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Psalm 148:11-14

11. Kings of the earth, and all peoples; princes, and all judges of the earth. 12. Young men, and also virgins; old men, with children. 13. Let them praise the name of Jehovah: for exalted is his name only, his praise is above the earth and the heavens. 14. And he hath exalted the horn of his people: praise is to all his merciful ones, to the children of Israel, a people which is near to him. Hallelujah.

 

11. Kings of the earth, etc. He now turns his address to men, with a respect to whom it was that he called for a declaration of God’s praises from creatures, both above and from beneath. As kings and princes are blinded by the dazzling influence of their station, so as to think the world was made for them, and to despise God in the pride of their hearts, he particularly calls them to this duty; and, by mentioning them first, he reproves their ingratitude in withholding their tribute of praise when they are under greater obligations than others. As all men originally stand upon a level as to condition, the higher persons have risen, and the nearer they have been brought to God, the more sacredly are they bound to proclaim his goodness. The more intolerable is the wickedness of kings and princes who claim exemption from the common rule, when they ought rather to inculcate it upon others and lead the way. He could have addressed his exhortation at once summarily to all men, as indeed he mentions peoples in general terms; but by thrice specifying princes he suggests that they are slow to discharge the duty, and need to be urged do it. Then follows a division according to age and sex, to show that all without exception are created for this end, and should unitedly devote their energies to it. As to old men, the more God has lengthened out their lives the more should they be exercised in singing his praises; but he joins young men with them, for though they have less experience from continued habit, it will be inexcusable if they do not acknowledge the great mercy of God in the vigor of their lives. In speaking of girls or virgins, the particle גם, gam, also, is not merely expletive, but added to make the words more emphatical, conveying the truth that even the young women who are not so liberally educated as the male sex, being considered as born for domestic offices, will omit their duty if they do not join with the rest of the Church in praising God. It follows that all from the least to the greatest are bound by this common rule.

14. And hath exalted the horn, etc. As we saw in the former Psalm, that the perfections of God are to be seen more conspicuously in the Church than in the constitution of the world at large, the Psalmist has added this sentence, as to the Church being protected by the divine hand, and armed with a power against all enemies which secures its safety in every danger. By the horn, as is well known, is meant strength or dignity. Accordingly the Psalmist means that God’s blessing is apparent in his Church and among his chosen people, inasmuch as it only flourishes and is powerful through his strength. There is a tacit comparison implied between the Church of God and other hostile powers, for it needs divine guardianship as being exposed on all sides to attack. Hence the Psalmist infers that praise is to all the merciful ones of God, for they have ground given them in the singular goodness of his condescension both for self-congratulation and praise. In calling the children of Israel a people near unto God, he reminds them of the gracious covenant which God made with Abraham. For how came the nearness, except in the way of God’s preferring an unknown despised stranger to all nations? Nor are we to seek the cause of the distinction elsewhere than in the mere love of God. Though all the world equally belongs to God, he graciously discovered himself to the children of Israel, and brought them near to him, strangers as they were from God, even as are the whole race of Adam. Hence the words of Moses —

“When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, and distributed the peoples, he stretched forth his line to Jacob.” (Deuteronomy 32:8.)

He is to be considered, therefore, as pointing out the cause why God hath extended such signal blessings to a single people, and a people poor and despised — his adoption of them to himself.

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