Praise ye the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul.
Verse 1. - Praise ye the Lord (comp. on Psalm 111:1). Praise the Lord, O my soul (see Psalm 103:1, 2; Psalm 104:1, which only differ in the verb used - "bless" for "praise").
While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.
Verse 2. - While I live will I praise the Lord. Nearly identical with Psalm 104:35a. It is our duty towards God to be always praising him, if not with the lips, at any rate with the heart. I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being. Identical with Psalm 104:33b.
Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.
Verse 3. - Put not your trust in princes (comp. Psalm 118:10). Israel was always apt to trust in bureau rather than Divine help. Now it was Egypt (Isaiah 30:2; Isaiah 36:6), now Assyria (2 Kings 16:7), now their own kings or nobles. At the time of the return from the Captivity, too much was expected from Zerubbabel and the other "princes." Nor in the son of man. The Prayer-book paraphrase, "nor in any child of man," brings out the sense. Confidence in human aid of whatever kind is forbidden. In whom there is no help; or, "that hath no saving power" (שׁוּעה).
His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.
Verse 4. - His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; or, "when his breath goes forth" - i.e., when he breathes his last - "he returns to his earth," i.e. to the earth of which he was made (Genesis 2:7, 19). In that very day his thoughts perish. All his schemes and projects ('eshtonoth, a word not occurring elsewhere) come to an end - are nipped in the bud - perish. So weak is he, and not to be depended on.
Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God:
Verse 5. - Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his Help. "God of Jacob" is a favorite expression in the later psalms, where it almost supersedes the phrase, "God of Israel" (see Psalm 76:6; Psalm 81:1, 4; Psalm 84:8; Psalm 94:7; Psalm 114:7; Psalm 132:2, 5; and the present passage). It is rare in the historical books and in the prophets. Whose hope is in the Lord his God (comp. Psalm 22:9; Psalm 39:7; Psalm 62:5; Psalm 71:5, etc.).
Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever:
Verse 6. - Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is. Who is, therefore, an omnipotent Help, the very opposite of "the son of man, in whom is no help" at all (ver. 3) Which keepeth truth for ever; i.e. who keeps all his promises, and has promised his help to all such as call upon him faithfully (Psalm 145:18).
Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. The LORD looseth the prisoners:
Verse 7. - Which executeth judgment for the oppressed (comp. Psalm 103:6, "The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed"). Israel's history was an ample comment on this text. Which giveth food to the hungry (comp. Psalm 145:15, 16, and the comment ad loc.). The Lord looseth the prisoners. Either captive nations, as Israel; or individuals, as Jeremiah from his dungeon (Jeremiah 37:16, 17), Daniel from the lions' den (Daniel 6:23), Peter from his prison-house (Acts 12:7-10), and the like. Deliverance from the bands of sin may also be intended.
The LORD openeth the eyes of the blind: the LORD raiseth them that are bowed down: the LORD loveth the righteous:
Verse 8. - The Lord openeth the eyes of the blind (comp. Isaiah 35:5). The spiritually blind would seem to be meant, rather than the physically blind, since there is no record of any restoration of physical sight in the Old Testament. The Lord raiseth them that are bowed down (see Psalm 145:14). "Bowed down," i.e., under the hand of oppressors. The Lord loveth the righteous. This lies at the root of all, and shows that the various deliverances spoken of in vers. 7-9 are to be understood as deliverances of the righteous out of their troubles.
The LORD preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down.
Verse 9. - The Lord preserveth the strangers. God's goodness leads him not only to protect the righteous, but also to lend his special help to the weak and afflicted classes. "The stranger, the fatherless, and the widow" are constantly mentioned in the Old Testament as peculiar objects of the Divine care (Exodus 22:21, 22; Leviticus 19:33, 34; Deuteronomy 10:18; Job 29:12; Psalm 82:3; Isaiah 1:28; Jeremiah 7:6, etc.). He relieveth the fatherless and widow; or, "upholdeth" (see the Revised Version). But the way of the wicked he turneth upside down (comp. Psalm 145:20). His merciful protection of his saints leads him to overthrow the goings of the wicked, who are their enemies.
The LORD shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the LORD.
Verse 10. - The Lord shall reign forever (comp. Psalm 10:16; Psalm 145:13). Even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. On the restoration of Israel to its own land, Jehovah becomes emphatically once more "the God of Zion" (see Zechariah 2:10; Zechariah 8:3). And this he remains "to all generations," since the Church of Christ is now the true Zion (Hebrews 12:22). Praise ye the Lord (see ver. 1).