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This is the first of the Psalms called Hallelujah Psalms, of which there are five, and which conclude the book. No author's name is prefixed to this, either in the Hebrew or Chaldee. But the Syriac, Vulgate, Septuagint, AEthiopic, and Arabic, attribute it to Haggai and Zechariah. It was probably written after the captivity, and may refer to the time when Cyrus, prejudiced by the enemies of the Jews, withdrew his order for the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem, to which revocation of the royal edict the third verse may refer: Put not your trust in princes, &c.
Verse Psalms 146:2. While I live will I praise — The true feeling of a heart overpowered with a sense of God's goodness.
While I have any being. — בעודי beodi, in my continuance, in my progression, my eternal existence. This is very expressive.
Verse Psalms 146:3. Put not your trust in princes — This may refer, as has been stated above, to Cyrus, who had revoked his edict for the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Perhaps they had begun to suppose that they were about to owe their deliverance to the Persian king. God permitted this change in the disposition of the king, to teach them the vanity of confidence in men, and the necessity of trusting in himself.
Verse Psalms 146:4. His breath goeth forth — His existence depends merely, under God, on the air he breathes. When he ceases to respire he ceases to live; his body from that moment begins to claim its affinity to the earth; and all his thoughts, purposes, and projects, whether good or evil, come to nought and perish. He, then, who has no other dependence, must necessarily be miserable.
Verse Psalms 146:5. Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help — While he that trusts in man is miserable, he that trusts in God is happy. In the son of man, בן אדם ben Adam, there is no help, תשועה teshuah, no saving principle. Every son of Adam naturally comes into the world without this, and must continue so till the Lord open the eyes of the blind, Psalms 146:8; but a measure of light is given from that true Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. This son of Adam returns to his earth, לאדמתו leadmatho, to the ground, from which he was taken; this refers directly to Genesis 2:7; Genesis 3:19. But he that has the God for his help who helped Jacob in his distress, and was with him, and sustained him in and through all adversities, can never be destitute; for this God changes not; he lives for ever, and his projects cannot perish. He has purposed that Israel shall be delivered from this captivity. Cyrus may change, but God will not; trust therefore in HIM. He has all power; he made heaven and earth; he has them under his government and at his disposal; and should earth itself fail, heaven endures. And he keeps his truth for ever; and therefore his promises must be fulfilled to them that trust in him. Fear not.
Verse Psalms 146:7. Which executeth judgment for the oppressed — For those who suffer by violence or calumny. This may refer to the Israelites, who suffered much by oppression from the Babylonians, and by calumny from the Samaritans, &c., who had prejudiced the king of Persia against them.
Giving food to the hungry. — No doubt he fed the poor captives by many displays of his peculiar providence.
The Lord looseth the prisoners — And as he has sustained you so long under your captivity, so will he bring you out of it.
Verse Psalms 146:8. Openeth the eyes of the blind — He brings us out of our prison-house, from the shadow of death, and opens our eyes that we may behold the free light of the day. And it is the Lord only that can open the eyes of any son of Adam, and give him to see his wretchedness, and where help and salvation may be found.
Raiseth them that are bowed down — Through a sense of their guilt and sinfulness.
The Lord loveth the righteous — These he makes partakers of a Divine nature; and he loves those who bear his own image.
Verse Psalms 146:9. Preserveth the strangers — He has preserved you strangers in a strange land, where you have been in captivity for seventy years; and though in an enemy's country, he has provided for the widows and orphans as amply as if he had been in the promised land.
The way of the wicked he turneth upside down. — He subverts, turns aside. They shall not do all the wickedness they wish; they shall not do all that is in their power. In their career he will either stop them, turn them aside, or overturn them.
Verse Psalms 146:10. The Lord shall reign for ever — Therefore he can never fail; and he is thy God, O Zion. Hitherto he has helped you and your fathers; and has extended that help from generation to generation. Therefore trust in him and bless the Lord.
The subject of this Psalm is the same with the former.
It is divided into four parts: -
I. An exhortation to praise God, Psalms 146:1. Which the psalmist resolves to do, Psalms 146:2.
II. A dehortation from confidence in man, Psalms 146:3-4.
III. He pronounces them happy who trust in God, Psalms 146:5.
IV. And to persuade to this he uses every reason, Psalms 146:6-10.
I. He begins with a dialogism.
1. "He speaks to all: "Praise ye the Lord."
2. Then by an apostrophe he turns to himself: "Praise the Lord, O my soul."
3. And his soul answers: "While I live," c. While I am, while I shall be.
II. But the prophet, for fear men should trust too much in the great, and not rely wholly upon God, exhorts them: "Put not your trust in princes," &c.
He gives his reasons for the warning: -
1. Because of their impotency: "There is no help in them," &c.
2. Because of their mortality: "Their breath goeth forth," &c.
III. If a man will be happy, the prophet shows him that he must rely upon God alone for,
1. "Happy is he that hath," &c. Him in whom Jacob trusted.
2. "And whose hope," &c. Not in short-lived man.
And this he confirms by many reasons: -
I. From his omnipotence: "He is God the Creator," &c.
II. From his veracity: "Who keeps truth for ever," &c. His word is passed for our protection, and he can and will keep it.
III. From his justice: "He executeth judgment," &c.
IV. From his mercy.
1. "He giveth food," &c. Relieves men in their necessities.
2. "The Lord looseth the prisoner." Another act of grace, again.
3. "The Lord openeth the eyes," &c. Whether spiritually or corporeally.
4. "The Lord raiseth them that are bowed down," &c. By sin or misery.
V. From his love: "The Lord loveth," &c. Of which the effects are: -
1. "The Lord preserveth," &c.
2. "He delivereth the fatherless," &c.
3. But the ungodly find a far different effect: "But the way of the wicked," &c. He makes their glory to perish utterly.
These files are public domain.
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Psalms 146". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Epiphany