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Adam Clarke Commentary

Psalms 149


All the congregation are invited to praise God for his mercies, Psalms 149:1 -3. Their great privileges, Psalms 149:4 , Psalms 149:5 . Their victories, Psalms 149:6 -9.This seems to be an epinikion, or song of triumph, after some glorious victory; probably in the time of the Maccabees. It has been also understood as predicting the success of the Gospel in the nations of the earth. According to the Syriac, it concerns the new temple, by which the Christian Church is meant. It has no title in the Hebrew, nor in any of the Versions, and no author's name.

Verse 1

Sing unto the Lord a new song - That is, as we have often had occasion to remark, an excellent song, the best we can possibly pronounce. So the word חדש chadash is often understood; and so the word novus, "new," was often used among the Latin writers: - Pollio amat nostram, quamvis sit rustica, musam.Pollio et ipse facit.Nova Carmina Virg. Ecl. iii., ver. 84.Pollio loves my lines, although rude:Pollio himself makes excellent odes.Tamely and inexpressively translated by Dryden: - My Pollio writes himself."O what a falling off is here!Servius, in his comment on nova, says, magna, Miranda. Nova means great, admirable.So on novum nectar, Ecl. v., ver. 71, he says, id est, magna dulcedo; "nectar of Excellent flavor."Congregation of saints - The Israelites, who were, by profession and by injunction, a holy people.

Verse 2

In him that made him - Let them remember in their exultations to give all glory to the Lord; for he is the Author of their being and their blessings. And let them know that he is their King also; that they should submit to his authority, and be guided and regulated in their hearts and conduct by his laws.

Verse 3

Let them praise his name in the dance - במחול bemachol, with the pipe, or some kind of wind music, classed here with תף toph, the tabor or drum, and כנור kinnor, the harp." מחול machol," says Parkhurst, "some fistular wind-instrument of music, with holes, as a flute, pipe, or fife, from חל chal, to make a hole or opening." I know no place in the Bible where מחול machol and מחלת machalath mean dance of any kind; they constantly signify some kind of pipe.

Verse 4

The Lord taketh pleasure in his people - The pleasure or good will of God is in his people: he loves them ardently, and will load them with his benefits, while they are humble and thankful; for,He will beautify - יפאר yephaer, he will make fair, the meek, ענוים anavim, the lowly, the humble with salvation, בישועה bishuah; which St. Jerome thus translates, Et exaltabit mansuetos in Jesu, "And he will exalt the meek in Jesus." Whether this rendering be correct or not, there is no other way by which the humble soul can be exalted, but by Jesus, as the redeeming Savior.

Verse 5

Let the saints be joyful in glory - Let them be gloriously joyful: seeing themselves so honored and so successful, let them be joyful. God has put glory or honor upon them; let them give him the thanks due to his name.Sing aloud upon their beds - While they are reclining on their couches. At their festal banquets, let them shout the praises of the Lord. In imitation of this we often have at our public entertainments the following words sung, taken from the Vulgate of Psalms 115:1 : Non Nobis Domine Non Nobis; sed Nomini Tuo da Gloriam! super Misericordia Tua et Veritate Tua. "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy and for thy truth's sake." Let them mingle their feasting with Divine songs. This reclining on couches, while they take their food, is still practiced in Asiatic countries.

Verse 6

Let the high praises of God - Let them sing songs the most sublime, with the loudest noise consistent with harmony.And a two-edged sword in their hand - Perhaps there is an allusion here to the manner in which the Jews were obliged to labor in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem: "Every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon," Nehemiah 4:17 .The two-edged sword, in Hebrew, is פיפיות pipiyoth, "mouth mouths."

Verse 7

To execute vengeance upon the heathen - This may refer simply to their purpose of defending themselves to the uttermost, should their enemies attack them while building their wall: and they had every reason to believe that God would be with them; and that, if their enemies did attack them, they should be able to inflict the severest punishment upon them.Punishments upon the people - The unfaithful and treacherous Jews; for we find that some, even of their nobles, had joined with Sanballat and Tobiah; (see Nehemiah 6:17 -19: and it appears also that many of them had formed alliances with those heathens, which were contrary to the law; see Nehemiah 13:15 -29.

Verse 8

To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron - That is, if these kings, governors of provinces, and chiefs among the people, had attacked them, God would have enabled them to defeat them, take their generals prisoners, and lead them in triumph to Jerusalem. It is certain also that in the times of the Maccabees the Jews had many signal victories over the Samaritans, Philistines, and Moabites; and over Antiochus, king of Syria. See the Books of the Maccabees. To these the psalmist may here refer in a hyperbolical way, not unusual in poetry and in songs of triumph.

Verse 9

To execute upon them the judgment written - In Deuteronomy 7:1 , etc., God promises his people complete victory over all their enemies, and over the heathen. God repeatedly promises such victories to his faithful people; and this is, properly speaking, the judgment written, i.e., foretold.This honor have all his saints - They shall all be supported, defended, and saved by the Lord. Israel had this honor, and such victories over their enemies, while they continued faithful to their God. When they relapsed into iniquity, their enemies prevailed against them; they were defeated, their city taken, their temple burnt to the ground, more than a million of themselves slaughtered, and the rest led into captivity; and, scattered through the, world, they continue without king, or temple, or true worship, to the present day.

Psalms 149

  1 Praise ye the LORD. Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints.
  2 Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.
  3 Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.
  4 For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation.
  5 Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds.
  6 Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a twoedged sword in their hand;
  7 To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people;
  8 To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron;
  9 To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the LORD.

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