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Psalm 148

Praise for God’s Universal Glory

1

Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord from the heavens;

praise him in the heights!

2

Praise him, all his angels;

praise him, all his host!

 

3

Praise him, sun and moon;

praise him, all you shining stars!

4

Praise him, you highest heavens,

and you waters above the heavens!

 

5

Let them praise the name of the Lord,

for he commanded and they were created.

6

He established them forever and ever;

he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.

 

7

Praise the Lord from the earth,

you sea monsters and all deeps,

8

fire and hail, snow and frost,

stormy wind fulfilling his command!

 

9

Mountains and all hills,

fruit trees and all cedars!

10

Wild animals and all cattle,

creeping things and flying birds!

 

11

Kings of the earth and all peoples,

princes and all rulers of the earth!

12

Young men and women alike,

old and young together!

 

13

Let them praise the name of the Lord,

for his name alone is exalted;

his glory is above earth and heaven.

14

He has raised up a horn for his people,

praise for all his faithful,

for the people of Israel who are close to him.

Praise the Lord!

Psalm 149

Praise for God’s Goodness to Israel

1

Praise the Lord!

Sing to the Lord a new song,

his praise in the assembly of the faithful.

2

Let Israel be glad in its Maker;

let the children of Zion rejoice in their King.

3

Let them praise his name with dancing,

making melody to him with tambourine and lyre.

4

For the Lord takes pleasure in his people;

he adorns the humble with victory.

5

Let the faithful exult in glory;

let them sing for joy on their couches.

6

Let the high praises of God be in their throats

and two-edged swords in their hands,

7

to execute vengeance on the nations

and punishment on the peoples,

8

to bind their kings with fetters

and their nobles with chains of iron,

9

to execute on them the judgment decreed.

This is glory for all his faithful ones.

Praise the Lord!

Psalm 150

Praise for God’s Surpassing Greatness

1

Praise the Lord!

Praise God in his sanctuary;

praise him in his mighty firmament!

2

Praise him for his mighty deeds;

praise him according to his surpassing greatness!

 

3

Praise him with trumpet sound;

praise him with lute and harp!

4

Praise him with tambourine and dance;

praise him with strings and pipe!

5

Praise him with clanging cymbals;

praise him with loud clashing cymbals!

6

Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord!


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An Invitation to Praise.

1 Praise ye the Lord. Praise ye the Lord from the heavens: praise him in the heights.   2 Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts.   3 Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light.   4 Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens.   5 Let them praise the name of the Lord: for he commanded, and they were created.   6 He hath also stablished them for ever and ever: he hath made a decree which shall not pass.

We, in this dark and depressed world, know but little of the world of light and exaltation, and, conversing within narrow confines, can scarcely admit any tolerable conceptions of the vast regions above. But this we know,

I. That there is above us a world of blessed angels by whom God is praised, an innumerable company of them. Thousand thousands minister unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stand before him; and it is his glory that he has such attendants, but much more his glory that he neither needs them, nor is, nor can be, any way benefited by them. To that bright and happy world the psalmist has an eye here, v. 1, 2. In general, to the heavens, to the heights. The heavens are the heights, and therefore we must lift up our souls above the world unto God in the heavens, and on things above we must set our affections. It is his desire that God may be praised from the heavens, that thence a praising frame may be transmitted to this world in which we live, that while we are so cold, and low, and flat, in praising God, there are those above who are doing it in a better manner, and that while we are so often interrupted in this work they rest not day nor night from it. In particular, he had an eye to God's angels, to his hosts, and calls upon them to praise God. That God's angels are his hosts is plain enough; as soon as they were made they were enlisted, armed, and disciplined; he employs them in fighting his battles, and they keep ranks, and know their place, and observe the word of command as his hosts. But what is meant by the psalmist's calling upon them, and exciting them to praise God, is not so easy to account for. I will not say, They do not heed it, because we find that to the principalities and powers is known by the church the manifold wisdom of God (Eph. iii. 10); but I will say, They do not need it, for they are continually praising God and there is no deficiency at all in their performances; and therefore when, in singing this psalm, we call upon the angels to praise God (as we did, Ps. ciii. 20), we mean that we desire God may be praised by the ablest hands and in the best manner,—that we are pleased to think he is so,—that we have a spiritual communion with those that dwell in his house above and are still praising him,—and that we have come by faith, and hope, and holy love, to the innumerable company of angels, Heb. xii. 22.

II. That there is above us not only an assembly of blessed spirits, but a system of vast bodies too, and those bright ones, in which God is praised, that is, which may give us occasion (as far as we know any thing of them) to give to God the glory not only of their being, but of their beneficence to mankind. Observe,

1. What these creatures are that thus show us the way in praising God, and, whenever we look up and consider the heavens, furnish us with matter for his praises. (1.) There are the sun, moon, and stars, which continually, either day or night, present themselves to our view, as looking-glasses, in which we may see a faint shadow (for so I must call it, not a resemblance) of the glory of him that is the Father of lights, v. 3. The greater lights, the sun and moon, are not too great, too bright, to praise him; and the praises of the less lights, the stars, shall not be slighted. Idolaters made the sun, moon, and stars, their gods, and praised them, worshipping and serving the creature, because it is seen, more than the Creator, because he is not seen; but we, who worship the true God only, make them our fellow-worshippers, and call upon them to praise him with us, nay, as Levites to attend us, who, as priests, offer this spiritual sacrifice. (2.) There are the heavens of heavens above the sun and stars, the seat of the blessed; from the vastness and brightness of these unknown orbs abundance of glory redounds to God, for the heavens of heavens are the Lord's (Ps. cxv. 16) and yet they cannot contain him, 1 Kings viii. 27. The learned Dr. Hammond understands her, by the heavens of heavens, the upper regions of the air, or all the regions of it, as Ps. lxviii. 33. We read of the heaven of heavens, whence God sends forth his voice, and that a mighty voice, meaning the thunder. (3.) There are the waters that are above the heavens, the clouds that hang above in the air, where they are reserved against the day of battle and war, Job xxxviii. 23. We have reason to praise God, not only that these waters do not drown the earth, but that they do water it and make it fruitful. The Chaldee paraphrase reads it, Praise him, you heavens of heavens, and you waters that depend on the word of him who is above the heavens, for the key of the clouds is one of the keys which God has in his hand, wherewith he opens and none can shut, he shuts and none can open.

2. Upon what account we are to give God the glory of them: Let them praise the name of the Lord, that is, let us praise the name of the Lord for them, and observe what constant and fresh matter for praise may be fetched from them. (1.) Because he made them, gave them their powers and assigned them their places: He commanded them (great as they are) out of nothing, and they were created at a word's speaking. God created, and therefore may command; for he commanded, and so created; his authority must always be acknowledged and acquiesced in, because he once spoke with such authority. (2.) Because he still upholds and preserves them in their beings and posts, their powers and motions (v. 6): He hath established them for ever and ever, that is, to the end of time, a short ever, but it is their ever; they shall last as long as there is occasion for them. He hath made a decree, the law of creation, which shall not pass; it was enacted by the wisdom of God, and therefore needs not be altered, by his sovereignty and inviolable fidelity, and therefore cannot be altered. All the creatures that praised God at first for their creation must praise him still for their continuance. And we have reason to praise him that they are kept within the bounds of a decree; for to that it is owing that the waters above the heavens have not a second time drowned the earth.

An Invitation to Praise.

7 Praise the Lord from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps:   8 Fire, and hail; snow, and vapour; stormy wind fulfilling his word:   9 Mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars:   10 Beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl:   11 Kings of the earth, and all people; princes, and all judges of the earth:   12 Both young men, and maidens; old men, and children:   13 Let them praise the name of the Lord: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven.   14 He also exalteth the horn of his people, the praise of all his saints; even of the children of Israel, a people near unto him. Praise ye the Lord.

Considering that this earth, and the atmosphere that surrounds it, are the very sediment of the universe, it concerns us to enquire after those considerations that may be of use to reconcile us to our place in it; and I know none more likely than this (next to the visit which the Son of God once made to it), that even in this world, dark and as bad as it is, God is praised: Praise you the Lord from the earth, v. 7. As the rays of the sun, which are darted directly from heaven, reflect back (though more weakly) from the earth, so should the praises of God, with which this cold and infected world should be warmed and perfumed.

I. Even those creatures that are not dignified with the powers of reason are summoned into this concert, because God may be glorified in them, v. 7-10. Let the dragons or whales, that sport themselves in the mighty waters (Ps. civ. 26), dance before the Lord, to his glory, who largely proves his own omnipotence by his dominion over the leviathan or whale, Job xli. 1, &c. All deeps, and their inhabitants, praise God—the sea, and the animals there—the bowels of the earth, and the animals there. Out of the depths God may be praised as well as prayed unto. If we look up into the atmosphere we meet with a great variety of meteors, which, being a king of new productions (and some of them unaccountable), do in a special manner magnify the power of the great Creator. There are fiery meteors; lightning is fire, and there are other blazes sometimes kindled which may be so called. There are watery meteors, hail, and snow, and the vapours of which they are gendered. There are airy meteors, stormy winds; we know not whence they come nor whither they go, whence their mighty force comes nor how it is spent; but this we know, that, be they ever so strong, so stormy, they fulfil God's word, and do that, and no more than that, which he appoints them; and by this Christ showed himself to have a divine power, that he commanded even the winds and the seas, and they obeyed him. Those that will not fulfil God's word, but rise up in rebellion against it, show themselves to be more violent and headstrong than even the stormy winds, for they fulfil it. Take a view of the surface of the earth (v. 9), and there are presented to our view the exalted grounds, mountains and all hills, from the barren tops of some of which, and the fruitful tops of others, we may fetch matter for praise; there are the exalted plants, some that are exalted by their usefulness, as the fruitful trees of various kinds, for the fruits of which God is to be praised, others by their stateliness, as all cedars, those trees of the Lord, Ps. civ. 16. Cedars, the high trees, are not the fruitful trees, yet they had their use even in God's temple. Pass we next to the animal kingdom, and there we find God glorified, even by the beasts that run wild, and all cattle that are tame and in the service of man, v. 10. Nay, even the creeping things have not sunk so low, nor do the flying fowl soar so high, as not to be called upon to praise the Lord. Much of the wisdom, power, and goodness of the Creator appears in the several capacities and instincts of the creatures, in the provision made for them and the use made of them. When we see all so very strange, and all so very good, surely we cannot but acknowledge God with wonder and thankfulness.

II. Much more those creatures that are dignified with the powers of reason ought to employ them in praising God: Kings of the earth and all people, v. 11, 12. 1. God is to be glorified in and for these, as in and for the inferior creatures, for their hearts are in the hand of the Lord and he makes what use he pleases of them. God is to be praised in the order and constitution of kingdoms, the pars imperans—the part that commands, and the pars subdita—the part that is subject: Kings of the earth and all people. It is by him that kings reign, and people are subject to them; the princes and judges of the earth have their wisdom and their commission from him, and we, to whom they are blessings, ought to bless God for them. God is to be praised also in the constitution of families, for he is the founder of them; and for all the comfort of relations, the comfort that parents and children, brothers and sisters, have in each other, God is to be praised. 2. God is to be glorified by these. Let all manner of persons praise God. (1.) Those of each rank, high and low. The praises of kings, and princes, and judges, are demanded; those on whom God has put honour must honour him with it, and the power they are entrusted with, and the figure they make in the world, put them in a capacity of bringing more glory to God and doing him more service than others. Yet the praises of the people are expected also, and God will graciously accept of them; Christ despised not the hosannas of the multitude. (2.) Those of each sex, young men and maidens, who are accustomed to make merry together; let them turn their mirth into this channel; let it be sacred, that it may be pure. (3.) Those of each age. Old men must still bring forth this fruit in old age, and not think that either the gravity or the infirmity of their age will excuse them from it; and children too must begin betimes to praise God; even out of the mouth of babes and sucklings this good work is perfected. A good reason is given (v. 13) why all these should praise the name of the Lord, because his name alone is excellent and worthy to be praised; it is a name above every name, no name, no nature, but his, has in it all excellency. His glory is above both the earth and the heaven, and let all inhabitants both of earth and heaven praise him and yet acknowledge his name to be exalted far above all blessing and praise.

III. Most of all his own people, who are dignified with peculiar privileges, must in a peculiar manner give glory to him, v. 14. Observe, 1. The dignity God has put upon his people, even the children of Israel, typical of the honour reserved for all true believers, who are God's spiritual Israel. He exalts their horn, their brightness, their plenty, their power. The people of Israel were, in many respects, honoured above any other nation, for to them pertained the adoption, the glory, and the covenants, Rom. ix. 4. It was their own honour that they were a people near unto God, his Segulla, his peculiar treasure; they were admitted into his courts, when a stranger that came nigh must be put to death. They had him nigh to them in all that which they called upon him for. This blessing has not come upon the Gentiles, through Christ, for those that were afar off are by his blood made nigh, Eph. ii. 13. It is the greatest honour that can be put upon a man to be brought near to god, the nearer the better; and it will be best of all when nearest of all in the kingdom of glory. 2. The duty God expects from them in consideration of this. Let those whom God honours honour him: Praise you the Lord. Let him be the praise of all his saints, the object of their praise; for he is a praise to them. He is thy praise, and he is thy God, Deut. x. 21. Some by the horn of his people understand David, as a type of Christ, whom God has exalted to be a prince and a Saviour, who is indeed the praise of all his saints and will be so for ever; for it is through him that they are a people near to God.

Saints Admonished to Praise God.

1 Praise ye 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.   4 For the Lord taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation.   5 Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds.

We have here,

I. The calls given to God's Israel to praise. All his works were, in the foregoing psalm, excited to praise him; but here his saints in a particular manner are required to bless him. Observe then, 1. Who are called upon to praise God. Israel in general, the body of the church (v. 2), the children of Zion particularly, the inhabitants of that holy hill, who are nearer to God than other Israelites; those that have the word and ordinances of God near to them, that are not required to travel far to them, are justly expected to do more in praising God than others. All true Christians may call themselves the children of Zion, for in faith and hope we have come unto Mount Zion, Heb. xii. 22. The saints must praise God, saints in profession, saints in power, for this is the intention of their sanctification; they are devoted to the glory of God, and renewed by the grace of God, that they may be unto him for a name and a praise. 2. What must be the principle of this praise, and that is holy joy in God: Let Israel rejoice, and the children of Zion be joyful, and the saints be joyful in glory. Our praises of God should flow from a heart filled with delight and triumph in God's attributes, and our relation to him. Much of the power of godliness in the heart consists in making God our chief joy and solacing ourselves in him; and our faith in Christ is described by our rejoicing in him. We then give honour to God when we take pleasure in him. We must be joyful in glory, that is, in him as our glory, and in the interest we have in him; and let us look upon it as our glory to be of those that rejoice in God. 3. What must be the expressions of this praise. We must by all proper ways show forth the praises of God: Sing to the Lord. We must entertain ourselves, and proclaim his name, by singing praises to him (v. 3), singing aloud (v. 5), for we should sing psalms with all our heart, as those that are not only not ashamed of it, but are enlarged in it. We must sing a new song, newly composed upon every special occasion, sing with new affections, which make the song new, though the words have been used before, and keep them from growing threadbare. Let God be praised in the dance with timbrel and harp, according to the usage of the Old-Testament church very early (Exod. xv. 20), where we find God praised with timbrels and dances. Those who from this urge the use of music in religious worship must by the same rule introduce dancing, for they went together, as in David's dancing before the ark, and Judg. xxi. 21. But, whereas many scriptures in the New Testament keep up singing as a gospel-ordinance, none provide for the keeping up of music and dancing; the gospel-canon for psalmody is to sing with the spirit and with the understanding. 4. What opportunities must be taken for praising God, none must be let slip, but particularly, (1.) We must praise God in public, in the solemn assembly (v. 1), in the congregation of saints. The more the better; it is the more like heaven. Thus God's name must be owned before the world; thus the service must have a solemnity put upon it, and we must mutually excite one another to it. The principle, end, and design of our coming together in religious assemblies is that we may join together in praising God. Other parts of the service must be in order to this. (2.) We must praise him in private. Let the saints be so transported with their joy in God as to sing aloud upon their beds, when they awake in the night, full of the praises of God, as David, Ps. cxix. 62. When God's Israel are brought to a quiet settlement, let them enjoy that, with thankfulness to God; much more may true believers, that have entered into God's rest, and find repose in Jesus Christ, sing aloud for joy of that. Upon their sick-beds, their death-beds, let them sing the praises of their God.

II. The cause given to God's Israel for praise. Consider, 1. God's doings for them. They have reason to rejoice inn God, to devote themselves to his honour and employ themselves in his service; for it is he that made them. He gave us our being as men, and we have reason to praise him for that, for it is a noble and excellent being. He gave Israel their being as a people, as a church, made them what they were, so very different from other nations. Let that people therefore praise him, for he formed them for himself, on purpose that they might show forth his praise, Isa. xliii. 21. Let Israel rejoice in his Makers (so it is in the original); for God said, Let us make man; and in this, some think, is the mystery of the Trinity. 2. God's dominion over them. This follows upon the former: if he made them, he is their King; he that gave being no doubt may give law; and this ought to be the matter of our joy and praise that we are under the conduct and protection of such a wise and powerful King. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! for behold thy king comes, the king Messiah, whom God has set upon his holy hill of Zion; let all the children of Zion be joyful in him, and go forth to meet him with their hosannas, Zech. ix. 9. 3. God's delight in them. He is a king that rules by love, and therefore to be praised; for the Lord takes pleasure in his people, in their services, in their prosperity, in communion with them, and in the communications of his favour to them. He that is infinitely happy in the enjoyment of himself, and to whose felicity no accession can be made, yet graciously condescends to take pleasure in his people, Ps. cxlvii. 11. 4. God's designs concerning them. Besides the present complacency he has in them, he has prepared for their future glory: He will beautify the meek, the humble, and lowly, and contrite in heart, that tremble at his word and submit to it, that are patient under their afflictions and show all meekness towards all men. These men vilify and asperse, but God will justify them, and wipe off their reproach; nay, he will beautify them; they shall appear not only clear, but comely, before all the world, with the comeliness that he puts upon them. He will beautify them with salvation, with temporal salvations (when God works remarkable deliverances for his people those that had been among the pots become as the wings of a dove covered with silver, Ps. lxviii. 13), but especially with eternal salvation. The righteous shall be beautified in that day when they shine forth as the sun. In the hopes of this, let them now, in the darkest day, sing a new song.

Israel Admonished to Praise God.

6 Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a twoedged 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.

The Israel of God are here represented triumphing over their enemies, which is both the matter of their praise (let them give to God the glory of those triumphs) and the recompence of their praise; those that are truly thankful to God for their tranquillity shall be blessed with victory. Or it may be taken as a further expression of their praise (v. 6): let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and then, in a holy zeal for his honour, let them take a two-edged sword in their hand, to fight his battles against the enemies of his kingdom. Now this may be applied, 1. To the many victories which God blessed his people Israel with over the nations of Canaan and other nations that were devoted to destruction. These began in Moses and Joshua, who, when they taught Israel the high praises of the Lord, did withal put a two-edged sword in their hand; David did so too, for, as he was the sweet singer of Israel, so he was the captain of their hosts, and taught the children of Judah the use of the bow (2 Sam. i. 18), taught their hands to war, as God had taught his. Thus he and they went on victoriously, fighting the Lord's battles, and avenging Israel's quarrels on those that had oppressed them; then they executed vengeance upon the heathen (the Philistines, Moabites, Ammonites, and others, 2 Sam. viii. 1, &c.) and punishments upon the people, for all the wrong they had done to God's people, v. 7. Their kings and nobles were taken prisoners (v. 8) and on some of them the judgment written was executed, as by Joshua on the kings of Canaan, by Gideon on the princes of Midian, by Samuel on Agag. The honour of this redounded to all the Israel of God; and to him who put it upon them they return it entirely in their hallelujahs. Jehoshaphat's army had at the same time the high praises of God in their mouth and a two-edged sword in their hand, for they went forth to war singing the praises of God, and then their sword did execution, 2 Chron. xx. 23. Some apply it to the time of the Maccabees, when the Jews sometimes gained great advantages against their oppressors. And if it seem strange that the meek should, notwithstanding that character, be thus severe, and upon kings and nobles too, here is one word that justifies them in it; it is the judgment written. They do not do it from any personal malice and revenge, or any bloody politics that they govern themselves by, but by commission from God, according to his direction, and in obedience to his command; and Saul lost his kingdom for disobeying a command of this nature. Thus the kings of the earth that shall be employed in the destruction of the New-Testament Babylon will but execute the judgment written, Rev. xvii. 16, 17. But, since now no such special commissions can be produced, this will by no means justify the violence either of subjects against their princes or of princes against their subjects, or both against their neighbours, under pretence of religion; for Christ never intended that his gospel should be propagated by fire and sword or his righteousness wrought by the wrath of man. When the high praises of God are in our mouth with them we should have an olive-branch of peace in our hands. 2. To Christ's victories by the power of his gospel and grace over spiritual enemies, in which all believers are more than conquerors. The word of God is the two-edged sword (Heb. iv. 12), the sword of the Spirit (Eph. vi. 17), which it is not enough to have in our armoury, we must have it in our hand also, as our Master had, when he said, It is written. Now, (1.) With this two-edged sword the first preachers of the gospel obtained a glorious victory over the powers of darkness; vengeance was executed upon the gods of the heathen, by the conviction and conversion of those that had been long their worshippers, and by the consternation and confusion of those that would not repent (Rev. vi. 15); the strongholds of Satan were cast down (2 Chron. x. 4, 5); great men were made to tremble at the word, as Felix; Satan, the god of this world, was cast out, according to the judgment given against him. This is the honour of all Christians, that their holy religion has been so victorious. (2.) With this two-edged sword believers fight against their own corruptions, and, through the grace of God, subdue and mortify them; the sin that had dominion over them is crucified; self, that once sat king, is bound with chains and brought into subjection to the yoke of Christ; the tempter is foiled and bruised under their feet. This honour have all the saints. (3.) The complete accomplishment of this will be in the judgment of the great day, when the Lord shall come with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, Jude 14, 15. Vengeance shall then be executed upon the heathen (Ps. ix. 17), and punishments, everlasting punishments, upon the people. Kings and nobles, that cast away the bands and cords of Christ's government (Ps. ii. 3), shall not be able to cast away the chains and fetters of his wrath and justice. Then shall be executed the judgment written, for the secrets of men shall be judged according to the gospel. This honour shall all the saints have, that, as assessors with Christ, they shall judge the world, 1 Cor. vi. 2. In the prospect of that let them praise the Lord, and continue Christ's faithful servants and soldiers to the end of their lives.

An Invitation to Praise God; All Creatures Called to Praise God.

1 Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.   2 Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.   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.   5 Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.   6 Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.

We are here, with the greatest earnestness imaginable, excited to praise God; if, as some suppose, this psalm was primarily intended for the Levites, to stir them up to do their office in the house of the Lord, as singers and players on instruments, yet we must take it as speaking to us, who are made to our God spiritual priests. And the repeated inculcating of the call thus intimates that it is a great and necessary duty, a duty which we should be much employed and much enlarged in, but which we are naturally backward to and cold in, and therefore need to be brought to, and held to, by precept upon precept, and line upon line. Observe here,

I. Whence this tribute of praise arises, and out of what part of his dominion it especially issues. It comes, 1. From his sanctuary; praise him there. Let his priests, let his people, that attend there, attend him with their praises. Where should he be praised, but there where he does, in a special manner, both manifest his glory and communicate his grace? Praise God upon the account of his sanctuary, and the privileges which we enjoy by having that among us, Ezek. xxxvii. 26. Praise God in his holy ones (so some read it); we must take notice of the image of God as it appears on those that are sanctified, and love them for the sake of that image; and when we praise them we must praise God in them. 2. From the firmament of his power. Praise him because of his power and glory which appear in the firmament, its vastness, its brightness, and its splendid furniture; and because of the powerful influences it has upon this earth. Let those that have their dwelling in the firmament of his power, even the holy angels, lead in this good work. Some, by the sanctuary, as well as by the firmament of his power, understand the highest heavens, the residence of his glory; that is indeed his sanctuary, his holy temple, and there he is praised continually, in a far better manner than we can praise him. And it is a comfort to us, when we find we do it so poorly, that it is so well done there.

II. Upon what account this tribute of praise is due, upon many accounts, particularly, 1. The works of his power (v. 2): Praise him for his mighty acts; for his mightinesses (so the word is), for all the instances of his might, the power of his providence, the power of his grace, what he has done in the creation, government, and redemption of the world, for the children of men in general, for his own church and children in particular. 2. The glory and majesty of his being: Praise him according to his excellent greatness, according to the multitude of his magnificence (so Dr. Hammond reads it); not that our praises can bear any proportion to God's greatness, for it is infinite, but, since he is greater than we can express or conceive, we must raise our conceptions and expressions to the highest degree we can attain to. Be not afraid of saying too much in the praises of God, as we often do in praising even great and good men. Deus non patitur hyperbolum—We cannot speak hyperbolically of God; all the danger is of saying too little and therefore, when we have done our utmost, we must own that though we have praised him in consideration of, yet not in proportion to, his excellent greatness.

III. In what manner this tribute must be paid, with all the kinds of musical instruments that were then used in the temple-service, v. 3-5. It is well that we are not concerned to enquire what sort of instruments these were; it is enough that they were well known then. Our concern is to know, 1. That hereby is intimated how full the psalmist's heart was of the praises of God and how desirous he was that this good work might go on. 2. That in serving God we should spare no cost nor pains. 3. That the best music in God's ears is devout and pious affections, non musica chordula, sed cor—not a melodious string, but a melodious heart. Praise God with a strong faith; praise him with holy love and delight; praise him with an entire confidence in Christ; praise him with a believing triumph over the powers of darkness; praise him with an earnest desire towards him and a full satisfaction in him; praise him by a universal respect to all his commands; praise him by a cheerful submission to all his disposals; praise him by rejoicing in his love and solacing yourselves in his great goodness; praise him by promoting the interests of the kingdom of his grace; praise him by a lively hope and expectation of the kingdom of his glory. 4. That, various instruments being used in praising God, it should yet be done with an exact and perfect harmony; they must not hinder, but help one another. The New-Testament concert, instead of this, is with one mind and one mouth to glorify God, Rom. xv. 6.

IV. Who must pay this tribute (v. 6): Let every thing that has breath praise the Lord. He began with a call to those that had a place in his sanctuary and were employed in the temple-service; but he concludes with a call to all the children of men, in prospect of the time when the Gentiles should be taken into the church, and in every place, as acceptably as at Jerusalem, this incense should be offered, Mal. i. 11. Some think that in every thing that has breath here we must include the inferior creatures (as Gen. vii. 22), all in whose nostrils was the breath of life. They praise God according to their capacity. The singing of birds is a sort of praising God. The brutes do in effect say to man, "We would praise God if we could; do you do it for us." John in vision heard a song of praise from every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, Rev. v. 13. Others think that only the children of men are meant; for into them God has in a more peculiar manner breathed the breath of life, and they have become living souls, Gen. ii. 7. Now that the gospel is ordered to be preached to every creature, to every human creature, it is required that every human creature praise the Lord. What have we our breath, our spirit, for, but to spend it in praising God; and how can we spend it better? Prayers are called our breathings, Lam. iii. 56. Let every one that breathes towards God in prayer, finding the benefit of that, breathe forth his praises too. Having breath, let the praises of God perfume our breath; let us be in this work as in our element; let it be to us as the air we breathe in, which we could not live without. Having our breath in our nostrils, let us consider that it is still going forth, and will shortly go and not return. Since therefore we must shortly breathe our last, while we have breath let us praise the Lord, and then we shall breathe our last with comfort, and, when death runs us out of breath, we shall remove to a better state to breathe God's praises in a freer better air.

The first three of the five books of psalms (according to the Hebrew division) concluded with Amen and Amen, the fourth with Amen, Hallelujah, but the last, and in it the whole book, concludes with only Hallelujah, because the last six psalms are wholly taken up in praising God and there is not a word of complaint or petition in them. The nearer good Christians come to their end the fuller they should be of the praises of God. Some think that this last psalm is designed to represent to us the work of glorified saints in heaven, who are there continually praising God, and that the musical instruments here said to be used are no more to be understood literally than the gold, and pearls, and precious stones, which are said to adorn the New Jerusalem, Rev. xxi. 18, 19. But, as those intimate that the glories of heaven are the most excellent glories, so these intimate that the praises the saints offer there are the most excellent praises. Prayers will there be swallowed up in everlasting praises; there will be no intermission in praising God, and yet no weariness—hallelujahs for ever repeated, and yet still new songs. Let us often take a pleasure in thinking what glorified saints are doing in heaven, what those are doing whom we have been acquainted with on earth, but who have gone before us thither; and let it not only make us long to be among them, but quicken us to do this part of the will of God on earth as those do it that are in heaven. And let us spend as much of our time as may be in this good work because in it we hope to spend a joyful eternity. Hallelujah is the word there (Rev. xix. 1, 3); let us echo to it now, as those that hope to join in it shortly. Hallelujah, praise you the Lord.




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