Psalm 149:1
Praise you the LORD. Sing to the LORD a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints.
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(1) A new song.—See Psalm 33:3.

The congregation.—Apparently the psalm puts us in the Maccabæan age, when the chasîdîm was become a regular title for the patriotic party.

Psalm 149:1-3. Sing unto the Lord a new song — For these new mercies conferred upon us, denied to former times. Let Israel rejoice in him that made him — That made them not only his creatures, but, which is unspeakably greater, his people; or, that advanced them to, and adorned them with, singular privileges, as the word עשׁה, here used, is understood 1 Samuel 12:6, and elsewhere. Let the children of Zion be joyful in their king — In Jehovah, who condescends, in a peculiar sense, to become their king, and, in the exercise of his kingly power, delivers, protects, and governs them as his subjects. Let them praise his name in the dance, &c. — According to the usage of that time and dispensation: see notes on Exodus 15:20-21; 2 Samuel 6:14. True Christians are now the people to whom belong the names and characters of saints, Israel, and children of Zion. They sing this holy song as the psalmist hath enjoined them to do. They sing it as new men, with new affections and dispositions, and in its evangelical sense, celebrating new victories, and victories of a new kind, and new and greater mercies, even a spiritual salvation and an eternal redemption. “They rejoice with hearts and voices,” if not also with “instruments, and every other token of joy, in him who made them, who created them anew in righteousness and true holiness: they are joyful in their king, who hath himself overcome, and is now leading them on to final conquest and triumph, to honour and immortality.”149:1-5 New mercies continually demand new songs of praise, upon earth and in heaven. And the children of Zion have not only to bless the God who made them, but to rejoice in him, as having created them in Christ Jesus unto good works, and formed them saints as well as men. The Lord takes pleasure in his people; they should rejoice in Him. When the Lord has made sinners feel their wants and unworthiness, he will adorn them with the graces of his Spirit, and cause them to bear his image, and rejoice in his happiness for ever. Let his saints employ their waking hours upon their beds in songs of praise. Let them rejoice, even upon the bed of death, assured that they are going to eternal rest and glory.Praise ye the Lord - Margin, Hallelujah. See the notes at Psalm 146:1.

Sing unto the Lord a new song - As if there was a new and a special occasion for praise. This would be so if the psalm was composed on the return from the exile; on the rebuilding of the city; and on the re-dedication of the temple. On the meaning of the language, see Psalm 33:3, note; Revelation 5:9, note; Revelation 14:3, note; see also Psalm 96:1; Isaiah 42:10.

And his praise in the congregation of saints - In the assembly of the people of God. See Psalm 148:14, note; Psalm 111:1, note.


Ps 149:1-9. This Psalm sustains a close connection with the foregoing. The chosen people are exhorted to praise God, in view of past favors, and also future victories over enemies, of which they are impliedly assured.

1. (Compare Ps 96:1).

1 Praise ye the Lord. Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints.

2 Let Israel rejoice in him that made him - let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.

3 Let them praise his name in the dance - let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.

4 For the Lord taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation.

5 Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds.

6 Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand;

7 To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people;

8 To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron;

9 To execute upon them the judgment written - this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the Lord.

Psalm 149:1

"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.

Psalm 149:2

"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.

Psalm 149:3

continued...THE ARGUMENT

The scope and design of this Psalm is to stir up and encourage God’s people to praise him; either,

1. For their deliverance out of Babylon, and the promises which God had given them of the perfection of that work, and of the enlargement of their power and dominion in the world; or rather,

2. For the establishment of the kingdom of Israel in David’s hands, and for that safety, and glory, and victory over their enemies which they expected by that means. But withal, the psalmist, or the Spirit of God, which dictated this Psalm to him, had a further prospect, even to the Messiah, of whom David was a type, and who was to succeed David in the throne, and to bring that kingdom to its highest perfection. And so divers of the Jewish doctors understand this Psalm.

An exhortation to praise God for his love to his people, Psalm 149:1-4 and for enabling them by his power to overcome their enemies, Psalm 149:5-9.

A new song, for these new mercies conferred upon us, denied to former times.

Praise ye the Lord,.... Or "hallelujah"; the title of the psalm, according to many;

sing unto the Lord a new song; for a new mercy received, a new victory obtained, or a new salvation wrought; more particularly the new song of redeeming grace through Jesus Christ, the song of the Lamb, in distinction from the old song of Moses and the children of Israel at the Red sea, on account of their deliverance, which was typical of salvation by Christ, the oldest, being the first song we read of; but this is a new one, which none but the redeemed of the Lamb can sing; a song suited to Gospel times, in which all things are new, a new church state, new ordinances, a new covenant, and a new and living way to the holiest of all; a song proper for renewed persons to sing, who have new favours continually to bless and praise the Lord for;

and his praise in the congregation of saints: such who are partakers of the blessings of divine goodness; are separated and distinguished from others by the grace of God; are sanctified and brought into a Gospel church state; and who gather and assemble together to worship God, and attend upon him in his word and ordinances, and in such assemblies the praises of God are to be sung; which being done socially, the saints are assisting to one another in this service; and it is done with greater solemnity, and is more to the public honour and glory of God; thus Gospel churches are called upon to sing the praises of God among themselves, Ephesians 5:19; and have Christ for an example going before them, Psalm 22:22.

Praise ye the LORD. Sing unto the LORD {a} a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints.

(a) For his rare and manifold benefits bestowed on his Church.

1. Praise ye the Lord] The liturgical Hallelujah. See on Psalm 104:35.

Sing unto Jehovah a new song] In acknowledgment of new mercies. Cp. Psalm 33:3; Psalm 96:1, note.

his praise in the assembly of the beloved] Cp. Psalm 22:22; Psalm 22:25; Psalm 107:32. The P.B.V., let the congregation of saints praise him, follows the LXX (Vulg.) and Jer. in adopting a possible but less probable construction, lit. let his praise be &c. The title the beloved or godly (see Appendix, Note I.) is used at the beginning, middle and end of this Psalm to denote Israel, which had had fresh experience of Jehovah’s lovingkindness. Cp. Psalm 145:10; Psalm 147:14.Verse 1. - Praise ye the Lord. Sing unto the Lord a new song. A "new song" on account of a new deliverance (comp. Psalm 33:3). The deliverance may have been one of those under Nehemiah (Nehemiah 4:7-23; Nehemiah 6:2-16). And his praise in the congregation of saints. The psalm would seem to have been composed for a special thanksgiving service. The call to the praise of Jahve is now turned, in the second group of verses, to the earth and everything belonging to it in the widest extent. Here too מן־הארץ, like מן־השּׁמים, Psalm 148:1, is intended of the place whence the praise is to resound, and not according to Psalm 10:18 of earthly beings. The call is addressed in the first instance to the sea-monsters or dragons (Psalm 74:13), i.e., as Pindar (Nem. iii. 23f.) expresses it, θῆρας ἐν πελάγεΐ ὑπερο'χους, and to the surging mass of waters (תּהמות) above and within the earth. Then to four phenomena of nature, coming down from heaven and ascending heavenwards, which are so arranged in Psalm 148:8, after the model of the chiasmus (crosswise position), that fire and smoke (קטור), more especially of the mountains (Exodus 19:18), hail and snow stand in reciprocal relation; and to the storm-wind (רוּח סערה, an appositional construction, as in Psalm 107:25), which, beside a seeming freeness and untractableness, performs God's word. What is said of this last applies also to the fire, etc.; all these phenomena of nature are messengers and servants of God, Psalm 104:4, cf. Psalm 103:20. When the poet wishes that they all may join in concert with the rest of the creatures to the praise of God, he excepts the fact that they frequently become destructive powers executing judicial punishment, and only has before his mind their (more especially to the inhabitant of Palestine, to whom the opportunity of seeing hail, snow, and ice was more rare than with us, imposing) grandeur and their relatedness to the whole of creation, which is destined to glorify God and to be itself glorified. He next passes over to the mountains towering towards the skies and to all the heights of earth; to the fruit-trees, and to the cedars, the kings among the trees of the forest; to the wild beasts, which are called חחיּה because they represent the most active and powerful life in the animal world, and to all quadrupeds, which, more particularly the four-footed domestic animals, are called בּהמה; to the creeping things (רמשׂ) which cleave to the ground as they move along; and to the birds, which are named with the descriptive epithet winged (צפּור כּנף as in Deuteronomy 4:17, cf. Genesis 7:14; Ezekiel 39:17, instead of עוף כּנף, Genesis 1:21). And just as the call in Psalm 103 finds its centre of gravity, so to speak, at last in the soul of man, so here it is addressed finally to humanity, and that, because mankind lives in nations and is comprehended under the law of a state commonwealth, in the first instance to its heads: the kings of the earth, i.e., those who rule over the earth by countries, to the princes and all who have the administration of justice and are possessed of supreme power on the earth, then to men of both sexes and of every age.

All the beings mentioned from Psalm 148:1 onwards are to praise the Name of Jahve; for His Name, He (the God of this Name) alone (Isaiah 2:11; Psalm 72:18) is נשׂגּב, so high that no name reaches up to Him, not even from afar; His glory (His glorious self-attestation) extends over earth and heaven (vid., Psalm 8:2). כּי, without our being able and obliged to decide which, introduces the matter and the ground of the praise; and the fact that the desire of the poet comprehends in יהללוּ all the beings mentioned is seen from his saying "earth and heaven," as he glances back from the nearer things mentioned to those mentioned farther off (cf. Genesis 2:4). In Psalm 148:14 the statement of the object and of the ground of the praise is continued. The motive from which the call to all creatures to Hallelujah proceeds, viz., the new mercy which God has shown towards His people, is also the final ground of the Hallelujah which is to sound forth; for the church of God on earth is the central-point of the universe, the aim of the history of the world, and the glorifying of this church is the turning-point for the transformation of the world. It is not to be rendered: He hath exalted the horn of His people, any more than in Psalm 132:17 : I will make the horn of David to shoot forth. The horn in both instances is one such as the person named does not already possess, but which is given him (different from Psalm 89:18, Psalm 89:25; Psalm 92:11, and frequently). The Israel of the Exile had lost its horn, i.e., its comeliness and its defensive and offensive power. God has now given it a horn again, and that a high one, i.e., has helped Israel to attain again an independence among the nations that commands respect. In Psalm 132, where the horn is an object of the promise, we might directly understand by it the Branch (Zemach). Here, where the poet speaks out of his own present age, this is at least not the meaning which he associates with the words. What now follows is an apposition to ויּרם קרן לעמּו: He has raised up a horn for His people - praise (we say: to the praise of; cf. the New Testament εἰς ἔπαινον) to all His saints, the children of Israel, the people who stand near Him. Others, as Hengstenberg, take תּהלּה as a second object, but we cannot say הרים תּהלּה. Israel is called עם קרבו, the people of His near equals of His nearness or vicinity (Kster), as Jerusalem is called in Ecclesiastes 8:10 מקום קדושׁ instead of קדשׁ מקום (Ew. 287, a, b). It might also be said, according to Leviticus 10:3, עם קרביו, the nation of those who are near to Him (as the Targum renders it). In both instances עם is the governing noun, as, too, surely גּבר is in גּבר עמיתי ni, Zechariah 13:7, which need not signify, by going back to the abstract primary signification of עמית, a man of my near fellowship, but can also signify a man of my neighbour, i.e., my nearest man, according to Ew. loc. cit. (cf. above on Psalm 145:10). As a rule, the principal form of עם is pointed עם; and it is all the more unnecessary, with Olshausen and Hupfeld, to take the construction as adjectival for עם קרוב לו. It might, with Hitzig after Aben-Ezra, be more readily regarded as appositional (to a people, His near, i.e., standing near to Him). We have here an example of the genitival subordination, which is very extensive in Hebrew, instead of an appositional co-ordination: populo propinqui sui, in connection with which propinqui may be referred back to propinquum equals propinquitas, but also to propinquus (literally: a people of the kind of one that is near to Him). Thus is Israel styled in Deuteronomy 4:7. In the consciousness of the dignity which lies in this name, the nation of the God of the history of salvation comes forward in this Psalm as the leader (choragus) of all creatures, and strikes up a Hallelujah that is to be followed by heaven and earth.

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