Psalm 33:2
Praise the LORD with harp: sing to him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings.
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(2) Harp.—Heb., khinnôr (LXX. and Vulg., “cithara”), most probably a trigon or three-cornered harp, such as may be seen sculptured in Egyptian bas-reliefs. The number of strings probably varied, as different accounts are given. (See Bible Educator, 1:19.)

With the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings.—Properly, as LXX. and Vulg., “with the ten-stringed psaltery.” (See 1Samuel 10:5.) Evidently a more elaborate instrument than the khinnôr, and with greater capacities. (See Bible Educator, 1:70, and art. “Psaltery” in Smith’s Biblical Dictionary.) From the Greek psalterion comes the title “psalter” for the Book of Psalms. By its derivation it meant an instrument played with the fingers. The word was in use in old English:

“And before hem went minstrels many one,

As harpes, pipes, lutes, and sautry.”

CHAUCER: The Flower and the Leaf, 237.

Psalm 33:2-3. Praise the Lord with the harp, &c. — He mentions these instruments, because they were used in the public worship of God in the tabernacle. Sing unto him a new song — Either, 1st, A song newly composed: as if he had said, As God gives you fresh occasions to praise him, so do not content yourselves with the old songs or psalms made by former holy men of God, but make new ones suited to these occasions. Or, 2d, Songs renewed, or repeated and continued from day to day.33:1-11 Holy joy is the heart and soul of praise, and that is here pressed upon the righteous. Thankful praise is the breath and language of holy joy. Religious songs are proper expressions of thankful praise. Every endowment we possess, should be employed with all our skill and earnestness in God's service. His promises are all wise and good. His word is right, and therefore we are only in the right when we agree with it. His works are all done in truth. He is the righteous Lord, therefore loveth righteousness. What a pity it is that this earth, which is so full of the proofs and instances of God's goodness, should be so empty of his praises; and that of the multitudes who live upon his bounty, there are so few who live to his glory! What the Lord does, he does to purpose; it stands fast. He overrules all the counsels of men, and makes them serve his counsels; even that is fulfilled, which to us is most surprising, the eternal counsel of God, nor can any thing prevent its coming to pass.Praise the Lord with harp - For a description of the "harp," see the notes at Isaiah 5:12.

Sing unto him with the psaltery - For the meaning of this word, also, see the notes at Isaiah 5:12, where the word is rendered "viol."

And an instrument of ten strings - The word "and" is supplied here by the translators as if, in this place, a third instrument was referred to, distinct from the harp and the psaltery. The more correct rendering, however, would be, "a psaltery (or lyre) of ten strings." The same construction occurs in Psalm 144:9. In Psalm 92:3, however, the two words are separately used as denoting different instruments. The "lyre" or psaltery was probably not always made with the same number of strings, and it would seem that the one that was made of "ten" strings had something special about it as an instrument of uncommon sweetness or power. Hence, it is particularly designated here; and the idea is that the instruments of especial power and sweetness should be on this occasion employed in the service of God.


Ps 33:1-22. A call to lively and joyous praise to God for His glorious attributes and works, as displayed in creation, and His general and special providence, in view of which, the Psalmist, for all the pious, professes trust and joy and invokes God's mercy.

1-3. The sentiment falls in with Ps 32:11 (compare 1Co 14:15). The instruments (Ps 92:3; 144:9) do not exclude the voice.

He mentions these instruments, because they were used in the public worship and praises of God in the tabernacle. Praise the Lord with harp,.... An instrument David was well skilled in the use of, the inventor of which was Jubal, Genesis 4:21;

sing unto, him with the psaltery; the name of this instrument is in the Hebrew language "nebel": the account which Josephus (w) gives of this, and of the former, is,

"the harp is extended with ten strings, and is plucked with a quill; the "nabla", or psaltery, has twelve sounds, and is played upon with the fingers;''

some make this and the next to be the same:

and an instrument of ten strings; and read them together thus, "with the psaltery of ten strings": and so the Targum, Septuagint, and other versions (x): but it seems from Josephus that it was not a stringed instrument, but had holes, and those twelve; and besides it is distinguished from the instrument of ten strings, Psalm 92:3; it was in the form of a bottle, from whence it had its name.

(w) Antiqu. l. 7. c. 12. s. 3.((x) Vid. Jarchium in loc. & R. Mosem in Aben Ezra in loc.

Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an {b} instrument of ten strings.

(b) To sing on instruments, was a part of the ceremonial service of the temple, which does not belong to us any more than the sacrifices, censors and light.

2. Give thanks unto the Lord with harp:

Sing praises unto him with the psaltery of ten strings (R.V.).

The harp and psaltery were both stringed instruments, differing somewhat in form.Verse 2. - Praise the Lord with harp. The harp obtains mention here for the first time in the Psalms. Reference, however, had been made to it previously in Genesis, Job, and the First Book of Samuel. There is reason to believe that the instrument, as known to the Hebrews, was a simple one, consisting of a nearly triangular framework of wood, crossed by seven strings. The Egyptians were acquainted from early times with a very much more elaborate instrument - harps which stood six feet high upon a broad base of their own, and had as many as twenty-two strings (Rawlinson, 'History of Ancient Egypt,' vol. 1. p. 521). The harp was regarded by the Hebrews as peculiarly fitted for sacred music (see 1 Samuel 10:5; 2 Samuel 6:5; 1 Chronicles 15:16; 1 Chronicles 25:1, 3, 6; 2 Chronicles 5:12; 2 Chronicles 29:25; Nehemiah 12:27, etc.). Sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings; rather, sing unto him with the lute of ten strings. One instrument only is here mentioned - a lute or psaltery (nebel), having ten strings (comp. Psalm 92:3; Psalm 144:9). The nebel was an instrument differing from the harp chiefly in the arrangement of the strings. It was used in the temple service, as appears from 1 Chronicles 15:6, 28; 1 Chronicles 25:1, 6; 2 Chronicles 5:12; 2 Chronicles 29:25, etc. For this mercy, which is provided for every sinner who repents and confesses his sin, let then, every חסיד, who longs for חסד, turn in prayer to Jahve לעת מצא, at the time (Psalm 21:10; 1 Chronicles 12:22; cf. בּעת, Isaiah 49:8) when He, and His mercy, is to be found (cf. Deuteronomy 4:29 with Jeremiah 29:13; Isaiah 55:6, בּהמּצאו). This hortatory wish is followed by a promissory assurance. The fact of לשׁטף מים רבּים being virtually a protasis: quam inundant aquae magnae (ל of the time), which separates רק from אליו, prohibits our regarding רק as belonging to אליו in this instance, although like אף, אך, גּם, and פּן, רק is also placed per hypallage at the head of the clause (as in Proverbs 13:10 : with pride there is only contention), even when belonging to a part of the clause that follows further on. The restrictive meaning of רק here, as is frequently the case (Deuteronomy 4:6; Judges 14:16; 1 Kings 21:25, cf. Psalm 91:8), has passed over to the affirmative: certo quum, etc. Inundation or flooding is an exemplificative description of the divine judgment (cf. Nahum 1:8); Psalm 32:6 is a brief form of expressing the promise which is expanded in Psalm 91. In Psalm 32:7, David confirms it from his own experience. The assonance in מצּר תּצּרני (Thou wilt preserve me, so that צר, angustum equals angustiae, does not come upon me, Psalm 119:143) is not undesigned; and after תצרני comes רני, just like כלו after בהיכלו in Psalm 29:9. There is no sufficient ground for setting aside רני, with Houbigant and others, as a repetition of the half of the word תצרני. The infinitive רן (Job 38:7) might, like רב, plur. רבּי, חק, plur. חקּי, with equal right be inflected as a substantive; and פּלּט (as in Psalm 56:8), which is likewise treated as a substantive, cf. נפּץ, Daniel 12:7, presents, as a genitive, no more difficulty than does דעת in the expression אישׁ דּעת. With songs of deliverance doth Jahve surround him, so that they encompass him on all sides, and on occasion of exulting meets him in whatever direction he turns. The music here again for the third time becomes forte, and that to express the highest feeling of delight.
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