|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
33:1-11 Holy joy is the heart and soul of praise, and that is here pressed upon the righteous. Thankful praise is the breath and language of holy joy. Religious songs are proper expressions of thankful praise. Every endowment we possess, should be employed with all our skill and earnestness in God's service. His promises are all wise and good. His word is right, and therefore we are only in the right when we agree with it. His works are all done in truth. He is the righteous Lord, therefore loveth righteousness. What a pity it is that this earth, which is so full of the proofs and instances of God's goodness, should be so empty of his praises; and that of the multitudes who live upon his bounty, there are so few who live to his glory! What the Lord does, he does to purpose; it stands fast. He overrules all the counsels of men, and makes them serve his counsels; even that is fulfilled, which to us is most surprising, the eternal counsel of God, nor can any thing prevent its coming to pass.
Verse 2. - Praise the Lord with harp. The harp obtains mention here for the first time in the Psalms. Reference, however, had been made to it previously in Genesis, Job, and the First Book of Samuel. There is reason to believe that the instrument, as known to the Hebrews, was a simple one, consisting of a nearly triangular framework of wood, crossed by seven strings. The Egyptians were acquainted from early times with a very much more elaborate instrument - harps which stood six feet high upon a broad base of their own, and had as many as twenty-two strings (Rawlinson, 'History of Ancient Egypt,' vol. 1. p. 521). The harp was regarded by the Hebrews as peculiarly fitted for sacred music (see 1 Samuel 10:5; 2 Samuel 6:5; 1 Chronicles 15:16; 1 Chronicles 25:1, 3, 6; 2 Chronicles 5:12; 2 Chronicles 29:25; Nehemiah 12:27, etc.). Sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings; rather, sing unto him with the lute of ten strings. One instrument only is here mentioned - a lute or psaltery (nebel), having ten strings (comp. Psalm 92:3; Psalm 144:9). The nebel was an instrument differing from the harp chiefly in the arrangement of the strings. It was used in the temple service, as appears from 1 Chronicles 15:6, 28; 1 Chronicles 25:1, 6; 2 Chronicles 5:12; 2 Chronicles 29:25, etc.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Praise the Lord with harp,.... An instrument David was well skilled in the use of, the inventor of which was Jubal, Genesis 4:21;
sing unto, him with the psaltery; the name of this instrument is in the Hebrew language "nebel": the account which Josephus (w) gives of this, and of the former, is,
"the harp is extended with ten strings, and is plucked with a quill; the "nabla", or psaltery, has twelve sounds, and is played upon with the fingers;''
some make this and the next to be the same:
and an instrument of ten strings; and read them together thus, "with the psaltery of ten strings": and so the Targum, Septuagint, and other versions (x): but it seems from Josephus that it was not a stringed instrument, but had holes, and those twelve; and besides it is distinguished from the instrument of ten strings, Psalm 92:3; it was in the form of a bottle, from whence it had its name.
(w) Antiqu. l. 7. c. 12. s. 3.((x) Vid. Jarchium in loc. & R. Mosem in Aben Ezra in loc.
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