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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Psalms 98



Verse 1

1. A new song—See note on Psalms 96:1.

His right hand, and his holy arm—Symbols of his most excellent power and majesty.

Hath gotten him the victory—The form of expression denotes, that as the cause was God’s, so he achieved deliverance in a manner to signalize his own name. The description is parallel to Isaiah 52:10; Isaiah 59:16; and applies, prophetically, to Christ, his resurrection, and his victory over his enemies.

Verse 2

2. His righteousness—In punishing the wicked and vindicating the just. The word corresponds to his salvation in the previous member of the verse, for the “salvation” of those who trust in him implies judgment against such as reject and persecute the truth.

Openly showed in the sight of the heathen—It was no doubtful display of the divine power and purpose, but open, and defiant of all his enemies. The sentence is a more emphatic form of made known, in the previous member.

Verse 3

3. He hath remembered—That is, to fulfil and make good his promise. Here is a recognition of covenant promise and relation toward the house of Israel.

Ends of the earth—A clear anticipation of the subjection of the Gentile nations to Christ. The judgments of Jehovah, like the miracles of Egypt, of the Red Sea, and of the wilderness, in Moses’s time, should cause the distant nations to tremble and submit.

Verse 4

4. Make a joyful noise unto the Lord—Shout to Jehovah. This call is made to all the earth, inasmuch as “the ends of the earth” had seen (Psalms 98:3) the salvation of God to his people. The descriptions of joy and praise, given in Psalms 98:4-6, may be accepted as comprehending all that was known in Hebrew worship of vocal and instrumental demonstrations of rejoicing.

Verse 6

6. Trumpets and… cornet—For “cornet” see note on Psalms 81:3. “Trumpets,” here, are the “silver trumpets” which Moses was commanded to make, to be used only by the priests for signals of war, the beginnings of months, festivals, and sacrifices. Numbers 10:1-10; Numbers 31:6. At first they were only two, but increased to twenty in the time of Solomon, and employed in the orchestra. 2 Chronicles 5:12

Verse 7

7. Let the sea roar—Inanimate nature (Psalms 98:7-8), is called to unite with the Gentile nations and the covenant people in the highest strains of joy, at this coming of Jehovah to judge the earth. For a still higher realization of this “new song” of the universe, see Revelation 5:9-14. In both instances the occasion is the same: Jehovah’s righteous judgment of the world, or, in the New Testament, Christ’s victory over the nations.

Verse 8

8. The floods—Hebrew, the rivers. See on Psalms 93:3.

Clap their hands—The clapping of the rivers is a figure which differs from Isaiah 55:12, and occurs nowhere else, but finds its origin in the playful dashings of the river rapids, or floods, as the common version has it. On clapping of hands, as an expression of exultation, see 2 Kings 11:12; Psalms 47:1; Ezekiel 25:6. The whole imagery is exceedingly animated. See Psalms 96:11-13. The correspondence of much of this psalm with the later prophecies of Isaiah is no proof that it is borrowed from, and hence later than, the latter, (better might the prophet be supposed to have copied from the psalm,) but is an example of coincidences in the poetic style where the subjects were similar, not unfrequent in Scripture, and not confined to Scripture.

Hills be joyful—Hills are “joyful” when clothed with greenness and covered with flocks. See on Psalms 65:13. In the last of May and June the hills of Palestine already put on a brown and parched appearance for want of moisture; but if the rains, which end in April, have been copious, the harvest is plenteous and joyous. The imagery is specially suited to a pastoral and agricultural people in such a climate. Wherever Christ reigns men are at peace with each other, and through honest industry and sobriety the external signs of righteousness and prosperity soon appear in nature and in society.


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 98:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

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