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The prophet exhorteth to praise God for his love to the church, and for that power which he hath given to it.
THIS psalm appears to have been composed upon some signal victory, and some great exploits done by the Jews; and therefore probably relates to the times of David, when they made the greatest figure, and gained the most considerable victories.
Psalms 149:1. A new song— St. Chrysostome commenting on this place gives us an account of the meaning of a new song, which, according to the use of the word new in other places, (when the Hebrews would express a thing very wonderful, such as had not been seen or heard of before, as Numbers 16:31., Jeremiah 31:22.) he takes to denote an illustrious and celebrated hymn, made for great victories or atchievements.
Psalms 149:3. Let them praise his name in the dance— In order to vindicate the Scriptures of the Old Testament from the charge of encouraging or even tolerating the dances which are practised in modern times, and which are in perfect contrariety to communion with God, and of course to the spirit of true religion, I think it necessary to make the following remarks on the sacred dances of the Hebrews. The different customs of different nations, always varying from each other, and even from themselves at different times, make it utterly impracticable, especially at this distance of time, to give any satisfactory account of the mode in which the sacred dances of the Hebrews were conducted: and it is the more so, because the modern usage has appropriated and confined this practice only to entertainments of levity and gaiety, so as to make the ideas of solemnity and gravity wholly contrary to, and inconsistent with, that of dancing. It is certain, however, that the ancient Hebrews, upon the greatest occasions of joy and triumph, did use the solemn dance. Different companies of them, as they excelled in different ways, did jointly contribute, according to their respective abilities, to express the general joy: and while some afflicted at the national ceremony with vocal and some with instrumental music, others performed the solemn dance. The first mention which we find made of this in scripture, is as early as the days of Moses, upon the deliverance from Pharaoh; when Miriam, Moses's sister, sang the ode which her brother had composed upon that occasion; and she took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and dances, Exodus 15:20-2.15.21. Thus Jephtha's daughter came to welcome her father upon his successful return from battle, with timbrels and dances, Judges 11:34.; and that this custom continued to the time of David, appears not only from this verse, and Psa 149:4 of the following psalm, but from what is said of his own conduct in this way, when he brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom, to mount Zion. Upon that most solemn occasion, we find that he divested himself of his royal robes, and being clothed in a robe of fine linen, and with a shorter garment, a linen ephod, girt about him over that, he danced before the ark. Compare 2 Samuel 6:0 with 1 Chronicles 15:25; 1 Chronicles 15:29. From these observations it is evident, that the solemn dances of the ancient Hebrews, which are mentioned in scripture, have no similarity with the dances of modern times, which are almost necessarily accompanied with extreme levity and carnal gaiety.
Psalms 149:4. He will beautify the meek— i.e. "Will deliver those who meekly depend upon him, and will make them as great and illustrious, as they had been contemptible and mean." See 1 Chronicles 14:2. Mudge renders it, He decorateth the humble with victory.
Psalms 149:5. Let the saints be joyful in glory, &c.— Let the favoured ones exult in their heart. It is frequent with the psalmist to call upon כבודו kebodo, his soul, or heart, all that is within him, to praise the Lord; and therefore, as it is here joined with singing upon their beds, it seems to justify the translation given. As above he had called upon them to public joy, so here he calls them to rejoice within themselves while they were on their beds. Mudge. Possibly their beds here means nothing more than the couches on which they reclined while they partook of the sacrifice offered in thanksgiving for their victory.
Psalms 149:6. Let the high praises, &c.— That is, "Let them not, however, lay aside all thoughts of warlike preparations, and be drowned in the ease of a sluggish peace; but let them, at the same time that they are singing victorious hymns to the honour of God, be in readiness to oppose, and gain fresh victories over the heathen, who are still his and their enemies." Mudge renders this verse in the imperfect tense: The exaltation of God was in their mouth, &c. Jehoshaphat marched out to meet the enemy, with the Levites singing psalms before him. See the 8th verse verified, Judges 1:7.
Psalms 149:9. To execute upon them the judgment— i.e. "The judgment which God hath long ago decreed, and which is recorded in his law." There should be a full stop at written. The next clause is general; Such honour have all his saints: i.e. "Such is the honour which Israel shall have; and such shall be their glorious victories, while they are in favour with God."
REFLECTIONS.—1st, The contemplation of new wonders of God's hand calls for a new song of praise. The place appointed is the congregation of the saints; for when we assemble for public worship, praise is the noblest part of the service, and all should join therein. Let Israel rejoice in him that made him, or in his Makers, the Eternal Three, whose work it is not only to make the persons, or to form the people of Israel into a nation, but to create in righteousness and true holiness the spiritual Israel, which is, the most enlarged matter of our joy; and let the children of Zion, the living members of Christ's church, be joyful in their king, Messiah, exalted to the throne of glory, and ever living to bless and make his faithful people happy. Let them, these believing souls, praise his name in the sacred dance, which on solemn occasions was used; or with the pipe: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp, as expressive of that sweeter melody which they made unto God in their hearts, and without which the other were but profanation. For the Lord taketh pleasure in his people: they are his in the Son of his love; he admits them into communion with himself, accepts their services, and delights in their persons. He will beautify the meek with salvation, who, lowly in their own eyes, are led to Jesus for salvation. Therefore let the saints, for this is their honoured character, however in the world the name be ridiculed, let the saints be joyful in glory; adorned as they are, and in hope of what they shall be; or gloriously, with exceeding great joy. Let them sing aloud upon their beds, not ashamed of being heard, but triumphing in the salvation of God, when they awake at midnight, when they lie on beds of sickness, or go down to the dust of death; and well may they sing who have nothing to fear, every thing to hope, every foe vanquished, the sting of death removed, the gates of heaven opened, and glory, honour, and immortality in full prospect before them. Lord, give me to share in this felicity of thy faithful people! Open thou my mouth, and my lips shall shew forth thy praise!
2nd, The victories of God's Israel are great and distinguished, and therefore their praises are loud and joyful. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, or, the high things, his glorious perfections, which are to be celebrated by them; and a two-edged sword in their hand, to execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; either literally to avenge the wrongs done to God's people by the neighbouring nations, now justly smitten with the irresistible sword of David and his army; or, spiritually it may be interpreted of the sword of the Spirit, Ephesians 6:17., Heb 6:12 which is sharp and piercing, convincing the conscience of sin, cutting down all self-righteousness, and threatening eternal death to the soul. With this word in their mouths the apostles and preachers went forth, to fight against heathen idolatry and superstition, and to rebuke the people for their abominations: and the powerful effects of it soon appeared in the demolition of the idols and their temples, and the conversion of the Gentiles to God, who turned at their reproof: To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron, as Joshua and David had done by their conquered foes: or rather, as Christ hath done, and will do, by his enemies, binding Satan in chains from hurting his faithful people, and destroying the antichristian powers that oppress them: or by the effectual power of his grace, drawing the hearts of sinners, even some of highest rank, in chains of love to him, stronger than fetters of iron. To execute upon them the judgment written; on the nations of Canaan, (see Deuteronomy 7:2.) or rather, upon all the enemies of Christ and his people, who reject the warnings of his word, and therefore must perish everlastingly, Mark 16:16. This honour have all his saints; all the blessings recited in this psalm belong to the faithful; they shall be glorious in the eyes of God; rejoice in his salvation; and, sitting down with Christ on his throne, see all their enemies at the last become their footstool; and in the prospect of that great day they may well cry, Hallelujah!
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 149". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent