor of the sun is meant to teach us about the glory of God. Just as the sun is even more brilliant than we can ever see with the naked eye, so too is God’s greatness beyond our comprehension. Just as the sun’s rays can fill the entire world, how much more so does God’s glory fill the world. Just as the sun provides light and warmth, how much more so does God, the source of all light and warmth. Nature sings God’s praises by reflecting the glory of its Creator.
If this is true for nature, it can be true of us, too.
We generally think that praising God means saying or singing something. However, there is another, perhaps even more powerful, way to praise our Creator — by being a creation that reflects His glory. When we are kind, people learn that God is kind. When we are compassionate, we teach that God is compassionate. Everything we do — the good and the bad — is a reflection of the One who made us.
When we reflect God’s goodness to others, we become His greatest praise.