Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
David’s Psalm of Praise
I will extol thee, my God, O King;
And I will bless thy name for ever and ever.
2 Every day will I bless thee;
And I will praise thy name for ever and ever.
3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
And his greatness is unsearchable.
4 One generation shall praise thy works to another,
And shall declare thy mighty acts.
5 I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty,
And of thy wondrous works.
6 And men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts:
And I will declare thy greatness.
7 They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness,
And shall sing of thy righteousness.
8 The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion;
Slow to anger, and of great mercy.
9 The LORD is good to all:
And his tender mercies are over all his works
10 All thy works shall praise thee, O LORD;
And thy saints shall bless thee.
11 They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom,
And talk of thy power;
12 To make known to the sons of men his mighty acts,
And the glorious majesty of his kingdom.
13 Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.
14 The LORD upholdeth all that fall,
And raiseth up all those that be bowed down.
15 The eyes of all wait upon thee;
And thou givest them their meat in due season.
16 Thou openest thine hand,
And satisfiest the desire of every living thing.
17 The LORD is righteous in all his ways,
And holy in all his works.
18 The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him,
To all that call upon him in truth.
19 He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him:
He also will hear their cry, and will save them.
20 The LORD preserveth all them that love him:
But all the wicked will he destroy.
21 My mouth shall speak the praise of the LORD:
And let all flesh bless his holy name
For ever and ever.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
CONTENTS AND COMPOSITION.—It is only in this Psalm that the word tehilla occurs in the superscription as indicating the character of the poem itself. It is probably taken from Psalm 145:21. The plural of the same word is used to denote the whole Psalm-collection. The contents of this Psalm are admirably described by this word, for it is taken up exclusively with God’s praise The Psalmist (Psalm 145:1, 2) engages to praise Him for all time to come and unceasingly, even into eternity, on account (Psalm 145:3–7) of His greatness which is unsearchable, but is displayed in glorious deeds of power and wondrous working, and is worthy of the eternal remembrance and unbounded praise of all generations of men. His goodness, (Psalm 145:8–13), is as glorious and all-embracing as His kingdom; therefore all that need turn with trustfulness to Him and He will never disappoint them (Psalm 145:14–16). In order to experience that goodness, man need only forsake the wicked, and unite with those who fear God (Psalm 145:17–20). The conclusion (Psalm 145:21) turns back to the opening, but with an enlarged view.
The strophical structure, like the progress of thought, is rather irregular. This is possibly due to the acrostic character of the poem, the first letters of the verses following the order of the Hebrew alphabet. Nun only is absent; for what reason does not appear. The Sept., it is true, followed by the derived translations, inserts between Psalm 145:13 and 14, a verse: Jehovah is faithful in all His words, and gracious1 in all His works, the latter half being the same as that of Psalm 145:17. But neither Aquila nor Symmachus gives it, and neither Origen nor Jerome has it in his Heb. Text. Only a single Heb. manuscript has it (Cod. Kennicott 142), and that on the lower margin, at the bottom of the page. The Chald. and the Jewish interpreters reject it, and a scholium of the Cod. Vat. of the Sept. characterizes it as spurious. It ought scarcely therefore to be regarded as having fallen out (Grotius, Ewald); and it is still less probable that Ps. 141:6 belonged originally to this passage (Hitzig).
The Ancient Church employed this Psalm at the mid-day-meal, and Psalm 145:15 at the Passover. The Talmud assures us (Berachoth 4 b), that every one who repeats this Psalm three times daily, may be satisfied that he is a child of the future world. The Gemara adduces in support of this the curious reason, that it is not only written in alphabetical order, like Ps. 119. and others, and not only praises the Divine care over all creatures, like Ps. 136:25, but combines both these important characteristics in itself (Del.).—In this Psalm the mode of presenting the thoughts is pleasing, the language easy and transparent, recalling in many expressions and phrases familiar passages in the Psalms. It cannot be definitely determined which are the earlier, or whether any were borrowed from any others. Psalm 145:13 agrees just as closely with Dan. 3:33; 4:31. But this does not justify the conclusion that the latter are the original passages, and that our Psalm belongs to the age of the Maccabees (Hitzig).
[ALEXANDER: “This has been happily characterized as the ‘new song,’ promised in Ps. 144:9. In other words, it is the song of praise, corresponding to the didactic, penitential, and supplicatory Psalms of this series. In form it is an alphabetical Psalm, and, like others of this class, admits of no analysis, being made up of variations on a single theme, the righteousness and goodness of God to men in general, to His own people in particular, and more especially to those that suffer.”—J. F. M.]
Psalm 145:1–7. My God, oh King!—This combination of the words elohai hammelech (the latter as in Pss. 20:10; 98:6; the former as in Ps. 143:10, with ו written fully), is rather harsh, in place of the usual expression: my King and my God (Pss. 5:3; 84:4). God’s right of pre-eminence is, at all events, set forth in forcible terms, first in connection with the exaltation and majesty of the Highest, as afterwards in relation to their extent and duration God’s greatness is exhibited also in 1 Chr. 29:11, and its unsearchableness in Is. 40:28; Job 11:7. [DELITZSCH: “The thought of the mute shades of the departed, which elsewhere intrudes itself, as in Ps. 6:6, when the consciousness of the poet was disturbed by sin, is here entirely banished; for now the poet’s consciousness is the undisturbed mirror of the Divine glory.”—J. F. M.] It may be a matter of dispute whether the דברי, in Psalm 145:5b., denote the wondrous deeds of God (Ps. 105:27), or the words which tell of them, for both may be made the object of thoughtful contemplation and celebration. In Psalm 145:7 the combination רַב-טוב shows that great goodness is not referred to, in the sense of abundant mercy (most), but in the sense of the universal excellence of His attributes, His goodness in every relation.
Psalm 145:8–21. Psalm 145:8 is like Ps. 103:8. Psalm 145:15 f. like Ps. 104:27 f. The concluding part of Psalm 145:16, as Psalm 145:19 and the fundamental passage, Deut. 33:23, show, comp. Acts. 14:17, does not mean that God is well pleased (Septuagint, Isaaki, Luther, Calvin), nor does it refer to His willingness (Hitzig), or blessing (Vulg., Geier), but to the desire, wishing, craving of living creatures (Aben Ezra, Kimchi, and most of the recent expositors). [Translate Psalm 145:17b.: and gracious in all His works.—J. F. M.] The last word of Psalm 145:18b. does not express a contrast to doubt, as in James 1:6, so that the translation should be: in faith, believingly (Hitzig), but a contrast to hypocrisy, and thoughtless perfunctoriness in prayer.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
It is easier to promise to praise God unceasingly than it is to fulfil that promise; for there come evil times, when some do not stand the test.—As we know God to be the sum and source of all good, let us ever draw from that fountain ourselves, and direct others to it also.—Every day has its troubles, has it also its prayers?—The blessedness of living in God’s kingdom, under the dominion of the heavenly King.
STARKE: The more a soul knows the greatness of God’s glorious mercy, the more will it be stirred up to praise Him.—If the Holy Spirit does but once enkindle the heart, it will never be satisfied in praising Him, it must praise Him for ever.—The greatness of the King of glory is especially manifested in the compassion which He manifests to sinners, whose consciences tell them that they are guilty of eternal death.—It is an act worthy of severe punishment for a man to limit God’s love and mercy, and wantonly to exclude himself from their influence.—All angels, all saints, yea, all God’s works praise Him their Creator; dost thou, O man, not praise Him too? Thou then art not worthy to be or to be called a work or creature of His.—The extension of Christ’s kingdom through the word of the gospel is a great work of God. Every true Christian should help to advance that work by counsel and deed.—Christ begins His kingdom here on earth in the hearts of believers, and takes them at last into the kingdom of glory, where they shall be ever with the Lord.—Our gracious God fulfils His promise even in regard to bodily afflictions; for He lays no more upon the sufferer than he can bear, and in his afflictions often revives him with the sweetest consolation.—You sometimes distress yourself about temporal sustenance; but what are you in need of? Whither all eyes are directed turn yours too.—We are all beggars before God; we would have nothing, if He did not answer our prayers by giving us food and the necessaries of life.—Our appetite and the relish which we have in our bread and other food is alas! not recognized by most as one of God’s blessings until they are deprived of them.—To know God as near and omnipresent may deter the wicked from sin, but to the pious it is a consolation in all their troubles.—It is much better that God should answer us in a way that will bless us, than according to the will of the flesh. In that case our souls would often suffer harm.—He who sincerely loves God is in awe of Him also, lest he should offend Him by transgressing His commands and forfeit His favor.—Thy mouth should be a living organ to praise God. Woe to those who open their mouths in imprecation and abuse and other sinful words!
FRISCH: A man’s compassion extends only to his neighbor, that of God extends to all.—God does everything in His own time. That time He knows better than thou dost; therefore await it in patience.—RIEGER: How often does our narrow-hearted unbelief prefer to remain under the close pressure of earth, rather than be refreshed by the heart-reviving praise to God that arises from all places of His dominion.—GUENTHER: The heavenly King has the death-judgment and the words of mercy; pray for the latter, so that thou mayst live in His kingdom beneath His sway, and serve Him for ever.—TAUBE: A song of praise whose theme is the glory of the eternal King, His kingdom, and His mode of government.
[MATT. HENRY: If the heart be full of God, out of the abundance of that the mouth will speak with reverence to His praise on all occasions.—No day must pass, though never so busy a day, though never so sorrowful a day, without praising God; we ought to reckon it the most needful of our daily business, the most delightful of our daily comforts. God is every day blessing us, doing well for us, there is therefore reason we should be every day blessing Him, speaking well of Him.—The works of God’s mercy outshine all His other works, and declare Him more than any of them. In nothing will the glory of God be for ever so illustrious, as in the vessels of mercy ordained to glory.—His saints bless Him, for they collect the rent and tribute of praise from the inferior creatures, and pay it into the treasury above. All God’s works praise Him, as the beautiful building praises the builder, or the well-drawn picture praises the painter. But His saints bless Him as the children of prudent, tender parents rise up and call them blessed. Of all God’s works, His saints, the workmanship of His grace, the first-fruits of His creatures have most reason to bless Him.—At the end of one mercy is the beginning of another, so should the end of our thanksgiving be.—BP. HORNE: We see the whole animal world assembled before us, with their eyes fixed on the great King and Father of all, like those of a flock on the shepherd when he enters the field with provender for them. From the same Divine Person as the Saviour of men, as the King, Father, and Pastor of the Church, do believers with earnest expectation wait for the food of eternal life. And neither the one nor the other look and wait in vain.—SCOTT: Those who under troubles and temptations abound in fervent prayer, shall in due season abound in grateful praise, which is the genuine language of holy joy.—J. F. M.]
[It is holy in all His works, in the Sept. Dr. Moll also has an error in his version of Psalm 145:18, where he translates: Jehovah is near to all that fear Him.—J. F. M.]
David's Psalm of praise. I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever.