God is celebrated for his wondrous works, 1,2; for the exact fulfilment of his gracious promises, 3. The manner in which he is to be praised, 4-6. Inanimate creation called to bear a part in this concert, 7,8. The justice of his judgments, 9.
NOTES ON PSALM XCVIII
In the Hebrew this is simply termed mizmor, a Psalm. In the Chaldee, A prophetic Psalm. In the Vulgate, Septuagint, AEthiopic, A Psalm of David. In the Syriac it is attributed to David, and stated to be composed concerning the "Restoration of the Israelites from Egypt; but is to be understood spiritually of the advent of the Messiah, and the vocation of the Gentiles to the Christian faith."
The Psalm in its subject is very like the ninety-sixth. It was probably written to celebrate the deliverance from the Babylonish captivity; but is to be understood prophetically of the redemption of the world by Jesus Christ.
A new song
A song of excellence. Give him the highest praise. See on Psalms 96:1.
Hath done marvellous things
niphlaoth, "miracles, " the same word as in Psalms 96:3, where we translate it wonders.
His holy arm
His Almighty power,-
Hath gotten him the victory.
hoshiah llo, "hath made salvation to himself."
Made known his salvation
He has delivered his people in such a way as to show that it was supernatural, and that their confidence in the unseen God was not in vain.
He hath remembered his mercy
His gracious promises to their forefathers.
And his truth
Faithfully accomplishing what he had promised. All this was fulfilled under the Gospel.
With-the voice of a Psalm.
I think zimrah, which we translate Psalm, means either a musical instrument, or a species of ode modulated by different voices.
chatsotseroth. Some kind of tubular instruments, of the form and management of which we know nothing.
And sound of cornet
shophar, the word commonly used for what we call trumpet.
Let the sea roar
These are either fine poetic images; or, if we take them as referring to the promulgation of the Gospel, by the sea all maritime countries and commercial nations may be intended.
Let the floods clap their hands
neharoth, properly the rivers-possibly meaning immense continents, where only large rivers are found; thus including inland people, as well as maritime nations, and those on the sea-coasts generally; as in those early times little more than the coasts of the sea were known. The Gospel shall be preached in the most secluded nations of the world.
Let the hills be joyful
All the inhabitants of rocky and mountainous countries.
For he cometh to judge the earth
He comes to make known his salvation, and show his merciful designs to all the children of men.
With righteousness shall he judge the world
His word shall not be confined; all shall know him, from the least to the greatest: he shall show that he is loving to every man, and hateth nothing that he hath made. See the notes on Psalms 96:10-13. There is a very great similarity between this Psalm and the Song or Magnificat of the Blessed Virgin. I shall note some of the parallels, chiefly from Bishop Nicholson.
This Psalm is an evident prophecy of Christ's coming to save the world; and what is here foretold by David is, in the Blessed Virgin's song, chanted forth as being accomplished. David is the Voice, and Mary is the Echo.
1. DAVID. "O sing unto the Lord a new song." (The Voice.)
MARY. "My soul doth magnify the Lord." (The Echo.)
2. DAVID. "He hath done marvellous things." (The Voice.)
MARY. "He that is mighty hath done great things." (The Echo.)
3. DAVID. "With his own right hand and holy arm hath he gotten himself the victory." (The Voice.)
MARY. "He hath showed strength with his arm and scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts." (The Echo.)
4. DAVID. "The Lord hath made known his salvation; his righteousness hath he openly showed," (The Voice.)
MARY. "His mercy is on them that fear him, from generation to generation." (The Echo.)
5. DAVID. "He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel." (The Voice.)
MARY. "He hath holpen his servant Israel in remembrance of his mercy." (The Echo.)
These parallels are very striking; and it seems as if Mary had this Psalm in her eye when she composed her song of triumph. And this is a farther argument that the whole Psalm, whether it record the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, or the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, is yet to be ultimately understood of the redemption of the world by Jesus Christ, and the proclamation of his Gospel through all the nations of the earth: and taken in this view, no language can be too strong, nor poetic imagery too high, to point out the unsearchable riches of Christ.
ANALYSIS OF THE NINETY-EIGHTH PSALM
This Psalm has the two following parts:-
I. An exhortation to sing to the Lord, and the reasons of it, Psalms 98:1-3.
II. A new invitation to praise him, and that it be universal, Psalms 98:4-9.
I. He calls upon them to praise God: 1. Sing-a song or hymn, to the Lord-and to none other. A new song-a song of excellency.
For this exhortation and command he gives the reasons. His work was a work of power and holiness.
1. "He hath done marvellous things." He has opened his greatness and goodness in the work of redemption. What marvels has not Christ done? 1. He was conceived by the Holy Ghost. 2. Born of a virgin. 3. Healed all manner of diseases. 4. Fed thousands with a few loaves and fishes. 5. Raised the dead. 6. And what was more marvellous, died himself. 7. Rose again by his own power. 8. Ascended to heaven. 9. Sent down the Holy Ghost. 10. And made his apostles and their testimony the instruments of enlightening, and ultimately converting, the world.
2. "His right hand and his holy arm hath got him the victory." 1. It was all his own work, whatever were the instruments; for without his energy they could do nothing. 2. It was his holy arm-no bloody sword, but a holy hand, to do a holy work. 3. "He got himself the victory" over sin, Satan, death, and hell.
3. This salvation was made known:-1. By himself to the Jews. 2. By his apostles to all nations.
4. This salvation has been applied. 1. He hath showed his righteousness-his method of justifying sinners through his own blood, and sanctifying them by his own Spirit. 2. This he hath openly showed, plainly revealing the whole in his Gospel. 3. He has done this in the sight of the heathen, calling them to be partakers of the same salvation promised to Abraham and to his posterity, both Jews and Gentiles.
5. That which moved him to do this; his mercy, and truth: 1. "He hath remembered his mercy." This mercy was to the house of Israel, and through them to the Gentiles; for the Gentiles were the first in the promise and covenant. There was no Jew when the covenant was made with Abraham: it was made with him while he was yet in uncircumcision; consequently the Gentiles, the whole human race, were originally included in that covenant. The descendants of Jacob were made depositaries of it for a season; but they, not having benefited by it, were rejected, and the salvation of Christ was given to the Gentiles, for whom it was originally intended, and who have kept the faith, and are daily profiting by it. 2. It is called mercy; for it was the merest mercy that said: "The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head." 3. He remembered this, it was never out of the Divine mind; "Jesus was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." 4. As this mercy was intended for every human soul; so it is here prophectically said: "All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God." This Gospel has been preached, is now in the course of being preached, and shortly will be preached to every people under heaven.
II. A new invitation to praise God; and to do this in every possible way.
1. "Make a joyful noise." Jump for joy, because of this most glorious news.
2. As all are interested in it, so let all do it: "All the earth."
3. In all possible ways. With harp, psaltery, trumpet, cornet; with vocal, chordal, and pneumatic music. But it is the joyful music, the heart music, which the Lord seeks.
4. "Before the Lord." In his immediate presence. Let all be sincere, pure, and holy. Remember the eye of the Lord is upon you: do not draw near with your lips, pipes, or stringed instruments, while your hearts are far from him.
5. And to make the music full, as if the inanimate creation had ears and hands to give an applause at the relation, and feet to dance because of it, he says: "Let the sea roar, the floods clap their hands, and the hills be joyful together."
And for all this he gives a reason, with which he concludes: "For he cometh to judge the earth;" which may be referred to his first and second coming.
1. If to the first, then the sense is-Let all creatures rejoice because he comes to judge, that is, to enlighten, order, and govern the world. For this purpose he was incarnated, suffered, died, and rose again for the redemption of mankind; and has sent his holy Gospel to enlighten the world, and his Spirit to apply its truths to the hearts of men.
2. If we consider this as referring to his last coming, then let all men rejoice, as he comes to destroy evil, to root out incorrigible sinners, and to make a new heaven and a new earth.
3. All this shall be done with that rectitude of judgment, that there shall be nothing crooked, oblique, or savouring of iniquity in it: "For he shall judge the world, and the people with equity."