Verse 6. "Let every thing that hath breath " - Either to make a vocal noise, or a sound by blowing into pipes, fifes, flutes, trumpets, &c. Let all join together, and put forth all your strength and all your skill in sounding the praises of Jehovah; and then let a universal burst with HALLELUJAH! close the grand ceremony. It is evident that this Psalm has no other meaning than merely the summoning up all the voices, and all the instruments, to complete the service in FULL CHORUS.
Of such peculiar importance did the Book of Psalms appear to our blessed Lord and his apostles, that they have quoted nearly fifty of them several times in the New Testament. There is scarcely a state in human life that is not distinctly marked in them; together with all the variety of experience which is found, not merely among pious Jews, but among Christians, the most deeply acquainted with the things of Christ.
The minister of God's word, who wishes to preach experimentally, should have frequent recourse to this sacred book; and by considering the various parts that refer to Jesus Christ and the Christian Church, he will be able to build up the people of God on their most holy faith; himself will grow in grace, and in the knowledge of God; and he will ever have an abundance of the most profitable matter for the edification of the Church of Christ.
ANALYSIS OF THE HUNDRED AND FIFTIETH PSALM
This Psalms is the same with the former. In the hundred and forty-eighth, all creatures are invited to praise God; in the hundred and forty-ninth, men especially, and those who are in the Church; but in this, that they praise him with all kinds of instruments.
I. An invitation to praise God, which word he repeats thirteen times, according to the thirteen attributes of God, as the rabbins reckon them.
II. That this be done with all sorts of instruments, intimating that it is to be performed with all the care, zeal, and ardency of affection.
I. Throughout the Psalm he calls on men to praise God.
1. "Praise God in his sanctuary." Or in your hearts, which are the temples of the Holy Ghost.
2. "Praise him in the firmament," &c. His magnificence when he sits on his throne. Some understand the Church by it, in which his saints shine as stars in the firmament.
3. "Praise him for his mighty acts," &c. The works of his power.
4. "Praise him according," &c. Whereby he excels all things; he being absolutely great they only comparatively so.
II. The prophet desires that no way be omitted by which we may show our zeal and ardency in praising him.
1. "Praise him with the sound of the trumpet," &c. An instrument used in their solemn feasts.
2. "Praise him with the psaltery," &c. And with these they sing, so that there is also music with the voice.
3. "Praise him with the timbrel," &c. In the choir with many voices.
4. "Praise him with stringed instruments," &c. Lutes, viols, organs, &c.
5. "Praise him upon the high-sounding cymbals," &c. An instrument which yields a loud sound, as bells among us.
His conclusion is of universal reference "Let every thing," &c.
1. "Every thing that hath breath," &c. That hath faculty or povver to do it.
2. "Every thing that hath life," &c. Whether spiritual, as angels; or animal, as man and beasts. Or, metaphorically, such as, though inanimate, may be said to praise God, because they obey his order and intention. Thus, all things praise God, because all things that have life or being derive it immediately from himself.
MASORETIC NOTES ON THE BOOK OF PSALMS
Number of verses, two thousand five hundred and twenty-seven. Middle verse. Psa. lxxviii. 36. Sections, nineteen.
"At the end of the Syriac we have this colophon: " - "The hundred and fifty Psalms are completed. There are five books, fifteen Psalms of degrees, and sixty of praises. The number of verses is four thousand eight hundred and thirty-two. There are some who have added twelve others; but we do not need them. And may God be praised for ever!" At the end of the Arabic is the following: - The end of the five books of Psalms. The first book ends with the fortieth Psalm; the second, with the seventieth Psalm; the third, with the eightieth Psalm; the fourth, with the hundred and fifteenth; and the fifth, with the last Psalm, i.e., the hundred and fiftieth.
"Besides these hundred and fifty Psalms, there is one additional in the Syriac, Septuagint, AEthiopic, and Arabic, of which it will be necessary to say something, and to give a translation. 1. The Psalms is not found in the Hebrew, nor in the Chaldee, nor in the Vulgate. 2. It is found, as stated, above, in the Syriac, Septuagint, AEthiopic, and Arabic; but not in the Anglo-Saxon, though Dom. Calmet has stated the contrary. But I have not heard of it in any MS. of that version; nor is it in Spelman's printed copy. 3. It is mentioned by Apollinaris, Athanasius, Euthymius, Vigilius, Tapsensis, and St. Chrysostom. 4. It has never been received either by the Greek or Latin Church; nor has it ever been considered as canonical. 5. It is certainly very ancient, stands in the Codex Alexandrinus, and has been printed in the Paris and London Polyglots. 6. Though the Greek is considered the most authentic copy of this Psalm, yet there are some things in the Syriac and Arabic necessary to make a full sense. The Arabic alone states the manner of Goliath's death. The title is, "A Psalm in the handwriting of David, beyond the number of the Psalms, composed by David, when he fought in single combat with Goliath." I shall make it as complete as I can from the different versions.I WAS the least among my brethren; and the youngest in my father's house; and I kept also my father's sheep.My hands made the organ; and my fingers joined the psaltery.3 And who told it to my LORD? [Arab.: And who is he who taught me?" - The LORD himself, he is my Master, and the Hearer of all that call upon him.He sent his angel, and took me away from my father's sheep; and anointed me with the oil of his anointing. [Others, the oil of his mercy.] 5 My brethren were taller and more beautiful than I; nevertheless the LORD delighted not in them.I went out to meet the Philistine, and he cursed me by his idols.[Arab.: IN the strength of the LORD I cast three stones at him. I smote him in the forehead, and felled him to the earth.] 8 And I drew out his own sword from its sheath, and cut off his head, and took away the reproach from the children of Israel.
NOTES ON PSALM cli.
If we were sure this was David's composition, we should not be willing to see it out of the number of the Psalms, or standing among the apocryphal writings. As a matter of curiosity I insert it; as, if a forgery, it is very ancient; and I leave it to the intelligent reader to add his own notes, and form his own analysis.
The subscription to the Syriac says some add twelve more. The Codex Alexandrinus has fourteen more. They are the following: -
1. The Song of Moses and the children of Israel, Exod. xv. 1, &c.
2. Ditto, from Deut. xxii. 1, &c.
3. The Song of Hannah, 1 Sam. ii. 1, &c.
4. The prayer of Isaiah, Isa. xxvi. 2, &c.
5. The prayer of Jonah, Jonah, ii. 3, &c.
6. The prayer of Habakkuk, Hab. iii. 2, &c.
7. The prayer of Hezekiah, Isa. xxxviii. 10, &c.
8. The prayer of Manasseh, see the Apocrypha.
9. The prayer of Azarias, or of the Three Children. - Apocrypha.
10. The Hymn of our Fathers, see the Benedicite omnia opera in the Liturgy.
11. The Magnificat, or Song of the Blessed Virgin, Luke i. 46, &c.
12. The Nunc dimittis, or Song of Simeon, Luke ii. 29, &c.
13. The prayer of Zacharias, Luke i. 68, &c.
14. The Ĉumnov ewqinov, or, Morning Hymn as used in the service of the Greek Church.
My old Psalter seems to have copied such authority as the Codex Alexandrinus, for it has added several similar pieces, after the hundred and fiftieth Psalm, where we read, Explicit Psalmos, incipit canticum Ysaie.
1. The Hymn of Isaiah, Isa. xii. 1, &c.
2. The Prayer of Hezekiah, Isa. xxxviii. 10-20; inclusive.
3. The Prayer of Hannah, 1 Sam. ii. 1, &c.
4. The Song of Moses at the Red Sea, Exod. xv. 1-19.
5. The Prayer of Habakkuk.
6. The Song of Moses, Deut. xxii. 1-43.
7. The Magnificat, or Song of the Blessed Virgin, Luke i. 46- 55.
8. The ten commandments.
9. There are several curious maxims, &c., which follow the commandments, such as Seven werkes of Mercy; Seven gastely werkes of Mercy; Seven Virtues; The keeping of the five senses; Fourteen points of trouthe. Another head, which is torn off. Lastly, some godly advises in poetry, which terminate the book.
I suppose these hymns were added on the same principle that the general assembly of the Kirk of Seotland added, by an act of 1479 and 1750, a number of verses and portions of the sacred writings, among which are several of the above, to their authorized version of the Psalms of David in metre, to be sung in all kirks and families.
SKETCH OF THE LIFE AND CHARACTER OF DAVID
When the historical books of the Old Testament were under consideration, I formed the resolution to say but little on those parts where the history of David is concerned, till I should come to the end of the Psalms, where, if I did not give a general history of his life, I might at least draw his character. But so many facts in David's history were found to require illustration, I was obliged often to anticipate my design, and enter into discussions which I had hoped to be able to produce with good effect at the end of his writings. I must therefore refer back to several particulars in the Books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, that concern the history of this most extraordinary man; and the objections produced against his spirit and conduct by persons not friendly to Divine revelation.
Where I have found David to blame, I have not palliated his conduct; and though it is with me a maxim to lean to the most favourable side when examining the characters of men, yet I hope I have nowhere served the cause of Antinomianism, which I abominate, nor endeavoured to render any thing, morally evil, venial, because it was found in the conduct of a religious man or a prophet. Vice must never be countenanced, though individuals, on the whole highly respectable, suffer by its disclosure, which disclosure should take place only when the interests of religion and truth absolutely require it.
David, Dodd, or Daoud, dwd , the son of Jesse, of an obscure family in the tribe of Judah, and of the inconsiderable village of Bethlehem, in the same tribe, was born, according to the best accounts, A.M. 2919, B.C. 1085. He was the youngest of eight sons, and was keeper of his father's sheep.
David was descended from Jacob by his son Judah, in that line which united both the regal and sacerdotal functions; and in his own person were conjoined the regal and prophetic offices. It is supposed he was anointed by Samuel, about A.M. 2934, when he was but about fifteen years of age; and that he slew Goliath in A.M. 2942, when he was in the twenty-third or twenty-fourth year of his age. He became king of Judah after the death of Saul, A.M. 2949; and king of all Israel, A.M. 2956, when he was about thirty-seven years of age, and died A.M. 2989, B.C. 1015, when he was about seventy-one years old.
He is often mentioned by the Asiatic writers, and by Mohammed, in the Koran, in these words, "Daoud slew Geealout; (Goliath;) and God gave him a kingdom and wisdom, and taught him whatsoever he wished to know." Hussain Vaez, one of the commentators on the Koran, observers on the above passage: "That Goliath was of such an enormous size that his armour, which was of iron weighed one thousand pounds; and that his helmet alone weighed three hundred; nevertheless David slung a stone with such force as to break through the helmet, pierce the skull, and beat out the Philistine's brains.
"God gave him the gift of prophecy, and the Book Ziboor; (Psalms;) and taught him to make hair and sackcloth, which was the work of the prophets; and instructed him in the language of birds, which, with the stones of the field, were obedient to him, and iron was softened by his hands. During the forty days which he spent in bewailing his sins, plants grew where he watered the ground with his tears." The Mohammedans all allow that the Ziboor, or Book of Psalms, was given to David by immediate inspiration, and that it contains 150 sourats or chapters. His skill in music is also proverbial among the Mohammedans. Hence some verses in the Anvari Soheely, which are to this effect: "You decide the greatest difficulties with as much ease as Daoud touched the chords of his lyre when he chanted his Psalms." If we could persuade the Mohammedans that the Book of Psalms which we now possess was the real work of David, something would be gained towards their conversion. But they say the Jews have corrupted it, as the Christians have the Angeel, (Gospel,) and the book which they produce as the Psalms of David consists of extracts only from the Psalms, with a variety of other matters which have no relation either to David or his work.
In the sacred writings David is presented to our view-1. As a shepherd; 2. A musician; 3. A skillful military leader; 4. A hero; 5. A king; 6. An ecclesiastical reformer; 7. A prophet; 8. A type of Christ; 9. A poet; and 10. A truly pious man.
1. David stands before the world in his history and writings as a private person destitute of ambition, apparently in a low, if not mean, situation in life, contributing to the support of a numerous family, of which he formed a part, by keeping the sheep of his father in the wilderness or champaign country in the vicinity of Bethlehem. In those times, and in such a rocky and mountainous country as Judea, this situation required a person of considerable address, skill, courage, and muscular strength. The flock must not only be led out and in to find the proper pasture, but their maladies must be skilfully treated, and they defended against the attacks of wild beasts, than which none could be more formidable for rapacity and strength than the lion and the bear. These were among the savage inhabitants of the country of Judea, and were the destroyers of the flocks, and the terror of the shepherds. The land was also infested with banditti, or lawless solitary rovers, who sought by depredations among the flocks to live at the expense of others. The office therefore of a shepherd was neither mean nor unimportant, as a principal part of the property of the Jews consisted in their flocks.
From the ancient history of all civilized nations we learn that the persons thought qualified for it were such as had a liberal education, good natural parts, and were highly trustworthy and courageous. These most evidently were all combined in the character of David. That his education was good, his language and skill in music prove; and that his mind was highly cultivated, the depth, sublimity, and purity of his compositions demonstrate; and that his courage and personal strength must have been great, his slaying the lion and bear that had attacked the flock under his protection, are the clearest proofs.
2. His skill in music was so great as to be proverbial. In this curious art he excelled all his contemporaries, so as alone to acquire the character of the sweet singer of Israel. His success in quieting the turbulent and maniacal spirit of Saul by his performances on the lyre stand strongly marked in his history; and the effects produced were equal to any mentioned in the now fabulous histories of Greece or Rome. The wondrous harp of Orpheus, by which beasts and birds were enraptured, and the very stones and trees moved in harmony together, so as to compose of themselves the celebrated city of Thebes, we may well leave out of the question, as the fable is too gross to be credited, unless we take the exposition of an ancient author, Philodemus, some fragments of whose works have been recovered from the ruins of Herculaneum, from which we learn that the fable of the building of Thebes by the melody of his lyre arose from the fact that he was a musician who attended the builders, played to them during their labour, by whose contributions he earned a competent support, and caused them to go so lightly through their work, that he was hyperbolically said to have built the walls of the city by the power of his music. Nothing can be more natural than this explanation, nor could any thing serve better for the foundation of the fable. Indeed it has been conjectured by one of David's biographers, Dr. Delaney, that the history of David was the origin of that of Orpheus. The coincidence of the times and the other circumstances alleged by this entertaining writer, have not served to persuade me of the truth of his hypothesis. We can amply support the credit of the Hebrew musician without impairing the credibility of the history and identity of the person of the ancient Greek lyrist.
It is not likely, however, that David was a performer on one kind of instrument only. There were many kinds of musical instruments in his time that were all used in the ordinances of religion, and apparently employed in those parts of it where the compositions of David were used.
Calmet and others have properly divided these instruments into three classes. 1. STRINGED instruments. 2. WIND instruments. And 3. Such as were played on by a PLECTRUM.
I. STRINGED instruments. 1. The nabla, or psaltery. 2. The kinnor. 3. The cythera or azur, an instrument of ten chords. 4. The symphony. 5. The Sambuck. 6. The minnim.
II. WIND instruments. 1. The chatsotserah. 2. The shophar, or trumpet. 3.
The keren, or horn. 4. The ugab, a species of organ. 5. The mashrokitha, or syrinx. 6. The machalath, a species of pipe or fife. 7. The chalil, or flute.
III. Instruments which required a PLECTRUM. 1. The toph, a drum, tomtom, or tambarine. 2. The tseltselim, or sistrum. 3. The shalishim, or triangle. 4. The metsiltayim, a species of bell.
As all these instruments were used in the service of God, and most of them are mentioned in the Psalms, it is very likely that such a consummate musician and poet played on the whole.
3. That David was a skillful military leader, requires little proof. When for the safety of his own life he was obliged to leave the court of Saul, and become an exile in the wilds of a country so much indebted to his courage and valor, he was under the necessity of associating to himself men of desperate fortunes and of no character. These, to the amount of four hundred, he so disciplined and managed, as to soften their lawless disposition, and repress their propensity to plunder and rapine, so that they never went on any expedition that was not under his direction, and made no inroads but what tended to strengthen the hands of his countrymen, and weaken those of their enemies. Neither by day nor night, so complete was his authority over them, were they permitted to take even a lamb or a kid from the flock of any man, though they had frequent opportunities of doing so in countries so thinly inhabited, and where the flocks were numerous. On the contrary they were protectors of the different herds which were fed in those parts of the wilderness where they were obliged to sojourn. To have succeeded in disciplining such a description of men is highly to the credit of his address and skill, especially when we consider that they were composed of such as had run away from the claims of their creditors; from the authority of their masters; who were distressed in their circumstances, and discontented with the government, or their situation in life, 1 Sam. xxii. 2. I question much whether any of the heroes of the last or present century, from Peter and Frederick the Great down to Napoleon Bonaparte, destitute of all subsidiary authority, and without any other officer to assist them in the command, could have disciplined four hundred such men, brought them under perfect obedience, and prevented them from indulging their restless and marauding spirit with so many temptations before their eyes, while prey was so easy to be acquired, and their general privations rendered such supplies necessary.
4. As a hero, David appears very conspicuous, if we take this word in its general acceptation, a man eminent for bravery And here his proffering to fight with Goliath, the famous Philistine champion who had defied and terrified all the hosts of Israel, is at once a proof of his bravery and patriotism. In very remote times, and down to a late period, military etiquette permitted feuds and civil broils to be settled by single combat. In the presence of the hostile armies, previously to the shock of general battle, a man either stepped out from the ranks, or by a herald bid defiance to any person in the hostile army, and stipulated certain conditions of combat, in order to spare the effusion of blood; to the exact fulfillment of which he pledged himself and his party. This was done very circumstantially in the case before us. When the Israelities and the Philistines had drawn up their forces in battle array at Ephes-dammim, a champion of Gath called Goliath, of gigantic stature and strength, came out of the camp of the Philistines, and stood and cried unto the armies of Israel: "Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? Choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me. If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants, but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us." And concluded with defying the armies of Israel. Saul, though he was a man of great personal courage, and the whole Israelitish army, were greatly dismayed at this challenge; and the more particularly so, because no man dared to take it up, notwithstanding the king had offered "to enrich the accepter with great gifts, give him his daughter in marriage, and make his father's house free in Israel;" 1 Sam. xvii. 1, &c. David had come to the camp with provisions for his brothers who were in Saul's army; (for it appears that the Israelitish militia bore their own expenses when their services were requisite for the safety of their country;) and hearing the defiance of the Philistine, proposed to take up the challenge; and having obtained Saul's consent, went forth, fought and slew the Philistine in the manner related in the chapter quoted above.
On numerous occasions he signalized himself in the same way; his natural courage, heightened by his constant dependence on God, never forsook him, and was always invincible. He was the life of his kingdom, and the soul of his army, knew well how to distinguish and employ eminent abilities, had the ablest generals, and the address to form a multitude of heroes like himself.
He had a company of champions, or as they are generally termed worthies or mighty men, to the number of thirty-seven. The account given of these (2 Sam. xxiii.) would almost render credible the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table; and it is probable that the first idea of that ancient romance was taken from the genuine history of David and his thirty-seven champions.
5. How David would have acquitted himself as a lawgiver we cannot tell; for God had taken care to leave nothing of this kind to the wisdom, folly, or caprice of any man. The laws were all made and the constitution framed by Jehovah himself; and no legitimate king of the Jews was permitted to enact any new laws, or abrogate or change the old. The faithful and constitutional king was he who ruled according to the laws already established, as well in religious as in civil matters; for although the Jewish theocracy was somewhat changed by the election of Saul, yet the monarch was considered only as the vicegerent of the Almighty; and David, taking care to abide by the laws as they then were, and governing his subjects accordingly, was said to be after God's own heart, or a man after God's own heart: and this is the sense in which this phrase is to be understood. And as David took great care that no innovation should be made in the constitution, that the law of God should be the law of the empire, and ruled according to that law, therefore he was most properly said to be a man after God's own heart, to fulfill all his counsels; and by this faithful attachment to the laws he was contradistinguished from Saul, who in several respects changed that law, and made not a few attempts to alter it in some of its most essential principles. On these grounds God rejected him and chose David.
But as a civil magistrate David's conduct was unimpeachable: his court was regulated according to the maxims of the Divine law; and the universal prosperity of his kingdom is a decisive proof that judgment and justice were faithfully administered in it. The strong did not oppress the weak, nor the rich the poor; and, although the empire was seldom at rest from war during his reign, yet it was so conducted that his subjects were neither oppressed nor impoverished. Many of his Psalms bear testimony to these matters, as they contain appeals to God relative to the sincerity of his heart, the uprightness of his conduct, and his impartiality in administering justice among the people. To David the cry of the distressed was never uttered in vain; and the curse of the widow and fatherless was never pronounced against him for a neglect of justice, or partiality in administering it according to the laws.
6. David, I think, may be fitly ranked among ecclesiastical reformers, for, although the grand body of the Jewish religion was so firmly fixed, that it could not be changed, yet there were several circumstances in the form of Divine worship that appear to have been left to the pious discretion of the Jewish prophets, priests, and kings, to improve as time and circumstances might require. That God might be constantly worshipped, that the Jewish ritual might be carefully observed, and all the Divinely appointed ecclesiastical persons have their proper share of the public service, David divided the thirty-eight thousand Levites into courses, assigning to each course its particular service, 1 Chron. xxiii. He did the same by the priests, porters, singers, &c.; and appointed twelve captains to serve each a month, and have the rule and inspection of the different courses and orders, to see that the worship of God was properly conducted. The twenty-third, twenty-fourth, twenty- fifth, twenty-sixth, and twenty-seventh chapters of the first book of Chronicles, give a very detailed and circumstantial account of the improvements which David made in the form and execution of the different parts of public worship. Almost every pious king of Judah had matters of this kind to regulate and settle: but it appears that David's plan was so perfect, that it became a standard; and when any decay took place in the form of public worship, the chief aim of the succeeding kings was, to reduce every thing to the form in which David had left it. This is a full proof of the perfection of his plan.
7. That David was favoured with the gift of prophecy, is, I think, universally allowed. And although there have been prophets pro tempore, who were not remarkable for piety, yet there never was one on whom the prophetic Spirit rested, that was not truly pious.
All such had deep communion with God: their souls were upright, and their bodies became temples of the Holy Ghost. This was most assuredly the case with David: the prophetic Spirit overshadowed and rested upon him; in general he held deep communion with God; and even in his Psalms, we can scarcely say when he does not prophesy. Some learned and very pious men consider the whole Psalter as a tissue of prophecies concerning Christ and his kingdom; and in this way our Lord and his apostles quote many of them.
Could we really ascertain which were David's, perhaps we might find them all of this description; though the subjects to which they apply might not be so clearly distinct: but there were so many written before, at, under, and after, the Babylonish captivity, that are become so mixed with those of David, that it is difficult, and in some cases impossible, to ascertain them. Where he evidently prophesies of Christ and his Church, I have particularly remarked it in the notes. I have not gone so far as some learned and pious commentators have gone, in applying the Psalms to Christ and his Church, because I was not satisfied that they have such reference.
Even those which are of David's composition, and have reference to Christ, are so mixed up with his own state, that it is often impossible to say when the Psalmist prophesies of the Root of Jesse, and when he simply refers to his own circumstances: and, on the whole, I am only sure of those which are thus quoted by our Lord and his apostles.
8. That David was a type of Christ is proved by the Scriptures themselves, see Jer. xxx. i10: "They shall serve the Lord their God, and DAVID their king, whom I will raise up unto them;" Ezek. xxxiv. 23: "And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant DAVID; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd." Ver. 24: "And I the Lord will be their God, and my servant DAVID a prince among them.'' See also Ezek. xxxvii. 24; and compare this with Jer. xxiii. 4, 5; John x. 11; Heb. xiii. 24; 1 Pet. ii. 25; and v. 4; Hosea, chap. iii. ver. 5, speaks in the same way: "Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their