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A TEMPLE psalm. The people resolve not to put their trust in men, however potent they may be, (v. 1-5.) They praise the sceptre of righteousness and mercy with which God, who has created all things, governs the world, and has established his eternal throne in Zion, the kingdom of God, (v. 6—10.)
1 PRAISE ye the LORD.
the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul. 2 While I live will I praise the LORD:
I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being. 3. Put not your trust in princes,
They are the sons of men, in whom there is no help. 4 His breath goeth away, he returneth to his earth;
In that very day his thoughts perish. 5 Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help,
Whose hope is in the LORD his God: 6 Which made heaven, and earth,
The sea, and all that therein is:
Which keepeth truth (faithfulness) for ever: 7 Which executeth judgment for the oppressed:
Which giveth food to the hungry.
The LORD looseth the prisoners: 8 The LORD openeth the eyes of the blind:
The LORD raiseth them that are bowed down:
The LORD loveth the righteous : 9 The LORD preserveth the strangers;
He relieveth the fatherless and widow:
But the way of the wicked he turneth upside down. 10 The LORD shall reign for ever,
Even thy God, o Zion, unto all generations.
A TEMPLE psalm of the people, composed soon after their return from the captivity, when Jerusalem rose once more from the dust, (v. 2. 13, 14.)
The Psalmist praises in glowing and sweet strains the mercy of God, which is revealed to the humiliated nation and his humble worshippers as the mercy of the Almighty, (v. 1–6.) He celebrates the paternal love of God to the most helpless of his creatures, and his peculiar delight in the meek, (v. 7-11.) He comforts the rebuilding city with the assurance of Divine aid, praises the universal traces of God's omnipotence in nature, and glories in the thought that the Almighty King has favoured Israel above all the nations of the earth, (v. 12-20.)
the LORD: For it is good to sing praises unto our God;* For it is pleasant; such praise is comely. 2 The LORD doth build up Jerusalem:
He gathered together the outcasts of Israel. 3 He healeth the broken in heart,
And bindeth up their griefs. 4 He telleth the number of the stars;
He calleth them all by their names. 5 Great is our Lord, and of great power:
His understanding is infinite. 6 The Lord lifteth up the meek:
He casteth the wicked down to the ground. 7 Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving;
Sing praise upon the harp unto our God: 8 Who covereth the heaven with clouds,
Who prepareth rain for the earth,
Who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains. 9 He giveth to the beast his food,
And to the young ravens which cry. 10 He delighteth not in the strength of the horse:
He taketh not pleasure in the bones of a man. 11 The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him,
In those that hope in his mercy. 12 Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem;
Praise thy God, o Zion. 13 For he hath strengthened the bars of thy gates ;
He hath blessed thy children within thee. 14 He maketh peace in thy borders,
And filleth thee with the finest of the wheat. 15 He sendeth forth his commandment upon earth:
His word runneth very swiftly.
* Or, "For it is a precious thing."
16 He giveth snow like wool:
He scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes. 17 He casteth forth his ice (hail) like morsels:
Who can stand before his cold? 18 He sendeth out his word, and melteth them:
He causeth his wind to blow, and the waters flow. 19 He showeth his word unto Jacob,
His statutes and his judgments unto Israel. 20 He hath not dealt so with
nation: And as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the LORD.
V.1–6. The Psalmist animates himself and others to engage in the praise of the Lord, by the consideration that that exercise is no less beneficial to the heart than it is a comely duty. He expresses his gratitude for the manifest mercies of God, as displayed in the return of the scattered nation of broken-hearted Israel to their native borders, in the rebuilding of Jerusalem, and the binding up of the wounds of the nation. He only who telleth the infinite host of the stars and calleth them all by their names could have performed such mighty works. The Lord delights especially in uplifting the low and debasing the high.
V. 7–11. He now praises in lofty strains the condescending goodness of God, who in a wondrous manner prepares the rain in the clouds, so that even the high mountains must yield food to the beasts; who with paternal solicitude is mindful of the young ravens, which, deserted by their own parents,* cry to the Lord of heaven as to their only helper. He chiefly delights in those who, unable to boast of their own strength, fear him and hope in his mercy.
V. 12—20. The Psalmist now addresses Zion, which is privileged to call this God, her God. He bids the inhabitants to look hopefully upon the new but weak beginnings in their land, promising strength to the city, blessings to her inhabitants, peace and prosperity to the land within its borders. He seeks to raise their confidence by again pointing to the irresistible strength of Divine Omnipotence. The words of God become his executing servants on earth. He scatters snow like woolly fleeces, the hoarfrost like ashes, and hail like morsels: he contracts the air into intolerable frost: he commands his wind to blow and all is melted. All these things are great blessings of his goodness and Omnipotence: but the greatest blessing of Israel is that they have a God who in his condescending love has given them a clear revelation of his will, so that they need no longer ask, Who shall go up to heaven, who shall go over the sea and bring unto us the word of God? The word is now nigh unto them, in their mouths and in their hearts, that they may do it. (Deut. xxx. 12–14.)
* This has given rise to the German idiom of “raven father” and “raven mother,” as descriptive of unnatural or cruel parents.
Psalms cxlviii. and cl. seem to be placed at the conclusion of the Psalter, as if it were intended that their perpetually recurring, “Praise ye,” should form a many-voiced echo of the praise which fills every preceding psalm. Everything is invited to praise : nothing is too high, nothing too low. The Psalmist begins (v. 1) with the loftiest heights, descends (v. 7) to the lowest depths, addresses the elements and kingdoms of nature, reascends to man, addressing every rank and order of society, and finally turns to that people which is the priesthood among men, as man is the priest among the creatures on earth. The song of the youths in the fiery furnace seems to be an echo of this psalm. 1 PRAISE yo the Lord.
ye the LORD from the heavens: Praise him in the heights. 2 Praise ye him, all his angels:
Praise ye him, all his hosts. 3 Praise ye him, sun and moon:
Praise him, all ye stars of light. 4 Praise him, ye heavens of heavens,
And ye waters that be above the heavens. 5 Let them praise the name of the LORD:
For he commanded and they were created. 6 He hath also stablished them for ever and ever:
He hath made a decree which they shall not pass. 7 Praise the Lord from the earth,
Ye dragons,* and all deeps : 8 Fire, and hail; snow, and vapours;
Stormy wind fulfilling his word: 9 Mountains, and all hills:
Fruitful trees, and all cedars: 10 Beasts, and all cattle;
Creeping things, and winged birds:
* Or, “Ye sea-monsters."
11 Kings of the earth, and all people;
Princes, and all judges of the earth: 12 Both young men, and maidens;
Old men, and children: 13 Let them praise the name of the LORD:
For his name alone is exalted.
His glory is above the earth and heaven. 14 He also exalteth the horn of his people,
The praise of all his saints;
V.1–6. The Psalmist begins with the heavens above: with the twofold hosts of the Lord, the armies of his angels and the shining planets and stars without number. They are placed in different regions of the heavens (for God is enthroned high above the lower heavens, Psalm civ. 3,) and he therefore addresses all the heavens, and then the clouds which move along the skies. It has been stated already (Ps. cxlv. 10) how these appeals to inanimate creation are to be understood. Though every creature is full of the praise of God, yet it belongs to man alone to give an audible expression to their praise. The Psalmist indicates that the unchangeable laws and decrees according to which those countless worlds pursue their course, denote the object of their praises.
V.7–14. Wisdom and Omnipotence, worthy to be praised, are also scattered over the earth, and the depths of the sea abound with them. The phenomena of nature are his messengers: the animal and vegetable kingdoms down to their lowest stages bear the impress of the goodness and Omnipotence of God, and are therefore a song of praise on his glorious attributes. But man is chiefly invited to praise the Lord. It devolves upon him, as the priest of nature, above every other creature: every rank, every age, and every generation, have abundant cause for engaging in this praise. As man is peculiarly blessed as the race of priests in the midst of inanimate creation, so is Israel peculiarly blessed as the race of priests among men.
WHILE Psalms cxlviii. and cl. invite all beings to praise, Psalms cxlvii. and cxlix. address the newly established community at Jerusalem. They are invited to praise the Lord for his past goodness