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The children of Zion are excited, 1-3. to rejoice, and sing the praises of their King, on account, 4. of the salvation which he has already wrought for them, and which will hereafter be completed in them, when, 5. they shall enter into his rest, and, 6 -9. triumph with him over the persecuting powers of the world, and all the opposers of Christ, on whom will then be executed the judgment written. The Jews mistaking, as usual, the time, place, and nature of Messiah's glorious kingdom, imagine this Psalm will receive its accomplishment, by their being made rulers of the nations, and lords of all things here below.
1. Praise the LORD: Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints. 2. Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: let the children of Zion be joyful in their King. 3. Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.
Christians are now the people, to whom belong the names and characters of saints, Israel, and children of Zion.-They sing this holy song, as the Psalmist hath enjoined them to do. They sing it new in its evangelical sense, as new men, celebrating new victories, new and greater mercies, a spiritual salvation, an eternal redemption. They rejoice with hearts, voices, instruments, and every other token of joy, in him who hath made, or created them again, in righteousness and true holiness; they are joyful in their King, who hath himself overcome, and is now leading them on to final conquest and triumph, to honour and immortality.
4. For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation. 5. The saints* shall be joyful with glory; they shall sing aloud upon their beds, or, places of rest.
Such pleasure the King of Zion taketh in his people, that he hath not disdained to become like one of them; to partake of their flesh and blood, and to give them his Spirit; he was made man, to purchase them by his death; and, as a man, he is gone into hea ven, to prepare a place for them. From thence he will return, to beautify the meek with salvation, and place on the heads of his true disciples, the lowly, patient, and peaceable ones, a bright and incorruptible crown. Therefore are the saints joyful in glory; they sing aloud, in a state of perfect ease and security, resting from their labours, but not from their hallelujahs.
In this verse the Hebrew verbs are in the future time. In the verse following the original hath no verb at all. The liberty is therefore taken to render them accordingly.
6. The high praises of God in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand: 7. To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; 8. To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron: 9. To execute upon them the judgment written; this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the LORD.
To those, who are SAINTS indeed, and who are acquainted with the genuine spirit of the gospel, how obvious is it, that the scene, of which we have here a prophetical exhibition, is one that cannot take place till after the resurrection, because the followers of the Lamb have certainly nothing to do with vengeance in this world, though they are to judge, not only men, but angels in the next; 1 Cor. vi. 2, 3. when they shall be called up to sit on thrones, as assessors at the condemnation of their once insulting persecutors, who will be cut asunder with the two edged-sword, and bound with indissoluble chains. Thus will be executed upon them the eternal judgment written and announced against the enemies of Messiah, in the Scriptures of truth. This honour will all his saints THEN have.
The Psalmist exhorteth men to praise Jehovah, 1. for his holiness and the firmament of his power, 2. for the wonders of his might, and for his excellent greatness, 3—5. with all kinds of music. 6. He concludeth his divine book of praises, by calling upon every thing that hath breath, to employ that breath in declaring the glory of him that gave it.
1. Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary, or, for his holiness; praise him in, or, for the firmament, or, expansion of his power.
If our translation be retained, the meaning is, that God should be praised in the sanctuary, or temple, below, and likewise in heaven above; the former being planned and constructed, as a resemblance of the latter. But the context rather perhaps requires us to suppose the Psalmist giving the reasons why God should be praised; namely, on account of his holiness, and of his power, which power is more especially displayed in the formation of the firmament, or expansion of the material heavens, and their incessant operations, by means of the light and the air, of which they are composed, upon the earth, and all things therein. These are the appointed instruments of life and motion in the natural world, and they afford us some idea of that power of God unto salvation, which is manifested in the church, by the effects produced on the souls of men, through the gracious influences of the LIGHT divine, and the SPIRIT of holiness, constituting the firmament of God's power in the new creation.
2. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his ex
Mighty were the acts which God wrought for Israel, and great was the Holy One in the midst of his ancient people; but far mightier acts did he perform in Christ Jesus, for the redemption of the world; and more excellent greatness hath he manifested in the conversion of the nations, the overthrow of Paganism, and the erection and preservation of the Christian church. O that her gratitude bore some proportion to his goodness!
3. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. 4. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. 4. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
It is impossible for us to distinguish and describe the several sorts of musical instruments here mentioned, as the Hebrews themselves acknowledge their ignorance in this particular. Thus much is clear, that the people of God are enjoined to use all the various kinds of them, in the performance of their divine services. And why should they not be so used under the gospel? We read of sacred music before the law, in the instance of Miriam, the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, who, to celebrate the deliverance from Pharaoh and the Egyptians, "took a timbrel in her hand, and the women went out after her, with timbrels and dances," Exod. xv. 20. The custom, therefore, was not introduced by the law, nor abolished with it. Well regulated music, if ever it had the power of calming the passions, if ever it enlivened and exalted the affections of men in the worship of God, (purposes for which it was formerly employed) doubtless hath still the same power, and can still afford the same aids to devotion. When the beloved disciple was, in spirit, admitted into the celestial choir, he not only heard them "singing" hymns of praise, but he heard likewise "the voice of harpers harping upon their harps," Rev. xiv. 2. And why that, which saints are represented as doing in heaven, should not be done, according to their skill and ability, by saints. upon earth; or why instrumental music should be abolished as a legal ceremony, and vocal music, which was as much so, should be retained, no good reason can be assigned. Sacred music, under proper regulations, removes the hindrances of our devotion, cures the distractions of our thoughts, and banishes weariness from our minds. It adds solemnity to the public service, raises all the devout passions in the soul, and causes our duty to become our delight. "Of the pleasures of heaven," says the eloquent and elegant Bishop Atterbury," nothing further is revealed to us, than that they consist in the practice of holy music and holy love; the joint
enjoyment of which, we are told, is to be the happy lot of all pious souls to endless ages." It may be added, that there is no better method of combating the mischievous effects flowing from the abuse of music, than by applying it to its true and proper use. If the worshippers of Baal join in a chorus to celebrate the praises of their idol, the servants of Jehovah should drown it, by one that is stronger and more powerful, in praise of him who made heaven and earth. If the men of the world rejoice in the object of their adoration, let the children of Sion be joyful in their King.
6. Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.
The breath of natural life, which God hath breathed into our nostrils, and the breath of that new and eternal life, which he hath given us through Christ Jesus our Lord, should be returned in hallelujahs. And then the church, composed of many and different members, all actuated, like the pipes of a well-tuned organ, by the same Spirit, and conspiring together in perfect harmony, would become one great instrument, sounding forth the praises of God most high.
LET EVERY THING THAT HATH BREATH PRAISE THE LORD!With this wish the sweet Psalmist of Israel closes the songs of Sion. With the same wish the author desires to close these meditations upon them; giving thanks to the Father of mercies, and the God of all comforts, by whose most gracious favour and aid they have been begun, continued, and ended; and humbly praying, that no errors, or improprieties, from which, through human infirmity, during the course of a long work, the most diligent and careful are not exempt, may prevent his labours from contributing in some small degree, to promote the improvement and consolation of the redeemed, the honour and glory of the Redeemer, who is THE ROOT AND THE OFFSPRING OF DAVID, AND THE BRIGHT AMEN.
AND MORNING STAR.
*Rev. xxii. 16.