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2 Cor. 4.3, 4.
Ps. 147. 19, 20.
18 They, that make them, are like unto them; and so are all they, that put their trust in them.
19 Praise the Lord, ye house of Israel: praise the Lord, ye house of Aaron:
20 Praise the Lord, ye house of Levi: ye that fear the Lord, praise the Lord.
21 Praised be the Lord out of Sion, who dwelleth at Jerusalem.
Rev. 19. 5.
2 Chron. 6. 6.
PSALM CXXXVI. LIKE the former, this Psalm proclaims the praises of God, commemo
rating his infinite might and benevolence. It commences with the works of creation; and then, having recorded the miracles, which both preceded and accompanied the departure of the children of Israel out of Egypt, it celebrates some of the circumstances connected with their wandering in the wilderness. The Psalm had the name of “the great thanksgiving,” and was, perhaps, composed for the use of the chosen people at their solemn festivals. By the constant repetition of the latter clause of each verse, (which one half of the choir sung alternately,) the author wished more sensibly to impress his brethren with the consciousness, that they owed all their temporal advantages to the divine bounty, which would never fail them, if they piously and sincerely acknowledged their obligations to it. This mode of praising God, prescribed, as it almost seems to have been, by David (1 Chron. xvi. 41), existed in Solomon's time (2 Chron. vii. 3, 6), and was expressly enjoined by Jehoshaphat, 2 Chron. XX. 21. The practice of antiphonal singing, or chanting, still observed in our cathedral service, was, it is said, adopted from the Jewish church by the Christian at a very early period of its establishment.
GIVE thanks unto the Lord; for he is gra
cious, and his mercy endureth for ever.
2 O give thanks unto the God of all gods, for Ephes. 1. 20, 21. his
endureth for ever.
Luke 1. 50. Jude 21.
Ex. 18. 11.
20 Ye that fear the Lord. See on Psalm cxv. 11.
21 Out of Sion. Let the praises of Jehovah be celebrated far and wide, beginning at Sion (see on Psalm xiv. 11), the chosen place of his worship and visible presence. Perhaps Sion is actually represented by the Psalmist as Jehovah's dwelling-place, whence he was accustomed to issue in royal state, as often as he desired openly to manifest his glory, or to bring assistance to his people. Psalm L. 2: cxxxii. 14. The phrase “out of Sion” is exactly like that, which exists Psalm xLv. 9: cix. 9.
? The God, fc. Jehovah, as being the creator of the world, is not only vastly superior to all the deified men among the heathen, but is
Jer. 10. 12.
Matt. 5. 45.
3 O thank the Lord of all lords, for his mercy 1 Tim. 6. 15. endureth for ever.
Rev. 19. 16. 4 Who only [alone] doeth great wonders: Job 5. 9. for his mercy endureth for ever.
õ Who, by his excellent wisdom, made the Prov. 3. 19, 20. heavens: for his mercy endureth for ever.
6 Who laid (stretched] out the earth above Gen. 1. 2, 9. the waters : for his mercy endureth for ever.
7 Who hath made great lights: for his mercy Gen. 1. 14, &c. endureth for ever;
8 The sun to rule the day: for his mercy en- Jer. 31. 35. dureth for ever;
9 The moon and the stars to govern the Ps. 8. 3. night: for his mercy endureth for ever.
10 Who smote Egypt with [in] their first- Ex. 12. 29. born: for his mercy endureth for ever;
11 And brought out Israel from among them: Ex. 12. 51. for his mercy endureth for ever;
12 With a mighty hand, and stretched out Ex. 6. 6. arm : for his mercy endureth for ever.
13 Who divided the Red sea in two parts : Ex. 14. 21. for his mercy
endureth for ever; 14 And made Israel to go through the midst Ex. 14. 22. of it: for his mercy endureth for ever.
15 But as for Pharaoh and his host, he over- Ex. 14. 27, 28. threw them in the Red sea: for his mercy endureth for ever.
16 Who led his people through the wilder- Deut. 8. 15. ness : for his
endureth for ever. infinitely higher than any of his creatures, who have ever been styled gods. See on Psalm Lxxxix. 6.
4 W'ho only doeth, fc. The exertions of divine power, which are mentioned in the Psalm, include not only the wonderful formation of · all things, and the operations of nature, but likewise the interpositions of God in favor of his peculiar people.
-For his mercy, &c. This chorus seems uniformly to depend on something understood, which the first three verses will readily supply.
6 Who laid out, 8c. Jehovah caused the waters to recede from the surface of the earth, instead of entirely covering it, as had been the case, before the divine commandment came, that the dry land should appear. Psalm xxiv. 2. Prov. viii. 29.
13 In two parts. The variation between the readings of our Psalter and of the Bible version as printed (“ into parts”) is singular, as the words, though similar in sound, are very different in meaning. The latter, however, correctly represents the original, and is found both in the earliest edition of “The Great Bible," and in that of 1540. Thus the other may be only a typographical error, commencing with
the edition of 1541, and perpetuated from the first compilation of the Liturgy. Deut. 29, 7.
Num. 21. 21, &c.
Num. 21. 33, &c.
Josh. 12. 1, &c.
Ps. 47. 4.
17 Who smote great kings: for his mercy endureth for ever;
18 Yea, and slew mighty kings: for his mercy endureth for ever;
19 Sehon king of the Amorites: for his mercy endureth for ever ;
20 And Og the king of Basan: for his mercy endureth for ever;
21 And gave away their land for an heritage: for his mercy endureth for ever:
22 Even for an heritage unto Israel his servant: for his mercy endureth for ever.
23 Who remembered us, when we were in trouble: for his mercy endureth for ever:
24 And hath delivered us from our enemies : for his mercy endureth for ever.
25 Who giveth food to all flesh: for his mercy endureth for ever.
26 O give thanks unto the God of heaven, for his mercy endureth for ever.
27 O give thanks unto the Lord of lords, for his mercy
endureth for ever.
Ezek. 16. 3, &c.
Isai. 63. 9.
Ps. 147. 9.
Such of the Levites, as were the singers of the temple, having also
been carried into captivity, bear testimony in this Psalm, (which one of their number, probably, composed,) to the constancy manifested by them all with respect to their religion, though living in exile among impious and deadly enemies. For, being required to sing one of the songs peculiarly dedicated to the service of Jehovah, either to gratify the curiosity, or to contribute to the amusement, of their captors, they unhesitatingly refused. They declare, therefore, the reasons which caused them steadily to avoid committing so great a profanation, together with the mournful feelings, which the late desolation of their country continued to excite in their minds: then, they entreat God to punish the perfidious Edomites, at the same time announcing the destruction, which, assuredly, awaited the city of Babylon and its wicked inhabitants. The past tenses in the first three verses are often thought capable of proving, that the Psalm was not
24 23 When we were in trouble. This and the next verse, doubtless, s refer to the ancient calamities of the people, such as the Egyptian
bondage, and the oppressions, which they suffered from the contiguous nations, after they had been settled in Canaan, rather than to 5. the circumstances of those times, in which the Psalmist himself lived.
25 To all flesh. Not merely to us his chosen people, but to all mankind. Psalm civ. 15, 27.
written, as many persons imagine, during the captivity, but afterwards; and when the singers were again able to employ their instruments without reserve to His hönor, whose servants they were. The eighth verse, however, evidently shews, that this notion is destitute of any sufficient foundation, inasmuch as the city had not yet been taken by Cyrus, nor, consequently, were the captive tribes yet released from their bondage.
Amos 8. 10.
Y the waters (rivers] of Babylon we sat Ezra 8. 21.
down and wept, when we remembered Dan. 9. 3, &c. thee, O Sion.
2 As for our harps, we hanged them up Ezek. 26. 13. upon the trees, that are therein;
3 For they, that led us away captive, required Ps. 79. 1, &c. of us then a song, and melody, in our heavi- Rev. 14. 1, &c. ness; [saying] Sing us one of the songs of Sion.
4 How shall we sing the Lord's song in a Lam. 5. 15.
1 By the waters, fc. The Tigris and Euphrates were the chief rivers of the kingdom of Babylon, through the whole extent of which the Jews were dispersed in their captivity. Rivers may, perhaps, be mentioned, because proseuchæ (see on Psalm Lxxiv. 9.) were wont to be built near running streams, that the people might have pure water ready at hand, with which to perform their customary ablutions, before entering to offer up their prayers. See on Psalm xxvi. 6. It may be for the same reason, that we also find the prophets to have seen visions on the banks of rivers. Ezek. i. 3: iii. 15. Dan. viii. 2.,
-We sat down. Sitting on the ground was a posture, which, in the East, denoted mourning and deep distress. Job. ii. 13. Lam. ii. 10.
2 As for our harps, &c. Not merely their harps, but all their musical instruments hung, at that time, unemployed on the numerous trees, particularly willows, which grew in the region of Babylon; since, though desirous of using them, they did not wish be compelled so to do, as we learn from the fourth verse, in spite of the melancholy state of their minds, nor to render common, what was indissolubly connected with sacred melody. Possibly, at first sight, it may seem strange, that the singers should have been either permitted or willing to carry with them into captivity the instruments of music. But it must be recollected, that this may have occurred by the secret appointment of God, who sought, by their means, as always bearing a part in the public service in the temple, to preserve to himself the devotion of his people, whilst dwelling amongst idolaters.
3 Sing us, fc. The insulting nature of the demand will become the more conspicuous, if we consider, that the usual subjects of these songs were the omnipotence of Jehovah, and his love towards his chosen people.
4 How shall we sing, fc. Instead of being an answer to the Babylonians, this appears only a free utterance of their feelings afterwards among themselves.
Jer. 51. 50.
Phil. 1. 20.
1 Sam. 15. 2, &c. Hos. 7. 2.
5 If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning:
6 If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; yea, if I prefer not Jerusalem in my mirth.
7 Remember the children of Edom, O Lord, in the day of Jerusalem ; how they said, Down with it, down with it, even to the ground.
8 O daughter of Babylon, wasted with misery [who art to be destroyed]; yea, happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee, as thou hast served us.
9 Blessed shall he be, that taketh thy children, and throweth them against the stones.
Jer. 25. 12.
2 Kings 8. 12. Hos. 13. 16.
The author of this Psalm devoutly resolves to praise the loving-kind
ness of God, who had never refused to listen to his prayers, nor
5 If I forget thee, fc. Here, and in the following verse, the Psalmist, in the name of his brethren, declares, that he would rather his right hand were deprived of its skill (see on Psalm iii. 3.) in playing, and his tongue of the power of singing, than that he should so far forget the love, which he ought to entertain for his native land, as to comply with the demands of these impious mockers at his national faith; or, when he was disposed to chant forth “ the songs of Sion," as not to chant them forth in honor of the holy city Jerusalem, the chosen residence of his God.
7 The children of Edom. The Edomites were connected by blood with the Israelites, being descended from Esau (Gen. xxv. 25, 26: xxxvi. 1), the brother of Jacob. In the day of Jerusalem's destruction by the Babylonians (Psalm xxxvii. 13), these unnatural kinsmen aided and encouraged the desolation. For such wicked conduct they were threatened with that divine vengeance, which was afterwards executed upon them. Jer. xlix. 7, &c. Amos i. 11, 12. Obad. 10, &c.
8 Daughter of Babylon. See on Psalm ix. 14.-Wasted with misery. The phrase is in the usual style of prophecy, according to which a future event is often described, as having already happened. The misery, with which the capture of Babylon was to be attended, is minutely narrated, Isai. xiii: Jer. L; and, in the sixth verse of the former of these two chapters, it is expressly called “a destruction from the Almighty.”. - Happy shall he be. He shall go on and prosper; for the Lord God will go with him, and fight his battles against the enemy and oppressor of his own people. Cyrus was raised up, by the immediate interposition of heaven, to be king of the Medes and Persians, that he might accomplish the very purpose mentioned in this verse. I sai. xliv. 28.
9 Thy children. The ruin was to be universal, sparing neither sex nor age. Isai. xiii. 16, 18.