Bible Commentaries
Psalms 113

Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & PsalmsHengstenberg's Commentary


Psalms 113

The glorious name of the Lord shall be praised, Psalms 113:1-3, in whom condescension is most intimately connected with exaltation, Psalms 113:4-6, who lovingly undertakes for the poor and the miserable, Psalms 113:7-9. Or: first the glory of the name of the Lord, then the point to which it here comes, first, generally, next, more particularly. Jo. Arnd: “God is particularly to be praised for this, that he takes compassion upon the miserable, graciously regards the humble, and undertakes for the forsaken.”

The Psalm forming the conclusion of a trilogy, is wholly ruled by the number three; three strophes each of three verses, three times praise in ver. 1, three times the name of the Lord in Psalms 113:1-3.

The object is to inspire with courage “the worm Jacob,” Isaiah 41:14, the miserable one, over whom all the world goes, Isaiah 54:11, the poor little flock, after the captivity, by lifting up their hearts to their heavenly father, who visits in the loveliest manner the smallest dwellings. The Psalm has a prophetic character. For it points to a time “when the exaltation of the children of God shall take place, and their glory, which is now covered over with a bare cross, shall be revealed.” Berleb. B.

Verses 1-3

Ver. 1. Hallelujah. Praise, ye servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord. Ver. 2. May the name of the Lord be praised from henceforth even for ever. Ver. 3. From the rising of the sun to the going down of the same, glorious is the name of the Lord.

The servants of the Lord are the righteous, Psalms 111:1, those who fear the Lord, Psalms 113:5, his people, Psalms 113:6. Comp. Psalms 34:22; Psalms 69:36; Psalms 136:22, Esther 5:11, Nehemiah 1:10, “they are thy servants and thy people.” The expression cannot without some addition be applied exclusively to the Levites. The appellation has respect to the obligation to praise, which is one of the main forms of the service of the heavenly Lord. The name of the Lord is the Lord according to his historical character. The people of God have the privilege of having a God whose name is the product of his deeds. The world which forms a God according to its own fancies, has a nameless God.

The removal of every limit of time in reference to the praise of the Lord in Psalms 113:2, proceeds on the supposition that the Lord continues for ever to reveal his glorious nature, gives throughout eternity always new occasion to praise him. The wishing, resting as it does on this basis, has at the same time the character of a prophecy. The responsive cry of praise shall succeed the cry of the deed’s sounding throughout all eternity.

As מהלל is always used as an epithet of God, praised =glorious (comp. at Psalms 18:3, Psalms 96:4, Psalms 145:3,—the Vulg. correctly laudabile), we cannot in Psalms 113:3 supply “may be” out of Psalms 113:2; the only word that can be supplied is “is.” On “from the rising of the sun to its going down,” comp. Psalms 50:1. “The Lord who rules over all quarters with his hands,” who has made known his strength among the nations, Psalms 77:14; who crushed Rahab like one slain, Psalms 89:10, he, a whom it is said in Psalms 89:11-12, “thine is the heaven, thine is also the earth, the earth and its fulness thou hast founded the north and the south thou has created, Tabor and Hermon rejoice in thy name,” makes known his glory not only in one particular corner of the earth, but as far as the earth itself extends.

Verses 4-6

Ver. 4. Exalted above all heathens is the Lord, in heaven is his glory. Ver. 5. Who is as the Lord our God, who placeth himself thus high. Ver. 6. And looketh thus down deep, in heaven and in earth.

Exalted is the Lord above all heathens, ver. (comp. Psalms 99:2), who are so proud and who oppress Israel so hardly, as the great king over the whole earth, Psalms 47:2. “ Over the heaven,” instead of “in the heaven” (comp. at Psalms 57:5, Psalms 148:13), which itself tells his glory, Psalms 19:1, where the sons of God gives him glory, Psalms 29:1, the strong heroes praise him, Psalms 103:20-21, the Seraphim sing “holy, holy, holy,” Isaiah 6. Several falsely: “ out over heaven.” That would be out into the empty void.

In Psalms 113:5-6, the literal translation is: who exalts himself sitting, humbles himself looking, compare Ew. § 280. On the Jod parag. at Psalms 103:3. The infin. with ל of both verbs, which are always used transitively, occupies the place of the accusative. The expression, “who places himself thus high,” resumes the contents of Psalms 113:4, in order to add to it the opposite, the deep humility and the condescension of God; compare on this at Psalms 18:35. Israel stands alone in all the old world as possessing a knowledge of this humility. Its foundation is seen in “I know that I am dust and ashes,” which meets us in the mouth of Abraham at the very beginning of the nation. Isaiah 57:15, is parallel. Jo. Arnd: “All miserable people should keep this for their highest protection, and should eternally thank God for this grace. For what enjoyment has the great God in those who are little? The high and lofty One in those who are low? The glorious God in those who are despised? The blessed God in those who are miserable?” The expression “in heaven and upon the earth,” is usually considered as connected with what immediately precedes: who looks deep down upon what is in heaven and upon the earth. But the connection ought rather to be: who is like the Lord our God . . . . in heaven and upon the earth! For, according to the first view, “the things which are and are carried on “is arbitrarily supplied; what follows is manifestly an expansion in particulars of the general thought,—there, however, the discourse had been only of the care of God for the miserable upon the earth; the parallel passages are decisive in favour of the view here adopted: Deuteronomy 3:24, “who is a God in heaven and earth who does works like thine, and such as thy great deeds?” Psalms 73:25, “whom have I in heaven, and near thee I desire none upon the earth.”

Verses 7-9

Ver. 7. He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and out of the dunghill he lifteth the needy man. Ver. 8. That he may set him near to princes, near to the princes of his people. Ver. 9. He makes the barren woman of the house to dwell like a joyful mother of children. Hallelujah.

Psalms 113:7-8 are almost word for word from the prayer of Hannah, 1 Samuel 2:8. The transition to the people is all the more natural as Hannah, considering herself at the conclusion as the type of the church with which every individual among the Israelites felt himself much more closely entwined than can easily be the case among ourselves, draws out of the salvation imparted to herself joyful prospects for the people. That “the poor man” and “the needy man “is not the people but only the type and representative of them is manifest from “with the nobles of the people.” Out of the dust, compare Psalms 44:25. At Psalms 113:8, Job 36:7.

In Psalms 113:9, at which 1 Samuel 2:5, is to be compared, “the barren woman beareth seven, and she that was rich in children hath waxed feeble,” we cannot translate “who maketh the barren woman to dwell in the house.” For the form of the stat. absol. is always עקרה , and even according to the accents we can only translate the barren woman of the house; the הבית cannot be the accusative, for the language used does not refer to one who is houseless, in which case Psalms 68:6, would require to be compared, but to one who is childless, in regard to whom it is not the that but the how of the dwelling that comes into notice. The barren woman of the house was, for example, Hannah, while Peninah was the fruitful one, the type of the world. The barren woman appears also, in Isaiah 54:1-3, as a type of the church of God in its misery, when the number of its members appears much diminished. It is all the more natural to contemplate the church under this emblem [Note: Arnd: “The barren woman is the poor, forsaken, distressed Christian church, whom the false church oppresses, defies, and persecutes, and regards as useless, miserable, barren, because she herself is greater and more populous, the greatest part of the world.”] as the types of Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, the wife of Manoah, Hannah, whose long continued barrenness was removed by divine interposition, and finally of Mary, who brought forth altogether without the aid of a man, have manifestly a typical reference to the church.

The trilogy is followed by a tetralogy which forms along with it an heptade, so that it, along with the Davidic trilogy, forms a decade. In the trilogy the Hallelujah occurred four times, here in the tetralogy three times, at the conclusion of Psalms 115, Psalms 116, Psalms 117; thus in the whole heptade seven times.

Bibliographical Information
Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Psalms 113". Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms.