Praise ye the LORD. Praise ye the LORD from the heavens: praise him in the heights.
Verse 1. - Praise ye the Lord. Praise ye the Lord from the heavens; i.e. beginning at the heavens, making them the primary source from which the praises are to be drawn (comp. ver. 7). Praise him in the heights; in excelsis (Vulgate). In the upper tenons, or the most exalted regions of his creation.
Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts.
Verse 2. - Praise ye him, all his angels (comp. Psalm 103:20, 21). As the angels occupy the first rank in creation, and have the most to praise God for, they are fitly called upon to commence the song of jubilation. The praises of God must form their chief occupation through all eternity. Praise ye him, all his hosts; rather, all his host. In the "host of God" are included beings of inferior rank to angels - "ministers of his that do his pleasure" (Psalm 103:21).
Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light.
Verse 3. - Praise ye him, sun and moon. Objects of worship to most heathen nations, but here called upon to join in the chorus of praise to God. Praise him, all ye stars of light; i.e. ye brilliant stars, that light up the heaven at night.
Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens.
Verse 4. - Praise him, ye heavens of heavens; i.e. "ye highest heavens" (comp. Deuteronomy 10:14; 1 Kings 8:27; Psalm 68:33). And ye waters that be above the heavens (comp. Genesis 1:7). The clouds are probably intended.
Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created.
Verse 5. - Let them praise the Name of the Lord. Frequent changes of person, when no doubt can arise as to the meaning, are a sort of Hebrew idiom. They give liveliness and variety. For he commanded, and they were created (Genesis 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 15, etc.). All creation sprang into being at the word of God (Psalm 33:8).
He hath also stablished them for ever and ever: he hath made a decree which shall not pass.
Verse 6. - He hath also established them forever and ever (comp. Psalm 89:37). The expression, "forever and ever," must not be pressed. It means "for all time" - while heaven and earth endure - but does not imply an absolute perpetuity. He hath made a decree which shall not pass; rather, which shall not pass away (see the Revised Version; and comp Genesis 8:22; Jeremiah 31:35, 36; Jeremiah 33:25).
Praise the LORD from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps:
Verse 7. - Praise the Lord from the earth. The counterpart of the clause in ver. 1, "Praise ye the Lord from the heavens." Earth must join with heaven in the praise of God. Ye dragons; or, "ye sea-monsters" (comp. Psalm 74:13, where the same word is used). Hengstenberg translates by "whales;" but all the greater sea-animals are probably included. And all deeps. The extreme "ocean depths" are meant - "lower deeps," in certain parts of what was commonly known as "the great deep" (Psalm 36:6).
Fire, and hail; snow, and vapour; stormy wind fulfilling his word:
Verse 8. - Fire and hail. By "fire," in this combination, we must understand "lightning," or rather the various electrical phenomena accompanying storms in the East, which are sometimes very strange and terrible. Snow and vapors; rather, vapor. The mist so often accompanying snowstorms is probably the "vapor" intended. Stormy wind fulfilling his word (comp. Psalm 107:25).
Mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars:
Verse 9. - Mountains, and all hills. The later psalmists are great admirers of" mountains." Perhaps the fiat and monotonous Babylonian plains led them to appreciate the beauties of a landscape like that of Palestine (comp. Psalm 83:14; Psalm 114:4, 6; Psalm 144:5; Psalm 147:8). Fruitful trees; rather, fruit trees; literally, trees of fruit. The Babylonian palms may have swept across the writer's remembrance; but probably the vine, the olive, and the fig, which were among the chief glories of Palestine, were in his mind principally. And all cedars. Babylonia had had no "cedars." When the exiles returned, the beauty of the cedar broke upon them as a sort of new revelation.
Beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl:
Verse 10. - Beasts, and all cattle. There is a gradual ascent - from inanimate to animate things, from the "beasts" of the field to domesticated animals; from such animals to man (vers. 11, 12). Creeping things (comp. Genesis 1:24, 25, 30; Psalm 104:25). And flying fowl; literally, bird of wing. The intention is to include, under a few heads, all animate creation.
Kings of the earth, and all people; princes, and all judges of the earth:
Verse 11. - Kings of the earth, and all people; rather, all peoples; or, all nations. Princes, and all judges of the earth. "Kings," "princes," and "judges" represent the upper classes of society; "peoples," or "nations," all the remainder. Together, they include the whole race of mankind.
Both young men, and maidens; old men, and children:
Verse 12. - Both young men, and maidens; old men, and children. All mar. bind, i.e., of each sex and of every age. The obligation to praise God lies upon all.
Let them praise the name of the LORD: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven.
Verse 13. - Let them praise the Name of the Lord. This is the burden of the entire psalm (see especially ver. 5, and comp. vers. 1-4, 7, and 14). For his Name alone is excellent; or, "exalted" (comp. Psalm 8:1; Isaiah 12:4). The exaltation of God's Name is effected mainly by the praises which his rational creatures render to him. His glory is above the earth and heaven. (On God's "glory," see Psalm 8:1; Psalm 19:1; Psalm 57:5, 11; Psalm 63:2; Psalm 89:17, etc.) "Earth and heaven" is an unusual phrase; the terms are commonly inverted. Here, perhaps, the order may be accounted for by the law of climax. "His glory is not only above the earth, but even above the heavens."
He also exalteth the horn of his people, the praise of all his saints; even of the children of Israel, a people near unto him. Praise ye the LORD.
Verse 14. - He also exalteth the horn of his people. Great as God is, his greatness does not separate him from his human creatures. On the contrary, it makes the union between himself and them closer. His might enables him to confer benefits on his people - to "exalt their horn;" i.e. to increase their glory and their strength, and set them up above their enemies. The praise of all his saints. The construction is doubtful. Some regard "praise" as in apposition with "horn," and understand that God, by exalting the "horn" (power) of his saints, exalts also their "praise" or "renown." Others imagine an ellipse, and translate, "Praise belongs to all his saints" (Kay); or, "Seemly is praise for all his saints" (Cheyne). Even of the children of Israel, a people near unto him. The "children of Israel" are nearer to God than others, since he has taken them to himself as his own peculiar people, and both "draws nigh" to them (Psalm 69:11), and draws them near to him (Jeremiah 30:21). Praise ye the Lord (comp. ver. 1).