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Bible Commentaries

Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Psalms 150

Psalms 150

We have here a full-toned call to the praise of God, quite appropriate to the close of this Psalm-cycle and of the whole Psalter, in which, especially toward the end, in the Psalms belonging to the time of Israel’s depression, the praise of God forms the predominating element. The Psalm falls into three strophes, each of two verses. In the first strophe the discourse is, of where praise is to be given, in heaven and on earth, and on what account, because of the greatness of God, and his glorious deeds; then, in the second and third strophe, wherewith, viz., with all that has sound and voice. In unison with the three-number of the strophes stands the three-number of Jah. The הללו , praise, occurs twelve times; the instruments of the praise of God are ten, three in Psalms 150:3, four in Psalms 150:4, three in Psalms 150:5-6. [Note: These points were noticed by Amyrald as remarkable and significant. The sig. of the number ten be rightly determines thus: “nothing might be awanting to the perfect celebration of God’s glory:—the tenth number denotes, according to the use of scripture, complete fullness of anything.”]

Verses 1-2

Ver. 1. Halleluiah. Praise the Lord in his sanctuary, praise him in his mighty stronghold. Ver. 2 Praise him on account of his mighty deeds, praise him according to his great glory.

In ver. 1, several would understand by the sanctuary the heavenly one. But קדש is never used of that; the reference to the earthly place of honouring cannot, for the sake of what follows, be dispensed with, and the connection of heaven with earth in the call to praise God, is found also in Psalms 148, the subject of which is here again briefly resumed. In his mighty, comp. Psalms 68:34, stronghold, where the hosts of heaven, the angels, and sun, moon, and stars, praise him.

Verses 3-6

Ver. 3. Praise him with sound of trumpets, praise him with harp and psaltery. Ver. 4. Praise him with timbrel and dance, praise him with stringed instruments and pipes. Ver. 5. Praise him with loud cymbals, praise him with cymbals of jubilee. Ver. 6. Let every thing that has breath praise the Lord. Halleluiah.

In Psalms 150:4, the pipe, עוגב , as a wind instrument, forms a contrast to the stringed instruments. There is no trace elsewhere to be found of the pipe being used in the public worship of God; and the only instruments in use for blowing upon were the trumpets, comp. Introd. to Psalms 5. Beyond doubt, the pipe, which otherwise did not belong to the temple service, was brought into requisition here, only because the feast had at the same time the character of a popular rejoicing. In like manner also timbrels and dances. The timbrels were mentioned also in Psalms 68:25, and in 2 Samuel 6:5, where we find a similar enumeration of the musical instruments: “David and the whole house of Israel played there before the Lord.” As here also, the extraordinary was brought into play, and it was, besides, difficult to make out the number ten, we may the rather expect, that the usual instruments would be reckoned up; and we thus, from our Psalm, arrive at the result, that the sacred music was extreme simple, and the readiness of many expositors to find in every dark word of the superscriptions a new musical instrument, is very ill applied.

In Psalms 150:5, cymbals of the hearing are audible, high-sounding cymbals. As the first member marks the sound, so the second marks the joyful character of the tone. This was the peculiar character of the cymbals, which were used only at festivals of a joyful kind, comp. 2 Samuel 6:5, Ezra 3:10, Nehemiah 12:27. תרועה , jubilee, comp. Psalms 27:6, Psalms 89:15, Numbers 23:21. נשמה , breath, Psalms 150:6, denotes very often that which has breath—here, in contrast to the dead instruments, comp. Genesis 14:21. At the sacred feasts there was not merely playing but also singing, comp. Psalms 68:25, Nehemiah 12. As the life of the faithful, and the history of the church, so also the Psalter, with all its cries from the depths, runs out in a Halleluiah.

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Bibliographical Information
Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Psalms 150". Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/heg/psalms-150.html.