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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 100

Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & PsalmsHengstenberg's Commentary


Psalms 100

The exhortation to the whole earth to shout with joy, Psalms 100:1, is developed at length in a strophe of four verses, which falls into two halves, of which each contains, first, the exhortation, and second, the basis: serve the Lord, for he has shown himself as the only God, by what he has done for his people; Psalms 100:2-3, praise the Lord, for he is good, as the salvation spews which he has bestowed upon his people.

Our Psalm is related to Psalms 99 exactly as Psalms 98 is to Psalms 97. It is the lyrical portion of the divided whole, the Psalm in the Psalm. This is pointed out by the title, “a Psalm for the praise of the Lord,” on account of the glorious manifestations of his nature announced in Psalms 99. The originality of the title is guaranteed by the בתודה and the הודו in Psalms 100:4. That the Psalm depends upon the preceding one is clear, not only from the formal arrangement, but also from the entirely general character of what is here laid down as a basis for the exhortation “to serve the Lord,” &c., by which many expositors, who did not observe the connection of both Psalms, have been led to an entirely false view of the Psalm, and a misapprehension of its Messianic character, which becomes clearly established as soon as it is observed that the address in the whole Psalm is directed to the heathen, and that they are exhorted, not only to shout with joy to the Lord, but also to be subject to him. The Psalm forms not merely a conclusion to Psalms 99 : it is assuredly with design that it is put at the end of the whole series, the ecumenic character of which becomes very obvious in it at the close. [Note: The connection with Psalms 99 was, upon the whole, correctly seen by Brentz “The hundredth Psalm very seasonably follows the ninety-ninth. For, in the one, there is contained a commendation of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the majesty of his kingdom; and, in the other, an exhortation, short, indeed, but joyful, to praise and celebrate the acme of Christ in the whole earth, and among all nations. For he who conquers all by his majesty, and offers his beneficence to be enjoyed by all, deserves to be worshipped and celebrated by all.”]

Verse 1

Ver. 1. Shout for joy to the Lord all the world.

Comp. Psalms 98:4. The כל הארץ stands there, and in the fundamental passage, Psalms 66:1, undoubtedly, of the whole earth. By the “shout” is understood specially the shout of a king, comp. at Psalms 2:11; the “serve,” therefore, of the following verse, is comprehended under the “shout.” The exhortation presupposes the arrival of those mighty events in which occasion is given to the nations of the earth to shout for joy to the Lord, and to salute him joyfully as their king.

Verses 2-5

Ver. 2. Serve the Lord in joy, come before him in a shout. Ver. 3. Know that the Lord is God, he has made us and not we ourselves, his people and the sheep of his pasture. Ver. 4. Come to his gates with praise, to his courts with laudation, praise him, laud his name. Ver. 5. For good is the Lord, eternal his mercy, and his faithfulness from generation to generation.

The first half of Psalms 100:2, is from Psalms 2:11, only that, instead of “in fear,” there, where the Psalmist has, to do with fierce rebels, there is substituted here “joy.” This reference to the second Psalm shows, that the address here, as in Psalms 100:1, is directed to the heathen, and further, that by serving him here we are not to understand merely the worship of God: the serving there is the opposite of rebellion; comp. also the clause in Psalms 72:11, all the heathen shall serve him, that is, the Messiah, by whose appearance the cry, “the Lord reigneth,” is realized. [Note: Ven.: “To serve the Lord in joy implies, that submission is rendered to him as King and Lord willingly and joyfully in all things.”] The “serve him” has “the Lord reigneth” for its foundation. As he has come in his kingdom, it is not time for the nations of the earth to serve him.

The first clause of Psalms 100:3 takes up the exhortation again, for the purpose of adding to it its basis. This clause is taken from Psalms 46:11, which passage, again, depends upon the fundamental one, Deuteronomy 7:9. Know that I am God, exclaims God in Psalms 46 to the proud heathen, on the ground of the annihilation of Senacherib’s army before the gates of Jerusalem. At the present day, when the Lord has done much that is glorious on behalf of his church, when he has placed it, by the deeds of his omnipotence and grace, in the centre of the world, the exhortation of the Psalmist, whose faith anticipates these deeds, is repeated with much greater right. From such references as these, we see how the sacred writers were moved with zeal to prepare for themselves ladders out of the glorious deeds of God in times past, on which they ascended to joyful hope in regard to the future. Did we, before whom there lies open a far greater, a richer variety of such deeds, follow them in this, we would not feel so often dispirited. Before the “he has made us,” there must in reality be supplied a “for,” comp. Psalms 100:5. Psalms 99 contains the filling up instead of the general expression:—we are indebted to him for the entire glory of our present condition, which loudly testifies of his own exclusive Godhead. The “not we” is added, because any share, on the part of the church, in effecting the salvation bestowed upon her, would weaken the testimony which this bears to the exclusive Godhead of the Lord; comp. Psalms 98:1, “his right hand and his holy arm helped him,” and the fundamental passages referred to there. The last words are not to be explained: for his people, i.e., he has made us to be his people, &c.,—in this case the “and not we” would not be suitable, and the fundamental passage also is against this, Psalms 95:6, which shows that the עשה stands in an independent position,—but “his people and his pasture-sheep” (comp. Psalms 95:7), as in opposition to the suffix in עשנו , which give the ground of the making, we who are or because we are. It was only from not observing this construction, and the meaning which it originates, that the sense of the Ketib has been pronounced wholly unsuitable (D. Wette), and the bad Keri reading לו for לא substituted,—a reading which the Chald. and Jerome had, while the other old translators, with the Septuagint at their head, express the reading which stands in the text. If we take a closer view, it becomes manifest, that “we are his” is wholly unsuitable. For it is not from what Israel is in general, but from what the Lord has already done for Israel, that the heathen are expected to know that Jehovah is God. Ezekiel 29:3, is exactly parallel to the text-reading, where Pharaoh says: my river is my own, and I have made myself. [Note: Hävernick gives us a translation: “I have made it for myself.” The suffix, however, is wanting; and as Pharoah is not referred to as an himself and his river, that is his kingdom, are in reality identical.]

On “to his courts,” in Psalms 100:4, comp. Psalms 92:14, Psalms 96:8; on “bless his name,” Psalms 96:2; and, on the whole contents of the verse, Isaiah 56:7, “my house shall be called an house of prayer for all nations,” and Isaiah 60, where the pilgrimages of all the nations of the earth to the sanctuary of the Lord are described. A comparison of this fundamental passage shows that, behind the exhortation, there lies concealed a joyful hope, and that the exhortation is nothing but the lyric expression of the hope. The thought of the future participation of all the nations of the earth in the kingdom of God appears here as it does in the prophets in an Old Testament form and dress: the nations of the earth praise the Lord in loud harmonious chorus in the same sanctuary in which now only the weak song of praise of a single little nation is heard. But that this dress even under the Old Testament itself was known as such, is evident from passages such as those of Isaiah 66:23, “and it happens from month to month and from Sabbath to Sabbath all flesh shall come to worship before me”—all the inhabitants of the earth every Sabbath,—which, if literally interpreted, contains an absurdity.

At “for good is the Lord,” in Psalms 100:5, we are to suppose added, “as is shown by the great salvation which he has imparted to his people, and in them at the same time to the whole world.” The Lord is good, not evil, comp. Psalms 25:8, “good and upright is the Lord,” Psalms 34:9, Psalms 86:5. The word never means kind; and this sense is expressly excluded here by the circumstance that it is not only the mercy of the Lord, but also his faithfulness towards those who have received his promises, that appears here as the expression of his goodness. For the two last propositions are merely the development of the first. On “his mercy endureth for ever,” comp. Isaiah 54:8, Isaiah 54:10.

There can be no doubt that Psalms 91-100 belong to the same time and same author, that they form a connected series, that they are on the territory of the Psalm poetry, what the second part of Isaiah is on the territory of prophecy, and that we have before us in them a decalogue of Psalms intimately connected together: The reference to the relation in which Israel stands to the might of the world, is common to all these Psalms. [Note: “Venema: “All these Psalms are occupied with the destruction of enemies that have been sufficiently long endured, and with the deliverance of the people of God.”] The objective view of suffering also is a common feature: the Psalmist stands everywhere above it, no crying from the depths, no conflict with despair,—the explanation being that the Psalmist has to do with future suffering, and is preparing for it a shield of consolation. These Psalms also are in common characterised by a confident expectation of a glorious revelation of the Lord, which the author, following up the prophetical writings, sees with the eye of faith as already present. It is common to them all to quote with marked intelligence from older passages, especially from the Davidic Psalms, and from the second part of Isaiah, in connection with an originality of thought and expression which it is impossible to mistake. It is a common feature also that these quotations are in all cases taken from writings of a date prior to the captivity, in accordance with a series of other marks of a pre-Chaldaic era which are scattered everywhere throughout these Psalms. It is common to them all that the tone never rises above a certain height, and never sinks beneath it, just as in the second part of Isaiah, in common with which our Psalm bears the character of mild sublimity. There are common to them all a great many parallel passages (compare the exposition), the use of the anadiplosis, the predilection for the mention of musical instruments, proceeding from the joyful character of the Psalm.

It is impossible also not to notice design in the arrangement. Two introductory Psalms of a general character stand at the head: Psalms 91, an expression of joyful confidence in the help of God in all troubles and dangers; Psalms 92, the greatness of God, which brings on the destruction of the wicked, and the salvation of the just; Psalms 93 is then opened with the watch-word, “the Lord reigneth,” which henceforward is uttered on all sides, and applied for comfort and exhortation. The whole ends in the exhortation addressed to the whole earth to serve the Lord and to praise him, and to give him glory for the abundant salvation which he imparts,—the full-toned chorus of all nations and tongues who know that the Lord is God.

We have already pointed to the intimate connection between this cycle of Psalms, and the second part of Isaiah. We have hence a very strong proof in behalf of the genuineness of this portion of Scripture.

Bibliographical Information
Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Psalms 100". Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/heg/psalms-100.html.
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