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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Psalms 147

The theme of this psalm is, the excellence of praise. It is good to sing praises unto our God. Psalms 147:1. In this and the three following psalms we recognise the usual Hebrew method of using the natural as the type of the supernatural, and of thus ascending from nature to God, from the outward to the spiritual. It is believed that this psalm was written at the dedication of the walls of Jerusalem by Nehemiah. In the Septuagint it is ascribed to the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. In the year 457 B.C., according to Dr. Hales, Ezra brought from Babylon to Jerusalem two thousand exiles, mostly Levites. About eighty years previous, according to the same authority, Zerubbabel had led back the first colony, and about thirteen years later than Ezra’s arrival Nehemiah, by the order of the same king, Artaxerxes Longimanus, son of the Ahasuerus of the Book of Esther, came as governor. By his wisdom and energy the walls and gates of the city were restored. Their dedication was a time of joyous festivity, and seems to have occurred in the winter, when spring was in prospect. The grateful feeling of the writer is aroused, not only by the completed walls, but also by the copious rains that give promise of ample harvest. The Septuagint makes of this two psalms, the second beginning at the twelfth verse.

Verse 1

1. The change of one letter, זמרה , to זמרו , makes it is pleasant become he is pleasant, and some critics have so rendered it.

Verse 2

2. The Lord… build The king of Persia and Nehemiah are recognised only as subordinates. It was the Lord who gathered home his banished ones and restored their city.

Verse 3

3. Broken in heart This was their sad state in exile, but now they are comforted.

Verse 4

4. He telleth the… stars Here is something more than poetical embellishment. He who thus knows and calls the stars, much more knows and names his people.

Verse 6

6. Lifteth up… casteth… down As has just been shown, in restoring his people and repelling their enemies.

Verse 7

7. Sing The exiles are not only happy in their return, but they see mercy and goodness in the prospect of rain from heaven and fruitful seasons of future food and gladness.

Verse 8

8. Clouds The early Sanscrit calls the clouds “the cows of the gods nourishing the earth.”

Upon the mountains That is, beyond man’s reach, for the wild goats of the rock.

Verse 9

9. Ravens which cry The young ravens, like the sparrows, are low and worthless birds. The divine care over them implies more care over those who are of more value than many sparrows.

Verse 10

10. Delighteth not… taketh not pleasure Hebrew poetry loves to divide thoughts into parallel expressions. The English would be more likely to say: “The strength and legs (speed) of horse or man.”

Verse 11

11. Taketh pleasure As in Ezra and Nehemiah, who, having been loyal to God in trying times, now felt the sunshine of his pleasure.

Verse 12

12. Praise the Lord The psalm bursts out afresh with joy at the condition of Jerusalem and the prospects of the nation. Israel returned from the captivity with the profound conviction, never again to be shaken, that the gods of other nations were vanity, and that Jehovah was God almighty, eternal, and alone.

Verse 15

15. The allusion is to the creative energy: “And God said.” The effect of his word was instantaneous.

Verse 16

16. Giveth snow A Greek writer calls snow “fleecy rain.” So frost is like sprinkled ashes, and hail like scattered morsels.

Verse 19

19. His statutes… judgments The special blessing of Israel. God’s “statutes and judgments” had produced the Daniels, Esthers, and Mordecais of the captivity, and kept heart and hope from sinking down.

Other nations had sad confusion of moral ideas. The chief advantage of the Jews was, that to them were committed the oracles of God, the light and truth that now go forth to the ends of the earth.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 147". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/psalms-147.html. 1874-1909.