The blessings of the heavenly bodies (Dan 3:40-3:41)

“Bless the Lord!

Sun!

Moon!

Sing praise to him!

Highly exalt him forever!   

Bless the Lord!

Stars of heaven!

Sing praise to him!

Highly exalt him forever!”

Just like the heavenly beings with God, so too the sun, the moon, and the stars of heaven were to sing praise to God and highly exalt him forever.

No hope for the sorcerers of Babylon (Isa 47:12-47:13)

“Stand fast in your enchantments!

Stand fast in your many sorceries!

You have labored from your youth

With these actions.

Perhaps you may be able to succeed.

Perhaps you may inspire terror.

You are wearied

With your many consultations.

Let those who study the heavens

Stand up!

Let them save you!

Let those who gaze at the stars

Predict what shall befall you!

Let those who gaze at each new moon

Predict what shall befall you!”

Yahweh taunted Babylon by saying that they should rely on their sorcerers, their enchanters, their astrologists, and magicians. They had followed them since they were young. Maybe they will succeed. Maybe they will scare people. However, they are weary from all their consultations. Let those who study the heavens stand up and save you. Can those who gaze at the stars and the new moon predict what is going to happen to you? This is a direct challenge to the people of Babylon.

The stars (Sir 43:9-43:10)

“The glory

Of the stars

Is the beauty

Of heaven.

There are

A gleaming array,

In the heights

Of the Lord.

On the orders

Of the Holy One,

They stand

As ordered.

They never relax

In their watches.”

Sirach indicates that the stars show the glory of the heavens. They glow in the heights as ordered by the Lord. They stand there fixed by the Holy One as they never relax. Once again, we see a static view of the universe with everything in their fixed place according to God.

Loss of the light (Eccl 12:1-12:2)

“Remember also your creator

In the days of your youth,

Before the days of trouble came.

The years draw near

When you will say.

‘I have no pleasure in them.’

Before the sun is darkened,

Before the light is darkened,

Before the moon is darkened,

Before the stars are darkened,

The clouds will return

With the rain.”

After the happy youth, the days of trouble begin. You should remember your creator when your years draw near to an end. No longer will you have the same pleasure. The sun, the moon, and the stars will darken on you. The clouds will come back after the rain. This seems to imply that aging will bring the loss of sight or a growing blindness, what we might call cataracts.

Cosmic praise of Yahweh (Ps 148:1-148:6)

“Praise Yahweh!

Praise Yahweh from the heavens!

Praise Yahweh in the heights!

Praise him!

All his angels!

Praise him!

His entire host!

Praise him!

Sun and moon!

Praise him,

All you shining stars!

Praise him!

You highest heavens!

Praise him!

You waters above the heavens!

Let them praise the name of Yahweh!

He commanded.

Thus they were created.

He established them forever and ever.

He fixed their bounds.

They cannot be passed.”

Psalm 148 is another “praise Yahweh” psalm, another way of saying alleluia, the Hebrew “Hallelujah.” This time all created things are to praise Yahweh, not just Israelites or other humans. Everything and everyone was to praise Yahweh. In particular the highest heavens are to praise Yahweh. All the angels and hosts of armies of Yahweh were to praise him. The sun, the moon, and the stars in the skies were to praise Yahweh. The highest heavens with the water that was to fall on the earth were to praise Yahweh. This is truly a cosmic praise of Yahweh. However, all theses heavenly angels and sky were created at the command of Yahweh. He established them forever with a certain boundary that they cannot pass.

Yahweh the all powerful (Ps 147:1-147:6)

“Praise Yahweh!

How good it is to sing praises to our God!

He is gracious!

A song of praise is fitting.

Yahweh builds up Jerusalem.

He gathers the outcasts of Israel.

He heals the broken hearted.

He binds up their wounds.

He determines the number of the stars.

He gives to all of them their names.

Great is Yahweh!

He is abundant in power.

His understanding is beyond measure.

Yahweh lifts up the downtrodden.

He casts the wicked to the ground.”

Psalm 147 is the second alleluia psalm as praise for Yahweh dominates. Once again there is no beginning title. It almost seems like a continuation of the preceding psalm. They were to all sing praises to Yahweh, another way of saying alleluia, the Hebrew “Hallelujah,” because he is gracious. It is fitting to sing to Yahweh because he built up Jerusalem. He gathered the outcasts. He healed the broken hearted by binding up their wounds. He determined the number and named all the stars. Yahweh is great with abundant power. No one could measure his understanding. He lifted up the downtrodden, but he cast out all those wicked ones to the ground.

Yahweh’s creation (Ps 136:4-136:9)

“Yahweh alone does great wonders.

His steadfast love endures forever.

By understanding he made the heavens.

His steadfast love endures forever.

He spread out the earth on the waters.

His steadfast love endures forever.

He made the great lights.

His steadfast love endures forever.

He made the sun to rule over the day.

His steadfast love endures forever.

He made the moon and the stars to rule over the night.

His steadfast love endures forever.”

Once again, the congregational refrain, “His steadfast love endures forever” is repeated after every verse. This is a tribute to the creator Yahweh. He has done great wonders. He has made the heavens and put the earth on top of the waters. He made the great lights for the day and the night, the sun, the moon, and the stars. Therefore we cry out that his steadfast love endures forever.