Verse 1. - Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands; literally, all the earth - an invitation to the whole world to join in the joy of Israel, wherein they too are interested (comp. Psalm 60:2, 5).
Sing forth the honour of his name: make his praise glorious.
Verse 2. - Sing forth the honour of his Name; rather, the glory of his Name. Make his praise glorious; or, recognize his glory in your praise of him; i.e. do not merely thank him for his kindness to you personally, but magnify him for his greatness and majesty.
Say unto God, How terrible art thou in thy works! through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies submit themselves unto thee.
Verse 3. - Say unto God, How terrible art thou in thy works! rather, How terrible are thy works! God's deliverances, while rejoicing the persecuted, are "terrible" to the persecutors. Through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies submit themselves unto thee. God's enemies, compelled against their will, have to submit themselves, but it is a feigned submission (comp. Psalm 76:12).
All the earth shall worship thee, and shall sing unto thee; they shall sing to thy name. Selah.
Verse 4. - All the earth shall worship thee, and shall sing unto thee; they shall sing to thy Name (see above, ver. 1, and compare the passages quoted in the comment ad loc.). Dr. Kay notes that "the universality of the Church is clearly contemplated" in all the psalms from Psalm 65 to Psalm 68.
Come and see the works of God: he is terrible in his doing toward the children of men.
Verse 5. - Come and see the works of God. Contemplate, i.e., the terrible "works of God," spoken of in ver. 3. See how, to save his people, he has to smite their enemies. Truly, on such occasions, he is terrible in his doing toward the children of men (compare the next verse for an example).
He turned the sea into dry land: they went through the flood on foot: there did we rejoice in him.
Verse 6. - He turned the sea into dry land: they went through the flood on foot; there did we rejoice in him. The passage of the Red Sea at the time of the Exodus was one of the most wonderful of God's works. To the Israelites it was altogether a matter of joy and rejoicing (see Exodus 15:1-21). But how terrible a thing was it to the Egyptians! "The waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them" (Exodus 14:28).
He ruleth by his power for ever; his eyes behold the nations: let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah.
Verse 7. - He ruleth by his power forever; his eyes behold (or, observe) the nations. God keeps perpetual watch upon the heathen nations, whose general attitude is that of hostility to his "peculiar people," lest his people should suffer at their hands. Although they may professedly be submissive (ver. 3), their submission is not to be depended on. Let not the rebellious exalt themselves. At any time rebellion may break out, his people be attacked, and "the nations" endeavour to "exalt themselves." All such attempts, however, will be in vain, since "by his power God ruleth forever."
O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard:
Verses 8-15. - Here we reach the heart of the psalm. The people are called upon to praise God for a recent deliverance from a long period of severe affliction and oppression at the hand of enemies (vers. 8-12), and to join in the sacrifices which are about to be offered to God in payment of the vows made during the time of trouble (vers. 13-15). As the writer ascribes to himself both the making of the vows and the offering of the sacrifices, he must have been the leader of the nation at the time of the oppression and of the deliverance. Verse 8. - O bless our God, ye people; literally, ye peoples - but the plural form here can scarcely point to the "nations," who have just been called, not 'ammim, but goim (see ver. 7). And make the voice of his praise to be heard (comp. Psalm 33:3; cf. 5). The heartiness of the soul's devotion was made apparent by the loudness of the voice.
Which holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved.
Verse 9. - Which holdeth our soul in life; rather, which setteth (or, hath set) our soul in life - implying a previous condition of great danger. And suffereth not our feet to be moved. In allusion, perhaps, to a threatened captivity.
For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried.
Verse 10. - For thou, O God, hast proved us. The calamity bad been sent as a trial, to prove and purify (comp. Psalm 7:9; Psalm 11:5). Thou hast tried us, as silver is tried (comp. Psalm 12:6; Proverbs 17:3; Proverbs 25:4; Isaiah 1:22, 25; Isaiah 48:10; Zechariah 13:9; Malachi 3:3). Silver, according to ancient methods, required a prolonged process of refining before it could be pronounced pure. The calamity under which Israel had suffered had been of long duration.
Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidst affliction upon our loins.
Verse 11. - Thou broughtest us into the net. Professor Cheyne translates "into the dungeon." But m'tsudah has nowhere else this meaning. It is always either "a net" or "a stronghold." Thou laidst affliction upon oar loins; or, a sore burden (Revised Version). The meaning is, "Thou crushedst us down under a heavy weight of oppression."
Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.
Verse 12. - Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads. See the Egyptian and Assyrian sculptures passim, where the king in his chariot gallops over the bodies of his dead and wounded enemies. We went through fire and through water; i.e. through dangers of every kind - a proverbial expression (comp. Isaiah 43:2). But thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place; or, "a place of refreshment" (εἰς ἀναψυχήν, LXX.). Dr. Kay renders, "a place of rich comfort;" Professor Cheyne, "a place of liberty" (comp. Psalm 23:4 and Jeremiah 31:25).
I will go into thy house with burnt offerings: I will pay thee my vows,
Verse 13. - I will go into thy house with burnt offerings; I will pay thee my vows. In the old world the strict performance of vows was always held to be one of the main obligations of religion. A vow was of the nature of a compact with God, and to break it was an act of flagrant dishonesty, from which men shrank. The Mosaic Law sanctioned vows of various kinds, as the vowing of children to the service of God (Leviticus 27:1-8; 1 Samuel 1:11); the vow of the Nazarite (Numbers 6:2-21); and vows of clean or unclean animals (Leviticus 27:9-13, 27-29), etc. Clean animals, when vowed, must be either redeemed or sacrificed. The importance of performing vows is borne frequent witness to by the psalmists (see Psalm 22:25; Psalm 50:14; Psalm 56:12; Psalm 61:8; Psalm 65:1; Psalm 116:14, 18; Psalm 132:2).
Which my lips have uttered, and my mouth hath spoken, when I was in trouble.
Verse 14. - Which my lips have uttered, and my mouth hath spoken, when I was in trouble. Vows were commonly made in a time of trouble, or, at any rate, of difficulty (see Judges 11:30, 31; 1 Samuel 1:11).
I will offer unto thee burnt sacrifices of fatlings, with the incense of rams; I will offer bullocks with goats. Selah.
Verse 15. - I will offer unto thee burnt sacrifices of fatlings; i.e. of fatted beasts (comp. 1 Samuel 15:9; 2 Samuel 6:13; Ezekiel 39:18). With the incense of rams; i.e. the smoke, or savoury odour of rams. I will offer bullocks with goats; literally, I will prepare - i.e, dress for sacrifice (see 1 Kings 18:23, 26).
Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.
Verses 16-20. - In conclusion, the psalmist calls on all pious Israelites to "hearken," while he explains to them how it is that his prayers and vows have been so effectual. It has been because his prayers and vows proceeded from a sincere and honest heart, one which was free from "iniquity" (ver. 18). As Hengstenberg points out, this portion of the psalm is didactic, and inculcates the lesson "that there is no way of salvation except that of well doing." God, by answering the psalmist's prayer, and giving the deliverance for which he had entreated, had set his testimony to the fact of the psalmist's integrity (vers. 19, 20). Verse 16. - Come and hear, all ye that fear God. The address is scarcely to all that have any sense of religion anywhere, as Professor Cheyne suggests, but rather to the religious section of his own nation - the "righteous" or "godly" of other psalms. They are invited to draw near, and be received into the psalmist's confidence. And I will declare what he hath done for my soul. What God had done for the psalmist was to give him confidence and assurance. He knew that his prayers would be ineffectual unless his heart was pure. God heard him, and then he became sure that he was free from the "great transgression" (Cheyne).
I cried unto him with my mouth, and he was extolled with my tongue.
Verse 17. - I cried unto him with my mouth, and he was extolled with my tongue; rather, and praise was under my tongue; i.e. I was so confident of being heard that a song of praise was already in my mouth, on the point of bursting forth.
If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:
Verse 18. - If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me. This is the inward conviction of every simple, unsophisticated soul. It is confirmed by numerous passages of Holy Writ (Job 27:9; Job 31:27; Proverbs 15:29; Proverbs 28:9; Isaiah 1:15; Zechariah 7:13; John 9:31, etc.).
But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer.
Verse 19. - But verily God hath heard me. The psalmist's prayer had been answered so unmistakably, so directly, that he could not doubt of the result, which had been brought about, being the consequence of his vows and supplications (vers. 13. 14). He hath attended to the voice of my prayer. Strange as it might seem to be that God had attended to the voice of a man (Job 7:17; Psalm 8:4; Psalm 144:3; James 5:14-18), yet so it was; the psalmist did not and could not doubt it.
Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.
Verse 20. - Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me. The psalm of thanksgiving appropriately concludes with a special blessing of God by the psalmist, who felt that such especial mercy had been shown to himself (vers. 16-20).