Psalms 145

PSALM CXLV

God is praised for his unsearchable greatness, 1, 2;

for his majesty and terrible acts, 3, 6;

for his goodness and tender mercies to all, 7-9;

for his power and kingdom, 10-13;

for his kindness to the distressed, 14;

for his providence, 15-17.

He hears and answers prayer, 18-20.

All should praise him, 21.

NOTES ON PSALM CXLV.

This Psalm is attributed to David by the Hebrew and all the

Versions. It is the last of the acrostic Psalms; and should

contain twenty-two verses, as answering to the twenty-two letters

of the Hebrew alphabet; but the verse between the thirteenth and

fourteenth, beginning with the letter nun, is lost out of the

present Hebrew copies; but a translation of it is found in the

Syriac, Septuagint, Vulgate, AEthiopic, Arabic, and Anglo-Saxon.

See below. It is an incomparable Psalm of praise; and the rabbins

have it in such high estimation, that they assert, if a man with

sincerity of heart repeat it three times a-day, he shall

infallibly enjoy the blessings of the world to come. It does not

appear on what particular occasion it was composed; or, indeed,

whether there was any occasion but gratitude to God for his

ineffable favours to mankind.

Verse 1. I will extol thee] I will raise thee on high, I will

lift thee up.

I will bless thy name] leolam vaed, for ever and

onward, in this and the coming world. This sort of expressions,

which are very difficult to be translated, are on the whole well

expressed by those words, in a hymn of Mr. Addison:-

Through all eternity to thee

A joyful song I'll raise;

But O, eternity's too short

To utter all thy praise!

This contains a strong hyperbole; but allowable in such cases.

Verse 3. His greatness is unsearchable.] Literally, To his

mightinesses there is no investigation. All in God is unlimited

and eternal.

Verse 4. One generation] Thy creating and redeeming acts are

recorded in thy word; but thy wondrous providential dealings with

mankind must be handed down by tradition, from generation to

generation; for they are in continual occurrence, and consequently

innumerable.

Verse 8. The Lord is gracious] His holy nature is ever disposed

to show favour.

Full of compassion] Wherever he sees misery, his eye affects his

heart.

Slow to anger] When there is even the greatest provocation.

Of great mercy.] Great in his abundant mercy. These four

things give us a wonderful display of the goodness of the Divine

nature.

Verse 9. The Lord is good to all] There is not a soul out of

hell that is not continually under his most merciful regards; so

far is he from willing or decreeing before their creation the

damnation of any man.

His tender mercies] His bowels of compassion are over all his

works; he feels for his intelligent offspring, as the most

affectionate mother does for the child of her own bosom. And

through this matchless mercy, these bowels of compassion, his son

Jesus tasted death for every man. How far is all that is here

spoken of the nature of God opposed to the Molochian doctrine of

the eternal decree of reprobation!

"His grace for every soul is free:

For his, who forged the dire decree;

For every reprobate and me."

Verse 10. All thy works shall praise thee] Whom? The God who is

good to all.

Thy saints] chasideycha, thy compassionate ones;

those who are partakers of thy great mercy, Ps 145:8. These shall

bless thee, because they know, they feel, that thou willest the

salvation of all. The dark, the gloomy, the hard-hearted, the

narrow-minded bigots, who never have had thy love shed abroad in

their hearts, can unfeelingly deal in the damnation of their

fellows.

Verse 12. To make known] They delight to recommend their God and

Father to others.

Verse 13. Thy dominion endureth] There is neither age nor people

in and over which God does not manifest his benignly ruling power.

As the above verse begins with the letter mem, the next in the

order of the alphabet should begin with nun: but that verse is

totally wanting. To say it never was in, is false, because the

alphabet is not complete without it; and it is an unanswerable

argument to prove the careless manner in which the Jews have

preserved the Divine records. Though the Syriac, Septuagint,

Vulgate, AEthiopic, Arabic, and Anglo-Saxon, have a verse, not in

the Hebrew text, that answers to the nun, which is found in no

printed copy of the Hebrew Bible; yet one MS., now in Trinity

College, Dublin, has it thus, I suppose by correction, in the

bottom of the page:-

Neeman Yehovah bechol debaraiv; vechasid bechol maasaiv.

"The Lord is faithful in all his words; and merciful in all his

works."

πιστοςκυριοςεντοιςλογοιςαυτουκαιοσιοςενπασιτιος

εργοιςαυτου-SEPTUAGINT.

Fidelis Dominus in omnibus verbis suis: et sanctus in omnibus

operibus suis.-VULGATE.

These two Versions, the Septuagint and Vulgate, are the same

with the Hebrew given above. The Anglo-Saxon is the same:-

[Anglo-Saxon]. "True Lord in all words his, and holy in all

works his."

The Latin text in my old Psalter is the same with the present

printed Vulgate: "Fidelis Dominus in omnibus verbis suis, et

sanctus in omnibus operibus suis." Thus translated in the same

MSS.: Lorde true in all his words: and holy in al his workes.

It is remarkable that the whole verse is wanting in the Vulgate,

as published in the Complutensian Polyglot, as also the Antwerp

and Paris Polyglots, which were taken from it. It is wanting also

in the Polyglot Psalter of Porus, because he did not find it in

the Hebrew text.

Verse 14. The Lord upholdeth all that fall] nophelim,

the falling, or those who are not able to keep their feet; the

weak. He shores them up; he is their prop. No man falls through

his own weakness merely; if he rely on God, the strongest foe

cannot shake him.

Verse 15. The eyes of all wait upon thee] What a fine figure!

The young of all animals look up to their parents for food. God is

here represented as the universal Father, providing food for every

living creature.

In due season] The kind of food that is suited to every animal,

and to all the stages of life in each animal. This is a wonderful

mystery. It is a fact that all are thus provided for; but how is

it done? All expect it from God, and not one is disappointed! For,

Verse 16. Thou openest thine hand] What a hand is this that

holds in it all the food that meets the desires and necessities of

the universe of creatures! A very large volume might be written

upon this: The proper kinds of food for the various classes of

animals.

Verse 17. The Lord is righteous] It was the similarity of this

to the omitted verse, which should have been the fourteenth, that

caused it to be omitted.

Verse 18. The Lord is nigh] Whoever calls upon God in truth,

with a sincere and upright heart, one that truly desires his

salvation, to that person God is nigh. The following verse shows

he is not only near to praying people, but 1. He will hear their

cry. 2. Fulfil their desires. 3. Save them. Reader, lift up thy

soul in prayer to this merciful God.

Verse 20. The Lord preserveth] He is the keeper of all them that

love him.

But all the wicked will he destroy.] They call not upon him;

they fight against him, and he will confound and destroy them.

There is something curious in the shomer, the keeper or

guardian of the pious; he is shamid, the destroyer of the

wicked. The first word implies he is continually keeping them; the

second, that he causes the others to be destroyed.

Verse 21. Let all flesh bless his holy name] He is good to all,

wants to save all, actually feeds and preserves all. And as near

as shamar is to shamad, so near is he a Saviour

to those who stand on the brink of destruction, if they will look

to him.

For the application of all this Psalm to the Church of Christ,

see the analysis.

ANALYSIS OF THE HUNDRED AND FORTY-FIFTH PSALM

This hymn is most excellent, both as it regards matter and

style. The matter is praise to God; the style, the Hebrew

alphabet, the better to assist our memories in recording God's

praise.

This Psalm contains,-

I. A proem, or protestation to praise God, Ps 145:1, 2.

II. A celebration of Divine praises through the whole Psalm,

from these arguments:-

I. From the greatness of God, Ps 145:3.

II. From his wonderful works, Ps 145:4, which he distinguishes

under the following heads:-

1. They are glorious and beautiful, majestic and wonderful,

Ps 145:5.

2. Marvellous, and full of terror, Ps 145:6.

3. Amiable, and full of goodness, Ps 145:7-9. But all

wonderful.

III. From his kingdom, and government of it, and in it,

Ps 145:10-21.

IV. A conclusion, Ps 145:21, in which he performs his

protestation of praising God.

I. In the two first verses the psalmist acquaints us what he

will do with the whole.

1. "I will extol, I will bless, I will praise."

2. "Thee, my God, my King." I am thy servant, though an earthly

king.

3. "Every day," &c. No day shall pass without my praising thee.

4. "For ever and ever." I shall now begin, and a succession of

men will continue to hymn and praise thee till the consummation of

all things.

II. The first thing he praises God for is his essence. Great.

I. "Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised." Of course

this follows:-

"And his greatness is unsearchable." Past our weak capacity to

comprehend; higher than the heavens, deeper than hell, having no

end. Or if great here refer to him as King, then in respect to the

extension of his empire over every living creature, he is great;

he rules over the hearts of the children of men, over their

thoughts and affections, and nothing is hidden from his sight.

II. From the essence of God the psalmist passes to his works and

effects, which yet set forth his praise: "One generation shall

praise," &c. Each age is an eyewitness of thy mighty acts and

mercy. From a general consideration of these works he then

particularizes:-

1. "For the heavens declare," &c. The sun, moon, and stars, in

their splendour, magnitude, and perpetual motion, show forth God's

honour and majesty.

2. A second kind of works are the terrible acts of his justice,

such as the deluge, the fire of Sodom, Pharaoh's overthrow in the

Red Sea, the earth opening to swallow up Korah, Dathan, and

Abiram.

Then there follow his acts of love and mercy, spoken of at

large.

1. "Thy great works shall abundantly utter," &c. Thy bounty

shall make all generations eloquent in thy praise, and shall sing

of thy righteousness, in exhibiting thy promised blessings, in

bestowing temporal benefits; but above all, in the gifts of thy

grace:-In the incarnation, passion, resurrection, ascension, the

coming of the Holy Ghost, calling of the Gentiles, justification,

sanctification, and eternal life; for all these, and each of them,

men shall abundantly utter thy righteousness.

2. "The Lord is gracious," &c.

3. "The Lord is good to all," &c.

4. "His tender mercies are over," &c. Even to the most wicked,

God gives time and opportunity for repentance, before he cuts them

off.

III. The prophet having sung of God's great works in glory,

terror, and mercy, now adds, "All thy works shall praise thee, O

Lord." And now he begins a new matter, the erection of his

peculiar kingdom in his Church: "A peculiar people," &c. His

saints. These will continue to mark thy wonders, and sing to thy

glory: these, thy saints, shall bless thee for all and in all thy

acts. "They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom," &c. "To make

known to the sons of men," &c. "Thy kingdom is an everlasting

kingdom," &c. Now the power and glory of Christ's kingdom differ

in a fourfold manner from that of the sons of men.

1. The kings on earth require obedience from their subjects;

they exact subsidies, tributes, taxes, &c.

2. Earthly kings glory in their power, and rejoice in their

dignity; but their crown is full of thorns, anxiety, care, &c.

3. Earthly kings reign but for a time, Christ for ever. 1. "They

shall speak of the glory," &c. Excelling all others. 2. "To make

known," &c. Thy acts far beyond theirs 3. "Thy kingdom is an

everlasting kingdom," &c. Not so theirs.

The prophet having described Christ's kingdom, begins to extol

the qualities and virtues of a good king, which agrees with

Christ.

I. His veracity.

II. His probity: "The Lord is faithful," &c.

III. This is another quality of a good king, so to govern his

subjects that they fall not, or to raise them if fallen. Christ

sustains and upholds his people, or restores them if they fall

from him and return by repentance to him; this was exemplified in

David, Peter, the prodigal, &c. "The eyes of all," &c. "Thou

openest thine hand," &c.

IV. Liberality and bounty are excellent qualities in a king who

cares for his subjects, and may properly be applied to Christ, who

provides for his Church in all things. And-

1. "The eyes of all wait upon thee." In expectation.

2. "And thou givest," &c. It is a gift, not a debt.

3. "Their meat." Every thing fit for them.

4. "In due season." When fit and necessary.

5. "Thou openest thine hand." Givest bountifully.

6. "And satisfiest," &c. The covetous always want; content is

from God.

7. "The desire of every living thing," &c. "The Lord is

righteous," &c.

V. This is another virtue of a good king, and refers to Christ.

"The Lord is nigh unto all them," &c.

VI. This is the sixth quality of a good king, to show himself

ready of access to all who implore his aid.

1. Faith. For he that prays without it will not be answered.

2. Hope and confidence. He prays not seriously who hopes not to

be heard.

3. Love. No man prays who hates God.

4. Desire. Nor that desires not to obtain.

5. Attention and intention, without which prayer is idle. "The

Lord will fulfil," &c.

VII. The seventh quality of a good king is to grant petitions.

1. "He will fulfil," &c. But with limitation: "So they fear

him."

2. "He also will hear their cry." When it is earnest and

sincere.

3. "And will save them:" "The Lord preserveth all them," &c.

VIII. The eighth quality of a good king is to spare the humble

and destroy the proud. Parcere subjectis, et debellare

superbos.-VIRGIL. Which Christ will do; he preserves his martyrs

in patience, and then receives them into glory.

IV. The conclusion is an acclamation, and answers to the

beginning of the Psalm.

1. "My mouth shall speak," &c. This will I do while I live.

2. "And let all flesh," &c. And let all follow his example in

giving due praise to this bountiful God.

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