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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 149

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary


The occasion of this psalm is generally considered the same as Psalms 147, 118, 150. The national joy now rose to the sublimest height, as in the earlier and heroic days. Their experience had taught them that they lived in the midst of great and hostile nations, who envied their prosperity, hated their religion, and had “afflicted them from their youth.” Psalms 129:0. They must not, therefore, lay down the sword, nor omit the preparations of self-defence. Their walled capital awoke their ancient chivalry, and distinguished them at once as being no longer defenceless nomads but a nation, and God was their king. Psalms 149:2. Nay, God would make them the instruments of his wrath upon the heathen people that should assail them, and put in their power kings and nobles who should invade them. The old theocratic faith, that Jehovah would reign over the nations through Israel now regained dominion. It is in this light we are to construe the apparently harsh language of Psalms 149:6-9

Verse 1

1. A new song Suited to the new era of the nation’s history, and the new joys and hopes awakened. This call for a “new song,” which occurs five times in the Psalms, always indicates some marked occasion for joy and thanksgiving epochal points in the history of the individual or of the nation.

In the congregation For now, after seventy years’ dispersion, the holy convocation of the covenant people is again witnessed.

Verse 2

2. In him that made him The Maker of Israel corresponds to King in the next member of the verse, and refers not so directly to the act of creation, as to Jehovah’s act of constituting, and now resuscitating, their national and Church organization and life. The Hebrew word “made,” ( עשׂה ,) though sometimes used interchangeably with the word create, here properly takes the sense of form, construct, constitute. The reconstruction of their civil and religious polity, however, was like a new creation.

Verse 3

3. In the dance Hebrew, With the mahhol. מחול , ( mahhol) from חול , ( hhool,) to twist, turn, writhe, is supposed to indicate the “dance,” from the twisted and contorted motions of the actor, or the round “dance,” dancing in a circle. It occurs, with its derivative mehhoolah, fourteen times, and is always translated “dance” in our English Version, except once, (Song of Solomon 6:13,) though in the text, and in Psalms 150:4, the marginal reading is pipe, which is probably the true idea. The mention in the text, of the mahhol with the timbrel, ( toph,) or tambourine and harp, would seem to be sufficient to class it with their musical instruments. This is corroborated by Judges 21:21, where the English translation, “If the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in dances,” should be: “If they come out to dance with meholoth, or musical instruments,” of whatever kind. Professor Marks, (Smith’s Dic. of the Bible, article Dance,) quotes Joel Brill, an author of the first authority on this subject, who says: “It is evident from the passage (Psalm cl, 4) ‘Let him praise his name with the toph, [timbrel] and mahhol,’ that the latter must here mean some musical instrument, and this, he adds, is the opinion of the majority of scholars.”

Dr. A. Clarke says: “I know of no place in the Bible where the word means dance, but constantly some kind of pipe,” and quotes Parkhurst as sustaining the same opinion. So also Rosenmuller.

As the English version now stands, it would authorize the opinion that dancing was a familiar accompaniment of the higher forms of praise among the Hebrews. We have already had occasion to say, (see note on Psalms 30:10,) that this is unsustained by history. The marginal reading is better: “Let them praise his name with the pipe.” A form of solemn dance, did accompany some of their triumphal celebrations, such as are recorded Exodus 15:0; 2 Samuel 6:14; 2 Samuel 6:16; but the evangelical spirit predominated. A notable instance is given Psalms 68:0. Dancing is not there specified, but from Psalms 68:11; Psalms 68:25, it seems probable. Let the reader examine the psalms composed and sung on the occasion of the second removal of the ark, at which David danced, and judge whether his example countenances modern social dancing, or justifies any custom of religious dancing. In the religious rites of the heathen it was common, but always, with them, irreverent, gay, and lewd. With the Hebrews it never received the sanction of Moses, nor attained a permanency. The reference of Judges 21:21, indicates the custom at a time proverbial for irregularities. See notes on Psalms 30:11; Psalms 42:4

Verse 4

4. Beautify the meek with salvation This is a law of the divine government. The meek, not the proud and contentious, shall triumph at last, even in this life. Matthew 5:5. These are they who wait in patient suffering for God’s time and manner of judgment. “Beautify,” here, takes the sense of honour. God will honour the meek in the eyes of the world. The struggling colony had humbly borne the malice and perfidy of hostile tribes for nearly a hundred years from their first arrival, (Ezra 1:0,) and about one hundred and sixty six years from the beginning of their captivity, but now they are honoured in the sight of the nations by the favour of the king of Persia, and the completion of their new temple and city walls. “Salvation” is here to be taken in its broadest sense, embracing temporal and spiritual deliverance. The author speaks of the true Israel.

Verse 6

6. The high praises of God Hebrew, The exaltations of God; that is, those praises which exalt God in the eyes of his universe.

In their mouth Hebrew, In their throat, as indicating loud sounding praise. In Isaiah 58:1, the same word is rendered “cry aloud.” The loud sounding instruments of music, enumerated Psalms 149:3, and Psalm cl, 3-5, indicate the greatest joy.

A two-edged sword This is not the sword of war, but of administrative justice, as appears in the following verses. A nation that would honour God with loud and exulting praises, must jealously guard the foundations of government and defend the rights of the people. Figuratively, “a two edged sword” denotes the word of God. Hebrews 4:12; Revelation 1:16

Verse 7

7. Vengeance The word simply means retributive justice, in rendering back to men according to their deeds.

Verse 9

9. The judgment written Not the recorded “judgment” against the Canaanitish nations, (Deuteronomy 7:1-2,) but the written prophecies of the earlier Scriptures, and contained in the covenant of Abraham, of the universal dominion of Jehovah through his covenant people, the favourite form of Old Testament anticipation of Messiah’s kingdom. Through their resuscitated national life the pious Hebrews rose to the high self-consciousness of their destiny as a people, as in the time of David, and looked for the glorification of Israel according to ancient promise.

This honour have all his saints Namely, to triumph over and judge the nations. Christ must reign till he has put all enemies under his feet, by his bloodless methods of subjugation, for “his weapons are not carnal, but mighty.” 2 Corinthians 10:4-5. His victories are his people’s victories, and his reign their reign, for the cause is one.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 149". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/psalms-149.html. 1874-1909.
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