Psalm 149:3
Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises to him with the tambourine and harp.
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(3) In the dance.—Rather, as margin, with the pipe. The use of the word machôl in what was evidently a list of all the orchestral instruments used in the Temple in the next psalm, would alone be almost decisive of the meaning. But one possible derivation is certainly in favour of this rendering, as also the translation in the Syriac version by the name of a flute still found in Syria. Its connection, too, with the timbrel or drum (comp. our pipe and tabor), just as a cognate, chalîl, is connected in 1Samuel 10:5; Isaiah 5:12, points the same way. (See Bible Educator, i. p. 70, and Note to Song of Solomon 6:13.)

Timbrel.—See Exodus 15:20; Bible Educator, i. 314.

Harp.—See Psalm 33:2.

149:1-5 New mercies continually demand new songs of praise, upon earth and in heaven. And the children of Zion have not only to bless the God who made them, but to rejoice in him, as having created them in Christ Jesus unto good works, and formed them saints as well as men. The Lord takes pleasure in his people; they should rejoice in Him. When the Lord has made sinners feel their wants and unworthiness, he will adorn them with the graces of his Spirit, and cause them to bear his image, and rejoice in his happiness for ever. Let his saints employ their waking hours upon their beds in songs of praise. Let them rejoice, even upon the bed of death, assured that they are going to eternal rest and glory.Let them praise his name in the dance - Margin, with the pipe. The Hebrew word here - מחול mâchôl - is rendered dancing in Psalm 30:11; dance, as here, Psalm 150:4 (where also the margin has pipe); Jeremiah 31:13; Lamentations 5:15; dances, Jeremiah 31:4. It does not elsewhere occur. On the verb חול chûl, see Psalm 10:5, note; Psalm 51:5, note. Here it cannot be improper to regard it as referring to that measured tread, or solemn movement which sometimes constituted a part of worship: 2 Samuel 6:14. Such a movement cannot be proved to be wrong in worship; whether it is wise or expedient is a different matter. Customs in worship change as the customs of a people change; and that might be very proper in one stage of society, or in one period of the world, which, though not in itself wrong, might be very unadvisable in another. There was much in the Hebrew mode of worship which cannot be transferred to the forms of Christian worship without an obvious incongruity and disadvantage; and because a thing has been done, and is not in itself wrong, we should not infer that it should always be done, or that it would be always best. If people like the Shakers dance in worship, they have an undoubted right to do so, and it may be the most edifying mode of worship for them with their low notions of religion; let not others ridicule them; nor let others go to see them as they would any other "outr'e" performance from idle curiosity. Such absurdities might soon die away if they were not kept alive by the notice which they attract, and by the foolish curiosity of wiser people. There are some things which are more certain to come to an end by neglect than they could by sober argument; some things which live merely because they are ridiculed, and because they who practice them are exalted into conspicuity by their own folly, and by the idea that they are martyrs.

Let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp - On these instruments, see the notes at Isaiah 5:12; notes at Job 21:12; notes at Psalm 68:25; notes at Psalm 81:2.

3. in the dance—(Ps 30:11). The dance is connected with other terms, expressive of the great joy of the occasion. The word may be rendered "lute," to which the other instruments are joined.

sing praises—or, sing and play.

According to the usage of that time and dispensation. Let them praise his name in the dance,.... In a chorus of saints, joining together in their expressions of joy, by words and gestures; an ancient practice that went along with singing praises, Exodus 15:20; or rather, "with the pipe" (k), as some render it; a musical instrument used in former times in the worship of God, in this part of it, praising his name, with those that follow;

let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp; the former of these was a vessel of brass, a drum or tabret, on which they beat, perhaps like one of our kettle drums; the other was a stringed instrument of music much used, and in playing on which David was very skilful: the music of these was typical of the spiritual melody made in the heart to the Lord in singing his praises, to which there are allusions in Gospel times; though the instruments themselves are now laid aside, being only suited to the church in her infant state, when under tutors and governors; see Psalm 68:25.

(k) "cum tibia", Tigurine version, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Amama.

Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.
3. in the dance] This, and not pipe (A.V. marg.), is the right rendering here and in Psalm 150:4. Dancing was a natural expression of joy among the Jews as among other nations of antiquity, in all periods of their history, on occasions of religious as well as secular festivity. Cp. Exodus 15:20; Jdg 11:34; 2 Samuel 6:14; Jeremiah 31:4; and for a description of the torch-dance, which formed part of the festivities of the Feast of Tabernacles in the later post-exilic period, see Delitzsch in the Expositor, 1886 (2), pp. 81 ff.; Hastings’ Dict. of Bible, 1. 550. Even the leading men of the city and famous teachers joined in it, and it was a current proverb that he who had not seen this joy had not seen any joy in his life.

timbrel] The tambourine, or hand drum, frequently mentioned in connexion with dances and processions (Psalm 68:25).Verse 3. - Let them praise his Name in the dance (comp. Psalm 150:4). (On the employment of dancing by the Hebrews as a religious exercise, and in their most solemn acts of worship, see Exodus 15:20; 2 Samuel 6:14-160. Let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp. (On the toph, or "timbrel," see the comment upon Psalm 68:25). It was used to accompany a hymn of rejoicing by Miriam (Exodus 15:20), by Jephthah's daughter (Judges 11:34), and by David (2 Samuel 6:5). The call to the praise of Jahve is now turned, in the second group of verses, to the earth and everything belonging to it in the widest extent. Here too מן־הארץ, like מן־השּׁמים, Psalm 148:1, is intended of the place whence the praise is to resound, and not according to Psalm 10:18 of earthly beings. The call is addressed in the first instance to the sea-monsters or dragons (Psalm 74:13), i.e., as Pindar (Nem. iii. 23f.) expresses it, θῆρας ἐν πελάγεΐ ὑπερο'χους, and to the surging mass of waters (תּהמות) above and within the earth. Then to four phenomena of nature, coming down from heaven and ascending heavenwards, which are so arranged in Psalm 148:8, after the model of the chiasmus (crosswise position), that fire and smoke (קטור), more especially of the mountains (Exodus 19:18), hail and snow stand in reciprocal relation; and to the storm-wind (רוּח סערה, an appositional construction, as in Psalm 107:25), which, beside a seeming freeness and untractableness, performs God's word. What is said of this last applies also to the fire, etc.; all these phenomena of nature are messengers and servants of God, Psalm 104:4, cf. Psalm 103:20. When the poet wishes that they all may join in concert with the rest of the creatures to the praise of God, he excepts the fact that they frequently become destructive powers executing judicial punishment, and only has before his mind their (more especially to the inhabitant of Palestine, to whom the opportunity of seeing hail, snow, and ice was more rare than with us, imposing) grandeur and their relatedness to the whole of creation, which is destined to glorify God and to be itself glorified. He next passes over to the mountains towering towards the skies and to all the heights of earth; to the fruit-trees, and to the cedars, the kings among the trees of the forest; to the wild beasts, which are called חחיּה because they represent the most active and powerful life in the animal world, and to all quadrupeds, which, more particularly the four-footed domestic animals, are called בּהמה; to the creeping things (רמשׂ) which cleave to the ground as they move along; and to the birds, which are named with the descriptive epithet winged (צפּור כּנף as in Deuteronomy 4:17, cf. Genesis 7:14; Ezekiel 39:17, instead of עוף כּנף, Genesis 1:21). And just as the call in Psalm 103 finds its centre of gravity, so to speak, at last in the soul of man, so here it is addressed finally to humanity, and that, because mankind lives in nations and is comprehended under the law of a state commonwealth, in the first instance to its heads: the kings of the earth, i.e., those who rule over the earth by countries, to the princes and all who have the administration of justice and are possessed of supreme power on the earth, then to men of both sexes and of every age.

All the beings mentioned from Psalm 148:1 onwards are to praise the Name of Jahve; for His Name, He (the God of this Name) alone (Isaiah 2:11; Psalm 72:18) is נשׂגּב, so high that no name reaches up to Him, not even from afar; His glory (His glorious self-attestation) extends over earth and heaven (vid., Psalm 8:2). כּי, without our being able and obliged to decide which, introduces the matter and the ground of the praise; and the fact that the desire of the poet comprehends in יהללוּ all the beings mentioned is seen from his saying "earth and heaven," as he glances back from the nearer things mentioned to those mentioned farther off (cf. Genesis 2:4). In Psalm 148:14 the statement of the object and of the ground of the praise is continued. The motive from which the call to all creatures to Hallelujah proceeds, viz., the new mercy which God has shown towards His people, is also the final ground of the Hallelujah which is to sound forth; for the church of God on earth is the central-point of the universe, the aim of the history of the world, and the glorifying of this church is the turning-point for the transformation of the world. It is not to be rendered: He hath exalted the horn of His people, any more than in Psalm 132:17 : I will make the horn of David to shoot forth. The horn in both instances is one such as the person named does not already possess, but which is given him (different from Psalm 89:18, Psalm 89:25; Psalm 92:11, and frequently). The Israel of the Exile had lost its horn, i.e., its comeliness and its defensive and offensive power. God has now given it a horn again, and that a high one, i.e., has helped Israel to attain again an independence among the nations that commands respect. In Psalm 132, where the horn is an object of the promise, we might directly understand by it the Branch (Zemach). Here, where the poet speaks out of his own present age, this is at least not the meaning which he associates with the words. What now follows is an apposition to ויּרם קרן לעמּו: He has raised up a horn for His people - praise (we say: to the praise of; cf. the New Testament εἰς ἔπαινον) to all His saints, the children of Israel, the people who stand near Him. Others, as Hengstenberg, take תּהלּה as a second object, but we cannot say הרים תּהלּה. Israel is called עם קרבו, the people of His near equals of His nearness or vicinity (Kster), as Jerusalem is called in Ecclesiastes 8:10 מקום קדושׁ instead of קדשׁ מקום (Ew. 287, a, b). It might also be said, according to Leviticus 10:3, עם קרביו, the nation of those who are near to Him (as the Targum renders it). In both instances עם is the governing noun, as, too, surely גּבר is in גּבר עמיתי ni, Zechariah 13:7, which need not signify, by going back to the abstract primary signification of עמית, a man of my near fellowship, but can also signify a man of my neighbour, i.e., my nearest man, according to Ew. loc. cit. (cf. above on Psalm 145:10). As a rule, the principal form of עם is pointed עם; and it is all the more unnecessary, with Olshausen and Hupfeld, to take the construction as adjectival for עם קרוב לו. It might, with Hitzig after Aben-Ezra, be more readily regarded as appositional (to a people, His near, i.e., standing near to Him). We have here an example of the genitival subordination, which is very extensive in Hebrew, instead of an appositional co-ordination: populo propinqui sui, in connection with which propinqui may be referred back to propinquum equals propinquitas, but also to propinquus (literally: a people of the kind of one that is near to Him). Thus is Israel styled in Deuteronomy 4:7. In the consciousness of the dignity which lies in this name, the nation of the God of the history of salvation comes forward in this Psalm as the leader (choragus) of all creatures, and strikes up a Hallelujah that is to be followed by heaven and earth.

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