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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 98

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-9

Psalms 98:0

A Psalm

          O sing unto the Lord a new song;
For he hath done marvellous things:
His right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory.

2     The Lord hath made known his salvation:

His righteousness hath he openly shewed in the sight of the heathen.

3     He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel:

All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

4     Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth:

Make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.

5     Sing unto the Lord with the harp;

With the harp, and the voice of a psalm.

6     With trumpets and the sound of cornet

Make a joyful noise before the Lord, the King.

7     Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof;

The world, and they that dwell therein.

8     Let the floods clap their hands:

Let the hills be joyful together

9     Before the Lord; for he cometh to judge the earth:

With righteousness shall he judge the world,
And the people with equity.


Contents and Composition.—This Psalm is furnished merely with the superscription: mizmor, and is ascribed by the Sept. and Syriac Versions to David. It agrees most closely with Psalms 96:0. Yet there is not an entire absence of peculiar expressions, to which, especially, Psalms 98:1 c and 8 belong. The wonderful deeds of God in behalf of His people, in the sight of all the nations, for the display to the world of His righteousness, mercy, and truth towards the house of Israel, are cited here also in order to justify the call sent forth for the praise of Jehovah. This points to the modes of expression characteristic of the second part of Isaiah, with reference to the restoration of the people after the judgment decreed upon Babylon. There is nothing to indicate decisively a later period, whether a victory over the Persians (De Wette), or that Purim-festival which was celebrated after the victory (2Ma 15:26), to which the other Psalms are supposed to relate as triumphal songs (Hitzig). For the clapping of the hands by boys at the Purim-feast, whenever Haman was named, is something quite different from the clapping of the hands figuratively applied in Psalms 98:8 to streams, in order to set forth the joy at the appearance of God, as King in Zion, before the whole world—a joy universally felt. The reference to the song of the Israelites after their departure from Egypt (Syriac version) was occasioned merely by the mention of the sea, which is called upon to join in the praise of God for His wonderful deliverance of Israel, accomplished before the eyes of the heathen. The division is simple and natural. In the first strophe the call is justified by pointing to the deeds of Jehovah, and in the second it is addressed specially to the people, the Levites, and the priests, in the third it is presented in its relations to the world in general.

Psalms 98:1 ff. His right hand hath helped Him [E. V.: His right hand … hath gotten Him the victory]. This means that God Himself has intervened, and that decisively, by His immediate miraculous interference (Isaiah 59:16; Isaiah 63:5) and by His holy arm (Isaiah 52:10). [Perowne prefers to render: “have gotten Him salvation,” on account of the recurrence of a noun from the same root in Psalms 98:2-3, where this is the most suitable translation.—J. F. M.] The remembering in Psalms 98:3, expresses more than retaining in the memory, as contrasted with forgetting (1 Samuel 1:11). It alludes to the fulfilment of promises given, or to the execution of resolutions taken, as contrasted with their abandonment (Genesis 24:27). [On Psalms 98:7 Hengstenberg: “The roaring suits the fulness of the sea as well as the sea itself; it is used in Job 39:25 of the loud shout of the human voice.”—J. F. M.] The clapping of the hands is employed as a token of applause and an expression of joy at the ascension of kings (2 Kings 11:12; Psalms 47:2). The waves of the sea exalting themselves are represented also in Habakkuk 3:10 as hands stretched forth on high.


1. The Church can be helped only through the Lord its God. But there is a difference between the ordinary means of grace and extraordinary help. Since God employs both according as circumstances require, so must the Church, while awaiting the latter, not neglect the former. She is, by such a course, strengthened in hope as well as in patient waiting, and is both rendered better fitted to praise God’s wonders, and encouraged to engage in such praise.
2. The wonders of God among His people are primarily designed for them, and earnestly directed to their deliverance. But they are not to be restricted to that nation, nor to be turned to the account of selfishness. And therefore some of them are performed before the eyes of the whole world, and are also to be made known to the heathen, in order that they may redound to the good of the world, and that God may be praised among all nations, when He shall have changed the desolated earth by righteousness and justice into an abode of salvation and joy.


What God does is not merely done rightly; what He has done in Zion must promote also the good of the whole world.—The renovation of the earth by God’s coming, so as to be changed into the seat of His kingdom.—Why is it that the songs in praise of God are ever becoming less frequent among us? Great and special blessings deserve great, special, and most fitting thanks.—The victory which Christ has gained, and the deliverance which He sought to achieve, will be blessings to us, if we believe in Him, since it was for our sakes that He undertook this war.—Christ has gained the victory with His own arm; therefore all merit on the part of the Church and all her own good works are excluded.—Where Christ’s kingdom breaks forth mightily in praise, it requires a very strong influence to make it cease.
[Matt. Henry: Converts sing a new song, very different from what they had sung; they change their wonder and change their joy, and therefore change their note. If the grace of God put a new heart into our breast, it will therewith put a new song into our mouths.

Barnes: One cannot read this Psalm without being a happier man; without lofty views of God; without feeling that He is worthy of universal praise; without recognizing that he is in a world where the mind should be joyful; that he is under the dominion of a God whose reign should fill the mind with gladness.—J. F. M.]

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Psalms 98". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/psalms-98.html. 1857-84.
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