One of our older expressions of praise (particularly in English) is Thomas Ken’s text, “Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow.” It is also referred to as the Doxology (literally, words of glory). It was a final verse for each in a sequence of hymns for devotion throughout the day, but has since become a hymn in its own right.
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
The first statement admonishes us to praise God as the source of all blessings. Paul wrote in Ephesians 1.3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” God is not only the source of our spiritual blessings, but our physical ones, as well. Paul told the Athenians that in Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17.28).
I think one of the hardest things for us to do is to be truly thankful for all that God has done. When we have to do the manual effort to gain our daily provisions, it is easy for us to minimize God’s participation in that provision. But yet, ultimately it is God who has provided the means of provision, whether through our labor or that of another. I wonder if this tendency is why so many today object to the idea of obedience as a necessary part of salvation (saying that such negates God’s grace), because we’ve gotten out of the habit of giving more than a token thanks for our physical blessings.
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
The second admonition is for “all creatures” to praise God. While there is a broad sense in which all of God’s creation to praise Him (as seen throughout Psalm 148), the more specific admonition is for all people to praise God, as in Psalm 100.1 (compare to Mark 16.15). The rest of creation—all the other created beings—already praise God. The question is whether we as creatures created with free moral agency (i.e., the ability to choose right and wrong) will choose to praise God. This choice is not just the “fruit of the lips,” but also our actions.
Praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts;
The third admonition is directed to the host (multitude) of heaven. There are a couple of ways to take the expression, “heavenly hosts.” In one sense, this refers to the heavenly bodies: the sun, moon and stars (Psa 33.6). However, it can also refer to angels and the heavenly beings before the throne of God (1 Kin 22.19). Both senses are covered in the opening verses of Psalm 148. We know that these groups do praise God. However, recognizing that they do helps us to, as well.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
The final admonition is a trinitarian expression of praise. We praise God as a unity, but we also praise God as a three-in-one godhead. The subject of direct praise to the Holy Spirit (the Holy Ghost, in the phrasing of previous centuries) has been a subject of some discussion. One argument runs that because within the “general” admonition to praise Yahweh, we have specific admonitions to praise the Father and for the Son (as Christ) to receive glory, but no specific command regarding the Spirit, we are prohibited (by the principle of silence) to do the same. However, one of the problems is that since the Holy Spirit is Yahweh as much as the Father is Yahweh and the Son is Yahweh, to praise Yahweh one must necessarily praise the Spirit. I have observed that we are more preoccupied with dividing and distinguishing the godhead than we are with worshiping God as a united whole, and that when we see “God” without qualification, we assume the Father only without considering whether the context demands such.