O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.
Verse 1. - O come, let us sing unto the Lord. From this opening phrase, which finds an echo in vers. 2 and 6, this psalm has been called "The Invitatory Psalm." As it invited the Jews, so it now invites Christian congregations, to join in the worship of the sanctuary. Let us make a joyful noise to the Rock of our salvation (comp. Psalm 33:3; Psalm 98:4). Loudness of voice was regarded as indicating earnestness of heart (see 2 Chronicles 20:19; Ezra 3:13; Nehemiah 12:42, etc.). The expression, "Rock of our salvation" is taken from Deuteronomy 32:15 (comp. 2 Samuel 22:47; Psalm 89:26). It is well paraphrased in our Prayer book Version, "the strength of our salvation."
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.
Verse 2. - Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving. Our first duty, when we come before God's presence, is to thank him (see the Exhortation in the Order for Daily Prayer). And make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. A "psalm" is properly a "song of praise" - the natural concomitant of thanksgiving.
For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
Verse 3. - For the Lord is a great God. Thanks and praise are due to God, in the first place, because of his greatness (see Psalm cf. 2). "Who is so great a god as our God?" (Psalm 77:13); "His greatness is unsearchable" (Psalm 145:3). And a great King above all gods; i.e. "a goat King above all other so called gods" - above the great of the earth (Psalm 82:1, 6), above angels (Deuteronomy 10:17), above the imaginary gods of the heathen (Exodus 12:12, etc.).
In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also.
Verse 4. - In his hand are the deep places of the earth; the strength of the hills is his also; rather, the summits of the mountains are his also. The meaning is that all the earth is his, from the highest heights to the lowest depths.
The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land.
Verse 5. - The sea is his, and he made it (see Genesis 1:9; Psalm 104:24, 25). And his hands formed the dry land (see Genesis 1:9, 10).
O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.
Verse 6. - O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel. The outward and visible worship of the body is required of man, no less than the inward and spiritual worship of the soul. Before the Lord our Maker; i.e. "who has made us what we are - created us, redeemed us, taken us to be his people" (comp. Deuteronomy 32:6; Psalm 100:3; Psalm 102:18; Psalm 149:2; Isaiah 29:23; Isaiah 43:21; Isaiah 44:2, etc.).
For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice,
Verse 7a. - For he is our God. A second, and a more urgent, reason for worshipping God. Not only is he a "great God" (ver. 3), but he is also "our God" - our own God - brought into the closest personal relationship with us. And we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand (comp. Psalm 74:1; Psalm 79:13; Psalm 80:1, etc.). We are led by him, tended by him, fed by him, folded by him. We owe everything to his shepherding. Verses 7b-11. - The warning against waywardness. This is delivered in four, or rather four and a half, verses, and commences with the words, "Today if ye will hear his voice." Verse 7b. - Today. This word, standing prominently forward as it does, is a startling call, intimating that the time is come for a momentous decision. If ye will hear his voice. God is crying to his people - will they hear, or will they forbear? If the former, all will go well; if the latter, than assuredly they shall not enter into his rest. The "voice" intended proceeds to give the warning of vers. 8-11.
Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:
Verse 8. - Harden not your heart, as in the provocation; rather, as at Meribah (see Exodus 17:2-7). And as in the day of temptation in the wilderness; rather, and as in the day of Massah. The children of Israel "tempted" God, and "chided" with Moses at Massah (or Meribah) in the wilderness, where water was first given them out of the rock. Their descendants are warned not to follow the example of their forefathers.
When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work.
Verse 9. - When your fathers tempted me (see Exodus 17:2, 7). Proved me; or, "tested me" - put my power and goodness to the proof. And (rather, even) saw my work; i.e. "saw the water gush forth from the rock, when at my command Moses struck it" (Exodus 17:6).
Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways:
Verse 10. - Forty years long was I grieved with this generation; rather, with that generation - the generation that tempted God in the wilderness (see the Revised Version). And said, It is a people that do err in their heart; literally, a people of wanderers in heart are these; i.e. "not only are they a people whose feet wander (Psalm 107:4), but their hearts also have wandered and gone astray from my paths." And they have not known my ways. "My ways - the ways of my commandments - are unknown to them, untrodden by them."
Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.
Verse 11. - Unto whom I sware in my wrath; rather, so that that I sware in my wrath, or "wherefore I sware in my wrath" (for the oath itself, see Numbers 14:21-23; and comp. Deuteronomy 1:34, 35). That they should not enter into my rest. The "rest" originally intended was that of Canaan, when "the Lord gave rest unto Israel from all their enemies round about" (Joshua 23:1). But Canaan was a type of the heavenly rest; and the warning given to the Israel of his day by the present psalmist is to be regarded as a warning that, if they followed in the steps of their forefathers, they might miss of that final and crowning "rest," which, after the wilderness of this world is traversed, still "remaineth for the people of God" (see Hebrews 3:7-19; Hebrews 4:1-9).