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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
Psalms 148

 

 

Verse 1-2

Psalms 148:1-2. Praise ye the Lord — Bishop Lowth, speaking of the origin of this divine ode, observes, “that it had its birth from the most pleasing affections of the human soul, joy, love, admiration.” “If we contemplate man,” says he, “newly created, such as the sacred Scriptures exhibit him to us, endued with the perfect power of reason and speech; neither ignorant of himself nor of God; conscious of the divine goodness, majesty, and power; no unworthy spectator of the beautiful fabric of the universe, the earth, and the heavens; can we suppose that, at the sight of all these things, his heart would not so burn within him, that his mind, carried away by the warmth of his affections, would, of its own accord, pour itself forth in the praise of his Creator, and glow into that impetuosity of speech, and that exultation of voice, which almost necessarily follows such emotions of mind. This seems to have been exactly the case with the contemplative author of this beautiful Psalm, wherein all created things are called upon to celebrate together the glory of God. Praise ye the Lord, &c., a hymn which our Milton, by far the most divine of poets, after the sacred ones, hath most elegantly imitated, and very aptly given to Adam in paradise: see Paradise Lost, book 5. ver. 153, &c. Indeed, we can scarcely conceive rightly of that primeval and perfect state of man, unless we allow him some use of poetry, whereby he might worthily express, in hymns and songs, his piety and affection toward God.” See the 25th Prelection. Praise the Lord from the heavens — Let his praises be begun by the host of heaven, which he particularly expresses in the following verses. Praise him in the heights In those high and heavenly places. Praise ye him, all his angels — He invites the angels here, and inanimate creatures afterward, to praise God, not as if the former needed, or the latter were capable of receiving his exhortation, but only by a poetical figure, the design whereof was, that men, by this means, might be more excited to this duty. Praise him, all his hosts — The angels, as in the former clause, called hosts, here and 1 Kings 22:19, on account of their vast number, excellent order, and perfect subjection to their general the Lord of hosts.


Verse 3-4

Psalms 148:3-4. Praise him, sun and moon, &c. — You were adored by the blind heathen for gods; you are but his creatures, and therefore would be obliged, if you were capable of it, to worship and praise him for your glorious light and powerful influences. “The material heavens, through their various regions,” says Dr. Horne, “with the luminaries placed in them, and the waters sustained by them, though they have neither speech nor language, and want the tongue of men, yet, by their splendour and magnificence, their motions and their influences, all regulated and exerted according to the ordinance of their Maker, do, in a very intelligible and striking manner, declare the glory of God; they call upon us to translate their actions into our language, and copy their obedience in our lives; that so we may, both by word and deed, glorify, with them, the Creator and Redeemer of the universe.” Praise him, all ye stars of light — Which bespangle the firmament, and constantly burn and shine to his glory, attracting, night after night, and from age to age, the attention, and exciting the admiration of every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people. Praise him, ye heavens of heavens — Ye highest and most glorious heavens, the place of God’s throne, and glorious presence, as this expression seems to mean, Deuteronomy 10:14; 1 Kings 8:27 : or, rather, the starry heavens, which also may be so called, because they are above the air, which is often called heaven in the Scriptures. And ye waters Ye clouds, that be above the heavens — Above a part of them, above the aerial heavens: of which see note on Genesis 1:7.


Verse 5-6

Psalms 148:5-6. Let them praise the name of the Lord — “Who hath set forth his most transcendent wisdom, power, and magnificence in such a variety of stupendous works, that there is not the smallest of them, but ministers such matter of praise and admiration to those who attentively consider them, that they cannot but wish, with the psalmist here, that every one of them were able to tell us how much skill he hath shown in its contrivance; or that we were able to find it out and comprehend it.” He commanded, and they were created — They owe their existence wholly to his will and pleasure. He hath also established them for ever and ever — To the end of the world. They are, by his superintending and watchful providence, constantly preserved and continued. He made a decree, &c. — “That is, prescribed rules to the heavens, the stars, and other creatures, as to their situation, motion, and influence; which, though inanimate, they never transgress.” — Dodd.


Verse 7

Psalms 148:7. Praise the Lord from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps — “From heaven above the psalmist descends to the deep beneath, which, while it proclaims the power, observes the laws and decrees of him who made it, and poured it abroad. And the same may be said of its enormous inhabitants, which are under the command of Jehovah, and of none but him.” By dragons here, we may either understand serpents, which abide in the deep caverns or holes of the earth; or, rather, whales, crocodiles, and other sea monsters, which dwell in the depths of the sea, or of rivers, and are often intended by the word תנינים, here rendered dragons.


Verse 8

Psalms 148:8. Fire — Lightning, thunderbolts, fiery meteors, in which God shows his wonderful power, lighting up those powerful flames, even in cold regions, which are far removed from subterraneous fires. And the noise and stupendous effects of these fires, and especially of thunder and lightning, are such, that they have been justly termed, the voice of God, and the arrows of the almighty. Hail, snow, and vapour — It is really wonderful, that from the same places where the hot lightnings flash, and from whence the thunderbolts are thrown, hail and snow should also descend: nor could this possibly happen, but by the power and wisdom of that Being that can effect every thing. The word קישׂיר, here rendered vapour, signifies fumes, or hot exhalations, as cold exhalations are comprehended under the title of snow; and both of them, arising from the earth, are here fitly mentioned as belonging to it. Stormy wind — Which is of very great use in vehemently agitating the air, and thereby keeping it from stagnating and becoming unwholesome. But the expression, סערה

רוח, ought, perhaps, rather to be rendered whirlwind, a wind which moves in a spiral direction, as well as horizontally, and is exceedingly rapid and impetuous: see on Job 37:9. This also wonderfully displays the power of God. Fulfilling his word — Going forth as so many messengers to execute his commands and effect his purposes, either of mercy for the comfort, or of judgment for the punishment of the inhabitants of the earth. And they all praise and glorify God after their manner, while they accomplish his pleasure.


Verse 9-10

Psalms 148:9-10. Mountains, and all hills — These are of great use in the earth. From them descend the running streams into the valleys, without which animals could not live. On the mountains grow those vast trees which are necessary for daily use in various ways; and on the hills and mountains is herbage for vast multitudes of cattle, whereby men are supplied with food and clothing. And all cedars — Under the name of cedars, as being the chief, seems to be included all kinds of trees which do not bear fruit. A little reflection will show how much it is a subject for praise to God that he hath furnished us with so many kinds of trees; some of which produce for us the most delicious, the most wholesome, and most useful fruits; others supply us with materials for building our habitations and ships, whereby we trade to all parts of the world; and for making our household goods, and various kinds of tools and instruments. If all these were wanting to us, we could hardly subsist; and if but a great part of them were wanting, we should lead a much more laborious and unpleasant life than we do. Beasts, and all cattle — Let the wild beasts also of the forest, and all the cattle that feed in the fields, furnish matter of praise to him who hath shown his manifold wisdom and diffusive goodness in and by them all. And, certainly, whoever considers to how many useful and beneficial purposes of life they are employed, in one way or another, must see and acknowledge that they furnish a powerful motive for praise to the great Creator, for the vast multitude and various kinds of them, which he hath formed and subjected to the dominion of man. Creeping things —

Including many animals in the waters, as well as in the land; and flying fowl In the various forms, capacities, and instincts of which, as well as in the beautiful plumage of many of them, and the ample provision made for them all, much of the wisdom, power, and goodness of the Creator is manifested.


Verse 11-12

Psalms 148:11-12. Kings of the earth, and all people — “After the whole creation hath been called upon to praise Jehovah, man, for whom the whole was made; man, the last and most perfect work of God; man, that hath been since redeemed by the blood of the Son of God incarnate, is exhorted to join and fill up the universal chorus of heaven and earth, as being connected with both worlds, that which now is, and that which is to come. Persons of every degree, of each sex, and of every age; kings, whose power God hath made an image of his own, and who are the suns of their respective systems; judges, and magistrates of all kinds, who derive their power, as the moon and planets do their light, from its original source; young men and maidens, in the flower of health, strength, and beauty; old men, who have accomplished their warfare, and are going out of life; children, who are just come into it, and see every thing new before them; all these have their several reasons for praising the Lord.” — Horne.


Verse 13-14

Psalms 148:13-14. Let them praise, &c. — Let them acknowledge and celebrate the wisdom, goodness, and power of the Lord; for his name alone is excellent — For how great soever any other beings may be, there is none equal to him, whose most excellent majesty infinitely surpasses that of all other beings; and whose glory is above the earth and heaven — Above all that the earth or heaven can utter of him. He also exalteth the horn of his people — And so great is God’s condescension unto us, the children of Israel, that he takes a peculiar care of us, hath bestowed upon us many peculiar benefits, and raised us to the highest pitch of honour, especially to this, that he hath brought us more near to himself than any other people upon the earth, and hath placed among us a visible token of his presence: we therefore are under peculiar obligations to praise him for his singular kindness.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 148:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/psalms-148.html. 1857.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, August 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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