Exposition - Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher
We are almost at the last Psalm, and still among the
Hallelujahs. This is "a new song", evidently intended for the new
creation, and the men who are of new heart. It is such a song as may be sung at
the coming of the Lord, when the new dispensation shall bring overthrow to the
wicked and honour to all the saints. The tone is exceedingly jubilant and
exultant. All through one hears the beat of the feet of dancing maidens, keeping
time to the timbrel and harp.
Verse 1. Praise ye the LORD. Specially you, ye chosen
people, whom he has made to be his saints. You have praised him aforetime,
praise him yet again; yea, for ever praise him. With renewed zeal and fresh
delight lift up your song unto Jehovah. Sing unto the LORD a new song. Sing, for it is the fittest
method for expressing reverent praise. Sing a hymn newly composed, for you have
now a new knowledge of God. He is ever new in his manifestations; his mercies
are new every morning; his deliverances are new in every night of sorrow; let
your gratitude and thanksgivings be new also. It is well to repeat the old; it
is more useful to invent the new. Novelty goes well with heartiness. Our singing
should be "unto the Lord"; the songs we sing should be of him and to him, "for
of him, and to him, and through him are all things." Among our novelties there
should be new songs: alas! men are fonder of making new complaints than new
Psalms. Our new songs should be devised in Jehovah's honour; indeed all our
newest thoughts should run towards him. Never can we find a nobler subject for a
song than the Lord, nor one more full of fresh matter for a new song, nor one
which we are personally so much bound to sing as a new song "unto the Lord."
And his praise in the congregation of saints. Saints are
precious, and a congregation of saints is a treasure house of jewels. God is in
the midst of saints, and because of this we may well long to be among them. They
are so full of his praise that we feel at home among them when we are ourselves
full of praise. The sanctuary is the house of praise as well as the house of
prayer. All saints praise God: they would not be saints if they did not. Their
praise is sincere, suitable, seasonable, and acceptable. Personal praise is
sweet unto God, but congregated praise has a multiplicity of sweetnesses in it.
When holy ones meet, they adore The Holy One. Saints do not gather to amuse
themselves with music, nor to extol one another, but to sing his praise whose
saints they are. A congregation of saints is heaven upon earth: should not
Jehovah, the Lord of saints, have all the praise that can come from such an
assembly? Yet at times even saintly conclaves need to be stirred up to
thanksgiving; for saints may be sad and apprehensive, and then their spirits
require to be raised to a higher key, and stimulated to happier worship.
Verse 2. Let Israel rejoice in him that made him. Here is
that new creation which calls for the new song. It was Jehovah who made Israel
to be Israel, and the tribes to become a great nation: therefore let the Founder
of the nation be had in perpetual honour. Joy and rejoicing are evidently to be
the special characteristics of the new song. The religion of the dead in sin is
more apt to chant dirges than to sing hallelujahs; but when we are made new in
the spirit of our minds we joy and rejoice in him that made us. Our joy is in
our God and King: we choose no lower delight. Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King. Those who
had seen the tribes formed into a settled kingdom as well as into a united
nation should rejoice. Israel is the nation, Zion is the capital of the kingdom:
Israel rejoices in her Maker, Zion in her King. In the case of our God we who
believe in him are as glad of his Government as we are of his Creation: his
reign is as truly the making of us as was his divine power. The children of
Israel are happy to be made a people; the children of Zion are equally happy to
be ruled as a people. In every character our God is the source of joy to us:
this verse issues a permit to our joy, yea it lays an injunction upon us to be
glad in the Lord.
Verse 3. Let them praise his name in the dance: let them
sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp. Thus let them repeat
the triumph of the Red Sea, which was ever the typical glory of Israel. Miriam
led the daughters of Israel in the dance when the Lord had triumphed gloriously;
was it not most fit that she should? The sacred dance of devout joy is no
example, nor even excuse, for frivolous dances, much less for lewd ones. Who
could help dancing when Egypt was vanquished, and the tribes were free? Every
mode of expressing delight was bound to be employed on so memorable an occasion.
Dancing, singing, and playing on instruments were all called into requisition,
and most fitly so. There are unusual seasons which call for unusual expressions
of joy. When the Lord saves a soul its holy joy overflows, and it cannot find
channels enough for its exceeding gratitude: if the man does not leap, or play,
or sing, at any rate he praises God, and wishes for a thousand tongues with
which to magnify his Saviour. Who would wish it to be otherwise? Young converts
are not to be restrained in their joy. Let them sing and dance while they can.
How can they mourn now that their Bridegroom is with them? Let us give the
utmost liberty to joy. Let us never attempt its suppression, but issue in the
terms of this verse a double license for exultation. If any ought to be glad it
is the children of Zion; rejoicing is more fit for Israel than for any other
people: it is their own folly and fault that they are not oftener brimming with
joy in God, for the very thought of him is delight.
Verse 4. For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people; and
therefore they should take pleasure in him. If our joy be pleasing to him let us
make it full. What condescension is this on Jehovah's part, to notice, to love,
and to delight in his chosen! Surely there is nothing in our persons, or our
actions, which could cause pleasure to the Ever blessed One, were it not that he
condescends to men of low estate. The thought of the Lord's taking pleasure in
us is a mine of joy never to be exhausted. He will beautify the meek with salvation. They are humble,
and feel their need of salvation; he is gracious, and bestows it upon them. They
lament their deformity, and he puts a beauty upon them of the choicest sort. He
saves them by sanctifying them, and thus they wear the beauty of holiness, and
the beauty of a joy which springs out of full salvation. He makes his people
meek, and then makes the meek beautiful. Herein is grand argument for
worshipping the Lord with the utmost exultation: he who takes such a pleasure in
us must be approached with every token of exceeding joy. God taketh pleasure in all his children as Jacob loved all his
sons; but the meek are his Josephs, and upon these he puts the coat of many
colours, beautifying them with peace, content, joy, holiness, and influence. A
meek and quiet spirit is called "an ornament", and certainly it is "the beauty
of holiness." When God himself beautifies a man, he becomes beautiful indeed and
beautiful for ever. The verse may be read, "He shall beautify the meek with
salvation", or "He shall beautify the afflicted with deliverance", or, "He shall
beautify the meek with victory"; and each of these readings gives a new shade of
meaning, well worthy of quiet consideration. Each reading also suggests new
cause for joyful adoration. "O come, let us sing unto the Lord."
Verse 5. Let the saints be joyful in glory. God has honoured
them, and put a rare glory upon them; therefore let them exult therein. Shall
those to whom God is their glory be cast down and troubled? Nay, let their joy
proclaim their honourable estate. Let them sing aloud upon their beds. Their exultation
should express itself in shouts and songs, for it is not a feeling of which they
have any need to be ashamed. That which is so fully justified by fact, may well
be loudly proclaimed. Even in their quietest retreats let them burst into song;
when no one hears them, let them sing aloud unto God. If confined by sickness
let them joy in God. In the night watches let them not lie awake and weep, but
like nightingales let them charm the midnight hours. Their shouts are not now
for the battlefield, but for the places of their rest: they can peacefully lie
down and yet enjoy the victory with which the Lord has beautified them. Without
fighting, faith wins and sings the victory. What a blessing to have our beds
made into thrones, and our retirements turned into triumphs!
Verse 6. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and
a two edged sword in their hand. It seems they are not always on
their beds, but are ready for deeds of prowess. When called to fight, the meek
are very hard to overcome; they are just as steady in conflict as they are
steadfast in patience. Besides, their way of fighting is of an extraordinary
sort, for they sing to God but keep their swords in their hands. They can do two
things at a time: if they do not wield the trowel and the sword, at least they
sing and strike. In this Israel was not an example, but a type: we will not copy
the chosen people in making literal war, but we will fulfil the emblem by
carrying on spiritual war. We praise God and contend with our corruptions; we
sing joyfully and war earnestly with evil of every kind. Our weapons are not
carnal, but they are mighty, and wound with both back and edge. The word of God
is all edge; whichever way we turn it, it strikes deadly blows at falsehood and
wickedness. If we do not praise we shall grow sad in our conflict; and if we do
not fight we shall become presumptuous in our song. The verse indicates a happy
blending of the chorister and the crusader. Note how each thing in the believer is emphatic: if he sings,
it is high praises, and praises deep down in his throat, as the original hath
it; and if he fights, it is with the sword, and the sword is two edged. The
living God imparts vigorous life to those who trust him. They are not of a
neutral tint: men both hear them and feel them. Quiet is their spirit, but in
that very quietude abides the thunder of an irresistible force. When godly men
give battle to the powers of evil each conflict is high praise unto the God of
goodness. Even the tumult of our holy war is a part of the music of our lives.
Verse 7. To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and
punishments upon the people. This was once literally the duty of
Israel: when they came into Canaan they fulfilled the righteous sentence of the
Lord upon guilty nations. At this hour, under the gentler dispensation of grace,
we wrestle not with flesh and blood; yet is our warfare none the less stern, and
our victory none the less sure. All evil shall eventually be overthrown: the
Lord shall display his justice against evildoers, and in that warfare his
servants shall play their parts. The saints shall judge the world. Both the
conflict and the victory at the end of it shall cause glory to God, and honour
to his holy ones.
Verse 8. To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles
with fetters of iron. Thus are the greatest enemies of Jehovah and
his people reduced to shame, rendered helpless, and themselves punished. This
was Israel's boast in actual fact, it is ours spiritually. The chief powers of
evil shall be restrained and ultimately destroyed. Those who made captives of
the godly shall themselves be made captive. The powers of evil cannot bind
our King, but by his power their king shall be bound with a great
chain, and shut up in the bottomless pit, that he may at length be trodden under
the feet of saints.
Verse 9. To execute upon them the judgment written. Israel
as a nation had this to do, and did it, and then they rejoiced in the God who
gave success to their arms. We praise our God after another fashion; we are not
executioners of justice, but heralds of mercy. It would be a sad thing for any
one to misuse this text: lest any warlike believer should be led to do so, we
would remind him that the execution must not go beyond the sentence and warrant;
and we have received no warrant of execution against our fellow men. Christians
have no commission of vengeance; it is theirs to execute the command of mercy,
and that alone. This honour have all his saints. All the godly shared in
the triumphs of the Lord when he smote Israel's foes. We have like
honour, but it is shown in victories of another sort. All the holy ones are sent
upon errands by their holy Lord. The honours described in this Psalm are common
to all the family of grace; and such service as the Lord appoints is to be
undertaken by every one of them, without exception. The Lord honours all his
chosen here, and he will glorify them all hereafter: this rule is without
exception. Surely in this we have the best argument for glorifying the Lord,
wherefore we close our new song with another Hallelujah, Praise ye the Lord.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. The foregoing Psalm was a hymn of praise to
the Creator; this is a hymn to the Redeemer. --Matthew Henry.
Whole Psalm. The New Testament spiritual church cannot pray
as the Old Testament national church here prays. Under the illusion that it must
be used as a prayer without any spiritual transmutation, Ps 149:1-9 has become
the watchword of the most horrible errors. It was by means of this Psalm that
Caspar Scloppius, in his Classicum Belli Sacri, which, as Bakius says, is
written, not with ink, but with blood, inflamed the Roman Catholic princes to
the Thirty Years' Religious War. And in the Protestant church Thomas Muntzer
stirred up the War of the Peasants by means of this Psalm. We see that the
Christian cannot make such a Psalm directly his own, without disavowing the
apostolic warning, "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal" (2Co 10:4). The
praying Christian must therefore transpose the letter of this Psalm into the
spirit of the New Covenant. --Franz Delitzsch.
Verse 1. A new song; for this Psalm is a song of renovation.
If Israel when restored and renewed had new cause for rejoicing, much more
should the New Covenant Israel feel constrained to strike the new note of
triumph. Infidels blaspheme, the ungrateful murmur, the thoughtless are silent,
the mournful weep, all acting according to their old nature; but new men take up
a new mode, which is the divinely inspired song of peace, charity, and joy in
the Lord. --Johannes Paulus Palanterius.
Verse 1. A new song. The old man hath an old song, the new
man a new song. The Old Testament is an old song, the New Testament is a new
song... Whoso loveth earthly things singeth an old song: let him that desireth
to sing a new song love the things of eternity. Love itself is new and eternal;
therefore is it ever new, because it never groweth old. --Augustine.
Verse 1. Saints. A title not to be restricted to the godly
of the first times, but common to all that are saved in all after times also, as
Eph 4:12. This name putteth mere morality and formal profession out of
countenance, as the sun doth a glow worm. Saintship is a matter of Divine
workmanship, and therefore it is far more remarkable than human excellence. We
should keep up the name of "saints", that the reality of the true religion be
not lowered by avoiding this title; for in these times it is to be feared that
the name is out of use, because holiness itself is out of fashion. --Thomas
Verse 2. Let Israel rejoice, etc. Give us, oh, give us the
man who sings at his work! Be his occupation what it may, he is equal to any of
those who follow the same pursuit in silent sullenness. He will do more in the
same time--he will do it better--he will persevere longer. One is scarcely
sensible of fatigue whilst he marches to music. The very stars are said to make
harmony as they revolve in their spheres. Wondrous is the strength of
cheerfulness, altogether past calculation its powers of endurance. Efforts to be
permanently useful must be uniformly joyous--a spiritual sunshine--graceful from
very gladness--beautiful because bright. --Thomas Carlyle.
Verse 2. Rejoice in him that made him; let the children of Zion
be joyful. You are never right until you can be heartily merry in the
Lord, nor until you can enjoy mirth in connection with holiness. --Walter
Verse 2. Him that made him. Jehovah is called Maker,
as one who formed Israel as a nation, and constituted the people a kingdom,
though they had been a race of slaves. This is more than a general creation of
men. --Hermann Venema.
Verse 2. Literally the Hebrew here brings forward the mystic
doctrine of the Trinity, for it reads, "Let Israel rejoice in God his
Makers." --Simon de Muis.
Verse 2. Joyful in their King. I beg the reader to remark
with me, here is nothing said of Israel being joyful in what their king had done
for them. These things, in their proper place, became sweet subjects of praise.
But the subject of praise in which Israel is now to be engaged is Jesus himself.
Reader, pause over this apparently small, but most important, distinction. The
Lord is gracious in his gifts, gracious in his love, gracious in his salvation.
Every thing he gives, it is from his mercy, and ever to be so acknowledged. But
Jesus' gifts are not himself: I cannot be satisfied with his gifts, while I know
that to others he gives his Person. It is Jesus himself I want.
Though he give me all things that I need, yet if he be to me himself all things
that I need, in him I have all things. Hence, therefore, let us see that Jesus
not only gives us all, but that he is our all. --Robert Hawker.
Verse 3. The dance was in early times one of the modes of
expressing religious joy (Ex 15:20 2Sa 6:16). When from any cause men's ideas
shall undergo such a revolution as to lead them to do the same thing for the
same purpose, it will be time enough to discuss that matter. In our time,
dancing has no such use, and cannot, therefore, in any wise be justified by
pleading the practice of pious Jews of old. --William Swan Plumer.
Verse 3. Let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and
harp. They who from hence urge the use of music in religious worship, must,
by the same rule, introduce dancing, for they went together, as in David's
dancing before the ark (Jud 21:21). But whereas many Scriptures in the New
Testament keep up singing as a gospel ordinance, none provide for the keeping up
of music and dancing; the gospel canon for Psalmody is to "sing with the spirit
and with the understanding." --Matthew Henry.
Verse 3. Timbrel. The toph was employed by David in
all the festivities of religion (2Sa 6:5). The occasions on which it was used
were mostly joyful, and those who played upon it were generally females (Ps
68:25), as was the case among most ancient nations, and is so at the present day
in the East. The usages of the modern East might adequately illustrate all the
scriptural allusions to this instrument, but happily we have more ancient and
very valuable illustration from the monuments of Egypt. In these we find that
the tambourine was a favourite instrument, both on sacred and festive occasions.
There were three kinds, differing, no doubt, in sound as well as in form; one
was circular, another square or oblong, and the third consisted of two squares
separated by a bar. They were all beaten by the land, and often used as an
accompaniment to the harp and other instruments. The tambourine was usually
played by females, who are represented as dancing to its sound without the
accompaniment of any other instrument. --John Kitto.
Verse 3. Harp. Of the kinnor the Scripture affords
little further information than that it was composed of the sounding parts of
good wood, and furnished with strings. Josephus asserts that it was furnished
with ten strings, and played with a plectrum; which, however, is not
understood to imply that it never had any other number of strings, or was always
played with the plectrum. David certainly played it with the hand (1Sa
16:23 18:10 19:9); and it was probably used in both ways, according to its size.
That this instrument was really a harp is now very generally denied
(Kitto). The reader will, by this time, have balanced the probabilities
as to the nature and construction of the kinnor; and most likely he will
be led to think that it was either a guitar or lyre, a belief
which seems to be gaining ground, on account of the aptitude of such instruments
for the uses to which the kinnor was devoted. --J. Stainer.
Verse 4. For the Lord taketh pleasure in his people. In the
text there are two causes assigned why the saints should be excited to praise
the Lord, and to be joyful in their King.
1. The delight which the LORD has in the saints. "He
taketh pleasure in his people." In this statement there are three subjects for
inquiry, namely: (a) Who are the Lord's people? (b) Why he takes
pleasure in them? (c) In what respects he takes pleasure in them?
(a) Who are the Lord's people? Many are the names and
titles given to them in Scripture. We find one in the second clause of the text;
but it equally belongs to the first. "He will beautify the meek."
The scriptural term "meekness" is one which singularly characterizes and
distinguishes the true Christian. It, in fact, contains in itself a combination
of graces, which are most evidently the fruit of the Spirit, and can grow on no
other tree than on the Christian vine. Meekness, as a Christian grace,
may be considered as it respects both God and man. As it respects God, it
implies poverty of spirit; humiliation of heart arising from a sense of guilt
and a feeling of corruption; submission to God's will; silence and patience
under his rod; acquiescence with his dispensations; and a surrender of our own
natural desires and inclinations to his overruling appointments. As it respects
man, meekness comprehends lowliness of mind, and a readiness to prefer others
before ourselves; gentleness of disposition and behaviour; forbearance under
provocations; forgiveness of injuries; quietness of spirit, and moderation in
pushing forward our own interest and benefit. These are the qualities which
distinguish "the meek." Are not these, my brethren, the graces and
tempers and dispositions which characterize and adorn true Christians?
They are, in an especial manner, "the meek upon earth." In
fact, there are, and can be, no others to whom this title really belongs. No man
in his natural state can be meek, in the Scriptural sense of the word.
(b) But why does the Lord "take pleasure" in them? Is
there anything in them of their own, which he can regard with complacency
and delight? No: they know and feel that they have no pretensions of this kind.
It is not for their sake, but for his own sake; for his name's, His truth's, and
his mercy's sake, that he has now a favour unto them. The Lord "taketh pleasure
in his people", because they are his people; those whom he has purchased by his
blood, renewed by his Spirit, and redeemed by his power. He "taketh pleasure in
them", because in them he is himself honoured and glorified; because he sees in
them the travail of his soul, the fruit of his suffering and mediation; because
of the work which he has already begun in them; because they already exhibit
some traces of his own image, some transcript of that mind which was in him, who
was "meek and lowly in heart."
(c) In what respects the Lord takes pleasure in his
people. First: the Lord takes pleasure in them, inasmuch as he delights in
the exercise of their graces towards him. They all believe in him, and
have faith in his word and promises; they rely on his truth and power; they hope
in his mercy; they fear his displeasure; they love his person and name.
Secondly: the Lord hath pleasure in the services of his people. It
is true, that they can do but little for him, and that little is nothing worth.
At the best they can but render to him of his own again. But he regards their
services, not with an eye to their intrinsic value in themselves, but for the
sake of the willing mind from which they flow. He takes pleasure in their poor
attempts to please him, because they are attempts. He weighs not the worth or
merit of the action, but the principle and motive from which it springs.
Thirdly: the Lord hath pleasure in the prosperity of his people. His name
is love; his nature is goodness; and can we doubt but that he loves to see his
people happy? Nay, we are expressly told that "he rejoiceth over them with joy";
that "he rejoiceth over them to do them good." Even in those dispensations which
in themselves are grievous and painful he is seeking their good, and in the end
promoting their happiness. What consolations do these reflections furnish to the
meek and suffering servants of the Lord!
2. Let us now consider the LORD'S gracious designs
concerning his people: He will beautify them with salvation. He designs
not only to save, but to adorn and honour his people. Those "whom he justifies,
them he also glorifies." He "will beautify them with salvation"; a
promise relating both to the present life and to the future one.
(a) To the present life. It is the purpose of God to
beautify his people with salvation in this world. There are many passages in the
Scripture which intimate this purpose, and lead us to this view of the happy
effects of religion, even in the present life. When the prodigal returned home
to his father's house, contrite, penitent, and reformed, he was not only
received with kindness, assured of forgiveness, and welcomed as a son, but he
was adorned and beautified (Lu 15:22). So in the forty-fifth Psalm, the church,
the bride of Christ, is thus described: "The king's daughter is all glorious
within: her clothing is of wrought gold. She shall be brought unto the king in
raiment of needlework." "So shall he greatly desire thy beauty." See also
Eph 5:25-27. But what is the glory, the beauty, which is here meant in these
passages, with which Christ will adorn and beautify his people? It is "the
beauty of holiness." We have already seen that the meek and quiet spirit by
which the Christian is distinguished is an "ornament" to him; and we read in
another place that he is "adorned" with good works. It is the great object of
the gospel to sanctify all who embrace it, to restore them to the image of God
which they have lost through sin.
(b) We may now consider this promise as it relates to the
future world. Lovely and glorious as are the saints on earth, their
beauty falls far short of the perfection to which it will attain hereafter. They
are "predestinated to be conformed to the image of the Son"; and when they awake
up in another world, it will be after his likeness, without any remaining
blemish, defect, or spot. Carry forward your thoughts to the morning of the
resurrection, when this corruption shall have put on incorruption, this mortal
immortality; when the body, raised in honour and glory, shall be clothed in its
beauteous apparel, and being made like unto Christ's glorious body, shall shine
as the sun in the firmament; when now, once more united to its kindred and
sanctified spirit, it shall no longer be a weight, and a clog, and a hindrance,
but become a furtherer of its joy, and a sharer and a helper in its spiritual
happiness. This is the meaning of the text, this is the beauty which he
has designed for his people, and for which he is now preparing them. In the
contemplation of these, with reason may it be said to them, "Praise ye the
Lord." --Condensed from a Sermon by Edward Cooper, 1826.
Verse 4. Here is ratio propositionis, the important
reason of the proposed praising of the Lord. Those who know that they are
objects of Divine complacency are likely to act on the principle of reciprocity.
God takes pleasure in sanctifying, justifying and glorifying them; they must
surely take pleasure in extolling him as Friend, Protector, Law giver, Leader,
King, God! --Simon de Muis.
Verse 4. He will beautify the meek with salvation. Meekness
not only gives great peace of mind, but often adds a lustre to the countenance.
We only read of three in Scripture whose faces shone remarkably--viz., Christ,
Moses, and Stephen--and they were eminent for meekness. --Matthew Henry.
Verse 4. The meek. In the Hebrew Mywge, anavim, means poor and afflicted ones; but
the term came afterwards to be applied to merciful persons, as bodily
afflictions have a tendency to subdue pride, while abundance begets cruelty.
Verse 5. Let the saints be joyful, etc. Here begins a
beautiful exegesis of the former passage. A protected people may rejoice with
confidence. An anxious and fearful people could not sing aloud on their couches
of repose. --Simon de Muis.
Verse 5. Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing
aloud upon their beds. At what time soever God is pleased to inspire
his grace and comfort into us, we ought to rejoice therein, and by night on the
bed to seek him whom our soul loveth; abridging that time of rest and ease, that
it may become as beneficial unto us as the day itself. David was not satisfied
by offering the sacrifice of thanksgiving in the courts of the Lord's house, and
paying his vows in the presence of all the people; but in the night also he
would continue his song of God's mercy. Like that excellent bird, the
nightingale, which is never weary nor spent by continuing her delightful notes,
so this sweet singer of Israel was incessant in praising the Lord; not giving
sleep to his eyes until he had blessed his holy name. In time of affliction he
made his bed to swim, praying unto the Lord to return and deliver his soul. Now
in prosperity he gives thanks for the blessings he doth receive. When our bones
are vexed, and our sleep departeth from us, we pray unto God to deal mercifully
with us; but when our diseases are healed, we do not return to give thanks,
being soon overtaken with heaviness and security. And yet David did endeavour to
watch in the night, that he might sing praise unto the Lord. He did not then
only meditate in the law of God, when he could not take any rest (as Ahasuerus
had the book of the records of the Chronicles read before him, when he could not
sleep); for now he might lie down in peace, and sleep, when God made him to
dwell in safety. Much less did he intend to procure sleep by a sinister
performance of any good duty, like those who, by singing, or reading, or
hearing, or meditating, will have an unworthy aim to bring themselves asleep.
David saith, "Let the saints sing aloud upon their beds": thereby to testify
their cheerful devotion, and also to chase away the spirit of slumber.
--William Bloys, in "Meditations upon the xlii. Psalm," 1632.
Verse 5. The saints in glory shall rest from their labours,
but not from their praises. --Robert Bellarmine.
Verse 5. Upon their beds, where before in the loneliness of
night they consumed themselves with grief for their shame. Comp. Ho 7:14.
Verse 5. The saints of God know most of domestic joy and
peace. As the word of Jesus in Joh 14:1-31 records, they have sorrows in plenty,
but the more of these, the greater will be their joy, because their sorrows are
to be transmuted into joys. They are to sing aloud on their beds, or
rather couches, for on these the Orientals not only sleep, but also dine, and
feast. So this verse calls on the saints to hold a banquet, a feast of fat
things. They are, as David sings in Ps 23:1-6, to sit at the table prepared by
the Lord in the presence of their enemies. --Johannes Paulus Palanterius.
Verse 5. This verse has been fulfilled in solemn crises of
saintly life. On beds of death, and at the scaffold and the stake, joy and glory
have been kindled in the hearts of Christ's faithful witnesses. --Thomas Le
Verse 5. How I long for my bed! Not that I may sleep--I lie
awake often and long! but to hold sweet communion with my God. What shall I
render unto him for all his revelations and gifts to me? Were there no
historical evidence of the truth of Christianity, were there no well established
miracles, still I should believe that the religion propagated by the fishermen
of Galilee is divine. The holy joy it brings to me must be from heaven. Do I
write this boastingly, brother? Nay, it is with tears of humble gratitude that I
tell of the goodness of the Lord. --From a private letter from Bapa Padmanji,
in "Feathers for Arrows," 1870.
Verse 6. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth and a
two edged sword in their hand. Praise and power go ever hand in hand. The
two things act and react upon each other. An era of spiritual force in the
Church is always one of praise; and when there comes some grand outburst of
sacred song, we may expect that the people of God are entering upon some new
crusade for Christ. Cromwell's Ironsides were sneeringly called Psalm singers;
but God's Psalm singers are always Ironsides. He who has a "new song in his
mouth" is ever stronger, both to suffer and to labour, than the man who has a
dumb spirit and a hymnless heart. When he sings at his work, he will both do
more and do it better than he would without his song. Hence, we need not be
surprised that all through its history the Church of God has travelled "along
the line of music." --William Taylor, in "The Study," 1873.
Verse 6. The high praises of God. This expression needs a
little explication, because so variously rendered by most interpreters; some
rendering it only, exaltations of God; others, praising exalting God; others,
sublime praises of God; others, praises highly uttered unto God: the reason
whereof is, because the word romemoth in the text signifies sometimes
actively, and then it notes the height, exaltation, and lifting up of anything
to the observation of others; and sometimes passively, and then it notes the
height, worth, excellency of the thing that is exalted, or lifted up, in itself.
But the scope and nature of the duty prescribed in the text necessarily
comprehends both--as well the high acts for which God is to be praised, as the
high praises to be given unto God for those high acts; but especially the
latter, namely, the height and excellency of the duty of praise to be performed
for those high acts of God. This appears from the whole argument of the Psalm,
which is entirely laudatory, as also from the instrument wherewith these high
praises are to be performed, namely, the "mouth", "the high praises of
God in their mouth"; showing that the height herein mentioned is a
property of man's work in praising God, and not only of the work of God, for
which he is to be praised. In my observations I shall comprehend both, and all
the particulars in the duty prescribed besides, which is this--
The duty of praising God is a high duty, which must exalt and
lift up the high God in it.
This truth I shall labour to demonstrate, 1. From the Object.
2. The Effect. 3. Their Price. 4. Their Performance; or, to use the School
terms, they are "high": 1. Objective. 2. Effective. 3. Appreciative. 4.
1. The praises of God are "high" in relation to their
Object, which is none other but the Most High God, and that in the
consideration of his transcendent height and sublimity over and above all other
things or persons: so the Psalmist's resolution intimates (Ps 7:17), "I will
praise the LORD according to his righteousness", which he expresses in the
following words, "To sing praise to the name of the Lord most high"; and Ps
92:1: "It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto
thy name, O most High." In which places, and very many more in the Scriptures,
it is evident that the Lord, considered in his highest sublimity, is the object
of high praise, and that by most special and peculiar appropriation of it unto
himself, and none other (Isa 42:8).
2. In the second place, the praises of God will appear to be of
a high, sublime nature, from the high effect, the genuine and proper fruit they
produce, viz., that although their object, to whom they are peculiarly
appropriate (I mean the Lord himself) be in his own nature, and of himself, most
infinitely high and transcendent, yet by the attribution and performance of
praise unto him, doth he account his name, his power, his wisdom, and justice,
and himself to be exalted thereby. What else do those expressions in Scripture
imply wherein it is asserted, that by this high duty of praise the high Jehovah
is exalted (Ps 108:32); His sublime perfections are extolled and lifted up (Ps
68:4); His great Name is magnified (Lu 1:64); His infinite majesty is glorified
(Ps 50:23)? Oh how high must be that duty, that adds height to the high God,
that magnifies the great God, and glorifies the God of glory, and makes him
higher, greater, and more glorious than he was before!
3. Thirdly, the praises of God are of a high nature,
appreciative, in respect of the high estimation the Lord
himself hath of them, which appears two ways: (1.) By the high price
wherewith he purchases them; (2.) By the high delight he takes in them, after he
hath procured them.
First. The price wherewith God is willing to
purchase them is very high, for not only the expense of all his wisdom, power,
and goodness, put forth in creation, not only the laying out of all his counsel,
care, love, and faithfulness in providence and preservation; but also the rich
treasure of his promises, covenant, grace, yea, the precious blood of his own
Son, in our redemption, is given freely, absolutely, intentionally, and
ultimately, for no other thing but the purchase of high praises to God (Eph
1:5-6). All that God doth and giveth; all that Christ doth and suffereth, is for
the praise of the glory of his grace. I confess, consider men's highest praises
of God, as they are man's performance, they are poor and inconsiderable things;
but consider them as they are the testimonies and expressions of a believing
heart, declaring and making known the unspeakable wisdom, faithfulness, bounty,
and excellencies of God, exercised in his works; in this notion the Scripture
declares the heart of God to be so taken with the desire of them, that he is
willing to give heaven, earth, Himself, and Son to poor men for the praises of
their hearts, hands, and tongues; and accounts himself abundantly satisfied.
Therefore, when his people will speak good of his name, they speak of him in the
dialect of angels' notes, "the high praises of God."
Secondly. The high value that God hath of "high praises"
will be evident by the high delight and pleasure God takes in them thus
purchased; for skilful artists, and high principled, elevated understandings,
never take pleasure or delight in any thing or work which is not answerable to
their highest principles, and proportionable to their uttermost skill and
desire. Now the Lord, who is of the most perfect understanding, and deepest
skill and knowledge, declares himself to take infinite delight in his people's
praises. It is his solace and pleasure to be attended with them, either in earth
or in heaven, by men or angels; and his soul is ravished with the thoughts and
contemplation of them.
4. In the fourth place, the praises of God are high, and of a
high nature perfective, that is, in respect of the high measure of grace
they are to be attended withal in their performance: the Lord requiring the duty
of high praise to be performed with a great measure of Scripture light, with a
high degree of effectual fifth, and with a more ample proportion of practical
holiness than any other of the most solemn exercises of his public worship.
--Condensed from a Sermon by Samuel Fairclough, entitled "The
Prisoner's Praise," 1650.
Verse 8. To bind their kings with chains, etc. Agrippa was
captive to Paul. The word had him in bands like a prisoner, and made him confess
against himself before Festus that he was "almost persuaded to be a Christian."
Then it was verified which before was prophesied, They shall bind kings in
chains, and nobles in fetters of iron. Oh, the majesty and force of the
word! --Henry Smith.
Verse 8. It was once the saying of Pompey, that with one
stamp of his foot he could raise all Italy up in arms; and the mighty men of the
world may have nations, kingdoms, and commonwealths at their command, but yet
God is more powerful than they all. If he do but arise, they shall all of them
fly before him. If he once fall to fettering of princes, it shall be done so
sure, that no flesh shall be able to knock off their bolts again. --Stephen
Verse 9. This honour have all his saints. All other glories
and honours are but feminine, weak, poor things to it. God is their glory;
honoured they are with his blessed presence, honoured with his sight, with his
embraces; they see him and enjoy him. This is the very glory of their honour,
the height and pitch of all, for "in thy presence is joy, and at thy right hand
there is pleasure for evermore", honour advanced into eternal glory; and
"this honour" also "have all his saints"; some in spe,
and some in re, some in hope, and some in deed;
all either in promise or in possession. --Mark Frank.
Verse 9. This honour have all his saints. "His
saints" emphatically; Divine providence foreseeing that in after ages some would
usurp the title of saintship to whom it did not belong. "His saints"
exclusively; casting out saint traitors, as Beckett and Garnet; saint
hypocrites, and many others; who, in the same sense as auri sacra fames,
may be termed sacri, or sancti, saints. But, what honour have
all his saints? Mark what went before--"as it is written"; but by whom, and
where? Though chapters and verses be of later date, the Holy Spirit might have
cited the book. O no! He, to quicken our industry, refers us to the Word at
large. However, "search the Scriptures", and therein we shall meet with many
honours afforded to the saints; both whilst they were living, and when they were
dead. Honour to their memories is sometimes paid them very
abundantly, even by those who formerly were so niggardly and covetous as not to
afford them a good word in their lifetime.
Many are made converts by the godly ends of good men; as the
centurion himself, who attended and ordered the crucifying of Christ, after his
expiring broke forth into that testimony of him, --"Verily, this was the Son of
God." So, such as rail at, revile, curse, condemn, persecute, execute pious
people, speak other language of them when such men have passed the purgation of
death, and confess them faithful and sincere servants of God. The last "honour" is imitation of their virtuous
examples. The Papists brag that Stapleton, their great controversial divine, was
born on that very day whereon Sir Thomas More was put to death; but Providence
so ordereth it that out of the ashes of dead saints many living ones do spring
and sprout, by following the pious precedents of such godly persons deceased.
--Thomas Fuller in "Abel Redivivus."
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Verse 1. Praise ye the lord.
1. The one work of a life.
2. The work of the truly living of all degrees.
3. Their work in many and various forms.
4. A work for which there is abundant cause, reason, and
1. A wonderful gift--to be a saint.
2. A wonderful people--who are saints.
3. A wonderful assembly--a congregation of saints.
4. A wonderful God--the object of their song.
Verses 1-2. The new song of the saints.
1. The saints are God's children by the new birth.
2. The new birth has given them a new heart.
3. The new heart utters itself in a new song. --C.A.D.
Verses 1, 5.
1. We must praise God in public, "in the congregation of the
saints": the more the better; it is like to heaven.
2. We must praise him in private. "Let the saints" be so
transported with their joy in God as to "sing aloud upon their beds", when they
awake in the night, as David; Ps 119:62. --Matthew Henry.
Verse 2. The duty, reasonableness, and benefit of holy joy.
Verse 2. A peculiar people, their peculiar God, and their
peculiar joy in him.
Verse 2. (second clause). Christ's people may well
1. In the majesty of his person.
2. In the righteousness of his rule.
3. In the extent of his conquests.
4. In the protection they enjoy under him.
5. In the glory to which he will raise them.
Homiletical Library," 1882.
Verses 2, 4. The cause given to God's Israel for Praise.
1. God's doings for them. They have reason to rejoice in God,
and employ themselves in his service; for it is he that "made" them.
2. God's dominion over them. This follows upon the former: if
he made them he is their King.
3. God's delight in them. He is a King that rules by love, and
therefore to be praised.
4. God's designs concerning them. Besides the present
complacency he hath in them, he hath prepared for their future glory. "He will
beautify the meek", etc. --Matthew Henry.
Verse 4. The text bears other renderings. Read as in
1. The character to be aimed at --the meek.
a) Submissive to God. To his truth. To his dealings.
b) Gentle towards men. Bearing with patience. Forgiving with
heartiness. Loving with perseverance.
c) Lowly in ourselves.
2. The favour to be enjoyed --beautify.
a) The beauty of gentleness.
b) The beauty of peace.
c) The beauty of content.
d) The beauty of joy.
e) The beauty of holiness.
f) The beauty of respect and influence.
3. The good results to be expected.
a) God will be glorified and Christ manifested.
b) Men will be attracted.
c) Heaven will be anticipated.
Verse 4. (first clause). The Lord's taking pleasure
in his people is,
1. A wonderful evidence of his grace.
2. The highest honour they can desire.
3. Their security for time and eternity. --J.F.
Verse 5. Saintly joy.
1. The state to which God has lifted the saints: "glory", in
contrast with sin, reproach, affliction.
2. The emotion which accordingly befits the saints: "be
3. The utterance of that emotion incumbent on the saints: "sing
Verse 5. (second clause). Let them praise God--
1. Upon their beds of rest, upon their nightly
a) Because of what God has done for them during the day.
b) Because sleep is the gift of God.
c) Because they have a bed to lie upon.
d) Because the Lord is their keeper (Ps 4:5,8).
2. Upon their beds of sickness.
a) Because it is God's will they should suffer.
b) Because affliction is often a proof of God's love.
c) Because, if sanctified, sickness is a great blessing.
d) Because praise offered upon a bed of sickness is a testimony
to the power of religion.
3. Upon their beds of death.
a) Because the sting of death is removed.
b) Because their Lord has passed through death.
c) Because Christ is with them while they suffer.
d) Because of what awaits them.
e) Because they have the glorious hope of resurrection.
--C.W. Townsend, of Inskip, 1885.
1. The Christian life a combination of adoration and conflict.
2. In each case it should be at its best: "high praises", "two
3. In each case holiness should be conspicuous: it is of saints
that the text speaks.
Verse 8. The restraining and subduing power of the gospel.
Verse 9. The honour common to all saints.