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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Psalms 147

 

 

Verse 1

Praise ye the LORD: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely. The four psalms (and probably the preceding psalm, Psalms 146:1-10), 147-150, form one whole. All (Psalms 147:1-20; Psalms 148:1-14; Psalms 149:1-9; Psalms 150:1-6) are severally marked by 'Hallelujah' at the beginning and end. All alike are joyous thanksgivings, without any of the lamentations which appear in the other psalms of the period after the return from Babylon. All combine the praises of God in nature with the praise of His grace to His people. All refer to a great salvation performed for Israel. This cycle of psalms was probably designed for the dedication of the walls of Jerusalem under Nehemiah. The "gates" are mentioned, Psalms 148:13. Compare Nehemiah 12:27-43. The post-exile psalms heretofore, while Jerusalem lay unprotected, are tinged with sadness; but now joy predominates (cf. Nehemiah 6:15-16; Nehemiah 12:43; Psalms 149:6-9). The Levites' prayer (Nehemiah 9:6) accords with Psalms 146:6. Compare Psalms 147:19; Nehemiah 9:13-14; Nehemiah 10:29. The same instruments were used in dedicating the walls as appear in this psalm-cycle (cf. Psalms 147:7; Psalms 150:3-5 with Nehemiah 12:27; Nehemiah 12:35; Nehemiah 12:41).

Praise ye the Lord - Hallelujah.

For it is good to sing praises unto our God - from Psalms 92:1.

For it is pleasant - from Psalms 135:3.

(And) praise is comely - from Psalms 33:1.


Verse 2

The LORD doth build up Jerusalem: he gathereth together the outcasts of Israel.

The Lord doth build up Jerusalem. The city was built up by Nehemiah first (Nehemiah 2:5), and afterward the walls, which completed the work (Psalms 147:13; Nehemiah 3:1; Nehemiah 6:15).

He gathereth together the outcasts of Israel - in consonance with the promise, Deuteronomy 30:3; Isaiah 11:12; Isaiah 56:8. The full gathering of Israel's outcasts is yet future (Psalms 107:3).


Verse 3

He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.

He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds - (Psalms 34:18; Psalms 103:3; Isaiah 61:1; Isaiah 57:15; Isaiah 57:18-19.) The Lord Jesus fulfils this promise spiritually (Luke 4:18). The "wounds" of the spiritual Israel are now being bound up by the great Healer. Hereafter, also, the literal Israel shall have both its temporal, or national, and its spiritual wounds healed up by Messiah, its King.


Verse 4

He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.

He telleth (or, literally, determines) the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names. From earth the Psalmist turns to heaven; because the most glorious manifestations of God's power are there: it therefore fills the believer's soul with the more hearty appreciation of the excellency of the God whom He praises as his God, to think that the same God who 'calleth all the stars by their names' (knowing the characteristics of each, as being formed and upheld by Himself) is the God of redemption, who 'calleth his own' people individually 'by name,' as being peculiarly His (Exodus 33:12; John 10:3; Revelation 2:17; Revelation 3:12). To number the stars is beyond the powers of man's intellect (Genesis 15:5, where the countless number of the stars is alluded to, for the purpose of comforting Abraham with the hope of a similarly numerous offspring, literal and spiritual), much less to name them, which implies an intimate acquaintance with the special properties of each. So Isaiah, Isaiah 40:26-27, uses the same encouragement, "Behold" He "bringeth out their host by number: He calleth them all by names by the greatness of His might, for that He is strong in power, not one faileth. Why sayest thou, O Jacob My way is hid from the Lord?" etc.


Verse 5

Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.

Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite - literally, 'there is no number,' i:e., measure, 'of his understanding' (Isaiah 40:28); therefore His wisdom has infinite resources whereby to save His people in all dangers (Romans 11:26-36).


Verse 6

The LORD lifteth up the meek: he casteth the wicked down to the ground.

The Lord lifteth up the meek: he casteth the wicked down to the ground - parallel to Psalms 146:8-9. Another proof of the connection of Psalms 146:1-10 with this cycle of psalms.


Verse 7

Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God:

Sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving - literally, 'answer;' i:e., 'sing ye responsively' (Ezra 3:11) (DeBurgh). Rather, 'respond unto the Lord with thanksgiving' - i:e., let your thanksgiving be the corresponding return to His graciously bestowed salvation. So Psalms 119:172, "Speak of thy word" - Hebrew, respond to.


Verse 8

Who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains.

Who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains. The gloomy-looking "clouds" are the harbingers of the refreshing "rain;" 'the rugged mountains' are made by God to attract the clouds, and so to bring down rain, so that thereby the grass grows (Psalms 104:13) on the mountain-sides. So affliction is overruled to be a blessing to God's people.


Verse 9

He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry.

He giveth to the beast his food. (Psalms 104:14; Psalms 104:27-28),

And to the young ravens which cry - (Job 38:41.) The ravens, with their hoarse cry, are unconsciously appealing to their Maker and Preserver for their necessary food. They depend not on the regular fruits of the earth, but on precarious subsistence (Luke 12:24; Psalms 104:21; Psalms 145:15).


Verse 10-11

He delighteth not in the strength of the horse: he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man.

He delighteth not in the strength of the horse; he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man. The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy - (Psalms 33:16-18.) Mere animal strength is the admiration of the world. Cavalry, chariots, and strong infantry are what earthly men rely on (Psalms 20:7); but the Lord's pleasure is in them that combine reverent fear with believing hope toward Him. It is "to them that have no might He increaseth strength" (Isaiah 40:29). Those who cast away all self-confidence, and have recourse to God alone, are time especial objects of God's delight.


Verse 12-13

Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem; praise thy God, O Zion.

Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem. For he hath strengthened the bars of thy gates. The walls of Jerusalem had just been built, and the gates set up, under Nehemiah. This was the crowning of the secure re-establishment of the city and nation. This cycle of psalm was sung at the dedication of the walls (Nehemiah 3:1-32; Nehemiah 12:27-43). Compare Sirach 49:13, which seems to have had this passage in view, 'Nehemas, whose renown is great, who raised up for us the walls that were fallen down, and set up the gates and the bars, and raised up our ruins again.'

He hath blessed thy children within thee. Internal prosperity follows external security, which the building of the walls and setting up of the gates ensured.


Verse 14

He maketh peace in thy borders, and filleth thee with the finest of the wheat.

He maketh peace in thy borders (Isaiah 60:17-18), and filleth thee with the finest of the wheat - literally, 'with the fat of wheat' (Psalms 81:16). Thus God was now fulfilling His promise in Psalms 132:15.


Verse 15

He sendeth forth his commandment upon earth: his word runneth very swiftly.

He sendeth forth his commandment (upon) earth: his word runneth very swiftly. God's Word is a servant which He sends forth upon earth to execute His will. It carries into effect His decree with instantaneous swiftness. So the centurion, by faith, attributed the same efficacy to Jesus' word. According to his faith so it was done unto him (Matthew 8:9; Matthew 8:13; Psalms 107:20; Job 37:12).


Verse 16-17

He giveth snow like wool: he scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes.

He giveth snow like wool: he scattereth the hoar-frost like ashes. He casteth forth his ice like morsels: who can stand before his cold? God giveth forth the widely extending and intensely chilling snow, hoar-frost, and ice, with as much ease as a man would scatter a few locks of "wool," or a handful of "ashes" (cf. Exodus 9:8; Exodus 9:10), or throw some "morsels" of bread to animals. The things to which the snow, hoar-frost, and ice are thus compared bear some resemblance to these. The snow, frost, and cold are also symbolical of the chill winter of Israel's adversity. She, by bitter experience, could testify, "who can stand before His cold?"


Verse 18

He sendeth out his word, and melteth them: he causeth his wind to blow, and the waters flow.

He sendeth out his word, and melteth them: he causeth his wind to blow (and) the waters flow - a warm wind, which causes a thaw. So God mercifully caused the spring of mercy to Israel now to succeed to the icy winter of past trouble. Compare notes, Psalms 107:1-43, respecting the same happy change described under figures.


Verse 19-20

He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel.

He showeth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them. The same reference to God's 'statutes and judgments' occurs in the parallel history, Nehemiah 9:13-14; Nehemiah 10:29 - the distinguishing glory of Israel. The revelation of God to her at Sinai raised her above all peoples as the only one who knew the will of the one true God. (Deuteronomy 33:2-4; Deuteronomy 4:32-34; Romans 3:1-2). This conclusion assigns the ground of God's return in mercy to Israel-namely, His original choice of her as the repository of His truth.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 147:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/psalms-147.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, November 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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