Both Together – Gender Praising God

Psalm 148 retraces the Genesis days of creation as it exhorts all things made to praise God. This antepenultimate psalm is building to the book’s exuberant conclusion of all out worship of the Creator. (By the time we get to the last one, Psalm 150, we have ascended the staircase to the language of being lost in the music of adoration. All the psalmist can get out is a list of musical instruments). This psalm begins with the angels in heaven (vv1-2) and then proceeds to sun and moon (v3). Similarly, the waters above the heavens (vv4-6) are told to sing to the Almighty. And they do! Then the waters below and the sea creatures in them (v7) are enjoined to join the chorus. The weather (v8), the mountains and the vegetation (v9). “Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds” are not left out either (v10). They too are held responsible to glorify the Great One Who deserves all glory and honor. These creations don’t seem to have any problem praising by doing what they were meant to do. They have their job down pat.

 

Then we reach the late hour of creation day 6, nearing sunset, and the psalmist at last names the ones from whom we would most expect praise: the crown of creation, humanity. What should catch our attention, though, is how the writer characterizes the glory of humanity. Before the psalmist moves on to specify Israel (v14, a later creation in the book of Genesis) we hear the call to kings and princes of the earth (v11). This highlights the royalty for which people were created. But lest we think only rulers should praise God, the sum of ages is included: old men and children (v12).

 

But, also, the psalm characterizes humanity as it was in the beginning, the male and the female, here denoted as “both young men and maidens together.” They too are called to show forth worship. And it is not just men and women separately, but the two of them together (using the two Hebrew words: ‎וְ גַם ), that should bring the climax of praise to the Almighty. Just as stated in the beginning (Gen 1:26-28), both were created to fully express the image of God. So this psalm repeats that both are needed to fully glorify God. The meaning of their difference is found in their walking together. Whether this is in marriage or in other close relationships—husband and wife, sister and brother, spiritual sibling—we need each other to show God’s likeness and to render Him the glory that the psalmist obviously feels He so richly deserves. Both together.

 

But, sadly, whereas all the rest of creation seems to be doing a great job of fulfilling the reason for their existence, our gender relations are failing at the task. Gender finds its meaning in relationship. Both together give praise to God. When femininity and masculinity are minimized, downsized, and denied, not only does carnage ensue but the praise falls silent.

 

Let us, instead, glorify the God of gender, Who has given us to love each other differently. For through the gifts of our complimentary bodies and souls, we grow through one another, becoming what we could not be without our counterpart. The gift opens new doorways in the universe to us. It brings us to the deep truths of identity. Gender tempers us. It curbs our excesses and directs our strengths. If a man tends to be a brute, the maiden gentles his condition. If a woman tends to be blown about by the wind, the boy anchors her to stand her ground. Gender further reveals that which was splayed out in space and time when we were made in His image. It reflects the secret sight that no one can see: the community of God’s Being. Surely in the young men and maidens both together, “His name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven” (v13).  “Surely He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his saints…Praise the LORD!” (v14).

 

Both together.

 

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