Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
This noble doxology worthily heads the series of Psalms of praise with which the “Book of Praises” ends. “Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever,” is the thought which it expands. It is addressed to Israel’s God as the supreme King, whose kingdom is universal and eternal; it celebrates His majesty, greatness, and goodness; His providential care for all His creation; His constant love towards those who love and fear Him. Its most striking feature is its universalism. If Israel begins the chorus of praise (Psalm 145:1) it will not be content until all mankind join in it (Psalm 145:21). Jehovah’s goodness embraces all His creation; and the whole of creation responds with its hymn of praise.
The speaker is Israel; or at any rate the Psalmist so completely identifies himself with the whole nation as to lose sight of the limitations of his own individual personality. The unceasing praise contemplated in Psalm 145:1-4 is that of the nation, in which as one generation passes away, another takes up the strain to hand it on in turn to its successor.
The Psalms of this group (145–150) were evidently composed for liturgical use. They are connected by many similarities of thought and language, and probably belong to the same period. The Maccabaean age, to which Psalms 149 has very commonly been referred, is excluded by the fact that, according to the newly-discovered Hebrew text of Ecclesiasticus (see p. 776), Psalms 147, 148 were known to the author, and must at the latest be older than b.c. 180. The clearest indications of date seem to be furnished by Psalms 147, which may have been written for the Dedication of the walls of Jerusalem under Nehemiah; and allusions in Psalms 146 may also be explained from the circumstances of that period. To this date then the whole group may best be referred. The times of Simon ben Johanan described in Sirach 50 might also be suggested as a possible date, whether Simon I (b.c. 310–291) or Simon II (b.c. 219–199) is meant; but our knowledge of that period is extremely scanty.
For details see the introduction to each Psalm.
This is the only Psalm which bears the title Tehillâh, ‘a Praise,’ from which the Hebrew title of the whole Psalter Tehillîm, ‘Praises’ is derived. It is alphabetic in form, each verse of two lines beginning with a letter of the alphabet in regular order (see Introd. p. lxiv). The verse beginning with Nûn is wanting between Psalm 145:13-14. It may have been omitted by the poet for some special reason, but hardly for that which the Talmud (Berachoth 4 b) assigns, viz. that the ill-omened words of Amos 5:2, “Fallen is the daughter of Israel,” begin with Nûn. More probably it was accidentally lost. A Nûn verse is found in the LXX, but its genuineness is disputed. See notes on Psalm 145:13.
This Psalm has naturally been largely used for liturgical purposes. It is recited twice in the Daily Morning Service and once in the Evening Service of the synagogue. It is said in the Talmud (Berachoth 4 b) that “Whoever repeats it three times a day may be sure that he is a child of the world to come.” It was the Psalm at the midday meal in the ancient Church, and Psalm 145:15-16 form part of the grace which has been used in colleges for centuries. St Chrysostom speaks of the use of it in the Eucharistic service, especially on account of Psalm 145:15 (Bingham, Antiq. Xv. Psalm 145:10). It is one of the Proper Psalms for Whitsunday; and it is especially appropriate for that festival, as celebrating the universality and eternity of the kingdom of God.
David's Psalm of praise. I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever.1. my God, O king] Or, my God the King. He Who is Israel’s God is the absolute, universal King. The phrase has a larger meaning than that of Psalm 5:2, my King and my God.
for ever and ever] Israel is probably the speaker; and Israel as the people of God is immortal (Habakkuk 1:12). Generation after generation (Psalm 145:4) will take up the unending chorus of praise. If it is an individual who speaks, we must suppose, with Delitzsch, that in his devotion to the eternal King he forgets his own mortality. For it is at least doubtful if, even late in the post-exilic period, the doctrine of a personal immortality of conscious and active blessedness was so clearly developed that the words could have been used originally in the sense in which the Christian uses them now. But, as Del. rightly remarks, the divinely implanted impulse of the soul to find its highest delight in the praise of its Creator is in itself a practical argument for a life after death.
1, 2. Cp. Psalm 30:1; Psalm 34:1; Psalm 34:3; and generally the doxology in 1 Chronicles 29:10 ff.
Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever.
Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.3. There can be no worthier object of praise than Jehovah. The verse re-echoes Psalm 48:1 a; Psalm 96:4 a; Job 11:7 ff.; Isaiah 40:28.
greatly to be praised] Better, exceeding worthy to be praised. In most editions of the Prayer Book this verse reads Great is the Lord, and marvellous, worthy to be praised. The comma after marvellous does not appear in the MS annexed as the authoritative copy to the Act of Uniformity of 1662, but was wrongly introduced into the earliest printed copies by the printers, who failed to see that marvellous was an adverb, as in Psalm 31:23.
One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts.4. shall praise] R.V. shall laud, as the word is a different one from that in Psalm 145:2. The verbs might be rendered as optatives: let one generation laud … and declare &c., but the rendering of the A.V. is preferable.
thy mighty acts] of deliverance, Psalm 20:6; Psalm 106:2.
I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works.5. The glorious splendour of thy majesty
And all thy marvellous works shall be my theme.
Splendour, glory, majesty, are the attributes of God as King. Cp. Psalm 145:12; Psalm 21:5; Psalm 104:1; Psalm 96:6.
For the word rendered shall be my theme, lit. I will busy myself with, discourse concerning, see note on Psalm 105:2.
thy wondrous works] The Heb. text reads the matters or details (דִּבְרֵי) of My marvellous works (cp. Psalm 65:3; Psalm 105:27); but the LXX represents a verb (יְדַבֵּרוּ), so that the verse would run, Of the glorious splendour of thy majesty do men talk, and of all thy marvellous works will I discourse. This reading improves the rhythm, and makes the structure of the verse correspond exactly to that of Psalm 145:6. The further alteration of the first person in Psalm 145:5 b, 6 b to the third in the LXX they will discourse … they will declare is unnecessary. Worship in P.B.V. = honour. Cf. Luke 14:10.
And men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts: and I will declare thy greatness.6. Jehovah, Who is “the great, mighty, and terrible God” (Deuteronomy 10:17), manifests Himself not only in ‘mighty acts’ of deliverance (Psalm 145:4), but in ‘terrible acts’ of judgement, which inspire His enemies with terror, and His people with reverence. Cp. Psalm 65:5. Might is a different word from that in Psalm 145:4; Psalm 145:12, and may be rendered strength, to bring out the connexion of the two words with the epithets strong and mighty in Psalm 24:8.
thy greatness] So the Q’rç, as in Psalm 145:3. But the K’thibh, ‘great deeds,’ suits the parallelism better. Cp. 1 Chronicles 17:19; 1 Chronicles 17:11 (R.V.).
They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness.7. They shall abundantly utter] Lit. pour forth as a perpetual stream of praise, as in Psalm 119:171.
thy great goodness] Cp. Psalm 31:19; Isaiah 63:7.
shall joyfully sing of thy righteousness] i.e. God’s faithfulness to His revealed character. Cp. Psalm 143:1, note; Psalm 51:14.
The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.8. Taken almost verbatim from Exodus 34:6, Jehovah’s great revelation of Himself as a God of condescending grace and infinite compassion, Whose Will is love, and Whose wrath is only manifested in the last resort against the hardened and impenitent. Cp. Psalm 103:8; Psalm 86:15; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2; Nehemiah 9:17; Nehemiah 9:31.
of great mercy] Lit. great in lovingkindness.
The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.9. Jehovah is good to all] Not merely, as P.B.V., unto every man, but as the parallelism of the next line shews, to all creation.
tender mercies] Compassions.
All thy works shall praise thee, O LORD; and thy saints shall bless thee.10. All thy works shall give thanks unto thee] Responding to Jehovah’s goodness and compassion. The works of creation are meant, which bear witness to the sovereignty of their Creator by their obedience to His laws, to His goodness by their manifold beauty, to His greatness by their immeasurable vastness and infinite variety.
thy saints] Thy beloved, or, thy godly ones; those who are the objects of Thy lovingkindness, or who reflect Thy character in their own. See Appendix, Note I.
They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power;11. thy power] Thy might, as in Psalm 145:4; Psalm 145:12.
To make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of his kingdom.12. his mighty acts] Somewhat awkwardly, to our ideas, the Psalmist passes from the second person to the third. The LXX removes the difficulty by reading the second person; hence, through the Vulg., the P.B.V. “that thy power, thy glory, and mightiness of thy kingdom might be known unto men.”
Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.13. This verse is found also, in Aramaic, in Daniel 4:3, cp. 34 (Aram. Dan. 3:33, Daniel 4:31).
an everlasting kingdom] Lit. a kingdom of all the ages, past alike and future. With the LXX βασιλεία πάντων τῶν αἰωνων, cp. 1 Timothy 1:17 τῷ βασιλεῖ τῶν αἰώνων, ‘unto the king of the ages.’ See also Psalm 10:16; Psalm 29:10; Exodus 15:18; Jeremiah 10:10.
throughout all generations] In (or over) generation and generation, each successive generation.
The verse beginning with Nûn, which is missing in the Hebrew text, is thus supplied in the LXX and Versions dependent on it, and in the Syr.;
Faithful Is the Lord in [all] his words,
And holy in all his works.
 πιστὸς Κύριος ἐν [πᾶσιν, אc.a RT] τοῖς λόγοις αὐτοῦ, καὶ ὅσιος ἐν πᾶσι τοῖς ἔργοις αὐτοῦ.
The Heb. found in the lower margin of one late Heb. MS נֶאֱמָן יְהֹוָה בְּכָל־דְּבָוָיו וְחָסִיד בְּל־מַעֲשָׂיו is probably only a re-translation from the LXX.
If this verse is genuine, it must have been lost at an early date, for it is not found in any of the later versions. Against its genuineness it is argued that the first line is suggested by the occurrence of the word for ‘faithful’ (nĕ’emân) in the same position in Psalm 111:7 b, and by the language of Deuteronomy 7:9, and that the second line is simply taken from Psalm 145:17. It may however be genuine. It is not likely that the Nûn verse was originally omitted: it was not necessary for the LXX to supply it: and the Psalm contains many imitations and is not free from repetitions.
 The verse is given in Lagarde’s ed. of Jerome’s Version; but it is not found in some good MSS and is obelised in others, and is probably an interpolation from the Vulg. with which it agrees exactly.
The LORD upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down.14. all that fall] Or, all that are falling. But cp. Psalm 37:17; Psalm 37:24.
raiseth up] An Aramaic word, found in the Heb. of the O.T. only here and in Psalm 146:8.
The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season.15. The picture of God as the great householder distributing their portions to all His household is repeated from Psalm 104:27. Cp. Matthew 6:26. The next verse also is based upon Psalm 104:28.
Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.16. satisfiest the desire of every living thing] This rendering probably gives the right sense. Cp. Psalm 104:28, on which it is based, “thou openest thine hand, they are satisfied with good.” Cp. Psalm 145:19. The word rendered desire may however mean the good will, favour of God (Psalm 106:4): hence R.V. marg., satisfiest every living thing with favour.
The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.17. righteous] True to His character. Cp. Psalm 145:7.
holy] So the LXX, ὅσιος, which is used of God in the N.T. in Revelation 15:4; Revelation 16:5. But the word châsîd as applied to God (here and in Jeremiah 3:12 only) means full of lovingkindness, loving. See App., Note I.
The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.18. nigh unto all them that call upon him] To answer and help. Cp. Deuteronomy 4:7; Psalm 34:18; Psalm 119:151.
in truth] The hypocrite finds no favour with Him. Cp. Isaiah 10:20; John 4:23-24.
He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them.19, 20. Fear and love are the inseparable elements of true religion. Fear preserves love from degenerating into presumptuous familiarity: love prevents fear from becoming a servile and cringing dread.
The LORD preserveth all them that love him: but all the wicked will he destroy.20. all the wicked will he destroy] See note on Psalm 143:12. The victory of good must ultimately involve the defeat and destruction of evil.
My mouth shall speak the praise of the LORD: and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever.21. Israel’s own resolution is fixed; but nothing less can satisfy its aspirations than a universal and unending chorus of praise from all mankind, evoked by the revelation of His absolute and perfect holiness.