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68

PSALM XCVIII.

1 Sing to Jehovah a new song,

For wonders He has done,

His right hand has brought Him salvation, and His holy arm

2 Jehovah has made known His salvation,

To the eyes of the nations He has revealed His righteousness.

3 He has remembered His loving-kindness and His faithfulness

to the house of Israel,

All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

4 Shout aloud to Jehovah, all the earth,

Break forth into shrill cries of joy and make melody,

5 Make melody to Jehovah with the lyre,

With lyre and voice of melody.

6 With trumpets and blast of horn,

Shout aloud before Jehovah, the King.

7 Let the sea thunder and its fulness,

The world and the dwellers therein,

8 Let streams clap hands,

Together let mountains ring out joyful cries,

9 Before Jehovah, for He comes to judge the earth,

He will judge the world in righteousness,

And peoples in equity.

The two preceding psalms correspond in number and division of verses. The first begins with a summons to sing to Jehovah; the second, with a proclamation that He is King. A precisely similar connection exists between this and the following psalm. Psalm xcviii. is an echo of Psalm xcvi., and Psalm xcix. of Psalm xcvii. The number of verses in each of the second pair is nine, and in each there is a threefold division. The general theme of both pairs is the same, but with considerable modifications. The abundant69 allusions to older passages continue here, and the second part of Isaiah is especially familiar to the singer.

The first strophe (vv. 1-3), though modelled on the first of Psalm xcvi., presents the theme in a different fashion. Instead of reiterating through three verses the summons to Israel to praise Jehovah, and declare His glory to the nations, this psalm passes at once from the summons to praise, in order to set forth the Divine deed which evokes the praise, and which, the psalmist thinks, will shine by its own lustre to "the ends of the earth," whether it has human voices to celebrate it or not. This psalmist speaks more definitely of Jehovah's wonders of deliverance. Israel appears rather as the recipient than as the celebrator of God's loving-kindness. The sun shines to all nations, whether any voices say "Look," or no. Ver. 1a is from Psalm xcvi. 1; vv. 1c-3 weave together snatches of various passages in the second part of Isaiah, especially Isa. lii. 10, lix. 16, lxiii. 5. The remarkable expression "brought salvation to Him" (from the second passage in Isaiah) is rendered by many "helped Him," and that rendering gives the sense but obliterates the connection with "salvation," emphatically repeated in the two following verses. The return from Babylon is naturally suggested as best corresponding to the psalmist's words. That was "the salvation of our God," who seemed to have forgotten His people, as Isa. xlix. 2 represents Israel as complaining, but now, before "the eyes of all nations," has shown how well He remembers and faithfully keeps His covenant obligations. Israel is, indeed, Jehovah's witness, and should ring out her grateful joy; but Jehovah's deed speaks more loudly than Israel's proclamation of it can ever do.

The second strophe (vv. 4-6) corresponds to the70 third of Psalm xcvi.; but whereas there the Gentiles were summoned to bring offerings into the courts of Jehovah, here it is rather the glad tumult of vocal praise, mingled with the twang of harps, and the blare of trumpets and horns, which is present to the singer's imagination. He hears the swelling chorus echoing through the courts, which are conceived as wide enough to hold "all the earth." He has some inkling of the great thought that the upshot of God's redeeming self-manifestation will be glad music from a redeemed world. His call to mankind throbs with emotion, and sounds like a prelude to the melodious commingling of voice and instrument which he at once enjoins and foretells. His words are largely echoes of Isaiah. Compare Isa. xliv. 23, xlix. 13, lii. 9, for "break forth into," and li. 3 for "voice of melody."

The final strophe is almost identical with that of Psalm xcvi., but, in accordance with the variation found in vv. 1-3, omits the summons to Israel to proclaim God's Kinghood among the nations. It also inverts the order of clauses in ver. 7, and in ver. 7b quotes from Psalm xxiv. 1, where also "the fulness of it" precedes, with the result of having no verb expressed which suits the nouns, since "the world and the dwellers therein" cannot well be called on to "thunder." Instead of the "plain" and "trees of the forest" in the original, ver. 8 substitutes streams and mountains. The bold figure of the streams clapping hands, in token of homage to the King (2 Kings xi. 12; Psalm xlvii. 1) occurs in Isa. lv. 12. The meeting waves are conceived of as striking against each other, with a sound resembling that of applauding palms. Ver. 9 is quoted from Psalm xcvi., with the omission of the second "He cometh" (which many versions of the LXX. retain), and the substitution of "equity" for "His faithfulness."

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