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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Psalms 113

 

 

Verses 1-9

Psalm 113

1 Praise ye the Lord.

Praise, O ye servants of the Lord,

Praise the name of the Lord.

2 Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and for evermore.

3 From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same

The Lord’s name is to be praised.

4 The Lord is high above all nations,

And his glory above the heavens.

5 Who is like unto the Lord our God,

Who dwelleth on high,

6 Who humbleth himself to behold

The things that are in heaven, and in the earth!

7 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust,

And lifteth the needy out of the dunghill;

8 That he may set him with princes,

Even with the princes of his people.

9 He maketh the barren woman to keep house,

And to be a joyful mother of children.

Praise ye the Lord.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Contents and Composition.—An exhortation is sent forth to praise Jehovah at all times and throughout the world ( Psalm 113:1-3) as the God who, though infinitely exalted, yet beholds even things that are most abased ( Psalm 113:4-6), and exalts, blesses, and gladdens the feeble, the despised, and the mourning ( Psalm 113:7-9). No special connection with the people of Israel after the exile (Hengst. and the ancients) is discoverable. Just as uncertain is any allusion to Jonathan’s elevation, 1 Maccabees 10:63 (Hitzig), or the assumption that there is a close connection between this Psalm and the following, and that it was composed in view of the passover (Köster, Ewald). [It is thus supposed to be connected with the deliverance from Egypt pictured in Psalm 114.—J. F. M.] But even the frequent, and, in some cases, unexpected use of the so called chirek compaginis[FN1] (comp. Ewald, § 211) is no evidence of antiquity, but indicates design.

In the liturgy, the Song of Solomon -called Hallel ( Psalm 113-118), also termed the Egyptian Hallel, as distinguished from the Great Hallel. Psalm 136. begins with this Psalm. The latter designation is also applied sometimes by the Talmud and Midrash to Psalm 120, 136, and to Psalm 135:4-21. By some Christian writers it is wrongly applied to the Hallel in the more restricted sense. This Psalm continued to be recited while the Temple stood, and is still recited in Palestine, eighteen times a year, apart from its customary, though not legal, use at the new moon. Outside of Palestine, it is now yearly recited twenty-one times on account of the addition of three great feast-days. At the family celebration of the passover Psalm 113, 114were sung before the meal, and indeed before the emptying of the second cup, and Psalm 115-118 after the meal, and after the filling of the fourth cup (comp. the expositors on Matthew 27:30; Mark 14:26).—This Psalm is the Old Test magnificat. [Perowne: “The Psalm may be said to be a connecting link between the Song of Hannah and the Magnificat of the Virgin.”—J.F.M.]

Psalm 113:1. Servants of Jehovah. This phrase is more expressive here than in Psalm 134, 135:20, and pre-supposes a specific conception of the relation in which Israel as a whole stood to God as His servant ( Psalm 136:22), and in which their individual living members Psalm 34:23; 69:37) were embraced.

Psalm 113:5-6. A connection in the thought might be considered possible between verse6b and Psalm 113:5 a ( Deuteronomy 3:24). But we are prevented by the structure of the sentences from assuming such connection here (Geier, Hengst, Camphausen). The angels in heaven (Calvin) are, at all events, not to be thought of. The simplest course is to supply: upon all things. For this affords the most comprehensive conception of every thing that exists and transpires there (J. H. Mich. and others). But the restriction to seeing generally (Hupfeld), as contrasted with looking down, is unsuitable; for although the throne of God is usually mentioned as existing in heaven, yet the exaltation of God over heaven and earth is distinctly expressed ( Psalm 148:3). [The true rendering of Psalm 113:5-6 accordingly is: “Who is like Jehovah our God, who sitteth throned on high, who stoopeth down to see (what is done) in heaven and on earth?” (Perowne). The literal construction of the second and third clauses Isaiah, who maketh high to sit, who maketh low to see. For the thought comp. Isaiah 57:15.—J. F. M.]

Psalm 113:7-9. Psalm 113:7-8 are taken verbatim from the song of Hannah ( 1 Samuel 2:8), and Psalm 113:9 probably follows 1 Samuel 2:5. A barren spouse was not assured of being allowed to remain in the house. Not until she became a mother did she gain a firm position. The application of the figure to the Church ( Isaiah 54:1 ff) does not justify a typical interpretation of this passage (The older expositors and Hengst. following the Chald. and the Rabbins).—“One who is shut out from society in Syria and Palestine lies upon the mezbele (dung and ash-heap), calling upon the passers-by for alms during the day, and at night cowering in the ashes warmed by the sun” (Del.). [ Psalm 113:9 b. is correctly: a joyful mother of the children. Delitzsch: “The poet presents the scene so vividly to himself, that he points, as though with his finger, at the children with which God has blessed her.” The article is suspected without reason by Olshausen and Hupfeld. These critics, especially the former one, run to an excess in their attempts to amend the text.—J. F. M.]

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. As God has given Himself a name that is above every name, and has therein revealed His nature for all times and the whole world, so will He be invoked always and everywhere by His servants by this name, and bids His Church in all places of the earth be mindful of this part of its service to Him.

2. God’s infinite exaltation above all created beings does not separate Him from those in need of help, or remove Him to an unapproachable distance, or place Him in solitude and out of relation to them, but is united in an incomparable manner with a careful regard for the least as well as for the greatest.

3. This mindfulness of them is no mere observing or purposeless gazing, but actual condescension to the insignificant, despised, and afflicted, so that they may be raised from their misery, and that the Church may ever have renewed occasion to praise Him.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

The condescension of the Highest as the strongest and ever-renewed ground of His praise in the Church.—God acts as befits His name; do we render Him the thanks which are His due?—Can it be said of us: As the Master so the servant?—God indeed condescends to the most distressed of men who mourn in obscurity; but what He does in a corner of the earth serves to manifest and exalt His glory, and shall make His name an object of praise for all time and through the whole world.—Who is like our God? A question, (1) of confession, (2) of thanksgiving, (3) of trust.

Starke: If we are to praise God rightly, we must be His servants and believing children; for those who serve Satan and their own bodies, and are the slaves of Mammon, are not fit for such a service.—God’s praise is as worthy of a place in His true service as any other of its elements; this is why we are so often called upon to engage in it.—It is not unbecoming to God to care for what is debased. What it was no dishonor to create, it is no dishonor to preserve.—The exaltation of the wretched is an unassailable testimony to the merciful providence of God, and to the reward that is bestowed upon the pious and godly.—He that is raised from a low station to great honor, must know that God has done it, and must not become uplifted, else God may set him down again.—He who is to be advanced to positions of peculiar importance has no need to anticipate God’s time. When His time and hour come, He will know how to place him where He would have him.

Selnecker: There are many servants and friends of the Lord throughout the world. Their lives and teaching should therefore be such as that God shall not be dishonored, but honored by them.—Franke: The word our is a word of faith. He who has truly given his heart to God, may trust in Him with joy, and need fear nothing.—Rieger: In all God’s words and works are to be found precious traces of His greatness and exaltation and condescending love.—Faith unites the lofty and the condescending in God, and they are equally dear and precious.—Richter: The natural Prayer of Manasseh, even though he be learned, takes no delight in contemplating God’s greatness in lowering Himself. It is faith alone which can harmonize the two, and rejoice that the condescending Lord of the universe does yet favor this little earth so highly, and glorify Himself in things that are insignificant.—Guenther: What are all the exaltation and glory of this world compared to the glory of the kingdom of God?—Diedrich: If the poor Church will be dismayed at times, the servants of the supreme God of mercy must only strike up again the hallelujah, the song of mercy and freedom, and all distress will disappear.—Taube: The small regard the great; and the great God regards the small; the child of the dust seeks self-made heights of greatness; and He who is truly high and exalted will dwell with those who are of a broken and contrite spirit. Wonderful and adorable way for the salvation of the world!

[Scott: In His providence the Lord sometimes raises men from the most abject to the most honorable stations of society, and it is well when they acquit themselves properly in their new dignities. But this is His constant method in the kingdom of grace. He takes us debtors, beggars, nay, rebels and traitors, from the dust, the dung-hill, or the dungeon, to be His favorites and His children, to be kings and priests unto Him: and thus He numbers us with the princes of His chosen people.—J. F. M.]

Footnotes:

FN#1 - Because it was formerly supposed to have been employed to unite its own word euphonically with the following. See Böttcher, Gr. § 584. It is generally, though not exclusively, attached to the construct, state. See Green. Gr. § 61, 6 a, 218. According to Ewald, it is only used artificially by later poets.—J. F. M.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Psalms 113:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/psalms-113.html. 1857-84.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 14th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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