Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
This alphabetical psalm recalls in many expressions and phrases the thoughts and feelings of older songs. It has been identified with the “New Song” promised in Psalm 144:9. Possibly some thought of the kind may have led to its following it. The song, though abounding in familiar psalm expressions, deserves the claim of originality from the insistance of its conviction of the Divine love and pity and care for all the world and all creatures.
The acrostic arrangement is incomplete (see Note, Psalm 145:13), thus supplying only twenty-one instead of twenty-two stanzas. The parallelism is well sustained.
Title.—This is the only psalm inscribed tehillah, though the whole collection is, in Hebrew, called Tehillîm, or Tillîm. (See General Introduction.) It is possibly from Psalm 145:21; or perhaps this distinction is due to the early rise of the custom of repeating it daily at the noonday repast. So it would be called “Praise,” just as we speak of “the grace” before and after meat.
David's Psalm of praise. I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever.(1) The psalm opens with familiar psalm strains. (Comp. openings of Psalms 30, 34)
For ever and ever.—In contemplation of the greatness and majesty of God time ceases to be. The poet vows a homage indefinitely prolonged.
Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.(3) Greatly to be praised.—See Psalm 18:3 and comp. Psalm 48:1.
One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts.(4) Shall praise.—Or, praises, with idea of indefinite continuance; and so in the following verses.
I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works.(5) I will speak.—Or, perhaps, sing. The verb is often rendered meditate (Psalm 77:12; Psalm 119:15, &c.):
And men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts: and I will declare thy greatness.(6) Thy greatness.—Or, according to the written text, greatnesses. So Aquila and Jerome. The parallelism is decidedly in favour of the plural.
They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness.(7) Abundantly utter.—Literally, pour forth in a stream, as in Psalm 19:2; Psalm 78:2.
The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.(8) Comp. Psalm 86:15; Psalm 103:8; Psalm 111:4.
The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.(9, 10) All.—This wide outlook over the world as the object, with all that it contains, of the Divine pity and love, is a noble anticipation of our Lord’s teaching in the Sermon on the Mount and is introduced in a similar manner. Just as the subjects of the kingdom of heaven should exceed the heathen in kindness and goodness, because they know the universal and impartial grace of the Father, so here the saints, the members of the covenant, are to bless Jehovah, who shows them peculiar favour, but also lets His tender mercies flow in an unchecked stream over all His works. All Jehovah’s works confess Him, but His saints bless Him.
They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power;(11, 12) It is the privilege of the saints to impress the less favoured natures with the glory of the Divine kingdom, which the theocratic relation has displayed in and to them.
To make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of his kingdom.(12) To make.—Or, by making known.
Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.(13) See margin, and comp. Daniel 4:3; Daniel 4:34. But it is not necessary to see any dependence between the passages because of the recurrence of phrases which must have been of daily use in the theocracy.
The nun stanza, which should come after Psalm 145:13, has most probably dropped away. The LXX. and Vulg., Syriac, and Ethiopic have here a variation of Psalm 145:17, which would, in Hebrew, give a verse beginning with the required letter; but it is unknown to the other ancient versions, is rejected by the Jewish writers, and, though found in one Hebrew MS., is apparently suspicious there. But these arguments can hardly weigh against the improbability that, in an artificial composition, one letter (and that an easy one for the purpose) should have been either purposely or accidentally omitted in the original draft, especially when we reflect how extremely unlikely it was that the LXX. should trouble themselves to supply a verse in order to keep up an arrangement of which they took no other notice, perhaps even hardly observed it.
The LORD upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down.(14) The Lord.—Comp. Psalm 37:24. It marks a grand step in theology when the first instance of majesty of the Divine Being is sought in His condescension to human weakness and pity for frailty and want. The heathen had seen that this was king-like—
“Regia (crede mihi) res est succurrere lapsis.”
OVID: Ep. de Ponto 11., 9, 11.
But they had hardly seen that it was also god-like.
For “raiseth” and “bowed down,” see Psalm 146:8.
The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season.(15, 16) These verses are adapted from Psalm 104:27-28
The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.(18) The Lord is nigh . . .
Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet.”
TENNYSON: Higher Pantheism.
The LORD preserveth all them that love him: but all the wicked will he destroy.(20) Preserveth . . . destroy.—Notice this recurrent thought, that the guardianship of the good implies the destruction of the wicked.
My mouth shall speak the praise of the LORD: and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever.(21) Holy name.—As in Psalm 33:21; Psalm 103:1; Psalm 105:3.