C.H. Spurgeons's The Treasury of David
Verse 9. I will sing a new song unto thee, O God. Weary of the false, I will adore the true. Fired with fresh enthusiasm, my gratitude shall make a new channel for itself. I will sing as others have done; but it shall be a new song, such as no others have sung. That song shall be all and altogether for my God: I will extol none but the Lord, from whom my deliverance has come.
Upon a psaltery and an instrument of ten strings will I sing praises unto thee. His hand should aid his tongue, not as in the case of the wicked, cooperating in deceit; but his hand should unite with his mouth in truthful praise. David intended to tune his best instruments as well as to use his best vocal music: the best is all too poor for so great a God, and therefore we must not fall short of our utmost. He meant to use many instruments of music, that by all means he might express his great joy in God. The Old Testament dispensation abounded in types, and figures, and outward ritual, and therefore music dropped naturally into its place in the "worldly sanctuary"; but, after all, it can do no more than represent praise, and assist our expression of it; the real praise is in the heart, the true music is that of the soul. When music drowns the voice, and artistic skill takes a higher place than hearty singing, it is time that instruments were banished from public worship; but when they are subordinate to the song, as here, it is not for us to prohibit them, or condemn those who use them, though we ourselves greatly prefer to do without them, since it seems to us that the utmost simplicity of praise is far more congruous with the spirit of the gospel than pomp of organs. The private worshipper, singing his solo unto the Lord, has often found it helpful to accompany himself on some familiar instrument, and of this David in the present psalm is an instance, for he says, "I will sing praise unto thee", -- that is, not so much in the company of others as by himself alone. He saith not "we", but "I."
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 9. Psaltery -- an instrument of ten strings. Nebelazor. We are led to the conclusion that the nebel was the veritable harp of the Hebrews. It could not have been large, because it is so frequently mentioned in the Bible as being carried in processions ... The English translators render nebel (apparently without any special reason) by no less than four words;
- viol. The first of these is by far the most common in the Authorized Version, and is no doubt the most correct translation if the word be understood in its true sense as a portable harp. Nebels were made of fir wood, and afterwards of almug, or algum, which was, perhaps, the red sandalwood of India ... With nebel is often associated the word azor, which is traced to a root signifying ten, and which has therefore been rendered in the Septuagint by by en dekacordw or as yalthrion dekacordon, (psalterium decem chordarum) or in dechachordo psalterio in the Vulgate. In the Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic versions also are found words implying the existence of ten strings in the nebelazor. The word azor may therefore be considered as qualifying or describing the special kind of nebel to be used, much in the same way as we now speak of a trichord pianoforte. It is in our English version always rendered by the words "ten stringed." --John Stainer, in "The Music of the Bible", 1882.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 9. For God's Ear.
- The Singer. A grateful heart.
- The Song. Full of Praise. New.
- The Accompaniment: "Psaltery." Helps to devotion. Give God the best.
- The Auditor and Object of the eulogium: "Thee, O God." --W.B.H.