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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Psalms 147

Verses 1-6

Introduction

In this psalm we see God’s people, made up entirely of righteous, in Jerusalem and Zion in the time of the realm of peace (Psalms 147:12). God, the Creator, Who cares for His entire creation, stands in a special relationship with His people. His people know Him as righteous, full of compassion and good. Thus they have come to know Him in His ways with them.

After the previous psalm sings of the LORD as God Who is King, the song of praise now continues with a song of praise for the works of the LORD. It is He Who rebuilds Jerusalem; it is He Who brings back the outcast of Israel, the lost ten tribes (Psalms 147:2); it is He Who with balm from Gilead cares for the brokenhearted of His people (Psalms 147:3; Jeremiah 8:22).

Division of the psalm

The occasion of the song of praise is that the LORD
1. restores (Psalms 147:1-Joshua :),
2. sustains (Psalms 147:7-1 Kings :), and
3. gives peace (Psalms 147:12-Proverbs :).

Each section begins with an exhortation to praise the LORD:
Psalms 147:1 “Hallelujah!” (= Praise the LORD).
Psalms 147:7 “Sing to the LORD …, sing praises to our God … “
Psalms 147:12 “Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion!”

God Restores and Cares For His People

Before the psalmist lists the reasons to praise the LORD, he first makes it clear that it is good, pleasant and becoming to praise the LORD (Psalms 147:1). The psalm begins with the exclamation “hallelujah” or “praise the LORD”. Immediately following this, the psalmist reasons his call: “For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant.” Singing psalms to God is good for God’s people and pleasant for God. God is “our God”. This is how He has made Himself known to His people. He has delivered them from all affliction and brought them into the blessing of the realm of peace. Therefore “praise is becoming”.

A pre-fulfillment of what is written in Psalms 147:2 happened after a remnant returned to Israel from the Babylonian exile. Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the city. We find the description of this in the book of Nehemiah named after him. Here we read that “the LORD builds up Jerusalem”. It is His work. He worked it all into Nehemiah’s heart and gave him the strength and wisdom to do that work. The remnant learned that the builders labor at the house in vain if the LORD does not build it.

At the same time, it is clear that it is not the full fulfillment of what is being sung here. It is a prophetic psalm, the fulfillment of which takes place when Messiah reigns (Psalms 102:17; Isaiah 61:4; Jeremiah 30:18; Amos 9:14). “The outcasts of Israel” are not yet gathered by Him. The ten tribes are still largely in the scattering up to this point, but He will gather them (Deuteronomy 30:3; Isaiah 11:12; Isaiah 56:8; Hosea 1:11; Ezekiel 37:22; Matthew 24:31). When He will have gathered them and brought them back – we have seen this in Psalms 120-121 – the happy situation described here will begin.

For this, the LORD not only brings the outcast – not only of the ten tribes, but also those of the two tribes – back to Jerusalem, but He heals them (Psalms 147:3). They are “the brokenhearted”, for they have acknowledged that their removal from the land was justified because of their sins. Those sins are their idolatry and rejection of Christ – the latter applies only to the two tribes.

By their confession of it, they are in a mind that is after the heart of God. With them He wants to dwell, in their hearts and in His city (Isaiah 57:15; Hosea 6:1; Luke 4:18). They have suffered much, but now God relieves their suffering with His love. He binds up the wounds that He Himself had to cause (Job 5:18).

That God is able to bring back every member of His people is evident from the fact that “He counts the number of the stars” and “gives names to all of them” (Psalms 147:4; cf. Isaiah 40:26). He told Abraham that He would make his descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven in multitude (Genesis 15:5).

He, the mighty Ruler of the universe, knows exactly where this offspring, scattered as it is, is. He knows their number and knows the name of each one. The LORD is omniscient; He does not overlook any star. Therefore, He will never overlook the suffering of His own (Psalms 147:3) either.

That God knows the number of stars and the name of each star shows that He is “great … and abundant in strength” (Psalms 147:5). He is called here “the Lord”, that is Adonai, the sovereign Ruler of the universe. Everything outside of Him is created by Him and limited, even though their number or size is so great that we cannot count or calculate it. However, He Himself is unlimited: “His understanding is infinite.” The number of stars is bounded, the stars are countable, although we do not see their boundary and cannot count them. He, however, is immeasurable or ‘uncountable’.

If a human being feels small in anything, it is in comparison to the immeasurable universe for him with its countless stars. That overwhelming universe was created by God. He is not a part of it, but is exalted above it and sustains it by the word of His power.

In His unlimitedness, He bows down to the little man who bows before His majesty. As He supports the universe, He supports the afflicted or meek (Psalms 147:6). The meek have learned of Him, for He is meek and humble of heart (Matthew 11:29). As a result, they are like Him. Therefore, they have not taken the law into their own hands, but have endured suffering and waited, like Christ, for God’s time for blessing. They have been supported by God, and now they may share with Christ in the blessing of the realm of peace.

With “the wicked” He proceeds very differently. The afflicted have humbled themselves under the powerful hand of God. The wicked have exalted themselves and sought to enrich themselves at the expense of the afflicted. Now the time of retribution has come. The afflicted are exalted, while God “humbles the wicked to the ground” (Luke 14:11; Luke 18:14).

The LORD uses His omnipotence (Psalms 147:5) to support the remnant, represented in the afflicted, in the midst of the heaviest tribulation, while He humbles the wicked, that is, the antichrist and the enemies of the people, to the ground.

Verses 7-11

God’s Care for His Creation

A second call to sing to the LORD follows (Psalms 147:7; Psalms 147:1). The occasion is the faithfulness of the LORD, both toward creation and toward those in Israel who fear Him. The psalmist now says to do so – as the original shows – in a responding song of thanksgiving. One group sings a question about God’s actions and the other group sings a response to it. It reinforces the thanksgiving. The lyre support gives the whole a lovely sound. Everything happens from the relationship that exists with “our God”. The hearts are full of Him and focused on Him.

It becomes the righteous to sing psalms to Him because His majesty is great. Of this His creation testifies. It can be said of no one else that He “covers the heavens with clouds” (Psalms 147:8). Then from these clouds He provides rain for the earth, by which He “makes the grass to grow on the mountains”.

In this way He gives “to the beast its food” (Psalms 147:9). He also gives food “to the young ravens which cry” (cf. Job 38:41; Matthew 6:26; Matthew 10:29-Obadiah :). God provides all that wait on Him with what they need. He delights in giving this care to His creatures (Psalms 145:15-Nehemiah :).

Those who count on other strength, represented in “the strength of the horse” (Psalms 147:10), and expect their provisions from it, need not count on His support. In them He does not delight. Also “in the legs of the man”, that is, in people who count on their own strength and attribute everything to their own merit, He does not take pleasure (cf. Amos 2:14-Ezra :).

The strength of the horse and the legs of the man are needed during battle. Man is inclined to rely on other resources than God. Therefore, a king of Israel was not to possess many horses (Deuteronomy 17:16), so that he would not put his trust in his own strength, but in the LORD (cf. Psalms 20:7).

What the LORD does find delight and takes pleasure in are “those who fear Him” and “those who wait for His lovingkindness” (Psalms 147:11). He “favors” them because they are in awe of Him, without fear of Him. It is an awe that goes along with trust in His lovingkindness, that is, in His faithfulness toward His covenant and His promise, without laying claim to it. It is His joy to give.

Verses 12-14

God’s Care for Jerusalem

The third call to praise is made to Jerusalem and Zion (Psalms 147:12; Psalms 147:1; Psalms 147:7). Jerusalem is the city of the great King. Jerusalem means ‘city of peace’. Now that the Prince of peace is King over Israel, Jerusalem finally lives up to her name. The true Melchizedek, who is called King of Salem, that is King of peace (Hebrews 7:1-Exodus :), reigns.

That city He has chosen to dwell there in order to rule from there in righteousness in accordance with the promises made by the LORD to His people. All glory is for the LORD alone. Zion is also Jerusalem, but more connected to grace as the foundation upon which the city can be the dwelling place for God’s people. Zion is called to praise her God, for the inhabitants of the city have been brought in there by God’s great grace.

The occasion of the glory and praise, indicated by the word “for”, is multiple (Psalms 147:13). First of all, God takes charge of the protection of the city. As a result, the safety of all who are in it is completely guaranteed.

Nehemiah literally restored the walls, gates, and bolts of Jerusalem; here, figuratively, the LORD does so (Zechariah 2:5). Gog, the prince of great Russia, is blind to this protection by God. He sees that the cities of Israel are “without walls and having no bars or gates” and therefore dares to attack Israel, to his own detriment (Ezekiel 38:11; Ezekiel 38:22).

The first to benefit from the LORD’s protection – and this is a second reason to praise and glorify Him – are the sons within the city. They are blessed by Him.

A third reason for praising and giving thanks to God is that He makes “peace” to reign in their area (Psalms 147:14). The Lord Jesus is the Prince of peace. Through Him, peace reigns in the realm of peace. He has made that peace possible through His work on the cross. That is the basis for all peace, personally, in the intercourse among believers, and later, in the realm of peace, worldwide (Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:14-Esther :; Colossians 3:15; Isaiah 9:5-Joshua :).

The fourth reason for praise is mentioned that God satisfies them “with the finest of the wheat” (cf. Psalms 81:16). In this salutary atmosphere of peace, “the finest of the wheat” is enjoyed. The wheat brings to mind the life of the Lord Jesus that has become the portion of all who are united to Him through His death on the cross. He is the grain of wheat that fell into the earth and died, resulting in a rich harvest of those who received Him as their life (John 12:24).

Verses 15-20

The Working of God’s Word

Psalms 147:15-Job : are about ‘freezing’ (Psalms 147:15-Esther :) and ‘melting’ (Psalms 147:18). This section tells us that what man cannot do, God in His omnipotence can do. God does that by sending His Word. That same Word the LORD sends to Israel and to no other people (Psalms 147:19-Proverbs :). It is the mighty Word of God doing His work in the hearts of man.

God established heaven and earth by His Word (Psalms 33:6; Psalms 33:9; Hebrews 11:3). By that same Word He works on earth (Psalms 147:15). His Word is His act. When He sends His command to earth, it is for the benefit of man in general and His people in particular. Every command is carried out immediately without hesitation: “His word runs very swiftly.” His Word is represented here as a messenger who carries out his master’s command instantaneously (Isaiah 55:11). His Word is not static, but dynamic, even for us (1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 3:1).

When it snows and the earth is covered as with wool, it is done at His command (Psalms 147:16; Job 37:6; cf. Isaiah 55:10-1 Kings :). When He commands, the frozen dew is scattered like ashes. Similarly, He casts “His ice as fragments”, where we can think of hailstones, on the earth (Psalms 147:17). The second part of Psalms 147:17 is asked as a question. It is a question to which no answer is expected. For everyone knows that against the coldness of ice, which is “His cold” because He causes it to come by His word, no one can stand.

He can also send His word to put an end to the snow, frozen dew and ice (Psalms 147:18). Then His word works to melt everything and make His coldness disappear. Then He causes “His wind to blow”. This causes everything that has melted and become “waters to flow”, so that wherever the waters come, it provides refreshment.

These natural phenomena symbolize God’s dealings with His people. He had to bring His cold judgments upon them because of their rebellion against Him, as He foretold in His Word. Hailstones are used by God to strike the earth (Exodus 9:18-Lamentations :; Job 38:22-Isaiah :; Ezekiel 13:13; Haggai 2:17; Revelation 16:21). He also brought those judgments to an end. His people, that is, those who acknowledged the justice of His judgments, He then brought into the refreshing blessing of the realm of peace. After the icy wind of His wrath, they now felt the gentle breeze of His love.

As for Israel, we might add the following. The LORD sent His mighty word to transform the ice into water (Psalms 147:18). He is also mighty to send His word to transform Jacob into Israel (Psalms 147:19). The same effect the Word of the LORD has on the remnant of Israel, which He thereby transforms into His people, the true Israel (Jeremiah 31:33). He has done this only with Israel and with no other nation (Psalms 147:20).

God’s Word is not only a Word of commands, but also a Word of announcements. “He declares His words to Jacob”, that is all Israel, all twelve tribes, that is, He communicates to His people what His plans are for them (Psalms 147:19). “Jacob” is the name for the people that recalls the aberrations of God’s Word. There is also mention of “Israel”, which is the name for the people as blessed by God. God makes known to Israel “His statutes and His ordinances”.

He has favored Israel more than any other nation by giving them His revealed truth (Romans 9:4). There is no nation in the ancient world as privileged as Israel, which has the revealed will of God: the written Word of God. This Book with its good laws, customs, morals, intelligence, social life, purity, charity, prosperity, exalts this people above all other nations and spreads around them blessings that can come from nowhere else. The highest benefit that can be done to any people is to give them the Word of God in their own language.

In nature, in creation, God makes Himself known to all nations (Romans 1:19-Proverbs :). In His Word, He makes Himself known to His people in a special way. His Word is His revelation to His people as their God. “He has not dealt thus with any nation” (Psalms 147:20). That God has given His people His ‘Word revelation’ (Deuteronomy 4:6-Ruth :; Romans 3:2) underscores their enormous privilege as God’s people.

God has given to His people “just ordinances and true laws, good statutes and commandments” (Nehemiah 9:13). Because the peoples do not know “His statutes” in His Word, they are subject to all forms of evil to which they are led by demonic powers (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:2). The great contrast with the nations who do not know God’s statutes does not make God’s people haughty, but very grateful. They are no better than the nations. This realization leads them to the exclamation with which the psalm concludes: “Hallelujah!” All praise belongs to the LORD alone.

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Psalms 147". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/psalms-147.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.