Exposition - Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher
TITLE. A Psalm of Praise; or rather of thanksgiving. This
is the only psalm bearing this precise inscription. It is all ablaze with
grateful adoration, and has for this reason been a great favourite with the
people of God ever since it was written. "Let us sing the Old Hundredth" is one
of the every-day expressions of the Christian church, and will be so while men,
exist whose hearts are loyal to the Great King. Nothing can be more sublime this
side heaven than the singing of this noble psalm by a vast congregation. Watts'
paraphrase, beginning "Before Jehovah's awful throne, "and the Scotch "All
people that on earth do dwell, "are both noble versions; and event Tare and
Brady rise beyond themselves when they sing--
"With one consent let all the earth
To God their cheerful voices raise."
In this divine lyric we sing with gladness the creating power
and goodness of the Lord, even as before with trembling we adored his holiness.
Verse 1. Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
This is a repetition of Ps 98:4. The original word signifies a glad shout, such
as loyal subjects give when their king appears among them. Our happy God should
be worshipped by a happy people; a cheerful spirit is in keeping with his
nature, his acts, and the gratitude which we should cherish for his mercies. In
every land Jehovah's goodness is seen, therefore in every land should be be
praised. Nearer will the world be in its proper condition till with one
unanimous shout it adores the only God. O ye nations, how long will ye blindly
reject him? Your golden age will never arrive till ye with all your hearts
Verse 2. Serve the LORD with gladness. "Glad homage pay with
awful mirth." He is our Lord, and therefore he is to be served; he is our
gracious Lord, and therefore to be served with joy. The invitation to worship
here given is not a melancholy one, as though adoration were a funeral
solemnity, but a cheery gladsome exhortation, as though we were bidden to a
marriage feast. Come before his presence with singing. We ought in worship
to realise the presence of God, and by an effort of the mind to approach him.
This is an act which must to every rightly instructed heart be one of great
solemnity, but at the same time it must not be performed in the servility of
fear, and therefore we come before him, not with weepings and wailings, but with
Psalms and hymns. Singing, as it is a joyful, and at the same time a devout,
exercise, should be a constant form of approach to God. The measured,
harmonious, hearty utterance of praise by a congregation of really devout
persons is not merely decorous but delightful, and is a fit anticipation of the
worship of heaven, where praise has absorbed prayer, and become the sole mode of
adoration. How a certain society of brethren can find it in their hearts to
forbid singing in public worship is a riddle which we cannot solve. We feel
inclined to say with Dr. Watts
"Let those refuse to sing
Who never knew our God;
But favourites of the heavenly king
Must speak his praise abroad."
Verse 3. Know ye that the Lord, he is God. Our worship must
be intelligent. We ought to know whom we worship and why. "Man, know thyself,
"is a wise aphorism, yet to know our God is truer wisdom; and it is very
questionable whether a man can know himself until he knows his God. Jehovah is
God in the fullest, most absolute, and most exclusive sense, he is God alone; to
know him in that character and prove our knowledge by obedience, trust,
submission, zeal, and love is an attainment which only grace can bestow. Only
those who practically recognise his Godhead are at all likely to offer
acceptable praise. It is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves. Shall not
the creature reverence its maker? Some men live as if they made themselves; they
call themselves "self-made men, "and they adore their supposed creators; but
Christians recognise the origin of their being and their well-being, and take no
honour to themselves either for being, or for being what they are. Neither in
our first or second creation dare we put so much as a finger upon the glory, for
it is the sole right and property of the Almighty. To disclaim honour for
ourselves is as necessary a part of true reverence as to ascribe glory to the
Lord. "Non nobis, dominc!" will for ever remain the true believer's confession.
Of late philosophy has laboured hard to prove that all things have been
developed from atoms, or have, in other words, made themselves: if this theory
shall ever find believers, there will certainly remain no reason for accusing
the superstitious of credulity, for the amount of credence necessary to accept
this dogma of scepticism is a thousandfold greater than that which is required
even by an absurd belief in winking Madonnas, and smiling Bambinos. For our
part, we find it far more easy to believe that the Lord made us than that we
were developed by a long chain of natural selections from floating atoms which
fashioned themselves. We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. It is our
honour to have been chosen from all the world besides to be his own
people, and our privilege to be therefore guided by his wisdom, tended by his
care, and fed by his bounty. Sheep gather around their shepherd and look up to
him; in the same manner let us gather around the great Shepherd of mankind. The
avowal of our relation to God is in itself praise; when we recount his goodness
we are rendering to him the best adoration; our songs require none of the
inventions of fictions, the bare facts are enough; the simple narration of the
mercies of the Lord is more astonishing than the productions of imagination.
That we are the sheep of his pasture is a plain truth, and at the same time the
very essence of poetry.
Verse 4. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving. To the
occurrence of the word thanksgiving in this place the Psalm probably owes
its title. In all our public service the rendering of thanks must abound; it is
like the incense of the temple, which filled the whole house with smoke.
Expiatory sacrifices are ended, but those of gratitude will never be out of
date. So long as we are receivers of mercy we must be givers of thanks. Mercy
permits us to enter his gates; let us praise that mercy. What better subjcct for
our thoughts in God's own house than the Lord of the house. And into his courts with praise. Into whatever court of the
Lord you may enter, let your admission be the subject of praise: thanks be to
God, the innermost court is now open to believers, and we enter into that which
is within the veil; it is incumbent upon us that we acknowledge the high
privilege by our songs. Be thankful unto him. Let the praise be in your heart as
well as on your tongue, and let it all be for him to whom it all belongs. And bless his name. He blessed you, bless him in return;
bless his name, his character, his person. Whatever he does, be sure that you
bless him for it; bless him when he takes away as well as when he gives; bless
him as long as you live, under all circumstances; bless him in all his
attributes, from whatever point of view you consider him.
Verse 5. For the Lord is good. This sums up his character
and contains a mass of reasons for praise. He is good, gracious, kind,
bountiful, loving; yea, God is love. He who does not praise the good is not good
himself. The kind of praise inculcated in the Psalm, viz., that of joy and
gladness, is most fitly urged upon us by an argument from the goodness of God. His mercy is everlasting. God is not mere justice, stern
and cold; he has bowels of compassion, and wills not the sinner's death. Towards
his own people mercy is still more conspicuously displayed; it has been theirs
from all eternity, and shall be theirs world without end. Everlasting mercy is a
glorious theme for sacred song. And his truth endureth to all generations. No fickle being
is he, promising and forgetting. He has entered into covenant with his people,
and he will never revoke it, nor alter the thing that has gone out of his lips.
As our fathers found him faithful, so will our sons, and their seed for ever. A
changeable God would be a terror to the righteous, they would have no sure
anchorage, and amid a changing world they would be driven to and fro in
perpetual fear of shipwreck. It were well if the truth of divine faithfulness
were more fully remembered by some theologians; it would overturn their belief
in the final fall of believers, and teach them a more consolatory system. Our
heart leaps for joy as we bow before One who has never broken his word or
changed his purpose.
"As well might he his being quit
As break his promise or forget."
Resting on his sure word, we feel that joy which is here
commanded, and in the strength of it we come into his presence even now, and
speak good of his name.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Title. This is the only Psalm in the whole collection
entitled "A Psalm of Praise." It is supposed to have received this
appellation because peculiarly adapted, if not designed to be sung, when the
sacrifices of thanksgiving were offered. See Le 7:12. The Greeks think it
was written by David, who here invites all the world to join with the Israelites
in the service of God, whose divine sovereignty he here recognises. Samuel
Whole Psalm. If we are right in regarding Psalms 93-99 as
forming one continuous series, one great prophetic oratorio, whose title is
"Jehovah is King, "and through which there runs the same great idea, this Psalm
may be regarded as the doxology which closes the strain. We find lingering in it
notes of the same great harmony. It breathes the same gladness; it is filled
with the same hope, that all nations shall bow down before Jehovah, and confess
that he is God. J.J.S. Perowne.
Whole Psalm. This Psalm contains a promise of Christianity,
as winter at its close contains the promise of spring. The trees are ready to
bud, the flowers are just hidden by the light soil, the clouds are heavy with
rain, the sun shines in his strength; only a genial wind from the south is
wanted to give a new life to all things. "The Speaker's Commentary,
Whole Psalm. Luther would have immortalized his name had he
done no more than written the majestic air and harmony to which we are
accustomed to sing this Psalm, and which, when the mind is in a truly
worshipping frame, seems to bring heaven down to earth, and to raise earth to
heaven, giving us anticipations of the pure and sublime delights of that noble
and general assembly in which saints and angels shall for ever celebrate the
praises of God. Ingram Cobbin.
Verse 2. The first half of this verse is from Ps 2:11, only
that instead of "with fear, "there, where the psalmist has to do with
fierce rebels, there is substituted here "gladness" or joy. F.W.
Verse 2. Serve the LORD with gladness. It is a sign the oil
of grace hath been poured into the heart "when the oil of gladness" shines on
the countenance. Cheerfulness credits religion. Thomas Watson.
Verse 2. Serve the LORD. It is our privilege to serve the
Lord in all things. It is ours to please the Lord in loosing the latchet of a
shoe; and to enjoy the expression of his favour therein. The servant of God is
not serving at the same time another master; he has not been hired for
occasional service; he abides in the service of his God, and cannot be about
anything but his Master's business; he eats, he drinks, he sleeps, he walks, he
discourses, he findeth recreation, all by the way of serving God. Serve the
Lord with gladness. Can you bear to be waited upon by a servant who goes
moping and dejected to his every task? You would rather have no servant at all,
than one who evidently finds your service cheerless and irksome. George
Verse 3. Know ye that the LORD he is God, &c. From the
reasons of this exhortation, learn, that such is our natural atheism, that we
have need again and again to be instructed, that the Lord is God; of
whom, and through whom, and for whom are all things. David Dickson.
Verse 3. It is he that made us... we are his. Now, the
ground of God's property in all things is his creating of all... Accordingly,
you may observe in many scriptures, where the Lord's propriety is asserted,
this, as the ground of it, is annexed: Ps 89:11-12, the heavens, the earth, the
whole world, and all therein is thine. Why so? "Thou hast founded them." And so
are all the regions and quarters of the world, northern and southern, western
and eastern; for Tabor was on the west and Hermon on the east; all are thine,
for thou hast created them. So sea and land, Ps 95:5. As all things measured by
time, so time itself, the measure of all, Ps 74:16-17. "Thou hast made the
light, "i.e. the moon for the night and the sun for the day. He lays
claim to all the climes of the earth, and all the seasons of the year on this
account; he made them. This will be more evident and unquestionable, if we take
notice of these particulars:
1. He made all for himself. He was not employed by any to make
it for another, for in that case sometimes the maker is not the owner; but the
Lord did employ himself in that great work, and for himself did he undertake and
finish it. Pr 16:4 Col 1:15-16.
2. He made all things of nothing, either without any matter at
all, or without any but what himself had before made of nothing. A potter when
he makes an earthenware vessel, if the clay be not his own which he makes it of,
he is not the full owner of the vessel, though he formed it: "the form is his,
the matter is another's; "but since the Lord made all of nothing, or of such
matter as himself had made, all is wholly his, matter and form, all entirely.
3. He made all without the help or concurrence of any other.
There was none that assisted him, or did in the least co-operate with him in the
work of creation... Those that assist and concur with another in the making of a
thing may claim a share in it; but here lies no such claim in this case, where
the Lord alone did all, alone made all. All is his only.
4. He upholds all things in the same manner as he created,
continues the being of all things in the same way as he gave it. He does it of
himself, without other support, without any assistant. All would fall into
nothing in a moment, if he did not every moment bear them up. So that all things
on this account have still their being from him every moment, and their
well-being too, and all the means which conduce to it; and therefore all are his
own. David Clarkson.
Verse 3. It is he that hath made us. The emperor Henry,
while out hunting on the Lord's day called Quinquagesima, his companions being
scattered, came unattended to the entrance of a certain wood; and seeing a
church hard by, he made for it, and feigning himself to be a soldier, simply
requested a mass of the priest. Now that priest was a man of notable piety, but
so deformed in person that he seemed a monster rather than a man. When he had
attentively considered him, the emperor began to wonder exceedingly why God,
from whom all beauty proceeds, should permit so deformed a man to administer his
sacraments. But prescntly, when mass commenced, and they came to the passage,
Know ye that the Lord he is God, which was chanted by a boy, the priest
rebuked the boy for singing negligently, and said with a loud voice, It is he
that hath made us, and not we ourselves. Struck by these words, and
believing the priest to be a prophet, the emperor raised him, much against his
will, to the archbishopric of Cologne, which see he adorned by his devotion and
excellent virtues. From "Roger of Wendover's (1237) Flowers of
Verse 3. It is he that hath made us... we are his. Many a
one has drawn balsatalc consolation from these words; as for instance Melancthon
when disconsolately sorrowful over the body of his son in Dresden on the 12th
July, 1559. But in "He made us and we are his, "there is also a
rich mine of comfort and of admonition, for the Creator is also the Owner, his
heart clings to his creature, and the creature owes itself entirely to him,
without whom it would not have had a being, and would not continue in being.
Verse 3. He that made us, i.e. made us what we are, a
people to himself; as in Ps 95:5, 1Sa 12:6, and De 32:6. It was not we that made
ourselves his (compare Eze 29:3). "He (and not we ourselves) made us
His people, and the flock whom he feeds." Andrew A. Bonar.
Verse 3. Not we is added, because any share, on the part of
the church, in effecting the salvation bestowed upon her, would weaken the
testimony which this bears to the exclusive Godhead of the Lord. F. W.
Verses 3, 5. Know ye what God is in himself, and what he is
to you. Knowledge is the mother of devotion, and of all obedience; blind
sacrifices will never please a seeing God. "Know" it, i.e. consider and
apply it, and then you will be more close and constant, more inward and serious,
in the worship of him. Let us know, then, these seven things concerning the Lord
Jehovah, with whom we have to do in all the acts of religious worship.
1. That the Lord he is God, the only living and true
God; that he is a being infinitely perfect, self-existent, and self-sufficient,
and the fountain of all being.
2. That he is our Creator: It is he that hath made us, and
not we ourselves. We do not, we could not make ourselves; it is God's
prerogative to be his own cause; our being is derived and depending.
3. That therefore he is our rightful owner. The
Masorites, by altering one letter in the Hebrew, read it, "He made us, and his
we are, "or, "to him we belong." Put both the readings together, and we learn,
that because God "made us, and not we ourselves, "therefore we are not our own
4. That he is our sovereign Ruler. We are his people,
or subjects, and he is our prince, our rector or governor, that gives laws
to us as moral agents, and will call us to an account for what we do.
5. That he is our bountiful Benefactor;we are not only
his sheep whom he is entitled to, but the sheep of his pasture, whom he
takes care of.
6. That he is a God of infinite mercy and good (Ps 100:5);
The Lord is good, and therefore doth good; his mercy his
7. That he is a God of inviolable truth and faithfulness;
His truth endureth to all generations, and no word of his shall
fall to the ground as antiquated or revoked. Matthew Henry.
Verse 4. Enter into his gates; for to the most guilty are
the gates of his church open. Francis Hill Tucker.
Verse 4. With thanksgiving. On the word hrwt the word used
in Le 7:12 for sacrifices of thanksgivings], Rabbi Menachen remarks: All
sacrifices will be abolished; but the sacrifice of thanksgiving will remain.
Verse 4. The former part of this Psalm may have been chanted
by the precentor when the peace-offering was brought to the altar; and this last
verse may have been the response, sung by the whole company of singers, at the
moment when fire was applied to the offering. Daniel Cresswell.
Verse 5. His mercy is everlasting. The everlasting
unchangeable mercy of God, is the first motive of our turning to him, and of our
continuing stedfast in his covenant, and it shall be the subject of unceasing
praise in eternity. As the Lord is good, and his mercy everlasting, so the full
perfection of these attributes in a perfect state will call forth praise
unwearied from hearts that ever faint. W. Wilson.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Whole Psalm. This is a bunch of the grapes of Eshcol. It is
a taste of what is still the promised land. The Jewish church came to its
perfection in the reign of Solomon, but a greater than Solomon is here. The
perfection of the New Testament church is here anticipated. This psalm teaches,
1. That there will be a joyful state of the whole world
(Ps 100:1). (a) To whom the address is given--to "all lands, "and all in
those lands. (b) The subject of the address--"Make a joyful noise." What a
doleful noise it has made! (c) By whom the address is given, by him who secures
what he commands.
2. That this joyful state of the whole world will arise
from the enjoyment of the Divine Being (Ps 100:2). (a) Men have long
tried to be happy without God. (b) They will find at last that their happiness
is in God. The conversion of an individual in this respect is a type of the
conversion of the world.
3. That this enjoyment of God will arise from a new
relation to him (Ps 100:3). (a) Of knowledge on our part: he will be
known as the Triune God, as a covenant God, as the God of salvation--as God. (b)
Of rightful claim on his part; (1.) by right of creation--"He hath made us; "
(2.) By light of redemption--"Ye were not a people, but are now the people of
God, "&c.; "I have redeemed thee: thou art mine"; (3.) by right of
preservation--"We are the sheep, "&c.
4. That this new relation to God will endear to us the
ordinances of his house (Ps 100:4). (a) Of what the service will
consist--"thanksgiving" and praise. (b) To whom it will be rendered. Enter into
his gates -- his courts--be thankful unto him --bless
his name. That this service will be perpetual; begin on earth, continued
in heaven. This fact is founded--
5. That this service will be perpetual; begun on earth,
continued in heaven. This face is founded-- (a) Upon essential goodness. "For the
Lord is good." (b) Upon everlasting mercy. "His mercy, "etc. (c) Upon immutable
truth. "His truth, "etc. G. R.
Verse 2. Serve the LORD with gladness.
1. For he is the best of beings.
2. For his commandments are not grievous.
3. For he is your Saviour, as well as Creator; your friend, as
well as Lord.
4. The angels, so much greater than yourself, know no reason
why they should not serve him with gladness.
5. In serving him you serve yoreself.
6. You make religion attractive.
7. You get fitness for heaven. George Bowen.
Verse 2 (first clause) A true heart,
1. Is humble--serves.
2. Is pious--"serve the Lord."
3. Is active--serves.
4. Is consequently joyful--"with gladness."
Verse 2. (first clause). "Serving the Lord with
gladness." See "Spurgeon's Sermons, "No. 769.
Verse 3. Know ye that the LORD he is God. That you may be
true amid superstition, hopeful in contrition, persistent in supplication,
unwearied in exertion, calm in affliction, firm in temptation, bold in
persecution, and happy in dissolution. W. J.
Verse 3. We are his people. We have been twice born, as all
his people are. We love the society of his people. We are looking unto Jesus
like his people. We are separated from the world as his people. We experience
the trials of his people. We prefer the employment of his people. We enjoy the
privileges of his people. W. J.
Verse 4. A Discourse of Thankfulness which is due to God for
his benefits and blessings. A Sermon by Thomas Goodwin. Works, vol. 9 pp. 499-514.
1. The privileges of access.
2. The duty of thankfulness.
3. The reasons for enjoying both.
1. The inexhaustible fount--the goodness of God.
2. The ever-flowing stream--the mercy of God.
3. The fathomless oceansthe truth of God. "O the depths!" W.