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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Parnell

Wherever God Is God (Psalm 103:20-22)

Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! ²¹Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will! ²²Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!—Psalm 103:20-22

This psalm concludes with these four intensive commands: Bless the Lord, bless the Lord, bless the Lord, bless the Lord. And these commands are spoken by a man. David addresses the heavenly hosts. He looks up to these figures, many of whom he’s probably never seen, and tells them what to do. Have you ever seen angels? Have you ever seen the mighty ones of God whom he created to do His will? All His hosts? His other-worldy ministers? Have you ever seen any of these? And would you tell them what to do?

Maybe we wouldn’t or maybe we would—especially if we understand that the highest end of the universe is the glory of God, and the command to bless Him is the command to fulfill the very purpose for which all things have been made. We would be telling angels to praise their Creator who has made them perfectly to praise Him. David isn’t speaking to a novice group here. This is what they do. These angels run swiftly before us in this task, Calvin explains, and David’s call here is to enjoin their praise for our sake, “that by their example he may awaken us from our drowsiness” (Commentaries, p. 141).

The trail to the imperative of our souls makes it clear that the advance of divine glory is the purpose of all creation, things seen and unseen. All that is not God is meant to join God in the delight of His glory. Everything, really.

Bless the Lord, all His works, in all places of His dominion. We’re not even talking about sensible parts of the created world anymore: all His works, everything He has made, like the way leaves fall in autumn. Their texture and shape are crafted just right. They’re dancers, you know. They’re dancers commissioned from their branches to prance away in the wind on a ten second descent that must seem like a lifetime. The ground must receive them in a flamboyant applause as the tree and the leaves and the earth beneath rests satisfied, as it were, that their Maker is glad in another year of their beauty and oxygen-creating wonder. All God’s works, like the way snow melts and stars burn, the way darkness looks in the depths of the ocean and cheeseburgers taste on a summer night. The way birds fly and caterpillars crawl, the way the sun looks on a clear dusk when somehow the sky is painted with orange and pink.

All His works, in all places of His dominion. Wherever God is God there will be His praise. Calvin says this psalm is for our benefit “that we may learn that there is not a corner in heaven or on earth where God is not praised” (143). From high and lofty, to earthly and seen, to your soul and mine, bless the Lord.


For Reflection

1. What intricate details of the created world might you consider for the first time to be for God’s glory?

2. How does “all his works” assist your soul in praising God?

3. How does the death and resurrection of Jesus relate to our privilege of praising God?


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