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  • ADAM CLARKE'S BIBLE COMMENTARY -
    PSALMS 148

    << Psalms 147 - Psalms 149 >> - HELP - FACEBOOK     


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    PSALM CXLVIII

    The psalmist calls on all the creation to praise the Lord. The angels and visible heavens, 1-6; the earth and the sea, 7; the meteors, 8; mountains, hills, and trees, 9; beasts, reptiles, and fowls, 10; kings, princes, and mighty men, 11; men, women, and children, 12, 13; and especially all the people of Israel, 14.

    NOTES ON PSALM CXLVIII

    This Psalm has no title: but by the Syriac it is attributed to Happai and Zechariah, and the Septuagint and the AEthiopic follow it. As a hymn of praise, this is the most sublime in the whole book.

    Verse 1. "Praise ye the Lord from the heavens " - The Chaldee translates, "Praise the Lord, ye holy creatures from the heavens. Praise him, ye armies of supreme angels. Praise him, all ye angels who minister before him." ymh m min hashshamayim signifies whatever belongs to the heavens, all their inhabitants; as rah m min haarets, ver. 7, signifies all that belongs to the earth, all its inhabitants and productions.

    Verse 3. "Praise ye him, sun and moon " - The meaning of this address and all others to inanimate nature, is this: Every work of God's hand partakes so much of his perfections, that it requires only to be studied and known, in order to show forth the manifold wisdom power, and goodness of the Creator.

    Stars of light ] The brightest and most luminous stars: probably the planets may be especially intended.

    Verse 4. "Heavens of heavens " - Heavens exceeding heavens. Systems of systems extending as far beyond the solar system, as it does beyond the lowest deeps. The endless systematic concatenation of worlds.

    "Ye waters that be above the heavens. " - This refers to Gen. i. 7, where see the notes. Clouds, vapours, air, exhalations, rain, Snow, and meteors of every kind.

    Verse 5. "He commanded, and they were created. " - He spake the word expressive of the idea in his infinite mind; and they sprang into being according to that idea.

    Verse 6. "He hath also stablished them " - He has determined their respective revolutions and the times in which they are performed, so exactly to show his all-comprehensive wisdom and skill, that they have never passed the line marked out by his decree, nor intercepted each other in the vortex of space, through revolutions continued for nearly 6000 years.

    Verse 7. "Praise the Lord from the earth " - As in the first address, he calls upon the heavens and all that belong to them; so here, in this second part, he calls upon the earth, and all that belong to it.

    "Ye dragons " - ynynt tanninim, whales, porpoises, sharks, and sea-monsters of all kinds.

    "And all deeps " - Whatsoever is contained in the sea, whirlpools, eddies, ground tides, with the astonishing flux and reflux of the ocean.

    Every thing, in its place and nature, shows forth the perfections of its Creator.

    Verse 8. "Fire, and hail; snow, and vapours " - All kinds of meteors, water, and fire, in all their forms and combinations. And air, whether in the gentle breeze, the gale, the whirlwind, the tempest, or the tornado; each accomplishing an especial purpose, and fulfilling a particular will of the Most High.

    Verse 9. "Mountains, and all hills " - Whether primitive, secondary, or alluvial; of ancient or recent formation, with all their contents, quarries, mines, and minerals. But what a profusion of wisdom and skill is lavished on these! To instance only in the different metals, earths, and minerals; especially the precious stones.

    Fruitful trees ] yrp [ ets peri, fruit trees of all kinds.

    "And all cedars " - Every kind of forest tree. The formation of the fruits, their infinitely varied hues and savours, proclaim the unsearchable wisdom and goodness of God: not less so, the growth, structure, and various qualities and uses of the forest trees.

    Verse 10. "Beasts " - hyjh hachaiyah, wild beasts of every kind.

    "All cattle " - hmhb behemah, all domestic animals; those used for the service of the house, and those for agricultural purposes.

    "Creeping things " - All the class of reptiles, from the boa constrictor, that can combat, kill, and swallow whole the royal tiger, to the cobra de manille, a poisonous reptile as small as a fine needle; with those still smaller animals that are found in water, and require the power of the microscope to bring them to view. In the production, preservation, habits, and properties of all these, there is a profusion of wisdom and economy that would require ages to exhibit.

    "Flying fowl " - The structure of fowls is astonishing; and the exact mathematical manner in which flying fowls swim the air, and steer their course wheresoever they will; the feathers, and their construction, with the muscles which give them motion; strike the observer of nature with astonishment and delight.

    Verse 11. "Kings of the earth " - As being representatives of the Most High; and all people-the nations governed by them. Princes, as governors of provinces, and all judges executing those laws that bind man to man, and regulate and preserve civil society, praise God, from whom ye have derived your power and influence: for by him kings reign. And let the people magnify God for civil and social institutions and for the laws by which, under him, their lives and properties are preserved.

    Verse 12. "Both young men, and maidens " - Who are in the bloom of youth, and in the height of health and vigour; know that God is your Father; and let the morning and energy of your days be devoted to him.

    "Old men, and children " - Very appropriately united here, as the beginning and conclusion of life present nearly the same passions, appetites, caprices, and infirmities: yet in both the beneficence, all-sustaining power, and goodness of God are seen.

    Verse 13. "Let them " - All already specified, praise the name of Jehovah, because he excels all beings: and his glory, as seen in creating, preserving, and governing all things, is l[ al, upon or over, the earth and heaven. All space and place, as well as the beings found in them, show forth the manifold wisdom and goodness of God.

    Verse 14. "Be also exalteth the horn " - Raises to power and authority his people.

    "The praise " - Jehovah is the subject of the praise of all his saints.

    "A people near unto him. " - The only people who know him, and make their approaches unto him with the sacrifices and offerings which he has himself prescribed. Praise ye the Lord! O what a hymn of praise is here! It is a universal chorus! All created nature have a share, and all perform their respective parts.

    All intelligent beings are especially called to praise him who made them in his love, and sustains them by his beneficence. Man particularly, in all the stages of his being-infancy, youth, manhood, and old age: all human beings have their peculiar interest in the great Father of the spirits of all flesh.

    He loves man, wheresoever found, of whatsoever colour, in whatever circumstances, and in all the stages of his pilgrimage from his cradle to his grave.

    Let the lisp of the infant, the shout of the adult, and the sigh of the aged, ascend to the universal parent, as a gratitude-offering. He guards those who hang upon the breast; controls and directs the headstrong and giddy, and sustains old age in its infirmities; and sanctifies to it the sufferings that bring on the termination of life.

    Reader, this is thy God! How great, how good, holy merciful, how compassionate! Breathe thy soul up to him; breathe it into him; and let it be preserved in his bosom till mortality be swallowed up of life, and all that is imperfect be done away.

    Jesus is thy sacrificial offering; Jesus is thy Mediator. He has taken thy humanity, and placed it on the throne! He creates all things new; and faith in his blood will bring thee to his glory! Amen! hallelujah! The beautiful morning hymn of Adam and Eve, (Paradise Lost, book v., line 153, &c.,): - "These are thy glorious works, Parent of good; Almighty, thine this universal frame," &c.

    has been universally admired. How many have spoken loud in its praises, who have never attempted to express their feelings in a stanza of the hundred and forty-eighth Psalm! But to the rapturous adorers of Milton's poetry what is the song of David, or this grand music of the spheres! Know this, O forgetful man, that Milton's morning hymn is a paraphrase of this Psalm, and is indebted to it for every excellency it possesses. It is little else that the psalmist speaking in English instead of Hebrew verse.

    ANALYSIS OF THE HUNDRED AND FORTY-EIGHTH PSALM

    The psalmist calls upon the whole creation to he instrumental in praising God. By which he shows: - I. His ardent desire that God be praised. As if creatures, endowed with reason, were too few, therefore he calls on inanimate things to join and be heralds of his wondrous works.

    II. His intention; what he would and could have done.

    III. That what could be done should be done.

    IV. That all really do praise him in their kind and manner.

    This Psalms is disposed into execellent distribution.

    1. He calls upon celestial creatures in general; 2. In particular. 1. On angels: "Praise ye the Lord from the heavens," &c. Ye of celestial order. 2. "Praise him in the heights," &c. The heavens above. 3.

    "Praise him, all his hosts," &c. Which in St. Luke are called the heavenly host.

    2. "Praise ye him, sun, moon, and stars." Though not with the voice, yet by your beauty, motion, light, efficacy, &c.

    He mentions the whole body of the heavenly orbs.

    1. "Praise him, ye heavens of heavens," &c. The highest state of bliss.

    2. "And ye waters," &c. All the orbs above the air, in Scripture called heavens; and the waters that are above the firmament.

    And in the two next verses he gives the reason.

    1. "He commanded," &c. They are his creatures, therefore, 2. "He hath established them," &c. They are incorruptible.

    From the heavens he now descends to the earth, air, water, &c.: "Praise the Lord from the earth," &c. All ye elementary substances.

    1. "Ye dragons." Whales, great fishes.

    2. "All deeps." All kinds of waters.

    3. "Fire and hail," &c. Meteors, &c.

    4. "Mountains and hills," &c.

    5. "Fruitful trees," &c. Trees fit to build with and fruit- trees.

    6. "Beasts and all cattle." Both wild and tame.

    7. "Creeping things," &c. Worms and serpents.

    8. "And all flying fowls." And, lastly, he cites all mankind to praise God.

    1. "The highest kings," &c. They who command, and they who obey.

    2. "Princes, and all judges," &c. All inferior magistrates.

    3. "Both young men and maidens." Both sexes.

    4. "Old men and children," - all ages: "Let them praise the name of the Lord." And for this reason: - 1. "For his name is excellent alone." No name is so sublime and worthy.

    2. "His glory is above the earth and heaven." All good comes from him.

    The prophet concludes this Psalm with God's goodness to the Church, which furnishes him with another reason: - 1. He also "exalts the horn," &c. The power and glory of his people.

    2. "He is the praise," &c. The Guide of Israel.

    3. "Even of the children of Israel," &c. A people consecrated to God.

    All which is to be understood not merely of Israel according to the flesh, but God's spiritual Church. Now those who are true Israelites, and those especially, he excites to sing: - "Hallelujah! Praise ye the Lord!"

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