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Sunday, July 14th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 147

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

Praise ye the LORD: for [it is] good to sing praises unto our God; for [it is] pleasant; [and] praise is comely.

It is good to sing praises — For, 1. Hereby we glorify God, Psalms 50:23 , and so do him right; for he is the proper object of praises, worthy only to be praised, Psalms 18:32 . Hereby we do good to ourselves, secure former favours, which else we forfeit, and procure further blessings, which else we forestall. Hereby also we make things good in themselves to become good to us.

For it is pleasant — A very foretaste of eternal life; hence so many of David’s psalms are eucharistical.

And praise is comely — No fairer sight than to see God’s altar covered with the calves of our lips, and ourselves in our priestly robes, giving thanks to his name, Hebrews 13:15 , professing our no-deserts, and whole dependence upon him. As on the contrary, an unthankful man is an ugly, ill-favoured spectacle.

Verse 2

The LORD doth build up Jerusalem: he gathereth together the outcasts of Israel.

The Lord doth build up Jerusalem — He is the only architect of his Church. He layeth the foundation of it in election (saith a good expositor), and buildeth it progressively by faith and sanctification; and finisheth his work of grace and his people’s happiness in glorification.

He gathereth together the outcasts of Israel — He will surely bring home his banished; yea, because they called thee an outcast, saying, This is Zion, whom no man seeketh after, therefore I will restore health unto thee, …, Jeremiah 30:17 . Qui nil sperare potest, desperet nihil.

Verse 3

He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.

He healeth the broken in heart — Pouring the oil of his grace into none but those broken vessels.

And bindeth up their wounds — As a good shepherd, Zechariah 11:4 , that good Samaritan, Luke 10:34 , and as a good surgeon dealeth by his patient. But let no man ever think that God will lap up his sores before they be searched, or scarf his bones before they be set.

Verse 4

He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by [their] names.

He telleth the number of the stars — Which to man is impossible, as Aristotle maintaineth against those astronomers, that tell us they are a thousand and some hundreds. But Abraham was a great astronomer; yet he could never do it, Genesis 15:5 , and the wiser sort of astrologers have rightly distinguished the stars into numerable and innumerable as to men.

He calleth them all by their names — As knowing exactly their nature; and authoritatively commanding every of them to do his pleasure. How much more can God call together his outcasts, and cause them to return; especially since he calleth those things that are not as if they were, Romans 4:17

Verse 5

Great [is] our Lord, and of great power: his understanding [is] infinite.

His understanding is infinite — Heb. of his understanding there is no number; for he knows not only the kinds and sorts of things, but even the particulars, though they exceed all number. Sic spectat universos quasi singulos; sic singulos, quasi solos. That philosopher did not say nothing, who, being in danger of shipwreck in a light starry night, said, Surely I shall not perish, there are so many eyes of providence over me.

Verse 6

The LORD lifteth up the meek: he casteth the wicked down to the ground.

The Lord lifteth up the meek — This truth was well known to the very heathens, who have said the same thing; as Herodotus in Polymnia, Euripides in Hara, and Aesop being asked by Chilo (one of the seven wise men of Greece), what God was doing? answered, He is humbling the haughty, and exalting the lowly, τα μεν υφηλα ταπεινουν; τα δε ταπεινα υψουν ..

Verse 7

Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God:

Sing unto the Lord — Heb. answer, that is, sing by turns, as Hosea 2:15 Deuteronomy 31:21 . Or, answer God’s goodness by thankfulness and obedience.

Verse 8

Who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains.

Who covereth the heaven with clouds — As 1 Kings 18:45 , and still, as there is need. It is not by nature, or hap hazard, as men are apt to dream, and are therefore so often told this truth, and admonished, that the second causes do but serve the Divine providence, in these common occurrents.

Who prepareth rain for the earth — Rain (which is nothing else but the flux of a moist cloud, out of the middle region of the air), as it cometh by a decree of God, Job 28:26 , so it is wholly at his disposing when and where it shall fall, even to a drop, Amos 4:7 .

Verse 9

He giveth to the beast his food, [and] to the young ravens which cry.

He giveth to the beast his food — See Job 39:3 Psalms 104:27-28 . See Trapp on " Job 39:3 " See Trapp on " Psalms 104:27 " See Trapp on " Psalms 104:28 "

And to the youny ravens which cry — By sending flies into their mouths as they cry, say the Rabbis; or by a certain moist air, as Euthymius; or by small worms put into their mouths, magno providentiae symbolo, though they be such contemptible creatures, and very carnivorous, by reason of the vehemence of natural heat in them, so that a little will not satisfy them, yet God feedeth them. See Trapp on " Job 39:3 "

Verse 10

He delighteth not in the strength of the horse: he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man.

He delighteth not in the strength of the horse — Plutarch in Numa saith the same, Yεος ουκ εστι φιλιππος , God careth not for horses, or any such helps as wherein carnal people confide, as if they had no need of God. Origen observeth that in the conquest of Canaan, the enemies had horses and chariots, but Israel had none. And it is expressly cautioned that the king of Israel "shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses," Deuteronomy 17:16 , lest they should occasion him or his people to trade with that idolatrous people, 1 Kings 10:26 ; 1 Kings 10:28 , or to trust in the number and strength of that warlike creature, a horse, Proverbs 21:31 .

He taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man — How swift soever, as Achilles, ποδας ωκυς , or Asahel, as light of foot as a wild roe, 2 Samuel 2:18 . None sooner perish in the waters, nor oftener, than those that are most skilled in swimming and diving, because they do too much trust to their skill; so it is here; for there is no outrunning of Divine vengeance. Nemo scelus gerit in pectore qui non idem Nemesin in tergo; your sin will find you out. Here "the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong," Ecclesiastes 9:11 .

Verse 11

The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.

The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him — That put themselves into the hands of justice, in hope of mercy. These are his Hephzibahs, his darlings in whom he taketh singular delight and complacence.

Et esse corculis datum est.

Verse 12

Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem; praise thy God, O Zion.

Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem — Whatever the world doth, let not the Church defraud God of his due praises; "though thou, Israel, play the harlot, yet let not Judah offend," Hosea 4:15 . God’s blessings go round about graceless and ungrateful people; and they are no more moved than the earth that hath the circumference carried about it, and itself standeth still; but the saints must be of another alloy, Colossians 3:15 , and there is good reason for it.

Verse 13

For he hath strengthened the bars of thy gates; he hath blessed thy children within thee.

For he hath strengthened the bars, … — So that the gates of hell shall not prevail against them. God hath promised to break in pieces those gates of brass, and cut in sunder those bars of iron (as Samson did the gates of Gaza), Isaiah 45:2 , to perfect, stablish, strengthen, and settle his saints, 1 Peter 5:10 , to he a wall of fire round about them, …

He hath blessed thy children within thee — Making them to be many, Isaiah 54:1 , and all taught of God, Psalms 147:13 , children that will not lie, Isaiah 63:8 .

Verse 14

He maketh peace [in] thy borders, [and] filleth thee with the finest of the wheat.

He maketh peace in thy borders — Peace, peace, Isaiah 26:3 , peace of country and of conscience.

And filleth thee with the finest of the wheat — Heb. with the fat of wheat, called fat of kidneys of wheat, Deuteronomy 32:14 . See Psalms 81:16 . Judaea was once called and counted Sumen totius terrae, breeding sow of the whole earth, not so much for the nature of the country, as for the blessing of God thereupon; for now it is nothing so fruitful. But the saints have still the bread of angels, a feast "of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined," Isaiah 25:6 .

Verse 15

He sendeth forth his commandment [upon] earth: his word runneth very swiftly.

He sendeth forth his commandment, … — He speaketh the word, and it is done immediately; he can make a nation to conceive and bring forth all at once, Isaiah 66:7-8 . Ahasuerus had his posts to carry abroad his edict; God needeth none such; all creatures are at his beck and check.

Verse 16

He giveth snow like wool: he scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes.

He giveth snow like wool — For whiteness, lightness, plenty, softness, warmth; for snow, though it be very cold, yet by keeping in the vapours and exhalations of the earth, it causeth an inward warmth to it, and so maketh it very fruitful, say philosophers, Vellera nivis (Virg. Georg.). In which respects the Rabbis say that one day of snow doth more good than five of rain.

He scattereth the hoar frost like ashes — When blown about by the wind. It heateth also and drieth (as ashes) the cold and moist earth, nippeth the buds of trees, … Unde pruina dicitur a perurenda, saith Sextus Pompeius, Cinis monet ignem subesse quem foveat.

Verse 17

He casteth forth his ice like morsels: who can stand before his cold?

He casteth forth his ice like morsels — Or, shivers of bread. It is a witty saying of one from this text: The ice is bread, the rain is drink, the snow is wool, the frost a fire to the earth, causing it inwardly to glow with heat; teaching us what to do for God’s poor.

Who can stand before his cold — Who can endure it, when and where it is extreme especially; as in Russia, Friezeland, …

Verse 18

He sendeth out his word, and melteth them: he causeth his wind to blow, [and] the waters flow.

He sendeth out his word, and melteth them — See Psalms 147:15 . Of the force of God’s word of command are given all the former instances, he can as easily melt the hardest heart by his Word, made effectual to such a purpose by his Holy Spirit. If that wind do but blow, the waters of penitent tears will soon flow, as in Josiah, 2 Chronicles 34:27 . See Zechariah 12:10 .

Verse 19

He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel.

He showeth his word unto Jacob — The Jews were God’s library keepers; and unto them (as a special favour) were committed those lively and life giving oracles, Romans 3:2 ; there is a "chiefly" set upon it; like as Luke 12:48 , to know the Master’s will is the great talent of all other; there is a "much" in that.

His statutes and his judyments unto Israel — Even right judgments, true laws, good statutes and commandments, Nehemiah 9:13 Romans 9:4-5 . Prosper’s conceit was that Judaei were so called because they received ius Dei, the law of God.

Verse 20

He hath not dealt so with any nation: and [as for his] judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the LORD.

He hath not dealt so with any nation — He had not then; but now, blessed be God, he hath dealt so with many nations, in these last happy days of reformation especially; wherein the knowledge of God’s holy Word covereth the earth, as the waters cover the sea; and of England it may be said, as once of the Rhodes, semper in Sole, sita est Rhodos, that it hath the sun ever shining upon it. This we should prize as a precious treasure, and praise the Lord for it, corde, ore, opere. by heart, mouth and work.

And as for his judgments, they have not known them — And therefore lie in deadly darkness; wherein, though they wander woefully, yet not so wide as to miss of hell.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 147". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/psalms-147.html. 1865-1868.
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