Praise ye the LORD. Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints.
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.
Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.
Verse 2. - Let Israel rejoice in him that made him; or, "in his Maker" (comp. Psalm 95:6). This ground of thankfulness Israel possesses in common with all the rest of mankind; but he has also another exclusive ground - let the children of Zion be joyful in their King (comp. Judges 8:23; 1 Samuel 8:7; 1 Samuel 10:19; 1 Samuel 12:12, etc.). God, by covenant with Israel, had constituted himself in an especial way their King (Hosea 13:10).
Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.
Verse 3. - Let them praise his Name in the dance (comp. Psalm 150:4). (On the employment of dancing by the Hebrews as a religious exercise, and in their most solemn acts of worship, see Exodus 15:20; 2 Samuel 6:14-160. Let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp. (On the toph, or "timbrel," see the comment upon Psalm 68:25). It was used to accompany a hymn of rejoicing by Miriam (Exodus 15:20), by Jephthah's daughter (Judges 11:34), and by David (2 Samuel 6:5).
For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation.
Verse 4. - For the Lord taketh pleasure in his people. God had shown by the mercy, whatever it was (ver. 1), recently vouchsafed to his people, that he was well pleased with them, and might be counted on to support and sustain them. He will beautify the meek with salvation. Those who patiently submit to his chastisements God will ultimately "adorn," or "beautify," with his salvation.
Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds.
Verse 5. - Let the saints be joyful in glory. Therefore let God's saints at the present time - his restored people, who have just had a fresh deliverance - rejoice, in the "glory" that covers them - rejoice and give God thanks for it. Let them sing aloud upon their beds. Not, as in former days, weeping through the long night (Psalm 6:6; Psalm 77:2-6), and watering their couches with their tears, but, like Paul and Silas (Acts 16:25), singing hymns of praise to God "at midnight" as they rest upon their beds.
Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a twoedged sword in their hand;
Verse 6. - Let the high praises of God be in their mouth; literally, in their throat (comp. Isaiah 58:1). And a two-edged sword in their hand. Some understand this metaphorically. But the weapons of Jewish warfare in Nehemiah's time were thoroughly carnal (Nehemiah 4:13, 16, 17, 18); and against adversaries such as Sanbailat, Geshem, and Tobiah, a nation threatened with extermination is certainly entitled to use the sword.
To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people;
Verse 7. - To execute vengeance upon the heathen. Not private revenge, but the just vengeance which a threatened nation has, from time to time, to execute on its persecutors in self-defense. And punishments upon the people; rather, upon the peoples. A variant of the phrase in the preceding clause, without any serious modification of the meaning.
To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron;
Verse 8. - To bind their kings with chains. Even royal captives were thus treated in the ancient world. Assyrian and Babylonian monarchs always represent their captives, even when kings, as fettered. Nebuchadnezzar "bound Zedekiah with fetters of brass" (2 Kings 25:7). Parthia, and later Persia, and even Rome, followed the same practice. And their nobles with fetters of iron. On the monuments, cap-fives below the rank of kings are not often seen "fettered." Their arms, however, are frequently tied together with a cord, and they are fastened one to another by a stout rope.
To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the LORD.
Verse 9. - To execute upon them the judgment written. The allusion is probably to Deuteronomy 32:41, 42, where God announces the judgments that he will execute upon the oppressors of his people. This honor have all his saints; rather, a glory is this to all his saints. "The victories of their Lord reflect glory on all his faithful and devoted servants" (Kay.). Praise ye the Lord (comp. ver. 1).