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Bible Commentaries

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

Psalms 150


In the place of the short doxology, such as concludes each of the former books of the psalter, this psalm was fitly composed or selected to close the whole collection. It has been well called “the finale of the spiritual concert,” and no doubt afforded a good musical display, music performed with full orchestra and choir, every kind of instrument known to the Hebrews, wind, string, and percussion, being mentioned, and in the last verse all who had breath and voice being invited to join. The form of the invocation embracing heaven and earth, and putting forward as the object of praise both Jehovah’s majesty and His great works wrought for Israel, is also exactly suited for a conclusion to the great collection of Israelite song. The parallelism is perfect.

Verse 1

(1) Sanctuary—That is, the temple. Some take it in direct parallelism with firmament, and understand the “heavenly palace,” or “Temple” (comp. Psalms 11:4); but, as in Psalms 148:0, the invocation to praise includes heaven and earth; so here, but in the reverse order, the earthly sanctuary first, and the sublime things done on earth (Psalms 150:2), then heaven and the exalted greatness there.

Verse 2

(2) Mighty acts . . . excellent greatness.—The one displayed on earth, the other manifested in heaven. (See preceding Note.)

Verse 3

(3) Trumpet.—Heb., shôphar. (See Psalms 81:3; Psalms 98:6. LXX., σάλπιγξ.) It was the crooked horn, sometimes also called keren. (Bïble Educator, 2:231.)

Psaltery and harp.—See Note, Psalms 33:2.

Verse 4

(4) Timbrel and dance.—See Psalms 149:3.

Stringed instruments.—Minnîm. Literally, parts, so threads, so here, as in LXX. and Vulg., “with” or “on strings.” (See Note, Psalms 45:9.)

Organs.—Heb., ‘ugab, which has been variously identified with the syrinx, or Pan’s pipes, of the Greeks, with the “bagpipe,” and even with a rude instrument embodying the principle of the modern organ. (See Bible Educator, 2:70, 183, 229.)

Verse 5

(5) Cymbals.—Heb., tseltselîm (2 Samuel 6:5), a word evidently formed to express the sound of the instrument. Two kinds are evidently indicated in this verse, the “loud” cymbals (literally, cymbals of hearing), and “high-sounding” (literally, of tumult). As the Arabs use at present a larger and smaller instrument (see Bible Educator, 2, 211, 311), it is possible that the same distinction is made here, but which would be the larger instrument it is impossible from the Hebrew to determine.

Verse 6

(6) Everything that hath breath.—LXX. “every breath;” Vulg., “every spirit;” literally, all breath. We naturally wish to give these words their largest intent, and to hear the psalter close with an invocation to “the earth with her thousand voices” to praise God. But the psalm so distinctly and positively brings us into the Temple, and places us among the covenant people engaged at their devotions, that we are compelled to see here a hymn specially suited to close the collection of hymns of the covenant, as the first and second were to begin it. It is, therefore, not all breathing beings, but only all assembled in the sanctuary, that are here addressed; and the loud hallelujah with which the collection of psalms actually closes rises from Hebrew voices alone.

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Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Psalms 150". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.