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This Psalm is anonymous but reminds us of David in some of his most stirring and lofty moments. We can deduce that it was composed after a time of national trial and testing in which the people of Israel were oppressed. It was probably composed no earlier than David’s time because of the references to the Chief Musician and paying vows in God’s house.
(1) To the chief Musician, A Song or Psalm. Make a joyful noise to God, all you lands; (2) Sing forth the honor of His name; make His praise glorious. • This first section is obviously a call for the nations of the world to worship Him, and not with a begrudging sort of acknowledgement, but with a knowing appreciation of Who He is. • In verse 1 the Psalmist calls the nations to worship God with a great shout. Perhaps the KJV translators were too unaccustomed to this form of worship to translate it as “shout” wherever it appears, but it is clear that the word means a shout. It is in fact the same word used when God commands the Israelites to shout and bring down the walls of Jericho. The seven principal words for praise in Hebrew are not at all as timid or refined as we would wish for them to be – some of them call for expressions of joy which are positively boisterous: o Ruah, the word used here, means to mar, and so figuratively it means to split the ears with sound.
Psalms Bible Study
o Yadah means to extend the hand. Leah named her son Judah, when at her birth she said, “This time, I will praise (yadah) the Lord.” (Gen. 29:35) o Tehillah speaks of adoration. In Psalm 22 David says that God inhabits the tehillim (plural of tehillah) of His people. In Hebrew, the Jews refer to the Book of Psalms as the Tehillim, the praises. o Barak means to kneel, to bless God. It’s what David said in Psalm 103 when he said, “Bless the Lord, O my soul!” o Halal means to shine, to boast – even to be clamorously foolish! In Psalm 34, David says “My soul shall make her boast (halal) in the Lord; the humble shall hear and be glad.” o Todah means to extend the hand and is used to express confession, praise and thanksgiving. In Psalm 100 we read, “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving (todah)…” o Zamar means to sing with instruments; more literally it probably means to touch, as in touching the strings of an instrument with your fingers. In Verse 2 of this Psalm when David says “sing forth” he is really telling us to zamar. o Shabach is praise that addresses God in a loud tone. In Psalm 63, David says, “Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise (shabach) You.” • It’s important to know that almost all of these words speak plainly of an outward action. Knowing the particular word that the Psalmist uses in any given case will help us pick up important shades of meaning.
Psalms Bible Study
(3) Say to God, “How awesome You are in Your works! Through the greatness of Your power Your enemies shall submit themselves to You. (4) All the earth shall worship You, and shall sing to You; they shall sing to Your Name.” Selah. • This is how the Psalmist says the nations should worship God: recognize the greatness of His works. Remember that the nations surrounding Israel had various gods of weather, fertility, etc. The point was to emphasize that God, the One God, was greater than all the “Baals” who claimed dominion over different areas or facets of men’s daily lives. He says that the enemies of God have no option but to praise Him. • The distinguishing feature of the last age of history is all of humanity worshiping the God of Israel. In verse 4 they will worship Him (prostrate themselves) and sing (zamar – on instruments); he emphasizes that they will sing to His Name. • In the Psalms and prophets there is a consistent theme of all the nations engaging in worship (even formalized worship) of the God of Israel, for example: “And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.” (Zech. 14:6) • This would also mean recognizing the people of Israel as God’s priests on earth; a total reversal from the current time of Man’s dominion on Earth, when they have endured millennia of persecution. So in Isaiah we read, “The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet; and they shall call thee, The 3
Psalms Bible Study
city of the LORD, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel.” (Isa. 60:14) There are many who claim to love God but who cannot bear the thought that He is the God of Israel. (5) Come and see the works of God; He is awesome in his deeds toward the sons of men. (6) He turned the sea into dry land; they went through the flood on foot; we did rejoice in Him. (7) He rules by his power forever; His eyes behold the nations; let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah. • This is probably not an invitation to see the works of God in nature but to recall to mind His works in salvation history. It was common to point the people to their origins as a commonwealth – a direct act and intervention of God which established them as a separate people called to serve Him. • Verse 7 serves as a warning to rebellious nations that God still retains the power He had then, and so they should not exalt themselves against Him. He speaks to the Gentile nations, speaking of the Children of Israel as “they.” • Throughout history we see the hand of God working to exalt and reduce the fortunes of nations – righteousness, we are told, exalts a nation (Prove. 14:34)
(8) O bless our God, you people, and make the voice of His praise to be heard; (9) Who holds our soul among the living, and does not allow our feet to be moved. • Turning away now from the Gentiles, this is an exhortation to the people of God. They should bless Him (barak – kneel and adore) because He sustains our lives and our keeps us safe.
Psalms Bible Study
(10) For You, O God, have proved us; You have tried us, as silver is tried. (11) You brought us into the net; You laid affliction upon our loins. (12) You have caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; but You brought us out into a wealthy place. • He now begins to address God directly. Israel has been preserved even though God has proved them. He allowed things to come to them that would refine them and test their purity and devotion to him. The image of silver or gold being tried appears in several places in the Scripture and would resonate with people who were accustomed to seeing silversmiths and goldsmiths working. It stands as a picture of trial because of the application of heat in a repeated series of trials designed to skim away impurities. • They were hunted, oppressed and went through physical hardships, but the end result was more favor and blessing from God. This was the case with Job, who was restored to doubles what he had before his trials began. James says, “Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” (James 5:11b)
(13) I will go into Your house with burnt offerings; I will pay my vows to You, (14) Which my lips have uttered, and my mouth has spoken, when I was in trouble. (15) I will to You burnt sacrifices of fatlings, with the incense of rams; I will offer bullocks with goats. Selah. • As David often does, so the Psalmist here promises worship to God. He fulfills the promises made to God when he was in trouble.
Psalms Bible Study
(16) Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will declare what He has done for my soul. (17) I cried to Him with my mouth, and He was extolled with my tongue. (18) If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me; (19) But truly God has heard me; He has attended to the voice of my prayer. (20) Blessed be God, who has not turned away my prayer, nor His mercy from me. • • The Psalmist will teach others how God has delivered him. Verse 18 sets forth an important principle of prayer – that the heart must be pure. Hidden sin will “short-circuit” our prayer, as God refuses to listen to it. The Psalmist speaks of regarding, or seeing iniquity. This doesn’t mean that we never sin, but it means to harbor or treasure that thing within us. Barnes says:
“…literally, “If I have seen iniquity in my heart.” That is, If I have indulged in a purpose of iniquity; if I have had a wicked end in view; if I have not been willing to forsake all sin; if I have cherished a purpose of pollution or wrong. The meaning is not literally, If I have “seen” any iniquity in my heart - for no one can look into his own heart, and not see that it is defiled by sin; but, If I have cherished it in my soul; if I have gloated over past sins; if I am purposing to commit sin again; if I am not willing to abandon all sin, and to be holy.”
But the Psalmist is not in this condition – God listened to his prayer and did not turn it away. He did not turn away His lovingkindness (chesed) from him.