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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 145

Clarke's CommentaryClarke Commentary

Verse 1


God is praised for his unsearchable greatness, 1, 2;

for his majesty and terrible acts, 3, 6;

for his goodness and tender mercies to all, 7-9;

for his power and kingdom, 10-13;

for his kindness to the distressed, 14;

for his providence, 15-17.

He hears and answers prayer, 18-20.

All should praise him, 21.


This Psalm is attributed to David by the Hebrew and all the Versions. It is the last of the acrostic Psalms; and should contain twenty-two verses, as answering to the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet; but the verse between the thirteenth and fourteenth, beginning with the letter נ nun, is lost out of the present Hebrew copies; but a translation of it is found in the Syriac, Septuagint, Vulgate, AEthiopic, Arabic, and Anglo-Saxon. See below. It is an incomparable Psalm of praise; and the rabbins have it in such high estimation, that they assert, if a man with sincerity of heart repeat it three times a-day, he shall infallibly enjoy the blessings of the world to come. It does not appear on what particular occasion it was composed; or, indeed, whether there was any occasion but gratitude to God for his ineffable favours to mankind.

Verse Psalms 145:1. I will extol thee — I will raise thee on high, I will lift thee up.

I will bless thy name — לעולם ועד leolam vaed, for ever and onward, in this and the coming world. This sort of expressions, which are very difficult to be translated, are on the whole well expressed by those words, in a hymn of Mr. Addison: -

Through all eternity to thee

A joyful song I'll raise;

But O, eternity's too short

To utter all thy praise!

This contains a strong hyperbole; but allowable in such cases.

Verse 3

Verse Psalms 145:3. His greatness is unsearchable. — Literally, To his mightinesses there is no investigation. All in God is unlimited and eternal.

Verse 4

Verse Psalms 145:4. One generation — Thy creating and redeeming acts are recorded in thy word; but thy wondrous providential dealings with mankind must be handed down by tradition, from generation to generation; for they are in continual occurrence, and consequently innumerable.

Verse 8

Verse Psalms 145:8. The Lord is gracious — His holy nature is ever disposed to show favour.

Full of compassion — Wherever he sees misery, his eye affects his heart.

Slow to anger — When there is even the greatest provocation.

Of great mercy. — Great in his abundant mercy. These four things give us a wonderful display of the goodness of the Divine nature.

Verse 9

Verse Psalms 145:9. The Lord is good to all — There is not a soul out of hell that is not continually under his most merciful regards; so far is he from willing or decreeing before their creation the damnation of any man.

His tender mercies — His bowels of compassion are over all his works; he feels for his intelligent offspring, as the most affectionate mother does for the child of her own bosom. And through this matchless mercy, these bowels of compassion, his son Jesus tasted death for every man. How far is all that is here spoken of the nature of God opposed to the Molochian doctrine of the eternal decree of reprobation!

"His grace for every soul is free:

For his, who forged the dire decree;

For every reprobate and me."

Verse 10

Verse Psalms 145:10. All thy works shall praise thee — Whom? The God who is good to all.

Thy saints — חסידיך chasideycha, thy compassionate ones; those who are partakers of thy great mercy, Psalms 145:8. These shall bless thee, because they know, they feel, that thou willest the salvation of all. The dark, the gloomy, the hard-hearted, the narrow-minded bigots, who never have had thy love shed abroad in their hearts, can unfeelingly deal in the damnation of their fellows.

Verse 12

Verse Psalms 145:12. To make known — They delight to recommend their God and Father to others.

Verse 13

Verse Psalms 145:13. Thy dominion endureth] There is neither age nor people in and over which God does not manifest his benignly ruling power. As the above verse begins with the letter מ mem, the next in the order of the alphabet should begin with נ nun: but that verse is totally wanting. To say it never was in, is false, because the alphabet is not complete without it; and it is an unanswerable argument to prove the careless manner in which the Jews have preserved the Divine records. Though the Syriac, Septuagint, Vulgate, AEthiopic, Arabic, and Anglo-Saxon, have a verse, not in the Hebrew text, that answers to the נ nun, which is found in no printed copy of the Hebrew Bible; yet one MS., now in Trinity College, Dublin, has it thus, I suppose by correction, in the bottom of the page:-

נאמן יהוה בכל דבריו וחסיד בכל מעשיו

Neeman Yehovah bechol debaraiv; vechasid bechol maasaiv.

"The Lord is faithful in all his words; and merciful in all his works."

Πιστος Κυριος εν τοις λογοις αυτου· και ὁσιος εν πασι τιος εργοις αυτου. - SEPTUAGINT.

Fidelis Dominus in omnibus verbis suis: et sanctus in omnibus operibus suis. - VULGATE.

These two Versions, the Septuagint and Vulgate, are the same with the Hebrew given above. The Anglo-Saxon is the same:-

[Anglo-Saxon]. "True Lord in all words his, and holy in all works his."

The Latin text in my old Psalter is the same with the present printed Vulgate: "Fidelis Dominus in omnibus verbis suis, et sanctus in omnibus operibus suis." Thus translated in the same MSS.: Lorde true in all his words: and holy in al his workes.

It is remarkable that the whole verse is wanting in the Vulgate, as published in the Complutensian Polyglot, as also the Antwerp and Paris Polyglots, which were taken from it. It is wanting also in the Polyglot Psalter of Porus, because he did not find it in the Hebrew text.

Verse 14

Verse Psalms 145:14. The Lord upholdeth all that fall — נפלים nophelim, the falling, or those who are not able to keep their feet; the weak. He shores them up; he is their prop. No man falls through his own weakness merely; if he rely on God, the strongest foe cannot shake him.

Verse 15

Verse Psalms 145:15. The eyes of all wait upon thee — What a fine figure! The young of all animals look up to their parents for food. God is here represented as the universal Father, providing food for every living creature.

In due season — The kind of food that is suited to every animal, and to all the stages of life in each animal. This is a wonderful mystery. It is a fact that all are thus provided for; but how is it done? All expect it from God, and not one is disappointed! For,

Verse 16

Verse Psalms 145:16. Thou openest thine hand — What a hand is this that holds in it all the food that meets the desires and necessities of the universe of creatures! A very large volume might be written upon this: The proper kinds of food for the various classes of animals.

Verse 17

Verse Psalms 145:17. The Lord is righteous — It was the similarity of this to the omitted verse, which should have been the fourteenth, that caused it to be omitted.

Verse 18

Verse Psalms 145:18. The Lord is nigh — Whoever calls upon God in truth, with a sincere and upright heart, one that truly desires his salvation, to that person God is nigh. The following verse shows he is not only near to praying people, but

1. He will hear their cry.

2. Fulfil their desires.

3. Save them.

Reader, lift up thy soul in prayer to this merciful God.

Verse 20

Verse Psalms 145:20. The Lord preserveth — He is the keeper of all them that love him.

But all the wicked will he destroy. — They call not upon him; they fight against him, and he will confound and destroy them. There is something curious in the שומר shomer, the keeper or guardian of the pious; he is שמיד shamid, the destroyer of the wicked. The first word implies he is continually keeping them; the second, that he causes the others to be destroyed.

Verse 21

Verse Psalms 145:21. Let all flesh bless his holy name — He is good to all, wants to save all, actually feeds and preserves all. And as near as שמר shamar is to שמד shamad, so near is he a Saviour to those who stand on the brink of destruction, if they will look to him.

For the application of all this Psalm to the Church of Christ, see the analysis.


This hymn is most excellent, both as it regards matter and style. The matter is praise to God; the style, the Hebrew alphabet, the better to assist our memories in recording God's praise.

This Psalm contains, -

I. A proem, or protestation to praise God, Psalms 145:1-2.

II. A celebration of Divine praises through the whole Psalm, from these arguments: -

I. From the greatness of God, Psalms 145:3.

II. From his wonderful works, Psalms 145:4, which he distinguishes under the following heads: -

1. They are glorious and beautiful, majestic and wonderful, Psalms 145:5.

2. Marvellous, and full of terror, Psalms 145:6.

3. Amiable, and full of goodness, Psalms 145:7-9. But all wonderful.

III. From his kingdom, and government of it, and in it, Psalms 145:10-21.

IV. A conclusion, Psalms 145:21, in which he performs his protestation of praising God.

I. In the two first verses the psalmist acquaints us what he will do with the whole.

1. "I will extol, I will bless, I will praise."

2. "Thee, my God, my King." I am thy servant, though an earthly king.

3. "Every day," c. No day shall pass without my praising thee.

4. "For ever and ever." I shall now begin, and a succession of men will continue to hymn and praise thee till the consummation of all things.

II. The first thing he praises God for is his essence. Great.

I. "Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised." Of course this follows: -

"And his greatness is unsearchable." Past our weak capacity to comprehend higher than the heavens, deeper than hell, having no end. Or if great here refer to him as King, then in respect to the extension of his empire over every living creature, he is great; he rules over the hearts of the children of men, over their thoughts and affections, and nothing is hidden from his sight.

II. From the essence of God the psalmist passes to his works and effects, which yet set forth his praise: "One generation shall praise," c. Each age is an eyewitness of thy mighty acts and mercy. From a general consideration of these works he then particularizes: -

1. "For the heavens declare," c. The sun, moon, and stars, in their splendour, magnitude, and perpetual motion, show forth God's honour and majesty.

2. A second kind of works are the terrible acts of his justice, such as the deluge, the fire of Sodom, Pharaoh's overthrow in the Red Sea, the earth opening to swallow up Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.

Then there follow his acts of love and mercy, spoken of at large.

1. "Thy great works shall abundantly utter," &c. Thy bounty shall make all generations eloquent in thy praise, and shall sing of thy righteousness, in exhibiting thy promised blessings, in bestowing temporal benefits but above all, in the gifts of thy grace: - In the incarnation, passion, resurrection, ascension, the coming of the Holy Ghost, calling of the Gentiles, justification, sanctification, and eternal life for all these, and each of them, men shall abundantly utter thy righteousness.

2. "The Lord is gracious," c.

3. "The Lord is good to all," &c.

4. "His tender mercies are over," &c. Even to the most wicked, God gives time and opportunity for repentance, before he cuts them off.

III. The prophet having sung of God's great works in glory, terror, and mercy, now adds, "All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord." And now he begins a new matter, the erection of his peculiar kingdom in his Church: "A peculiar people," &c. His saints. These will continue to mark thy wonders, and sing to thy glory: these, thy saints, shall bless thee for all and in all thy acts. "They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom," &c. "To make known to the sons of men," &c. "Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom," &c. Now the power and glory of Christ's kingdom differ in a fourfold manner from that of the sons of men.

1. The kings on earth require obedience from their subjects they exact subsidies, tributes, taxes, c.

2. Earthly kings glory in their power, and rejoice in their dignity but their crown is full of thorns, anxiety, care, c.

3. Earthly kings reign but for a time, Christ for ever. 1. "They shall speak of the glory," &c. Excelling all others. 2. "To make known," &c. Thy acts far beyond theirs 3. "Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom," &c. Not so theirs.

The prophet having described Christ's kingdom, begins to extol the qualities and virtues of a good king, which agrees with Christ.

I. His veracity.

II. His probity: "The Lord is faithful," &c.

III. This is another quality of a good king, so to govern his subjects that they fall not, or to raise them if fallen. Christ sustains and upholds his people, or restores them if they fall from him and return by repentance to him this was exemplified in David, Peter, the prodigal, c. "The eyes of all," &c. "Thou openest thine hand," &c.

IV. Liberality and bounty are excellent qualities in a king who cares for his subjects, and may properly be applied to Christ, who provides for his Church in all things. And -

1. "The eyes of all wait upon thee." In expectation.

2. "And thou givest," &c. It is a gift, not a debt.

3. "Their meat." Every thing fit for them.

4. "In due season." When fit and necessary.

5. "Thou openest thine hand." Givest bountifully.

6. "And satisfiest," &c. The covetous always want content is from God.

7. "The desire of every living thing," c. "The Lord is righteous," &c.

V. This is another virtue of a good king, and refers to Christ. "The Lord is nigh unto all them," &c.

VI. This is the sixth quality of a good king, to show himself ready of access to all who implore his aid.

1. Faith. For he that prays without it will not be answered.

2. Hope and confidence. He prays not seriously who hopes not to be heard.

3. Love. No man prays who hates God.

4. Desire. Nor that desires not to obtain.

5. Attention and intention, without which prayer is idle. "The Lord will fulfil," &c.

VII. The seventh quality of a good king is to grant petitions.

1. "He will fulfil," &c. But with limitation: "So they fear him."

2. "He also will hear their cry." When it is earnest and sincere.

3. "And will save them:" "The Lord preserveth all them," &c.

VIII. The eighth quality of a good king is to spare the humble and destroy the proud. Parcere subjectis, et debellare superbos. - VIRGIL. Which Christ will do he preserves his martyrs in patience, and then receives them into glory.

IV. The conclusion is an acclamation, and answers to the beginning of the Psalm.

1. "My mouth shall speak," &c. This will I do while I live.

2. "And let all flesh," &c. And let all follow his example in giving due praise to this bountiful God.

Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Psalms 145". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/acc/psalms-145.html. 1832.
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