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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

Psalms 149

 

 

Verses 1-9

Psalm 149

1 Praise ye the Lord.

Sing unto the Lord a new Song of Solomon,

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.

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 honor have all his saints.

Praise ye the Lord.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Contents and Composition.—The first part of the Psalm contains an exhortation to the Church of Israel to praise Jehovah, its Creator and King, in a new Song of Solomon, since it is well-pleasing to Him that His saints should thus honor Him ( Psalm 149:1-5). This passes over in the second part, into a triumphant expression of joy at the means afforded, at that time, for the execution of the Divine judgments upon the heathen and their princes ( Psalm 149:6-9).

Psalm 149:6 has nothing to do with Nehemiah 4:11. For that passage relates to defence during the erection of the walls; this, to the subjection of the nations in fulfilment of the Divine judgment. It is neither self-contradictory nor irreligious that a people should feel themselves called to this work, and regard themselves as an instrument in the hand of the Almighty, and should accordingly have in mind the destruction of their enemies as enemies of God, at the same time with the praise and glory of God, and utter both in the same breath. On the other hand, Old Testament and New Testament conceptions must not be confounded together, as must always happen when Israel and Zion are brought directly into comparison with the Christian Dispensation and Church. In relation to the resulting abuse of this passage, Bake has already instanced the fact, that Scioppius, in a book written, as he said, not with ink, but with blood, employed this Psalm to excite the Roman Catholic Princes to the Thirty Years’ Religious War which rent Germany. Delitzsch also alludes to Thomas Münzer, who stirred up the Peasant War by the use of this very Psalm. There is no reference in the passage to the spiritual weapons of our warfare ( 2 Corinthians 10:4); nor to the Sword of the Spirit, which Israel, in the time of the Messiah, should draw, and with it take the noblest revenge upon their heathen conquerors (Hengst, after older expositors, also Stier). It is the spirit of the later Judaism that is displayed here ( 2 Maccabees 15:27). And yet there is no reason for assigning the composition historically to the Maccabæan period (Hitzig), or to assume that the Psalm is a prophecy of the same (many older commentators). It is impossible to assign the exact period with certainty; we can only recognize a strong affinity with the preceding Psalm. It is very questionable whether there is a reference to the military procession to the Temple ( Nehemiah 12:31 f.) at the dedication of the newly-restored walls (Hengstenberg). The “new Song of Solomon,” however, alludes to renewed experience of mercy, and that in the history of God’s people; for they are summoned as such to the solemn praise of the Lord. This, together with the whole tone of joyous and elevated feeling, decides against a time of oppression, when thoughts of vengeance and triumph would be excited (Hupfeld). But it is very suitable to the renovation of the people in the period of Ezra and Nehemiah. [So the English expositors, Alexander, Perowne, Wordsworth, and generally. Wordsworth, like Hengstenberg, takes the spiritual view of the sword, fetters, etc, and draws the following contrast between the second Psalm and this, the second from the end of the Psalter: “Doubtless this latter Psalm refers to the former, and is to be explained by it. The bands of God’s laws were broken asunder, and His cords were cast away by kings of the earth and rulers of the heathen, and the people at the Passover when Christ was crucified, and they are so treated by all anti-Christian imitators of such rebellion. But these bands and cords are voluntarily assumed by kings and nations of heathendom, influenced by the grace of the Holy Ghost, given to the world at Pentecost.” There is a great deal of beauty in this comparison, but the actual feelings of those who first sung the Psalm are probably better represented in the words of Perowne, which express the opinion more generally held: “The old days of the nation, and the old martial spirit are revived. God is their king ( Psalm 149:2) and they are His soldiers, going forth to wage His battles, with His praises in their mouths and a two-edged sword in their hands. A spirit, which now seems sanguinary and revengeful, had, it is not too much to say, its proper function under the Old Testament, and was not only natural, but necessary, if that small nation was to maintain itself against the powerful tribes by which it was hemmed in on all sides.—”J. F. M.]

Psa 149:4-8.

Psalm 149:4. Beautifies. The help which God vouchsafes to His oppressed people against their oppressors is not merely manifested to the world as deliverance and salvation generally, but serves also as an ornament and honor to that people themselves, so that, coming forth arrayed in it, they gain for it recognition and praise ( Isaiah 55:5; Isaiah 60:7; Isaiah 60:9; Isaiah 60:13; Isaiah 61:3; Isaiah 61:11; Isaiah 62:7; comp. Psalm 103:5; Isaiah 49:18). [Translate: He beautifies the oppressed with salvation. J. F. M.] Their being joyful upon their beds ( Psalm 149:5) is probably not a silent praise in their hearts during the night, comp. Psalm 4:5 (Hupfeld), as contrasted with the loud rejoicing just mentioned. It stands in contrast to the previous lamentation ( Hosea 7:14) and weeping ( Psalm 6:7) in longings after a better time, Isaiah 26:8 (Hengstenberg, Del.). Psalm 149:8 recalls the hopes expressed in Isaiah 45:14; Isaiah 49:7; Isaiah 49:23; Isaiah 60:3; comp. Jeremiah 52:24 f.

Psalm 149:9.—The judgment written is regarded by most as that written in the “Book of the Law” (Chald, Kimchi); by some expositors in the sense of a command, with special reference to the judgment ordered to be executed upon the Canaanites ( Deuteronomy 32:41 f.), which is then taken as a type of the divine judgments generally (Geier, Amyrald, Stier). A better view is that of those who view it as a divine declaration and promise of the vengeance which God will in His own time inflict upon the enemies of His people, with special reference to Deuteronomy 32:40 f. (Hengstenberg). But the best view is that which goes beyond the Pentateuch, and not merely adds Isaiah 45:14; Ezekiel 25:14 (Del.), and kindred passages, such as Ezekiel 38:39; Zechariah 14 (Kimchi), but understands in the expression of Psalm 149:9 a. the judgments registered in the Sacred Books generally, and thereby legitimized for Israel, with reference to prisoners of war and vanquished nations, including statements concerning actual events, Numbers 31:8; Deuteronomy 20:13; 1 Samuel 15:3; 1 Samuel 15:32-33; 1 Samuel 16:8 f.; 1 Kings 20:42 (Hitz.). These written rules of justice (Geier, et al.) are not at the same time contrasted to the promptings of carnal passion (Calvin). Some explain the words to refer to a decision firmly established in the divine counsel, which is here described as having been written down, the Psalmist being supposed to transfer to the counsels of God the custom followed in courts of justice of committing the decisions to writing, Isaiah 10:1 (Grotius, Clericus, Venema, Hupfeld). But this is unnatural. [It is the view preferred by Perowne, who refers also to Isaiah 65:6.—J. F. M.]

The last clause does not mean that God is glory for the saints (Venema, Hupfeld) either as Author of their glory or as Object of their glorifying. Nor does it mean that this honor falls to the lot of all the saints (Sept, J. H. Michaelis), but that this, namely, the subjection of the world in fulfilment of the divine judgments, is to all saints the glory, i.e. the praise and honor of God.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

The Church is to restrain its praise of God as little as His wonderful deeds towards His Church come to an end.—God gives to His Church one victory after another, and therefore she must ever praise Him with new songs. God will preserve against all her foes the Church which He has founded; but she must yield herself up to His control.

Starke: The old song of the law, which could only condemn, is abolished by Christ: with the gospel He has put a new song into thy mouth. Praise Him then with renewed lips and heart.—Those who still remain in the old birth cannot have the new song.—Earthly victors know how to boast of and delight in their victories; much greater reason have the children of God to do the same.—What more lofty or glorious could be said of a believer than that God takes pleasure in him? If thou wouldst exchange that for the whole world, what would it help thee? Thou must nevertheless die.—Rejoice, O believing soul, in thy glory with God. The earthly glory of an emperor, king or prince dies with him. But salvation and glory follow thee in heaven.—If the heart is full of the knowledge of God and Christ, the lips will overflow with it, and no idle words will be heard.—The true means of the conversion of unbelievers are not outward force, but the testimony of the divine word in spirit and in power.—Wage a good warfare against thyself above all; take vengeance and inflict punishment upon the heathenish desires of thy heart; strike down with the sword of the Spirit what contends against God and His honor.—Many a heart is dissatisfied in view of the glory of God’s children, doubting whether it has a share; but thou hearest here what may delight thee. All the saints shall be partakers of the same.—If Christ’s victory is ours, so are also His honor and glory; for we are His saints and the sharers of His mercy. If thou dost stand in the faith, thou art one of these.

Diedrich: Let believers be joyful and confident in God; but let them expect all conflict in the world.—God’s people are the royal nation over all nations.—Taube: The new salvation gives a new heart, and a new heart gives a new song.—The time will come when all who once would not, from the heart, bow the knee before the Lord, must bow it with anguish. And the Lion will rend those who would not follow the Lamb.

[Matt. Henry: We must sing a new Song of Solomon, newly composed on every special occasion; sing with new affections, which make the song new, though the words may have been used before, and keeping them from growing threadbare.—When God’s Israel is brought to a quiet settlement, let them enjoy that with thankfulness to God; much more may true believers, that are entered into God’s rest, and find repose in Jesus Christ, sing aloud for joy of that. Upon their sick beds, upon their death-beds, let them sing the praises of their God.— Bp. Horne: From heaven Christ shall return to beautify the meek with salvation and to 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 labors, but not from their hallelujahs.—Scott: Christ shall clothe the meek with the robes of righteousness, adorn them with the graces of His Spirit, renew them to the beauty of holiness, and cause them to bear His image, reflect His glory, and rejoice in His felicity forever.—Barnes: It should lead us to shout Hallelujah! that we are permitted to be employed in any way, however humble, in carrying out the divine plans, or in accomplishing those great designs which He contemplates towards our race.—J. F. M.

 


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.

Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Psalms 149:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/psalms-149.html. 1857-84.

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