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Psalm 144:9-11

9. O God! I will sing a new song to thee: upon the nablum, upon the psaltery, 265265     In the French version it is — “Upon the psaltery, and upon an instrument of ten strings.” It is evident that Calvin supposed two instruments to be here mentioned. This, however, has been doubted. The rendering in the Hebrew text is — בנבל עשור, benebel asor, “with a nobel (or psaltery, as the term is translated in our English Bible) ten (stringed).” Thus only one musical instrument may be indicated — “the psaltery of ten strings.” In Psalm 33:2, we read similarly, בנבל עשור, benebel asor, “with the psaltery ten (stringed).” In Psalm 42:3, however, nebel and asor are represented as two distinct musical instruments. We there read, עליא-עשור ועלי-נבל, ale-asor veale-nabel, “upon the asor or ten (stringed instrument), and upon the nebel or psaltery.” But whatever inference may be drawn from the independent exhibition of asor in that text, yet in the passage before us, and in Psalm 33:2, if we may judge from the construction, it seems rather to represent the number of strings of the common nebel or psaltery, or a particular variety of that instrument, than to be a distinct musical instrument. With respect to the Hebrew nebel from which comes the ναβλος; of the Greeks, and the nablum of the Latins, our information is very limited and indistinct. It is supposed to have been a stringed instrument of the harp or lyre kind, and appears to have been of the triangular form. As it is not noticed in Scripture earlier than the days of David, it is not considered of equal antiquity with some other musical instruments. It was formed of precious wood, as we learn from 1 Kings 10:12, and ultimately, according to Josephus, of that species of precious mixed metal called electrum. From its being never mentioned in the Sacred Writings, except in connection with the worship of the sanctuary, it has been conjectured that it was not used in private, and that it was probably larger, and more costly, than other instruments of a similar kind. Josephus says that it was played upon with the fingers, and had twelve strings. The number of strings may, however, have varied according to circumstances. I will sing psalms to thee. 10. Giving salvation to kings, delivering David his servant from the hurtful sword. 11. Deliver me, and rescue me from the hand of the sons of the stranger, whose mouth hath spoken falsehood, and their right hand is a right hand of deceit.

 

9. O God! I will sing a new song to thee. He again sets himself, with self-possession, to the exercise of praising God, not doubting but he would continue those mercies which he had once bestowed. I have taken notice in another place that by a new song is meant one of a singular or uncommon kind; and we are left from this to infer that David’s expectations stretched beyond the conclusions of man’s judgment; for, with a view to the greatness of the help to be extended, he promises a song of praise unprecedented in its nature, and distinguished, by the title here applied to it, from ordinary thanksgiving’s. As to the nablum and psaltery, I have elsewhere observed that they formed part of that system of training under the law to which the Church was subjected in its infancy. But the chief thing to be noticed is the subject of his songs that God, who is the preserver of kings, had kept — and even rescued from the sword — David, whom he had made and anointed king by his authoritative decree. As to the idea of there being implied in the term kings an opposition to the commonalty, David meaning that not only the common class of people are indebted to divine preservation, but the more influential, and such as appear to have sufficient and abundant strength of their own, I question whether it be well founded. His meaning seems to me rather to be different from this, That while God preserves all men without exception, his care is peculiarly extended to the maintenance of political order, which is the foundation of the common safety of all. It is in effect as if he called him the guardian and defender of kingdoms; for as the very mention of government is an odious thing, and none willingly obeys another, and nothing is more contrary to natural inclination than servitude, men would seek to throw off the yoke, and subvert the thrones of kings, were these not hedged round by a hidden divine presidency. David, however, distinguishes himself from other kings, as elsewhere he is called “the firstborn of kings,” (Psalm 89:27;) at least he speaks of the goodness of God as having been preeminently shown to him, representing himself as holding the highest place, on account of the holy anointing which had been more eminently bestowed upon him. As a title of distinction, he claims the special name of God’s servant; for although all kings are God’s servants, and Cyrus has the name applied to him by Isaiah emphatically, (Isaiah 45:1,) yet as no heathen prince ever recognized himself as called of God, and David alone of all others in the world was invested with legitimate authority, and had a warrant to reign which faith could rest upon with certainty, it was not without reason that this mark of distinction is applied to him. By the hurtful sword, are doubtless meant all the dangers he had passed through for a series of years, which were such that he might be truly said to have come to the throne by deaths oft, and to have been settled upon the throne in the midst of them.


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