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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 145

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


Psalms 145

This Psalm is a song of thanksgiving and praise on the part of the house of David and the Church after all their tribulations have come to a close. It is parallel to Psalms 103. The Psalm is an alphabetical one, and hence the thoughts must be expressed from the first in the form of a close organization; they must not stand loosely in an alphabetical Psalm. The alphabetical arrangement is exact, excepting that the letter ב is entirely omitted. It scarcely deserves notice, that in the Alexandrine version this anomaly is removed by the introduction of a nun-strophe. From the whole character of that version, in general, and in particular that of the Psalms, it is at once manifest what is to be thought of this addition, of which none of the other ancient translations know anything, the occasion for which also so readily occurred, and which was so cheaply obtained—being plainly borrowed from Psalms 145:17, and the πιστό?ς at the commencement from the nun-strophe of the alphabetical Psalms 111. The ground of the anomaly is the same with that which occasioned the deviations from the alphabetical arrangement in Psalms 37, which was also composed by David. Along with the alphabetical arrangement the Psalmist observed a division of the whole into three strophes, each of seven verses, and it was necessary, on this account, that one of the twenty-two letters of the alphabet should be left out. A break between from seven to seven verses manifestly has place, which is especially marked, at the end of the first seven verses.

To the three-number of the strophes corresponds the threefold three-number of the name of Jehovah, and in like manner the three-number of the glorious attributes of God celebrated by the Psalmist: greatness, goodness, righteousness.

In unison with the seven-number of the verses of each strophe, the Psalmist declares seven times the purpose of praising God’s glory (six times in Psalms 145:1-6, once in Psalms 145:21). The declaration, that the pious shall praise the Lord, occurs ten times.

In the superscription: Praise-song of David, תהלה stands only here as the designation of a Psalm employed in the superscription (corresponding to שיר in Psalms 68 etc.), comp. Psalms 33, in manifest reference to תפלה in Psalms 142 supers. and Psalms 143:1. In the kingdom of David there constantly follows on the תפלה , a תהלה ; upon the crying to the Lord out of deep distress, a giving praise and thanks to the Lord. The return of תהלה in the concluding verse is a proof of the originality of the superscription; of which, indeed, the delicate reference to the תפלה does not permit us to doubt.

Verses 1-7

Ver. 1. I will extol thee, my God, thou king, and praise thy name for ever and ever. Ver. 2. Continually will I praise thee, and celebrate thy name for ever and ever. Ver. 3. Great is the Lord and very glorious, and his mighty deeds are unsearchable. Ver. 4. One race praises to another thy works, and thy mighty acts they proclaim. Ver. 5. Upon thy beautiful majesty and glory, and upon thy wonders will I meditate. Ver. 6. And of the terribleness of thy frightful deeds they speak, and thy wonderful works will I proclaim. Ver. 7. The memory of thy great goodness they celebrate, and rejoice over thy righteousness.

On: I will extol thee, Psalms 145:1, comp. Psalms 30:1: “I will extol thee, for thou hast lifted me up.” The latter stands also here in the back-ground. On: thou king, q. d. thou, who truly art our king, thou who givest salvation to kings, and deliverest thy servant David, Psalms 144:10, comp. Ps. 20:10, Psalms 24:8, Psalms 24:10, Psalms 29:9. Calvin: “By calling him his king, he compels himself and all earthly princes to keep their proper place, that no elevation of a worldly kind may obscure the glory of God.” David feels it a happy thing for himself, that he not merely knows the address: thou king, but that he can use it for himself. He would despair, if it were not so with him. On the second member, comp. Psalms 34:1. The reference to the commencement of both Psalms is certainly not accidental. The expression: for ever and ever, has often been explained in an unsatisfactory way; Calvin: although he should live for many ages; Geier: as well in this as in the future life. The right view at once suggests itself, when it is perceived that David speaks here, not as an individual, but as the representative of his race. As such he has a security for everlasting continuance, for the perpetual enjoyment of the divine favour, comp. Psalms 138:8; and so long as his being lasted in the loving-kindness of God, he must also continue to give praise.

On the first member of Psalms 145:2, comp. Psalms 68:19; on the second, Psalms 69:30.

In Psalms 145:3, the rich meaning of the name of God is more nearly described. The first member is literally borrowed in Psalms 48:1, and should there be marked as a quotation. Upon מהלל comp. on Psalms 18:3. On גדלה , never greatness, always great, comp. on Psalms 71:20; great = his great deeds, corresponding to the works and the mighty deeds in Psalms 145:4. On: unsearchable, comp. Psalms 40:5: “I will declare and speak of them (thy wonders), they are not to be numbered.”

The fut. in Psalms 145:4, and also in Psalms 145:6-7, are to be taken according to Psalms 145:10-11, not as a designation of what should be done, but as a simple announcement of what is done. Allusion is made to the fulness and plenteousness of the deeds of God, and the powerful impulse lying therein to the constant celebration of praise. On the first member, comp. Psalms 19:3. The works of God are here, as in Psalms 145:17, the glorious displays of his mercy and righteousness.

On the first member of Psalms 145:5, Geier: “By this accumulation of words, the incomparable glory and majesty of God is set forth.” Remarks like the following: “In such a heaping up of synonymes, the poetical power shows itself to be sinking,” are natural if one cannot sympathize with the thankful heart of David, and his striving after a suitable mode of expression for his exuberant feeling. But for its refutation, it is sufficient to point to Psalms 18:2, Psalms 62:7. In reference to the expression: the matters of wonder, comp. Psalms 65:6, Psalms 105:27.

The Kri גדלתך , the singular, in Psalms 145:6, has arisen from a comparison with Psalms 145:3, and from the mistaken idea, that גדלה means greatness. The correctness of the text is confirmed by the parallel נוראות ; the expression: thy mighty deeds, points back to the beginning of Psalms 145:3, and shows that the whole intermediate matter belongs to the idea of God’s greatness. There follow then, in connection with this, the goodness and righteousness, in Psalms 145:7; so that the three-number of the glorious properties of God celebrated, in the Psalm, already fully appears in the first heptade, which bears a sort of introductory character.

The רב־טוב , in Psalms 145:7, is a kind of compound noun much-goodness. On טוב , goodness = the essential goodness, the goodness of being in the Lord, comp. on Psalms 25:13. That the רב is an adjec. appears from Psalms 31:19, Isaiah 63:7. הביע prop. to cause to splutter forth, Psalms 19:3, Psalms 59:7. רנן with the accus. also elsewhere in David, Psalms 59:16, Psalms 51:15.

Verses 8-14

Ver. 8. Gracious and compassionate is the Lord, patient, and of great goodness. Ver. 9. Good is the Lord toward all, and is merciful in all his works. Ver. 10, Praise thee, Lord, all thy works, and thy saints bless thee. Ver. l 1. Of the honour of thy kingdom they speak, and talk of thy power. Ver. 12. Since they make known to the children of men his mighty deeds, and the glorious majesty of his kingdom. Ver. 13. Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion lasts for ever and ever. Ver. 14. The Lord upholds all who fall, and raises up all the bowed down.

On Psalms 145:8, see Psalms 103:8. In place of the רב there, we have here גדול , with allusion to Psalms 145:3 and Psalms 145:6 to the greatness of God in the common sense = his almightiness, corresponds the greatness of his love. Toward all, Psalms 145:9, how much more, therefore, toward his own, to whom the praise of the general goodness of God everywhere has respect. On the second member, comp. Psalms 103:13. His works, even the young ravens, Psalms 147:9, how much more, then, his works in the kingdom of grace, Psalms 138:8, the kingdom of David set up by him.

Praise thee, Psalms 145:10, either with the mouth, or at least through their very being, comp. Psalms 19:2 ss., Psalms 103:22.

On: of thy kingdom, Psalms 145:11, comp. Psalms 103:19. The kingdom of God is his government of the world. The glory of it becomes especially conspicuous in this, that he raises the dominion of his anointed over all the kingdoms of the world, comp. Psalms 138:6.

Thy kingdom is a kingdom of all eternities, Psalms 145:13, and so must also the kingdom of thine anointed be an eternal one, and will survive all the transitory kingdoms of this world, however highly they may puff themselves up. On this passage rests Dan. 3:33, Daniel 4:31, where Nebuchadnezzar repeats what he had received from Daniel, the zealous inquirer into the import of the ancient scriptures, comp. Daniel 9:2. On the first member of Psalms 145:14, comp. Psalms 37:17, Psalms 37:24. The two partic. supply the place of nouns, from which the ל is to be explained, more rare than the accus., which was put in the late imitation, Psalms 146:8. All that fall, all the bowed down, that is, among the righteous.

Verses 15-21

Ver. 15. All eyes wait on thee, and thou give them their food in its season. Ver. 16. Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest all living with what they wish. Ver. 17. Righteous is the Lord in all his ways, and holy in all his works. Ver. 18. Nigh is the Lord to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth. Ver. 19. He does what they that fear God desire, and hears their cry, and helps them. Yes. 20. The Lord preserves all who love him, and all the wicked he destroys. Ver. 21. The praise of the Lord shall my mouth speak, and all flesh shall praise his holy name for ever and ever.

Psalms 145:15 is almost literally borrowed in Psalms 104:27. The all is of his works or creatures, Psalms 145:9, all living, Psalms 145:16. How can he, Who fills all desire on earth, allow his elect to wait on him in vain?

To רצון , in Psalms 145:16, corresponds in the dependant passage, Psalms 104:28, “they are satisfied with good,” the טוב ; the former, therefore, must also denote that with which they are satisfied—comp. besides Psalms 103:5. That we must explain: with wish—that which they wish, is manifest from Psalms 145:19, a passage which we may the rather bring into comparison, as here also the proper regard is directed toward the fearers of God: how can he, who satisfies all with what they wish (comp. Acts 14:17, “filling our hearts with food and gladness”) abandon those who fear him? The ground-passage is in Deuteronomy 33:23: “Naphthali is satisfied with what he wished,” שבע רצון , where, according to the general tenor of the words there spoken, that is specially applied to a particular part of God’s people, which holds good of the whole.

On חסיד , Psalms 145:17, comp. on Psalms 4:3. The love of God towards his own is rooted in his righteousness, according to which he gives to every one his own; and remarks such as those of Geier: “let the wonderful intermingling of the divine justice and mercy be noted,” miss the right point. It is not according to the Biblical mode of contemplation to think presently of a punishment, as soon as one hears of righteousness. On Psalms 145:18 comp. Psalms 34:18, Psalms 34:6. The truth forms a contrast to lies, semblance, hypocrisy; it is the true, internal, and heartfelt righteousness.

On Psalms 145:19, comp. Psalms 34:15, Psalms 37:40. In the place of those who fear the Lord, in Psalms 145:19, come in Psalms 145:20, those who love him, to show that the fear is not of a slavish, but of a childlike sort.

Bibliographical Information
Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Psalms 145". Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/heg/psalms-145.html.
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