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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Psalms 150

As this psalm belongs to the same general occasion of the four preceding, it is unnecessary to say any thing further on that subject, except that it would seem, from Psalms 150:1, to date after the orderly restoration of the temple service. It is noticeable that the psalmist calls to the praise of God ten times the number of completeness included between the opening and closing call, “Praise ye Yah,” or Jehovah, and the declarative form of the verb, All that breathe shall praise the Lord.” Psalms 150:6. It is all praise, as if prayer was fully answered, the conflict past, the final ends achieved, and fitly closes the Hallelujah Psalms, as it does also the entire Psalter.

Verse 1

1. As the theme is praise, the psalm opens with a very specific designation of the Being to be praised. Two titles are given. First, Praise ye יה , ( Yah,) or Jehovah the name of God as in covenant with his people. Secondly, Praise אל , ( El,) God, the Almighty, the name denoting strength, power, by which God is known as the creator, the upholder of the universe, the deliverer and defender of Israel.

Sanctuary This is the rendering we should here give to the word kodesh, “holy,” for, having spoken of the Being to be praised, the author now mentions the chief places of his praise; and this also best agrees with the prefix preposition be, in “Praise God in his holy place.” Had it been of the abstract holiness of God that he was speaking, and not the holy place of his worship, he would have used the causal particle, kee, “for” “Praise God for his holiness.”

Firmament of his power “Firmament,” here, is used synonymously with what we would call the visible heavens. In the “sanctuary” God is celebrated specially for his redemptive work; in the “firmament,” as creator and ruler of all worlds. These are the visible seats of his manifested power.

Verse 2

2. Mighty acts… excellent greatness These are named as reasons for this coextensive, universal praise.

Verses 3-5

3-5. Having spoken of the Being to whom this praise belongs, the places where it should be rendered, and the reasons why it should be given, (vers. 1, 2,) the psalmist now comes to mention the instrumental helps by which the widest and most acceptable expressions of joy and gratitude could be made. Twelve times in this short psalm the call for praise is made, (besides the declarative future, Psalms 150:6,) and now with nine varieties of instrumental music. This variety is not proposed as a complete enumeration, but suffices as an expression of the loudest and most earnest praise, wherein each nation is called to use its own favorite instruments. The occasion is the world’s jubilee. The kingdom has come! The Lord reigneth! Nations and nature join in the swelling anthem! See Revelation 5:13; Revelation 19:6-7. “May we not say that in this psalm’s enumeration of musical instruments there is a reference to the variety that exists among men in the mode of expressing joy and exciting feeling? All nations come and praise! Use every energy for praise! Men in every variety of circumstances, men of every various mood, men of all capacities, come and praise! Each in his own way sing hallelujah.” Bonar.

Verse 4

4. Dance A translation of doubtful propriety. The word in the text and in Psalms 149:3, stands classified as a musical instrument, and is translated “pipe” in the margin of our English Bible. In Psalms 30:11, it seems evidently used in a figurative sense for joy, and the same in Lamentations 5:15. Jeremiah 31:4; Jeremiah 31:13, might also be taken in the same sense. The same noun in the feminine ( מחולה ) is more commonly taken in the literal sense of dancing, or, as the etymology suggests, “dancing in a circle,” probably because, in the literal sense, females only or chiefly practised it. These “dances,” though embracing a religious sentiment, were not connected with the regular worship, but belonged to occasions of rare national joy and triumph. In the text, and in Psalms 149:3, the word stands connected with earnest, spiritual, and universal praise and worship; and though it is more in harmony with the connexion and scope to take it as an instrument of music, still, if understood of dancing, it can give no countenance to that movement as a common mode of worship, much less to modern social dancing, which is not only practiced without a religious object, but in antagonism to all true religious sensibility. See note on Psalms 30:11

Verse 5

5. Loud cymbals The idea is, cymbals giving a clear, distinct sound, causing a distinct hearing literally, cymbals of hearing.

High sounding cymbals Literally, cymbals of shouting, clanging cymbals. The difference between the two is simply in the volume of sound they are adapted to give forth. The Hebrew music was noisy and strong, but this occasion exceeded all others.

Verse 6

6. The final call to praise.

Every thing that hath breath Every living thing.

Praise ye the Lord Reader, this is addressed to thee. A fitting practical climax! Can a rational soul decline this honor? Can it spurn this privilege, this blessedness? “If it grieves you that your praise is so weak, remember: Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord, and there must be many weak ones in such a host. But they praise their God, and you are joining with them. If you cannot succeed with strong cries and loud notes, only keep breathing forth to God the desires of your heart, and this will be acceptable to him.” Moll. If our hearts are in harmony with all that praise God in heaven and on earth, our praise, being according to our capacity, will be as acceptable as that of the highest archangel. His praise “is accepted according to that a man hath.”

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 150". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.