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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 147

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 3560. B.C. 444.

This Psalm is supposed by Bishop Patrick, and many others, to have respect to the return of the Jewish nation from the Babylonish captivity, and to the restoration of Jerusalem, which followed upon it. And it has been inferred, from the second, third, and thirteenth verses, that it was composed just after the rebuilding of that city, by some holy man who lived at that time. And some have judged it probable that Nehemiah was its author. The psalmist praises God for his care over the church, Psalms 147:1-14 . For his government over all things, Psalms 147:15-18 . And for his giving his word to Israel, Psalms 147:19 , Psalms 147:20 .

Verses 1-3

Psalms 147:1-3. Praise the Lord, for it is good It is acceptable to God, and greatly beneficial and productive of comfort to ourselves. It is pleasant, and praise is comely “Being the only return man can make for his creation and redemption, and all other mercies; the offspring of gratitude, and the expression of love; the elevation of the soul, and the ante-past of heaven; its own reward in this life, and an introduction to the felicities of the next.” Horne. The Lord doth build up Jerusalem It is the Lord’s own doing, and not man’s. He gathereth together the outcasts of Israel Hebrew, נדחי , the banished, or expelled, who had been carried captives out of their own land, and dispersed in divers strange countries. He healeth the broken in heart Those whose hearts were broken, either with a sense of their sins, or with their afflictions, calamities, and sorrows. He seems to speak peculiarly of the captive Israelites now returned.

Verse 4

Psalms 147:4. He telleth the number of the stars Which no man can do, for those which astronomers number are only such as are most distinctly visible to the eye, and most considerable for their influences. He calleth them all by their names That is, “He as distinctly and exactly knows them, how numerous soever they be, (Genesis 15:5,) and how confusedly soever they seem to us to be scattered in the sky, as we do those things which we call by their proper names, and thus he knows how to gather the outcasts of Israel out of all their dispersions, and to find every one of them wheresoever they are.”

Verses 5-6

Psalms 147:5-6. Great is our Lord, and of great power “This is a proper conclusion, drawn from the former part of the Psalm, and especially from the preceding verse. The greatness of God’s power, which overcometh all difficulties, to effect the salvation of his people, is not to be grasped by the human mind; and that wisdom which numbers the stars of heaven, and the sand of the sea, and the generations of the sons of Adam, can itself be subject to the rules of no arithmetic.” The Lord lifteth up the meek, &c. “To exalt and reward the humble, penitent, believing, and obedient; and to depress and punish the proud, impenitent, unbelieving, and disobedient; these are the measures and ends of all the divine dispensations. And as a man ranks himself in one or other of these two divisions, he may expect from heaven storm or sunshine, mercy or judgment.” Horne.

Verses 7-9

Psalms 147:7-9. Sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving Hebrew, ענו ליהוה בתודה , literally, answer to the Lord in praise. “Sing alternately,” which may fairly be supposed to be the sense intended by the psalmist, as it was the ancient practice to sing alternately. Celebrate in this way, with your thankful songs, the infinite power, wisdom, and goodness of God. Sing praise upon the harp Let instruments of music accompany your voices, and exert your utmost ability in his praise. Who covereth the heaven with clouds Which, though they darken the air, and intercept the beams of the sun, yet contain and distil those refreshing dews and showers which are necessary to render the earth fruitful. Who By the rain which descends on them; maketh grass to grow upon the mountains Even the high mountains, which man neither takes care of, nor could water; and gives that grass to the wild beasts that inhabit them, for which man neither does nor can make any provision. And feeds the young ravens which cry Which, in their way, call upon him for sustenance. And surely this watchful care of the Divine Providence over all creatures, speaks the same language to us which God made use of to Joshua, and which the apostle hath applied to Christians; I will never leave thee nor forsake thee, Joshua 1:5; Hebrews 13:5. For “He who provides food for the wild beasts, will never leave the lambs of his flock destitute; and he who feeds the young of the unclean ravens when they cry, and, as it were, ask a supply of their wants from him, will not, in the day of dearth and calamity, forsake the meek and harmless dove that mourns continually in prayer before him.” Horne.

Verses 10-11

Psalms 147:10-11. He delighteth not in the strength of the horse, &c. As if he needed either one or the other for the accomplishment of his designs: see the note on Psalms 33:16-17. Mr. Green translates the verse, He delights not in the courage of the horse, nor is pleased with the agility of the warrior; and Bishop Patrick connects it with the preceding verse: and paraphrases it thus: “Let us not doubt, then, but he that takes care of crows will much more take care of us; and not be afraid, though we are of little force, (Nehemiah 4:3; Nehemiah 7:4,) and have no armies of horse and foot to defend us: for the Lord, who fights for us, hath no need of these, ( 4:29,) and will not take part with our enemies, because they are superior to us in the strength of their horses, and the nimbleness of their soldiers.” But the Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him “He delights to give those his assistance and protection who, worshipping him devoutly, fear to offend him; and having no help in themselves, nor any earthly refuge to flee to, depend, notwithstanding, with a steadfast faith on his infinite mercy.”

Verse 12

Psalms 147:12. Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem, O Zion O holy city, O holy hill. For where should praise be offered to God, if not there where his altar is? And where should glory be given to him, if not in his house, the beauty of holiness? Let the inhabitants of Jerusalem praise God in their own houses; let the priests and Levites that attend in Zion, the city of their solemnities, in a special manner praise him. They have more cause to do it than others. and they lie under greater obligations; for it is their business, it is their profession. Praise thy God, O Zion He is thine, and therefore thou art bound to praise him; his being thine includes all happiness, and therefore thou canst never want matter for praise.

Verses 13-14

Psalms 147:13-14. For he hath strengthened the bars of thy gates Thy strength consists not in thy walls, and gates, and bars, but in his protection. They had walls and gates, and kept their gates barred in time of danger; but that would not have been an effectual security to them, if God had not strengthened the bars of their gates, and fortified their fortifications. Let us remember, the most probable means we can devise for our defence and preservation will not answer the end, unless God give his blessing with them; we must, therefore, in the careful and diligent use of these means, depend upon him for that blessing, and attribute the undisturbed repose of our land more to the wall of fire than the wall of water round about us, Zechariah 2:5. He maketh peace in thy borders In all thy land, even to its utmost borders, which are most liable to the incursion of enemies. He puts an end to the wars that existed, and prevents those that were threatened and feared. And he preserves the country in tranquillity, healing all differences between contending parties, and preventing intestine broils and animosities. And filleth thee with the finest wheat With wheat, the most valuable grain, the finest of that, and a fulness thereof. Canaan abounded with the best wheat, Deuteronomy 32:14; and exported it to the countries abroad, Ezekiel 27:17. It was not enriched with precious stones or spices, but with what was far more valuable, with bread which strengthens man’s heart. That, with abundance of milk and honey, vines and fig-trees, rendered it the glory of all lands.

Verse 15

Psalms 147:15. He sendeth forth his commandment, &c. Which is sufficient, without any instruments, to execute whatsoever pleaseth him, either in the works of nature or of providence. For, as the world was first made, so it is still upheld and governed by the almighty word of God’s power. His word runneth very swiftly The thing is done with out delay or difficulty, for nothing can oppose or retard the execution of his counsel. As the lightning, which passeth through the air in an instant, such is the word of God’s providence, and such the word of his grace, when it is sent forth with commission, Luke 17:25.

Verses 16-18

Psalms 147:16-18. He giveth snow like wool Not only in colour, and shape, and softness, and its falling silently like a lock of wool; but in its covering the earth and keeping it warm, and so promoting its fruitfulness. He scattereth the hoar-frost Which is dew congealed, as the snow and hail are rain congealed; like ashes Which it resembles in colour and smallness of parts, and has the appearance of ashes scattered upon the grass. Sometimes also it is prejudicial to the products of the earth, and blasts them, as if it were hot ashes. He casteth forth his ice Great hailstones, which are of an icy nature, and which are very properly said to be cast forth, or cast down, out of the clouds, and that like morsels or fragments, the particles being congealed in them. Who can stand before his cold? The cold which he sometimes sends into the air is so sharp and piercing that it would be intolerable if men did not defend themselves from it by houses, clothes, furs, fires, &c. He sendeth out his word and melteth them To prevent the hurt that might ensue by the continuance of the snow, frost, and cold, he issues forth another command, which as suddenly (see Psa 147:15 ) makes a thaw. He causeth his wind to blow The southern, or some other warm wind, sent with commission to dissolve the frost and melt the snow; and the waters flow The waters, which were bound up, are loosened, and made to flow again, and the rivers return to their wonted course.

Verses 19-20

Psalms 147:19-20 . He showeth his word unto Jacob “That word, the effects of which, upon the spiritual system, are similar to those experienced by nature in the vernal season: that word was showed unto Jacob, and became the property of Israel, while Israel continued to be the church of God. It hath since been made over, with all its types realized, and its prophecies accomplished in Jesus, to the Christian Church.” He hath not dealt so with any nation But for many ages left all others to their native darkness and blindness, and to those dim discoveries of God, and of themselves, and of God’s will concerning them, which they had from the light of nature. Divine revelation is that peculiar blessing, “which distinguishes the church of God from the rest of the world, and for which her children are bound at all times to praise the Lord.”

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 147". Benson's Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/psalms-147.html. 1857.
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