For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised: he also is to be feared above all gods.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
7. Then on that day David delivered first this psalm—Among the other preparations for this solemn inauguration, the royal bard had composed a special hymn for the occasion. Doubtless it had been previously in the hands of Asaph and his assistants, but it was now publicly committed to them as they entered for the first time on the performance of their sacred duties. It occupies the greater part of this chapter (1Ch 16:8-36), and seems to have been compiled from other psalms of David, previously known to the Israelites, as the whole of it will be found, with very slight variations, in Ps 96:1-13; 105:1-15; 106:47, 48. In the form, however, in which it is given by the sacred historian, it seems to have been the first psalm given for use in the tabernacle service. Abounding, as it does, with the liveliest ascriptions of praise to God for the revelation of His glorious character and the display of His marvellous works and containing, as it does, so many pointed allusions to the origin, privileges, and peculiar destiny of the chosen people, it was admirably calculated to animate the devotions and call forth the gratitude of the assembled multitude.
David delivered first this psalm to thank the Lord into the hand of Asaph and his brethren to be sung by them now, and on every proper occasion; and this seems to be the first that was delivered to them; afterwards there were many more, as the titles of the psalms show; the following is composed of part of two others, as they now stand in the book of Psalms. From hence, to the end of 1 Chronicles 16:22 is the same with Psalm 105:1, with a little variation, see the notes there; and from thence to the end of 1 Chronicles 16:33 is Psalm 96:1 which see; and 1 Chronicles 16:34 is the same with Psalm 106:1, see the notes there. See Gill on Psalm 106:1, Psalm 107:1, Psalm 105:1, Psalm 105:2, Psalm 105:3, Psalm 105:4, Psalm 105:5, Psalm 105:6, Psalm 105:7, Psalm 105:8, Psalm 105:9, Psalm 105:10, Psalm 105:11,on Psalm 105:12, Psalm 105:13, Psalm 105:14,on Psalm 105:15For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised: he also is to be feared above all gods.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)25. to be feared above all gods] i.e. to be feared as being above all “that are called gods,” these being “things of nought” (1 Chronicles 16:26, R.V. mg.). The real existence of false gods is not assumed.1 Chronicles 16:8-11), the singer exhorts his people to remember the wondrous works of the Lord (1 Chronicles 16:12-14), and the covenant which He made with the patriarchs to give them the land of Canaan (1 Chronicles 16:15-18), and confirms his exhortation by pointing out how the Lord, in fulfilment of His promise, had mightily and gloriously defended the patriarchs (1 Chronicles 16:19-22). But all the world also are to praise Him as the only true and almighty God (1 Chronicles 16:23-27), and all peoples do homage to Him with sacrificial gifts (1 Chronicles 16:28-30); and that His kingdom may be acknowledged among the heathen, even inanimate nature will rejoice at His coming to judgment (1 Chronicles 16:31-33). In conclusion, we have again the summons to thankfulness,combined with a prayer that God would further vouchsafe salvation; and a doxology rounds off the whole (1 Chronicles 16:34-36). When we consider the contents of the whole hymn, it is manifest that it contains nothing which would be at all inconsistent with the belief that it was composed by David for the above-mentioned religious service. There is nowhere any reference to the condition of the people in exile, nor yet to the circumstances after the exile. The subject of the praise to which Israel is summoned is the covenant which God made with Abraham, and the wonderful way in which the patriarchs were led. The summons to the heathen to acknowledge Jahve as alone God and King of the world, and to come before His presence with sacrificial offerings, together with the thought that Jahve will come to judge the earth, belong to the Messianic hopes. These had formed themselves upon the foundation of the promises given to the patriarchs, and the view they had of Jahve as Judge of the heathen, when He led His people out of Egypt,so early, that even in the song of Moses at the Red Sea (Exodus 15), and the song of the pious Hannah (1 Samuel 2:1-10), we meet with the first germs of them; and what we find in David and the prophets after him are only further development of these.
Yet all the later commentators, with the exception of Hitzig, die Psalmen, ii. S. ix.f., judge otherwise as to the origin of this festal hymn. Because the first half of it (1 Chronicles 16:8-22) recurs in Psalm 105:1-15, the second (1 Chronicles 16:23-33) in Psalm 96:1-13, and the conclusion (1 Chronicles 16:34-36) in Ps.Psa 106:1, Psalm 106:47-48, it is concluded that the author of the Chronicle compounded the hymn from these three psalms, in order to reproduce the festive songs which were heard after the ark had been brought in, in the same free way in which the speeches in Thucydides and Livy reproduce what was spoken at various times. Besides the later commentators, Aug. Koehler (in the Luth. Ztschr. 1867, S. 289ff.) and C. Ehrt (Abfassungszeit und Abschluss des Psalters, Leipz. 1869, S. 41ff.) are of the same opinion. The possibility that our hymn may have arisen in this way cannot be denied; for such a supposition would be in so far consistent with the character of the Chronicle, as we find in it speeches which have not been reported verbatim by the hearers, but are given in substance or in freer outline by the author of our Chronicle, or, as is more probable, by the author of the original documents made use of by the chronicler. But this view can only be shown to be correct if it corresponds to the relation in which our hymn may be ascertained to stand to the three psalms just mentioned. Besides the face that its different sections are again met with scattered about in different psalms, the grounds for supposing that our hymn is not an original poem are mainly the want of connection in the transition from 1 Chronicles 16:22 to v.23, and from 1 Chronicles 16:33 to v.34; the fact that in v.35 we have a verse referring to the Babylonian exile borrowed from Psalm 106; and that 1 Chronicles 16:36 is even the doxology of the fourth book of Psalms, taken to be a component part of the psalm. These two latter grounds would be decisive, if the facts on which they rest were well authenticated. If. 1 Chronicles 16:36 really contained only the doxology of the fourth book of Psalms-which, like the doxologies of the first, second, and third books (Psalm 41:14; Psalm 72:18-19, and 89:53), was merely formally connected with the psalm, without being a component part of it-there could be no doubt that the author of the Chronicle had taken the conclusion of his hymn from our collection of psalms, as these doxologies only date from the originators of our collection. But this is not the state of the case. Psalm 106:48 does, it is true, occupy in our Psalter the place of the doxology to the fourth book, but belonged, as Bertheau also acknowledges, originally to the psalm itself. For not only is it different in form from the doxologies of the first three books, not having the double ואמן אמן with which these books close, but it concludes with the simple הללוּ־יהּ אמן. If the ואמן אמן connected by ו is, in the Old Testament language, exclusively confined to these doxologies, which thus approach the language of the liturgical Beracha of the second temple, as Del. Ps. p. 15 rightly remarks, while in Numbers 5:22 and Nehemiah 8:6 only אמן אמן without copulative w occurs, it is just this peculiarity of the liturgical Beracha which is wanting, both in the concluding verse of the 106th Psalm and in 1 Chronicles 16:36 of our festal hymn. Moreover, the remainder of the verse in question - the last clause of it, "And let all the people say Amen, Halleluiah," - does not suit the hypothesis that the verse is the doxology appended to the conclusion of the fourth book by the collector of the Psalms, since, as Hengstenberg in his commentary on the psalm rightly remarks, "it is inconceivable that the people should join in that which, as mere closing doxology of a book, would have no religious character;" and "the praise in the conclusion of the psalm beautifully coincides with its commencement, and the Halleluiah of the end is shown to be an original part of the psalm by its correspondence with the beginning."
(Note: Bertheau also rightly says: "If in Psalm 72 (as also in Psalm 89 and 91) the author of the doxology himself says Amen, while in Psalm 106:48 the saying of the Amen is committed to the people, this difference can only arise from the face that Psalm 106 originally concluded with the exhortation to say Amen." Hitzig speaks with still more decision, die Pss. (1865), ii. S. x.: "If (in Psalm 106) Psalm 106:47 is the conclusion, a proper ending is wanting; while Psalm 106:48, on the contrary, places the psalm on a level with Psalm 103-105; 107. Who can believe that the author himself, for the purpose of ending the fourth book with Psalm 106:48, caused the psalm to extend to the Psalm 106:48? In the Chronicle, the people whom the verse mentions are present from 1 Chronicles 15:3-16:2, while in the psalm no one can see how they should come in there. Whether the verse belong to the psalm or not, the turning to all the people, and the causing the people to say Amen, Amen, instead of the writer, has no parallel in the Psalms, and is explicable only on the supposition that it comes from the Chronicle. Afterwards a Diaskeuast might be satisfied to take the verse as the boundary-stone of a book.")
The last verse of our hymn does not therefore presuppose the existence of the collection of psalms, nor in 1 Chronicles 16:35 is there any indubitable reference to the exilic time. The words, "Say, 'Save us, Thou God of our salvation; gather us together, and deliver us from among the heathen,' " do not presuppose that the people had been previously led away into the Chaldean exile, but only the dispersion of prisoners of war, led away captive into an enemy's land after a defeat. This usually occurred after each defeat of Israel by their enemies, and it was just such cases Solomon had in view in his prayer, 1 Kings 8:46-50.
The decision as to the origin of this festal hymn, therefore, depends upon its internal characteristics, and the result of a comparison of the respective texts. The song in itself forms, as Hitz. l.c. S. 19 rightly judges, "a thoroughly coherent and organic whole. The worshippers of Jahve are to sing His praise in memory of His covenant which He made with their fathers, and because of which He protected them (1 Chronicles 16:18-22). But all the world also are to praise Him, the only true God (1 Chronicles 16:23-27); the peoples are to come before Him with gifts; yea, even inanimate nature is to pay the King and Judge its homage (1 Chronicles 16:28-33). Israel - and with this the end returns to the beginning-is to thank Jahve, and invoke His help against the heathen (1 Chronicles 16:34 and 1 Chronicles 16:35)." This exposition of the symmetrical disposition of the psalm is not rendered questionable by the objections raised by Koehler, l.c.; nor can the recurrence of the individual parts of it in three different psalms of itself at all prove that in the Chronicle we have not the original form of the hymn. "There is nothing to hinder us from supposing that the author of Psalm 96:1-13 may be the same as the author of Psalm 105 and 106; but even another might be induced by example to appropriate the first half of 1 Chronicles 16:8., as his predecessor had appropriated the second, and it would naturally occur to him to supply from his own resources the continuation which had been already taken away and made use of" (Hitz. l.c.). A similar phenomenon is the recurrence of the second half of Psalm 40:17. as an independent psalm, Psalm 70:1-5. "But it is also readily seen,"continues Hitzig, "how easily the psalmist might separate the last three verses from each other (1 Chronicles 16:34-36 of the Chronicle), and set them as a frame round Psalm 106. 1 Chronicles 16:34 is not less suitable in the Chronicle for the commencement of a paragraph than in Psalm 107, which Psalm 107:6 would admit of no continuation, but was the proper end. On the other hand, we can scarcely believe that the chronicler compiled his song first from Psalm 105, then from Psalm 96:1-13, and lastly from Psalm 106, striking off from this latter only the beginning and the end."
Finally, if we compare the text of our hymn with the text of these psalms, the divergences are of such a sort that we cannot decide with certainty which of the two texts is the original. To pass over such critically indifferent variations as פּיהוּ, 1 Chronicles 16:12, for פּיו, Psalm 105:5; the omission of the nota acc. את, 1 Chronicles 16:18, compared with Psalm 105:10, and vice versa in Psalm 96:3 and 1 Chronicles 16:24; היּער עצי, 1 Chronicles 16:33, instead of היּער כּל־עצי, Psalm 96:12, - the chronicler has in יצחק, 1 Chronicles 16:16, instead of ישׂחק, Psalm 105:9, and יעלץ, 1 Chronicles 16:32, instead of יעלז, Psalm 96:12, the earlier and more primitive form; in תּרעוּ אל בּנביאי, 1 Chronicles 16:22, instead of תּרעוּ אל לנביאי, Psalm 105:15, a quite unusual construction; and in יום אל מיּום, 1 Chronicles 16:23, the older form (cf. Numbers 30:15), instead of ליום מיּום, Psalm 96:2, as in Esther 3:7; while, on the other hand, instead of the unexampled phrase לעשׁקם אדם הנּיח, Psalm 105:14, there stands in the Chronicle the usual phrase לאישׁ הנּיח, and שׂדי dna , in Psalm 96:12 is the poetical form for the השּׂדה of 1 Chronicles 16:32. More important are the wider divergences: not so much ישׂראל זרע, 1 Chronicles 16:13, for אברהם זרע, Psalm 105:6, in which latter case it is doubtful whether the עבדּו refers to the patriarchs or to the people, and consequently, as the parallelismus membrorum demands the latter references, ישׂראל is clearly the more correct and intelligible; but rather than the others, viz., זכרוּ, 1 Chronicles 16:15, for זכר, Psalm 105:8; since זכרוּ not only corresponds to the זכרוּ of 1 Chronicles 16:11, but alto to the use made of the song for the purposes stated in the Chronicle; while, on the contrary, זכר of the psalm corresponds to the object of the psalm, viz., to exalt the covenant grace shown to the patriarchs. Connected with this also is the reading בּהיותכם, "when ye (sons of Jacob) were" (1 Chronicles 16:19), instead of בּהיותם, Psalm 105:12, "when they (the patriarchs) were," since the narrative of what the Lord had done demanded בהיותם. Now the more likely the reference of the words to the patriarchs was to suggest itself, the more unlikely is the hypothesis of an alteration into בהיותכם; and the text of the Chronicle being the more difficult, is consequently to be regarded as the earlier. Moreover, the divergences of 1 Chronicles 16:23 to 33 of our hymn from Psalm 96:1-13 are such as would result from its having been prepared for the above-mentioned solemn festival. The omission of the two strophes, "Sing unto Jahve a new song, sing unto Jahve, bless His name" (Psalm 96:1 and Psalm 96:2), in 1 Chronicles 16:23 of the Chronicle might be accounted for by regarding that part of our hymn as an abridgment by the chronicler of the original song, when connecting it with the preceding praise of God, were it certain on other grounds that Psalm 96:1-13 was the original; but if the chronicler's hymn be the original, we may just as well believe that this section was amplified when it was made into an independent psalm. A comparison of 1 Chronicles 16:33 (Chron.) with the end of the 96th Psalm favours this last hypothesis, for in the Chronicle the repetition of בּא כּי is wanting, as well as the second hemistich of Psalm 96:13. The whole of the 13th verse recurs, with a single בּא כּי, at the end of the 98th Psalm (Psalm 98:9), and the thought is borrowed from the Davidic Psalm 9:9. The strophes in the beginning of Psalm 96:1-13, which are omitted from 1 Chronicles 16:16, often recur. The phrase, "Sing unto Jahve a new song," is met within Psalm 33:3; Psalm 98:1, and Psalm 149:1, and חדשׁ שׁיר in Psalm 40:4, a Davidic psalm. את־שׁמו בּרכוּ is also met with in Psalm 100:4; and still more frequently את־יהוה בּרכוּ, in Psalm 103:2, Psalm 103:22; Psalm 134:1, and elsewhere, even as early as Deborah's song, Judges 5:2, Judges 5:9; while ליהוה שׁירוּ occurs in the song of Moses, Exodus 15:1. Since, then, the strophes of the 96th Psalm are only reminiscences of, and phrases which we find in, the oldest religious songs of the Israelites, it is clear that Psalm 96:1-13 is not an original poem. It is rather the re-grouping of the well-known and current thoughts; and the fact that it is so, favours the belief that all which this psalm contains at the beginning and end, which the Chronicle does not contain, is merely an addition made by the poet who transformed this part of the chronicler's hymn into an independent psalm for liturgical purposes. This purpose clearly appears in such variations as בּמקדּשׁו ותפארת, Psalm 96:6, instead of בּמקמו וחדוה, 1 Chronicles 16:27, and לחצרותיו וּבאוּ, Psalm 96:8, instead of לפניו וּבאוּ, 1 Chronicles 16:29. Neither the word מקדּשׁ nor the mention of "courts" is suitable in a hymn sung at the consecration of the holy tent in Zion, for at that time the old national sanctuary with the altar in the court (the tabernacle) still stood in Gibeon.
Here, therefore, the text of the Chronicle corresponds to the circumstances of David's time, while the mention of מקדּשׁ and of courts in the psalm presupposes the existence of the temple with its courts as the sanctuary of the people of Israel. Now a post-exilic poet would scarcely have paid so much attention to this delicate distinction between times and circumstances as to alter, in the already existing psalms, out of which he compounded this festal hymn, the expressions which were not suitable to the Davidic time. Against this, the use of the unusual word חדוה drow lau, joy, which occurs elsewhere only in Nehemiah 10:8, Nehemiah 10:10, and in Chaldee in Ezra 6:18, is no valid objection, for the use of the verb חדה as early as Exodus 18:9 and Job 3:6 shows that the word does not belong to the later Hebrew. The discrepancy also between 1 Chronicles 16:30 and 1 Chronicles 16:31 and Psalm 96:9-11, namely, the omission in the Chronicle of the strophe בּמישׁרים עמּים ידין (Psalm 96:10), and the placing of the clause מלך יהוה בגּוים _ ויאמרוּ after הארץ ותגל (1 Chronicles 16:31, cf. Psalm 96:10), does not really prove anything as to the priority of Psalm 96:1-13. Hitzig, indeed, thinks that since by the omission of the one member the parallelism of the verses is disturbed, and a triple verse appears where all the others are double merely, and because by this alteration the clause,"Say among the people, Jahve is King," has come into an apparently unsuitable position, between an exhortation to the heaven and earth to rejoice, and the roaring of the sea and its fulness, this clause must have been unsuitably placed by a copyist's error. But the transposition cannot be so explained; for not only is that one member of the verse misplaced, but also the אמרוּ of the psalm is altered into ויאמרוּ, and moreover, we get no explanation of the omission of the strophe וגו ידין. If we consider ויאמרוּ (with ו consecutive), "then will they say," we see clearly that it corresponds to וגו ירנּנוּ אז in 1 Chronicles 16:33; and in 1 Chronicles 16:30 the recognition of Jahve's kingship over the peoples is represented as the issue and effect of the joyful exultation of the heaven and earth, just as in 1 Chronicles 16:32 and 1 Chronicles 16:33 the joyful shouting of the trees of the field before Jahve as He comes to judge the earth, is regarded as the result of the roaring of the sea and the gladness of the fields. The אמרוּ of the psalm, on the other hand, the summons to the Israelites to proclaim that Jahve is King among the peoples, is, after the call, "Let the whole earth tremble before Him," a somewhat tame expression; and after it, again, we should not expect the much stronger וגו תּכּון אף. When we further consider that the clause which follows in the Chronicle, "He will judge the people in uprightness," is a reminiscence of Psalm 9:9, we must hold the text of the Chronicle to be here also the original, and the divergences in Psalm 96:1-13 for alterations, which were occasioned by the changing of a part of our hymn into an independent psalm. Finally, there can be no doubt as to the priority of the chronicler's hymn in 1 Chronicles 16:34-36. The author of the Chronicle did not require to borrow the liturgical formula וגו טוב כּי ליהוה הודוּ from Psalm 106:1, for it occurs in as complete a form in Psalm 97:1; Psalm 118:1, Psalm 118:29; Psalm 136:1, and, not to mention 2 Chronicles 5:13; 2 Chronicles 7:3; 2 Chronicles 20:21, is a current phrase with Jeremiah (Jeremiah 33:11), and is without doubt an ancient liturgical form. 1 Chronicles 16:35 and 1 Chronicles 16:36, too, contain such divergences from Psalm 106:47 and Psalm 106:48, that it is in the highest degree improbable that they were borrowed from that psalm. Not only is the prayer וגו הושׁיענוּ introduced by אמרוּ, but also, instead of אלהינוּ יהוה of the psalm, we have ישׁענוּ אלהי; and to וקבּצנוּ, והצּילנוּ is added, - a change which causes the words to lose the reference to the Chaldean exile contained in the text of the Psalms. The post-exilic author of the Chronicle would scarcely have obliterated this reference, and certainly would not have done so in such a delicate fashion, had he taken the verse from Psalm 106. A much more probable supposition is, that the post-exilic author of the 106th Psalm appropriated the concluding verse of David's to him well-known hymn, and modified it to make it fit into his poem. Indubitable instances of such alterations are to be found in the conclusion, where the statement of the chronicler, that all the people said Amen and praised Jahve, is made to conform to the psalm, beginning as it does with Halleluiah, by altering ויּאמרוּ into ואמר, "and let them say," and of ליהוה והלּל into הללוּ־יהּ.
On the whole, therefore, we must regard the opinion that David composed our psalm for the above-mentioned festival as by far the most probable. The psalm itself needs no further commentary; but compare Delitzsch on the parallel psalms and parts of psalms.
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