Psalms 149

PSALM CXLIX

All the congregation are invited to praise God for his

mercies, 1-3.

Their great privileges, 4, 5.

Their victories, 6-9.

NOTES ON PSALM CXLIX

This seems to be an epinikion, or song of triumph, after some

glorious victory; probably in the time of the Maccabees. It has

been also understood as predicting the success of the Gospel in

the nations of the earth. According to the Syriac, it concerns the

new temple, by which the Christian Church is meant. It has no

title in the Hebrew, nor in any of the Versions, and no author's

name.

Verse 1. Sing unto the Lord a new song] That is, as we have

often had occasion to remark, an excellent song, the best we can

possibly pronounce. So the word chadash is often understood;

and so the word novus, "new," was often used among the Latin

writers:-

Pollio amat nostram, quamvis sit rustica, musam.

Pollio et ipse facit NOVA CARMINA.

VIRG. Ecl. iii., ver. 84.

Pollio loves my lines, although rude:

Pollio himself makes excellent odes.

Tamely and inexpressively translated by Dryden:-

"Pollio my rural verse vouchsafes to read.

My Pollio writes himself."

O what a falling off is here!

Servius, in his comment on nova, says, magna, miranda. Nova

means great, admirable.

So on novum nectar, Ecl. v., ver. 71, he says, id est, magna

dulcedo; "nectar of EXCELLENT flavour."

Congregation of saints.] The Israelites, who were, by profession

and by injunction, a holy people.

Verse 2. In him that made him] Let them remember in their

exultations to give all glory to the Lord; for he is the Author of

their being and their blessings. And let them know that he is

their King also; that they should submit to his authority, and be

guided and regulated in their hearts and conduct by his laws.

Verse 3. Let them praise his name in the dance] bemachol,

with the pipe, or some kind of wind music, classed here with

toph, the tabor or drum, and kinnor, the harp.

" machol," says Parkhurst, "some fistular wind-instrument

of music, with holes, as a flute, pipe, or fife, from

chal, to make a hole or opening." I know no place in the Bible

where machol and machalath mean dance of any

kind; they constantly signify some kind of pipe.

Verse 4. The Lord taketh pleasure in his people] The pleasure or

good will of God is in his people: he loves them ardently, and

will load them with his benefits, while they are humble and

thankful; for,

He will beautify] yephaer, he will make fair, the meek,

anavim, the lowly, the humble with salvation,

bishuah; which St. Jerome thus translates, Et exaltabit mansuetos

in Jesu, "And he will exalt the meek in Jesus." Whether this

rendering be correct or not, there is no other way by which the

humble soul can be exalted, but by JESUS, as the redeeming

Saviour.

Verse 5. Let the saints be joyful in glory] Let them be

gloriously joyful: seeing themselves so honoured and so

successful, let them be joyful. God has put glory or honour

upon them; let them give him the thanks due to his name.

Sing aloud upon their beds.] While they are reclining on their

couches. At their festal banquets, let them shout the praises of

the Lord. In imitation of this we often have at our public

entertainments the following words sung, taken from the Vulgate of

Psalm cxv. 1: NON NOBIS DOMINE NON NOBIS; sed NOMINI TUO da

GLORIAM! super MISERICORDIA TUA et VERITATE TUA. "Not unto us, O

Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy and

for thy truth's sake." Let them mingle their feasting with Divine

songs. This reclining on couches, while they take their food, is

still practised in Asiatic countries.

Verse 6. Let the high praises of God] Let them sing songs the

most sublime, with the loudest noise consistent with harmony.

And a two-edged sword in their hand] Perhaps there is an

allusion here to the manner in which the Jews were obliged to

labour in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem: "Every one with one

of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a

weapon," Ne 4:17.

The two-edged sword, in Hebrew, is pipiyoth, "mouth

mouths."

Verse 7. To execute vengeance upon the heathen] This may refer

simply to their purpose of defending themselves to the uttermost,

should their enemies attack them while building their wall: and

they had every reason to believe that God would be with them; and

that, if their enemies did attack them, they should be able to

inflict the severest punishment upon them.

Punishments upon the people] The unfaithful and treacherous

Jews; for we find that some, even of their nobles, had joined

with Sanballat and Tobiah; (see Ne 6:17-19:) and it appears

also that many of them had formed alliances with those heathens,

which were contrary to the law; see Ne 13:15-29.

Verse 8. To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with

fetters of iron] That is, if these kings, governors of provinces,

and chiefs among the people, had attacked them, God would have

enabled them to defeat them, take their generals prisoners, and

lead them in triumph to Jerusalem. It is certain also that in the

times of the Maccabees the Jews had many signal victories over the

Samaritans, Philistines, and Moabites; and over Antiochus, king

of Syria. See the Books of the Maccabees. To these the psalmist

may here refer in a hyperbolical way, not unusual in poetry and in

songs of triumph.

Verse 9. To execute upon them the judgment written] In De 7:1,

&c., God promises his people complete victory over all their

enemies, and over the heathen. God repeatedly promises such

victories to his faithful people; and this is, properly speaking,

the judgment written, i.e., foretold.

This honour have all his saints.] They shall all be supported,

defended, and saved by the Lord. Israel had this honour, and such

victories over their enemies, while they continued faithful to

their God. When they relapsed into iniquity, their enemies

prevailed against them; they were defeated, their city taken,

their temple burnt to the ground, more than a million of

themselves slaughtered, and the rest led into captivity; and,

scattered through the, world, they continue without king, or

temple, or true worship, to the present day.

"But do not these last verses contain a promise that all the

nations of the earth shall be brought under the dominion of the

Church of Christ; that all heathen and ungodly kings shall be

put down, and pious men put in their places?" I do not think so. I

believe God never intended that his Church should have the civil

government of the world. His Church, like its Founder and Head,

will never be a ruler and divider among men. The men who under

pretense of superior sanctity, affect this, are not of God; the

truth of God is not in them; they are puffed up with pride, and

fall into the condemnation of the devil. Wo unto the inhabitants

of the earth, when the Church takes the civil government of the

world into its hand! Were it possible that God should trust

religious people with civil government, anarchy would soon

ensue; for every professed believer in Christ would consider

himself on a par with any other and every other believer, the

right to rule and the necessity to obey would be immediately

lost, and every man would do what was right in his own eyes; for,

where the grace of God makes all equal, who can presume to say, I

have Divine authority to govern my fellow? The Church of Rome has

claimed this right; and the pope, in consequence, became a secular

prince; but the nations of the world have seen the vanity and

iniquity of the claim, and refused allegiance. Those whom it did

govern, with force and with cruelty did it rule them; and the

odious yoke is now universally cast off. Certain enthusiasts and

hypocrites, not of that Church, have also attempted to set up a

fifth monarchy, a civil government by the SAINTS! and diabolic

saints they were. To such pretenders God gives neither countenance

nor support. The secular and spiritual government God will ever

keep distinct; and the Church shall have no power but that of

doing good; and this only in proportion to its holiness,

heavenly-mindedness, and piety to God. That the verses above may

be understood in a spiritual sense, as applicable to the influence

of the word of God preached, may be seen in the following

analysis.

ANALYSIS OF THE HUNDRED AND FORTY-NINTH PSALM

In this Psalm the saints of God are excited to give due thanks.

I. For the grace and favour received from God, Ps 149:1-5.

II. For the glory and privileges they shall receive,

Ps 148:5-9.

I. "Let Israel rejoice," &c. The saints. Which he amplifies:

1. The saints: "For praise is not comely in the mouth of

sinners."

2. The quality of the song: "A new song." By renewed men.

3. From the place in which it must be done. The public

congregation.

4. From the manner. With alacrity.

5. From the object. God, their Creator and King: "Let Israel

rejoice," &c.

And this part he concludes with a strong reason:

1. "For the Lord taketh pleasure," &c. He loves those who most

resemble him in holiness and purity.

2. "He will beautify the meek," &c. The people who trust him he

will save.

II. And now he describes their future glory.

1. "Let the saints," &c. None others will he beautify.

2. "Let them rejoice," &c. The mansions prepared for them in

heaven. There they rest from labour, but not from praise.

Their work is twofold: Present and future.

1. Present: "The high praises," &c. The highest that can be

thought of.

2. For the future: "Let a two-edged sword," &c. When Christ

shall come to judgment, the saints at the last shall be judges.

Then the exercise of this judiciary power shall be,

1. "To execute vengeance," &c. To judge them to punishment.

2. "To bind their kings with chains," &c. The phrase is

metaphorical. "Bind him hand and foot," &c.; Mt 22:13. Christ's

iron sceptre shall bruise the head of his enemies.

3. "To execute upon them the judgment written," &c. Against

evil-doers.

He concludes with an acclamation. This glory of sitting with

Christ and judging the world, is the glory of all saints.

Hallelujah.

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