This is one of the Hallelujah-psalms; that is the title of it, and that
is the Amen of it, both its Alpha and its Omega.
I. It begins with a call to praise God, particularly a call to the
"servants of the Lord" to praise him, as in the foregoing psalm,
II. It goes on to furnish us with matter for praise. God is to be
1. As the God of Jacob,
2. As the God of gods,
3. As the God of the whole world,
4. As a terrible God to the enemies of Israel,
5. As a gracious God to Israel, both in what he had done for them and
what he would do,
6. As the only living God, all other gods being vanity and a lie,
III. It concludes with another exhortation to all persons concerned to
In singing this psalm our hearts must be filled, as well as our mouths,
with the high praises of God.
|Majesty and Goodness of God.
1 Praise ye the LORD. Praise ye the name of the LORD; praise
him, O ye servants of the LORD.
2 Ye that stand in the house of the LORD, in the courts of the
house of our God,
3 Praise the LORD; for the LORD is good: sing praises unto
his name; for it is pleasant.
4 For the LORD hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for
his peculiar treasure.
1. The duty we are called to--to praise the Lord, to praise
his name; praise him, and again praise him. We must not only
thank him for what he has done for us, but praise him for what he is in
himself and has done for others; take all occasions to speak well of
God and to give his truths and ways a good word.
2. The persons that are called upon to do this--the servants of the
Lord, the priests and Levites that stand in his house, and
all the devout and pious Israelites that stand in the courts of his
house to worship there,
Those that have most reason to praise God who are admitted to the
privileges of his house, and those see most reason who there behold his
beauty and taste his bounty; from them it is expected, for to that end
they enjoy their places. Who should praise him if they do not?
3. The reasons why we should praise God.
(1.) Because he whom we are to praise is good, and goodness is
that which every body will speak well of. He is good to all, and we
must give him the praise of that. His goodness is his glory, and we
must make mention of it to his glory.
(2.) Because the work is its own wages: Sing praises to his name,
for it is pleasant. It is best done with a cheerful spirit, and we
shall have the pleasure of having done our duty. It is a heaven upon
earth to be praising God; and the pleasure of that should quite put our
mouths out of taste for the pleasures of sin.
(3.) Because of the peculiar privileges of God's people
The Lord hath chosen Jacob to himself, and therefore Jacob is
bound to praise him; for therefore God chose a people to himself
that they might be unto him for a name and a praise
and therefore Jacob has abundant matter for praise, being thus
dignified and distinguished. Israel is God's peculiar
treasure above all people
they are his Segullah, a people appropriated to him, and that he
has a delight in, precious in his sight and honourable. For this
distinguishing surprising favour, if the seed of Jacob do not praise
him, they are the most unworthy ungrateful people under the sun.
|Majesty and Goodness of God.
5 For I know that the LORD is great, and that our Lord is
above all gods.
6 Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in
earth, in the seas, and all deep places.
7 He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth;
he maketh lightnings for the rain; he bringeth the wind out of
8 Who smote the firstborn of Egypt, both of man and beast.
9 Who sent tokens and wonders into the midst of thee, O
Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his servants.
10 Who smote great nations, and slew mighty kings;
11 Sihon king of the Amorites, and Og king of Bashan, and all
the kingdoms of Canaan:
12 And gave their land for a heritage, a heritage unto
Israel his people.
13 Thy name, O LORD, endureth for ever; and thy memorial, O
LORD, throughout all generations.
14 For the LORD will judge his people, and he will repent
himself concerning his servants.
The psalmist had suggested to us the goodness of God, as the proper
matter of our cheerful praises; here he suggests to us the greatness of
God as the proper matter of our awful praises; and on this he is most
copious, because this we are less forward to consider.
I. He asserts the doctrine of God's greatness
The Lord is great, great indeed, who knows no limits of time or
place. He asserts it with assurance, "I know that he is so; know it not
only by observation of the proofs of it, but by belief of the
revelation of it. I know it; I am sure of it; I know it by my own
experience of the divine greatness working on my soul." He asserts it
with a holy defiance of all pretenders, though they should join in
confederacy against him. He is not only above any god, but above all
gods, infinitely above them, between him and them there is no
II. He proves him to be a great God by the greatness of his power,
1. He has an absolute power, and may do what he will: Whatsoever the
Lord pleased, that did he, and none could control him, or say unto
him, What doest thou? He does what he pleases, because he
pleases, and gives not an account of any of his matters.
2. He has an almighty power and can do what he will; if he will work,
none shall hinder.
3. This absolute almighty power is of universal extent; he does what he
will in heaven, in earth, in the seas, and in all the deep
places that are in the bottom of the sea or the bowels of the
earth. The gods of the heathen can do nothing; but our God can do any
thing and does do every thing.
III. He gives instances of his great power,
1. In the kingdom of nature,
All the powers of nature prove the greatness of the God of nature, from
whom they are derived and on whom they depend. The chain of natural
causes was not only framed by him at first, but is still preserved by
(1.) It is by his power that exhalations are drawn up from the
terraqueous globe. The heat of the sun raises them, but it has that
power from God, and therefore it is given as an instance of the glory
of God that nothing is hidden from the heat of the sun,
He causes the vapours to ascend (not only unhelped, but unseen,
by us) from the earth, from the ends of the earth, that is, from
the seas, by which the earth is surrounded.
(2.) It is he who, out of those vapours so raised, forms the rain, so
that the earth is no loser by the vapours it sends up, for they are
returned with advantage in fruitful showers.
(3.) Out of the same vapours (such is his wonderful power) he makes
lightnings or the rain; by them he opens the bottles of heaven, and
shakes the clouds, that they may water the earth. Here are fire and
water thoroughly reconciled by divine omnipotence. They come together,
and yet the water does not quench the fire, nor the fire lick up the
water, as fire from heaven did when God pleased,
1 Kings 18:38.
(4.) The same exhalations, to serve another purpose, are converted into
winds, which blow where they list, from what point of the compass they
will, and we are so far from directing them that we cannot tell whence
they come nor whither they go, but God brings them out of his
treasuries with as much exactness and design as a prudent prince
orders money to issue out of his exchequer.
2. In the kingdoms of men; and here he mentions the great things God
had formerly done for his people Israel, which were proofs of God's
greatness as well as of his goodness, and confirmations of the truth of
the scriptures of the Old Testament, which began to be written by
Moses, the person employed in working those miracles. Observe God's
sovereign dominion and irresistible power,
(1.) In bringing Israel out of Egypt, humbling Pharaoh by many plagues,
and so forcing him to let them go. These plagues are called
tokens and wonders, because they came not in the common
course of providence, but there was something miraculous in each of
them. They were sent upon Pharaoh and all his servants, his
subjects; but the Israelites, whom God claimed for his servants, his
son, his first-born, his free-born, were exempted from them, and no
plague came nigh their dwelling. The death of the first-born both of
men and cattle was the heaviest of all the plagues, and that which
gained the point.
(2.) In destroying the kingdoms of Canaan before them,
Those that were in possession of the land designed for Israel had all
possible advantages for keeping possession. The people were numerous,
and warlike, and confederate against Israel. They were great nations.
Yet, if a great nation has a meek and mean-spirited prince, it lies
exposed; but these great nations had mighty kings, and yet they
were all smitten and slain--Sihon and Og, and all the
kingdoms of Canaan,
No power of hell or earth can prevent the accomplishment of the promise
of God when the time, the set time, for it has come.
(3.) In settling them in the land of promise. He that gives kingdoms to
whomsoever he pleases gave Canaan to be a heritage to Israel his
people. It came to them by inheritance, for their ancestors had the
promise of it, though not the possession; and it descended as an
inheritance to their seed. This was done long before, yet God is now
praised for it; and with good reason, for the children were now
enjoying the benefit of it.
IV. He triumphs in the perpetuity of God's glory and grace.
1. Of his glory
Thy name, O God! endures for ever. God's manifestations of
himself to his people have everlasting fruits and consequences. What
God doeth it shall be for ever,
His name endures for ever in the constant and everlasting praises of
his people; his memorial endures, has endured hitherto, and shall still
endure throughout all generations of the church. This seems to refer to
where, when God had called himself the God of Abraham, Isaac, and
Jacob, he adds, This is my name for ever and this is my memorial
unto all generations. God is, and will be, always the same to his
church, a gracious, faithful, wonder-working God; and his church is,
and will be, the same to him, a thankful praising people; and thus his
name endures for ever.
2. Of his grace. He will be kind to his people.
(1.) He will plead their cause against others that contend with them.
He will judge his people, that is, he will judge for them, and
will not suffer them to be run down.
(2.) He will not himself contend for ever with them, but will repent
himself concerning his servants, and not proceed in his controversy
with them; he will be entreated for them, or he will be comforted
concerning them; he will return in ways of mercy to them and will
delight to do them good.
is taken from the song of Moses,
15 The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of
16 They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but
they see not;
17 They have ears, but they hear not; neither is there any
breath in their mouths.
18 They that make them are like unto them: so is every one
that trusteth in them.
19 Bless the LORD, O house of Israel: bless the LORD, O house
20 Bless the LORD, O house of Levi: ye that fear the LORD,
bless the LORD.
21 Blessed be the LORD out of Zion, which dwelleth at
Jerusalem. Praise ye the LORD.
The design of these verses is,
I. To arm the people of God against idolatry and all false worship, by
showing what sort of gods they were that the heathen worshipped, as we
had it before,
1. They were gods of their own making; being so, they could have no
power but what their makers gave them, and then what power could their
makers receive from them? The images were the work of men's
hands, and the deities that were supposed to inform them were as
much the creatures of men's fancy and imagination.
2. They had the shape of animals, but could not perform the least act,
no, not of the animal life. They could neither see, nor
hear, nor speak, nor so much as breathe; and
therefore to make them with eyes, and ears, and
mouths, and nostrils, was such a jest that one would
wonder how reasonable creatures could suffer themselves to be so
imposed upon as to expect any good from such mock-deities.
3. Their worshippers were therefore as stupid and senseless as they
were, both those that made them to be worshipped and those that trusted
in them when they were made,
The worshipping of such gods as were the objects of sense, and
senseless, made the worshippers sensual and senseless. Let our
worshipping a God that is a Spirit make us spiritual and wise.
II. To stir up the people of God to true devotion in the worship of the
The more deplorable the condition of the Gentile nations that worship
idols is the more are we bound to thank God that we know better.
1. Let us set ourselves about the acts of devotion, and employ
ourselves in them: Bless the Lord, and again and again, bless
the Lord. In the parallel place
by way of inference from the impotency of idols, the duty thus pressed
upon us is to trust in the Lord; here to bless him; by
putting our trust in God we give glory to him, and those that depend
upon God shall not want matter of thanksgiving to him. All persons that
knew God are here called to praise him--the house of Israel (the
nation in general), the house of Aaron and the house of
Levi (the Lord's ministers that attended in his sanctuary), and all
others that feared the Lord, though they were not of the house
2. Let God have the glory of all: Blessed be the Lord. The
tribute of praise arises out of Zion. All God's works do praise
him, but his saints bless him; and they need not go far to pay their
tribute, for he dwells in Jerusalem, in his church, which they
are members of, so that he is always nigh unto them to receive their
homage. The condescensions of his grace, in dwelling with men upon the
earth, call for our grateful and thankful returns, and our repeated