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Bible Commentaries

Clarke's Commentary

Psalms 150

Verse 1

This Psalm is without title and author in the Hebrew, and in all the ancient versions. It is properly the full chorus of all voices and instruments in the temple, at the conclusion of the grand Hallelujah, to which the five concluding Psalms belong.

Verse Psalms 150:1. Praise God in his sanctuary — In many places we have the compound word הללו-יה halelu-yah, praise ye Jehovah; but this is the first place in which we find הללו-אל halelu-el, praise God, or the strong God. Praise him who is Jehovah, the infinite and self-existent Being; and praise him who is God, El or Elohim, the great God in covenant with mankind, to bless and save them unto eternal life.

In his sanctuary - in the temple; in whatever place is dedicated to his service. Or, in his holiness - through his own holy influence in your hearts.

The firmament of his power. — Through the whole expanse, to the utmost limits of his power. As רקיע rakia is the firmament of vast expanse that surrounds the globe, and probably that in which all the celestial bodies of the solar system are included, it may have that meaning here. Praise him whose power and goodness extend through all worlds; and let the inhabitants of all those worlds share in the grand chorus, that it may be universal.

Verse 2

Verse Psalms 150:2. For his mighty acts — Whether manifested in creation, government, mercy or justice.

His excellent greatness. — כרב גדלו kerob gudlo, according to the multitude of his magnitude, or of his majesty. [Anglo-Saxon]; After the manyfoldness of his mickleness. - Anglo-Saxon. After the mykelnes of his greathede. - Old Psalter. Let the praise be such as is becoming so great, so holy, and so glorious a Being.

Verse 3

Verse Psalms 150:3. The sound of the trumpet — שופר sophar, from its noble, cheering, and majestic sound; for the original has this ideal meaning.

With the psaltery — נבל nebel; the nabla, a hollow stringed instrument; perhaps like the guitar, or the old symphony.

And harp. — כנור kinnor, another stringed instrument, played on with the hands or fingers.

Verse 4

Verse Psalms 150:4. Praise him with the timbrel — תף toph, drum, tabret, or tomtom, or tympanum of the ancients; a skin stretched over a broad hoop; perhaps something like the tambarine. Anglo-Saxon; [A.S.] the glad pipe. Taburne; Old Psalter.

And dance — מחול machol, the pipe. The croude or crowthe: Old Psalter; a species of violin. It never means dance; Psalms 149:3. Crwth signifies a fiddle in Welsh.

Stringed instruments — מנים minnim. This literally signifies strings put in order; perhaps a triangular kind of hollow instrument on which the strings were regularly placed, growing shorter and shorter till they came to a point. This would give a variety of sounds, from a deep bass to a high treble. In an ancient MS. Psalter before me, David is represented in two places, playing on such an instrument. It may be the sambuck, or psaltery, or some such instrument.

Organs. — עוגב ugab. Very likely the syrinx or mouth organ; Pan's pipe; both of the ancients and moderns. The fistula, septem, disparibus nodis conjuncta, made of seven pieces of cane or thick straw, of unequal lengths, applied to the lips, each blown into, according to the note intended to be expressed. This instrument is often met with in the ancient bucolic or pastoral writers.

Verse 5

Verse Psalms 150:5. Loud cymbals — צלצלים tseltselim. Two hollow plates of brass, which, being struck together, produced a sharp clanging sound. This instrument is still in use. What the high-sounding cymbals meant I know not; unless those of a larger make, struck above the head, and consequently emitting a louder sound.

Verse 6

Verse Psalms 150:6. Let every thing that hath breath — Either to make a vocal noise, or a sound by blowing into pipes, fifes, flutes, trumpets, c. Let all join together, and put forth all your strength and all your skill in sounding the praises of Jehovah and then let a universal burst with HALLELUJAH! close the grand ceremony. It is evident that this Psalm has no other meaning than merely the summoning up all the voices, and all the instruments, to complete the service in FULL CHORUS.

Of such peculiar importance did the Book of Psalms appear to our blessed Lord and his apostles, that they have quoted nearly fifty of them several times in the New Testament. There is scarcely a state in human life that is not distinctly marked in them; together with all the variety of experience which is found, not merely among pious Jews, but among Christians, the most deeply acquainted with the things of Christ.

The minister of God's word, who wishes to preach experimentally, should have frequent recourse to this sacred book; and by considering the various parts that refer to Jesus Christ and the Christian Church, he will be able to build up the people of God on their most holy faith; himself will grow in grace, and in the knowledge of God; and he will ever have an abundance of the most profitable matter for the edification of the Church of Christ.

This Psalm is the same with the former. In the hundred and forty-eighth, all creatures are invited to praise God; in the hundred and forty-ninth, men especially, and those who are in the Church; but in this, that they praise him with all kinds of instruments.

I. An invitation to praise God, which word he repeats thirteen times, according to the thirteen attributes of God, as the rabbins reckon them.

II. That this be done with all sorts of instruments, intimating that it is to be performed with all the care, zeal, and ardency of affection.

I. Throughout the Psalm he calls on men to praise God.

1. "Praise God in his sanctuary." Or in your hearts, which are the temples of the Holy Ghost.

2. "Praise him in the firmament," c. His magnificence when he sits on his throne. Some understand the Church by it, in which his saints shine as stars in the firmament.

3. "Praise him for his mighty acts," c. The works of his power.

4. "Praise him according," &c. Whereby he excels all things he being absolutely great they only comparatively so.

II. The prophet desires that no way be omitted by which we may show our zeal and ardency in praising him.

1. "Praise him with the sound of the trumpet," c. An instrument used in their solemn feasts.

2. "Praise him with the psaltery," &c. And with these they sing, so that there is also music with the voice.

3. "Praise him with the timbrel," &c. In the choir with many voices.

4. "Praise him with stringed instruments," &c. Lutes, viols, organs, &c.

5. "Praise him upon the high-sounding cymbals," &c. An instrument which yields a loud sound, as bells among us.

His conclusion is of universal reference "Let every thing," &c.

1. "Every thing that hath breath," &c. That hath faculty or power to do it.

2. "Every thing that hath life," &c. Whether spiritual, as angels or animal, as man and beasts. Or, metaphorically, such as, though inanimate, may be said to praise God, because they obey his order and intention. Thus, all things praise God, because all things that have life or being derive it immediately from himself.

Number of verses, two thousand five hundred and twenty-seven. Middle verse. Psalms 78:36. Sections, nineteen.

At the end of the Syriac we have this colophon: -

"The hundred and fifty Psalms are completed. There are five books, fifteen Psalms of degrees, and sixty of praises. The number of verses is four thousand eight hundred and thirty-two. There are some who have added twelve others but we do not need them. And may God be praised for ever!"

At the end of the Arabic is the following: -

The end of the five books of Psalms. The first book ends with the fortieth Psalm; the second, with the seventieth Psalm; the third, with the eightieth Psalm; the fourth, with the hundred and fifteenth; and the fifth, with the last Psalm, i.e., the hundred and fiftieth.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Psalms 150". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.