Matthew Henry Complete CommentaryPsalms 145
on the Whole Bible
The five foregoing psalms were all of a piece, all full of prayers;
this, and the five that follow it to the end of the book, are all of a
piece too, all full of praises; and though only this is entitled
David's psalm yet we have no reason to think but that they were all his
as well as all the foregoing prayers. And it is observable,
1. That after five psalms of prayer follow six psalms of praise; for
those that are much in prayer shall not want matter for praise, and
those that have sped in prayer must abound in praise. Our thanksgivings
for mercy, when we have received it, should even exceed our
supplications for it when we were in pursuit of it. David, in the last
of his begging psalms, had promised to praise God
and here he performs his promise.
2. That the book of Psalms concludes with psalms of praise, all praise,
for praise, is the conclusion of the whole matter; it is that in which
all the psalms centre. And it intimates that God's people, towards the
end of their life, should abound much in praise, and the rather
because, at the end of their life, they hope to remove to the world of
everlasting praise, and the nearer they come to heaven the more they
should accustom themselves to the work of heaven. This is one of those
psalms which are composed alphabetically (as Ps. 25 and 34,
&c.), that it might be the more easily committed to memory, and kept in
mind. The Jewish writers justly extol this psalm as a star of the first
magnitude in this bright constellation; and some of them have an
extravagant saying concerning it, not much unlike some of the popish
superstitions, That whosoever will sing this psalm constantly three
times a day shall certainly be happy in the world to come. In this
I. David engages himself and others to praise God,
II. He fastens upon those things that are proper matter for praise,
the proofs of both in the administration of his kingdom
the kingdom of providence
the kingdom of grace
and then he concludes with a resolution to continue praising God
with which resolution our hearts must be filled, and in which they must
be fixed, in singing this psalm.
David's psalm of praise.
1 I will extol thee, my God, O
king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever.
2 Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for
ever and ever.
3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his
greatness is unsearchable.
4 One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall
declare thy mighty acts.
5 I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of
thy wondrous works.
6 And men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts: and
I will declare thy greatness.
7 They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness,
and shall sing of thy righteousness.
8 The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to
anger, and of great mercy.
9 The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over
all his works.
The entitling of this David's psalm of praise may intimate not
only that he was the penman of it, but that he took a particular
pleasure in it and sung it often; it was his companion wherever he
went. In this former part of the psalm God's glorious attributes are
praised, as, in the latter part of the psalm, his kingdom and the
administration of it. Observe,
I. Who shall be employed in giving glory to God.
1. Whatever others do, the psalmist will himself be much in praising
God. To this good work he here excites himself, engages himself, and
has his heart much enlarged in it. What he does, that he will do,
having more and more satisfaction in it. It was his duty; it was his
(1.) How he expresses the work itself: "I will extol thee, and bless
I will speak well of thee, as thou hast made thyself known, and will
therein express my own high thoughts of thee and endeavour to raise the
like in others." When we speak honourably of God, this is graciously
interpreted and accepted as an extolling of him. Again
I will bless thee, I will praise thy name; the repetition
intimates the fervency of his affection to this work, the fixedness of
his purpose to abound in it, and the frequency of his performances
I will speak of thy honour, and
I will declare thy greatness. He would give glory to God, not
only in his solemn devotions, but in his common conversation. If the
heart be full of God, out of the abundance of that the mouth will speak
with reverence, to his praise, upon all occasions. What subject of
discourse can we find more noble, more copious, more pleasant, useful,
and unexceptionable, than the glory of God?
(2.) How he expresses his resolution to persevere in it.
[1.] He will be constant to this work: Every day will I bless
thee. Praising God must be our daily work. No day must pass, though
ever so busy a day, though ever so sorrowful a day, without praising
God. We ought to reckon it the most needful of our daily employments,
and the most delightful of our daily comforts. God is every day
blessing us, doing well for us; there is therefore reason that we
should be every day blessing him, speaking well of him.
[2.] He will continue in it: I will bless thee for ever and
This intimates, First, That he resolved to continue in this work
to the end of his life, throughout his ever in this world.
Secondly, That the psalms he penned should be made use of in
praising God by the church to the end of time,
2 Chronicles 29:30.
Thirdly, That he hoped to be praising God to all eternity in the
other world. Those that make praise their constant work on earth shall
have it their everlasting bliss in heaven.
2. He doubts not but others also would be forward to this work.
(1.) "They shall concur in it now; they shall join with me in it: When
I declare thy greatness men shall speak of it
they shall abundantly utter it"
or pour it out (as the word is); they shall praise God with a
gracious fluency, better than the most curious oratory. David's zeal
would provoke many, and it has done so.
(2.) "They shall keep it up when I am gone, in an uninterrupted
One generation shall praise thy works to another." The
generation that is going off shall tell them to that which is rising
up, shall tell what they have seen in their days and what they have
heard from their fathers; they shall fully and particularly
declare thy mighty acts
and the generation that is rising up shall follow the example of that
which is going off: so that the death of God's worshippers shall be no
diminution of his worship, for a new generation shall rise up in their
room to carry on that good work, more or less, to the end of time, when
it shall be left to that world to do it in which there is no succession
II. What we must give to God the glory of.
1. Of his greatness and his great works. We must declare, Great is
the Lord, his presence infinite, his power irresistible, his
brightness insupportable, his majesty awful, his dominion boundless,
and his sovereignty incontestable; and therefore there is no dispute,
but great is the Lord, and, if great, then greatly to be
praised, with all that is within us, to the utmost of our power,
and with all the circumstances of solemnity imaginable. His greatness
indeed cannot be comprehended, for it is unsearchable; who can conceive
or express how great God is? But then it is so much the more to be
praised. When we cannot, by searching, find the bottom, we must sit
down at the brink, and adore the depth,
God is great, for,
(1.) His majesty is glorious in the upper world, above the heavens,
where he has set his glory; and when we are declaring his greatness we
must not fail to speak of the glorious honour of his majesty,
the splendour of the glory of his majesty
how brightly he shines in the upper world, so as to dazzle the eyes of
the angels themselves, and oblige them to cover their faces, as unable
to bear the lustre of it.
(2.) His works are wondrous in this lower world. The preservation,
maintenance, and government of all the creatures, proclaim the Creator
very great. When therefore we declare his greatness we must observe the
unquestionable proofs of it, and must declare his mighty acts
speak of his wondrous works
the might of his terrible acts,
We must see God acting and working in all the affairs of this lower
world. Various instruments are used, but in all events God is the
supreme director; it is he that performs all things. Much of his power
is seen in the operations of his providence (they are mighty
acts, such as cannot be paralleled by the strength of any
creature), and much of his justice--they are terrible acts,
awful to saints, dreadful to sinners. These we should take all
occasions to speak of, observing the finger of God, his hand, his arm,
in all, that we may marvel.
2. Of his goodness; this is his glory,
It is what he glories in
and it is what we must give him the glory of: They shall abundantly
utter the memory of thy great goodness,
God's goodness is great goodness, the treasures of it can never be
exhausted, nay, they can never be lessened, for he ever will be as rich
in mercy as he ever was. It is memorable goodness; it is what we ought
always to lay before us, always to have in mind and preserve the
memorials of, for it is worthy to be had in everlasting
remembrance; and the remembrance we retain of God's goodness we
should utter, we should abundantly utter, as those who are full
of it, very full of it, and desire that others may be acquainted and
affected with it. But, whenever we utter God's great goodness, we must
not forget, at the same time, to sing of his righteousness; for,
as he is gracious in rewarding those that serve him faithfully, so he
is righteous in punishing those that rebel against him. Impartial and
inflexible justice is as surely in God as inexhaustible goodness; and
we must sing of both together,
(1.) There is a fountain of goodness in God's nature
The Lord is gracious to those that serve him; he is full of
compassion to those that need him, slow to anger to those
that have offended him, and of great mercy to all that seek him
and sue to him. He is ready to give, and ready to forgive, more ready
than we are to ask, than we are to repent.
(2.) There are streams of goodness in all the dispensations of his
As he is good, so he does good; he is good to all, to all his
creatures, from the highest angel to the meanest worm, to all but
devils and damned sinners, that have shut themselves out from his
goodness. His tender mercies are over all his works.
[1.] All his works, all his creatures, receive the fruits of his
merciful care and bounty. It is extended to them all; he hates nothing
that he has made.
[2.] The works of his mercy out-shine all his other works, and declare
him more than any of them. In nothing will the glory of God be for ever
so illustrious as in the vessels of mercy ordained to glory. To the
divine goodness will the everlasting hallelujahs of all the saints be
10 All thy works shall praise thee, O LORD; and thy saints
shall bless thee.
11 They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of
12 To make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the
glorious majesty of his kingdom.
13 Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion
endureth throughout all generations.
14 The LORD upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those
that be bowed down.
15 The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their
meat in due season.
16 Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every
17 The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his
18 The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all
that call upon him in truth.
19 He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also
will hear their cry, and will save them.
20 The LORD preserveth all them that love him: but all the
wicked will he destroy.
21 My mouth shall speak the praise of the LORD: and let all
flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever.
The greatness and goodness of him who is optimus et
maximus--the best and greatest of beings, were celebrated in
the former part of the psalm; here, in these verses, we are taught to
give him the glory of his kingdom, in the administration of
which his greatness and goodness shine so clearly, so very brightly.
Observe, as before,
I. From whom the tribute of praise is expected
All God's works shall praise him. They all minister to us
matter for praise, and so praise him according to their capacity; even
those that refuse to give him honour he will get himself honour upon.
But his saints do bless him, not only as they have
peculiar blessings from him, which other creatures have not, but as
they praise him actively, while his other works praise him only
objectively. They bless him, for they collect the rent or tribute of
praise from the inferior creatures, and pay it into the treasury above.
All God's works do praise him, as the beautiful building praises the
builder or the well-drawn picture praises the painter; but the saints
bless him as the children of prudent tender parents rise up and call
them blessed. Of all God's works, his saints, the workmanship of his
grace, the first-fruits of his creatures, have most reason to bless
II. For what this praise is to be given: They shall speak of thy
kingdom. The kingdom of God among men is a thing to be often
thought of and often spoken of. As, before, he had magnified God's
greatness and goodness in general, so here he magnifies them with
application to his kingdom. Consider then,
1. The greatness of his kingdom. It is great indeed, for all the kings
and kingdoms of the earth are under his control. To show the greatness
of God's kingdom, he observes,
(1.) The pomp of it. Would we by faith look within the veil, we should
see, and, believing, we should speak of the glory of his kingdom
the glorious majesty of it
for he has prepared his throne in the heavens, and it is high and
lifted up, and surrounded with an innumerable company of angels. The
courts of Solomon and Ahasuerus were magnificent; but, compared with
the glorious majesty of God's kingdom, they were but as glow-worms to
the sun. The consideration of this should strike an awe upon us in all
our approaches to God.
(2.) The power of it: When they speak of the glory of God's
kingdom they must talk of his power, the extent of
it, the efficacy of it--his power, by which he can do any thing and
does every thing he pleases
and, as a proof of it, let them make known his mighty acts
that the sons of men may be invited to yield themselves his
willing subjects and so put themselves under the protection of such a
(3.) The perpetuity of it,
The thrones of earthly princes totter, and the flowers of their crowns
wither, monarchies come to an end; but, Lord, thy kingdom is an
everlasting kingdom. God will govern the world to the end of time,
when the Mediator, who is now entrusted with the administration of his
kingdom, shall deliver it up to God, even the Father, that he may be
all in all to eternity. His dominion endures throughout all
generations, for he himself is eternal, and his counsels are
unchangeable and uniform; and Satan, who has set up a kingdom in
opposition to him, is conquered and in a chain.
2. The goodness of his kingdom. His royal style and title are, The
Lord God, gracious and merciful; and his government answers to his
title. The goodness of God appears in what he does,
(1.) For all the creatures in general
He provides food for all flesh, and therein appears his
All the creatures live upon God, and, as they had their being from him
at first, so from him they have all the supports of their being and on
him they depend for the continuance of it.
[1.] The eye of their expectation attends upon him: The eyes of all
wait on thee. The inferior creatures indeed have not the knowledge
of God, nor are capable of it, and yet they are said to wait upon
God, because they seek their food according to the instinct which
the God of nature has put into them (and they sow not, neither do
and because they take what the God of nature has provided for them, in
the time and way that he has appointed, and are content with it.
[2.] The hand of his bounty is stretched out to them: Thou givest
them their meat in due season, the meat proper for them, and in the
proper time, when they need it; so that none of the creatures
ordinarily perish for want of food, no, not in the winter. Thou
openest thy hand freely and liberally, and satisfiest the desire
of every living thing, except some of the unreasonable children of
men, that will be satisfied with nothing, but are still complaining,
still crying, Give, give.
(2.) For the children of men in particular, whom he governs as
[1.] He does none of them any wrong, for
the Lord is righteous in all his ways, and not unrighteous in
any of them; he is holy, and acts like himself, with a perfect
rectitude in all his works. In all the acts of government he is
just, injurious to none, but administering justice to all. The ways
of the lord are equal, though ours are unequal. In giving laws, in
deciding controversies, in recompensing services, and punishing
offences, he is incontestably just, and we are bound to own that he is
[2.] He does all of them good, his own people in a special manner.
First, He supports those that are sinking, and it is his honour
to help the weak,
He upholds all that fall, in that, though they fall, they are
not utterly cast down. Many of the children of men are brought very low
by sickness and other distresses, and seem ready to drop into the
grave, and yet Providence wonderfully upholds them, raises them up, and
If all had died who once seemed dying, the world would have been very
thin. Many of the children of God, who have been ready to fall into
sin, to fall into despair, have experienced his goodness in preventing
their falls, or recovering them speedily by his graces and comforts, so
that, though they fell, they were not utterly cast down,
If those who were bowed down by oppression and affliction are
raised up, it was God that raised them. And, with respect to all
those that are heavy-laden under the burden of sin, if they come
to Christ by faith, he will ease them, he will raise them.
Secondly, He is very ready to hear and answer the prayers of his
In this appears the grace of his kingdom, that his subjects have not
only liberty of petitioning, but all the encouragement that can be to
1. The grant is very rich, that God will be nigh to all that call
upon him; he will be always within call of their prayers, and they
shall always find themselves within reach of his help. If a
neighbour that is near is better than a brother afar off
much more a God that is near. Nay, he will not only be nigh to
them, that they may have the satisfaction of being heard, but he
will fulfil their desires; they shall have what they ask and
find that they seek. It was said
that he satisfies the desire of every living thing, much more
will he fulfil the desire of those that fear him; for he that
feeds his birds will not starve his babes. He will hear their call
and will save them; that is hearing them to purpose, as he heard
David (that is, saved him) from the horn of the unicorn,
2. The proviso is very reasonable. He will hear and help us,
(1.) If we fear him, if we worship and serve him with a holy awe
of him; for otherwise how can we expect that he should accept us?
(2.) If we call upon him in truth; for he desires truth in the
inward part. We must be faithful to God, and sincere in our
professions of dependence on him, and devotedness to him. In all
devotions inward impressions must be answerable to the outward
expressions, else they are not performed in truth.
Thirdly, He takes those under his special protection who have a
confidence and complacency in him
The Lord preserves all those that love him; they lie exposed in
this world, but he, by preserving them in their integrity, will
effectually secure them, that no real evil shall befal them.
[3.] If any are destroyed they may thank themselves: All the wicked
he will destroy, but they have by their wickedness fitted
themselves for destruction. This magnifies his goodness in the
protection of the righteous, that with their eyes they shall see the
reward of the wicked
and God will by this means preserve his people, even by destroying the
wicked that would do them a mischief.
Lastly, The psalmist concludes,
1. With a resolution to give glory to God himself
My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord. When we have said
what we can, in praising God, still there is more to be said, and
therefore we must not only begin our thanksgivings with this purpose,
as he did
but conclude them with it, as he does here, because we shall presently
have occasion to begin again. As the end of one mercy is the beginning
of another, so should the end of one thanksgiving be. While I have
breath to draw, my mouth shall still speak God's praises.
2. With a call to others to do so too: Let all flesh, all
mankind, bless his holy name for ever and ever. Some of mankind
shall be blessing God for ever; it is a pity but that they should be
all so engaged.