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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
Psalms 150

 

 

Verse 1

Psalms 150:1. Praise God in his sanctuary — In his temple, where this work was to be performed constantly and solemnly. Let his priests and people that attend there, attend him with their praises. Where should he be praised, if not where he in a special manner both manifests his glory and communicates his grace? Or praise him for, or on account of, his sanctuary, and the great privileges that we enjoy by having it among us. Or, as בקדשׁו, may be rendered, for his holiness; that is, for the inexpressible purity and holiness of his nature. Praise him in, or for, the firmament, or expansion, as the word signifies, (see on Genesis 1:16,) of his power — “Which power is peculiarly displayed in the formation of the firmament, or expansion of the material heavens, and their incessant operations, by means of” the luminaries placed in them, and “the light and the air of which they are composed, upon the earth, and all things therein. These are the appointed instruments of life and motion in the natural world, and they afford us some idea of that power of God unto salvation which is manifested in the church, by the effects produced on the souls of men, through the gracious influence of the light divine, and the Spirit of holiness, constituting the firmament of God’s power in the new creation.” — Horne.


Verse 2

Psalms 150:2. Praise him for his mighty acts — Hebrew, בגבורתיו, for his mightinesses; for all the instances of his might shown in the dispensations of his providence and grace; the power he hath exerted in creating, upholding, and governing the world, and in redeeming and saving the human race. Praise him according to his excellent greatness — Or, as Dr. Hammond renders כרב גדלו, according to the multitude of his magnificence — Not that our praises can bear any proportion to God’s greatness, for it is infinite, but because he is greater than we can express or conceive, we must raise our conceptions and expressions to the highest degree to which we can attain. We must not be afraid of saying too much in the praises of God, as we often do in praising even great and good men; all the danger is, of our saying too little; and therefore when he have done our utmost we must own, that though we have praised him in consideration of his excellent greatness, yet not in proportion to it.


Verses 3-5

Psalms 150:3-5. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet, &c. — “It is impossible for us to distinguish,” says Dr. Horne, “and describe the several sorts of musical instruments here mentioned, as the Hebrews themselves acknowledge their ignorance in this particular. Thus much is clear, that the people of God were enjoined to use all the various kinds of them in the performance of their divine services.” “And why,” adds he, “should they not be so used under the gospel? We read of sacred music before the law, in the instance of Miriam, the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, who, to celebrate the deliverance from Pharaoh and the Egyptians, took a timbrel in her hand, and the women went out after her with timbrels and dances, Exodus 15:20. The custom, therefore, was not introduced by the law, nor abolished with it. Well-regulated music, if ever it had the power of calming the passions, if ever it enlivened and exalted the affections of men in the worship of God, (purposes for which it was formerly employed,) doubtless hath still the same power, and can still afford the same aids to devotion. When the beloved disciple was, in spirit, admitted into the celestial choir, he not only heard them singing hymns of praise, but he heard likewise the voice of harpers, harping upon their harps, Revelation 14:2. And why that which saints are represented as doing in heaven, should not be done, according to their skill, by saints upon earth; or why instrumental music should be abolished as a legal ceremony, and vocal music, which was as much so, should be retained, no good reason can be assigned. Sacred music, under proper regulations, removes the hinderances of our devotion, cures the distraction of our thoughts, and banishes weariness from our minds. It adds solemnity to the public service, raises all the devout passions of the soul, and causes our duty to become our delight. ‘Of the pleasures of heaven,’ says the eloquent and elegant Bishop Atterbury, ‘nothing further is revealed to us, than that they consist in the practice of holy music and holy love; the joint enjoyment of which, we are told, is to be the happy lot of all pious souls to endless ages.’ It may be added, that there is no better method of combating the mischievous effects flowing from the abuse of music than by applying it to its true and proper use. If the worshippers of Baal join in a chorus to celebrate the praises of their idol, the servants of Jehovah should drown it by one that is stronger and more powerful, in praise of Him who made heaven and earth. If the men of the world rejoice in the object of their adoration, let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.” The best music, however, in God’s ears, is that of devout and pious affections. We must praise God with a strong faith, and with a holy love and delight; with entire confidence in Christ, and a believing triumph over the powers of darkness; with earnest desire toward him, and full satisfaction in him. We must praise him by a universal respect to all his commands, and a cheerful submission to all his dispensations; by rejoicing in his love, and solacing ourselves in his great goodness; by promoting the interest of the kingdom of his grace, and by enjoying and maintaining a lively hope and expectation of the kingdom of his glory. Without these, and such like devout and pious affections and dispositions, the best and most perfect harmony and melody of musical sounds, whether from voices or instruments, is as insignificant before God, as the harsh and discordant noises of a sounding brass or tinkling cymbal.


Verse 6

Psalms 150:6. Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord — Every living creature in heaven and earth, Revelation 5:13, according to their several capacities, some objectively, as manifesting his glorious perfections in their formation, qualities, and endowments, and giving men and angels just occasion to praise him; and others actively, with hearts and voices, words and actions, showing forth his praise. Mankind, especially, are under peculiar and indispensable obligations to comply with the psalmist’s exhortation. For,

And

“Creation’s great superior, man! is thine, Thine is redemption.”

— “Should not this Raise man o’er man, and kindle seraphs here?” YOUNG.

Above all, the children of God should comply with it; who, added to redemption, have obtained salvation, the salvation of grace, and are in the way to the salvation of glory. Surely, with respect to them, not only the breath of natural life, which God hath breathed into their nostrils as men, but the breath of that new and eternal life which he hath given them as Christians, through Christ Jesus, should be returned in hallelujahs. “And then the church, composed of many and different members, all actuated, like the pipes of a well-tuned organ, by the same spirit, and conspiring together in perfect harmony, would become one great instrument, sounding forth the praises of God most high.”

LET EVERY THING THAT HATH BREATH PRAISE THE LORD. — “With this wish,” says the learned divine last quoted, “the sweet psalmist of Israel closes the songs of Sion.” And with the same wish, the author of this work, adopting his words, wishes to close his meditations and observations upon them; “giving thanks to the Father of mercies, and the God of all comforts, by whose most gracious favour and aid they have been begun, continued, and ended; and humbly praying that no errors or improprieties, from which, through human infirmity, the most diligent and careful are not exempt, may prevent his labours from contributing, in some small degree, to promote the improvement and consolation of the redeemed, and the honour and glory of the Redeemer, who is THE ROOT AND OFFSPRING OF DAVID, AND THE BRIGHT AND MORNING STAR. AMEN.”

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 150:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/psalms-150.html. 1857.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, October 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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