Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
This is also a Psalm of David, and the last of the series in this part of the collection. It is entitled simply, "Of Praise," or, in the Hebrew, "Praise by David," or "Praise of David;" that is, one of David's songs of praise. It is an "alphabetical" psalm; that is, each verse begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The arrangement in this respect is complete, except that the Hebrew letter nun (נ n, "n") is omitted, for which no reason can be assigned, unless it was from a desire that the psalm might consist of three equal parts of seven verses each. In the Septuagint, Syriac, Arabic, Latin Vulgate, and Aethiopic versions, this omission is attempted to be supplied by inserting between Psa 145:13-14 a verse which in Hebrew would begin with the Hebrew letter nun (נ n, "n"), - נאמן, etc.: - "Faithful is the Lord in all his words, and holy in all his works." This is taken from Psa 145:17 of the psalm by the change of a word in the beginning - "faithful" for "righteous," נאמן for צדיק. There is no authority for this, however, in the MSS., and it is evidently an attempt to supply what seemed to be an omission or defect in the composition of the psalm. The verse is not in the Chaldee Paraphrase, or in the version of Aquila and Theodotion; and it is certain that as early as the time of Origen and Jerome it was not in the Hebrew text. The Masorites and the Jewish commentators reject it. The sense is in no way affected by the insertion or omission of this, since the verses of the psalm have no necessary connection in meaning - the composition, as in most of the alphabetical psalms, being made up of independent sentiments suggested in part at least by the necessity of commencing each verse with a particular letter.
The psalm does not admit of any particular analysis, and it is impossible now to ascertain the occasion on which it was written.
I will extol thee ... - I will lift thee up; I will lift up thy name and praise, so that it may be heard afar.
And I will bless thy name forever and ever - I will bless or praise thee. I will do it now; I will do it in all the future. I will do it in time; I will do it in eternity. See the notes at Psa 30:1.
Every day will I bless thee ... - Compare Psa 92:2; Psa 55:17. As we receive blessings from God every day (compare Lam 3:23), it is proper that we should render to him daily thanks; as God is the same always - "yesterday, today, and forever" - it is proper that he should receive from day to day the tribute of praise; as we are daily dependent on him - one day as much as another - our recognition of that dependence should be daily; and as he will always be unchangeably the same, it will be proper that he should be praised forever and ever. Two things are apparent from this verse:
(1) that a truly religious man "will" worship God every day;
(2) that it is the fixed purpose of a truly religious man to continue this forever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised - See Psa 96:4, note; Psa 18:3, note.
And his greatness is unsearchable - See Job 5:9, note; Job 9:10, note; Job 11:7-8, notes.
One generation shall praise thy works ... - Shall praise thee on account of thy works or thy doings. That is, Thy praise shall be always kept up on the earth. See the notes at Isa 38:19; notes at Psa 19:2. One generation shall transmit the knowledge of thy works to another by praise - by hymns and psalms recording and celebrating thy praise. Successive generations of people shall take up the language of praise, and it shall thus be transmitted to the end of time.
And shall declare thy mighty acts - Thy works of strength or power. God's greatness - his infinity - is in itself a just ground of praise, for we should rejoice that there is One Infinite Eternal Being; and as all that greatness is employed in the cause of truth, of law, of good order, of justice, of kindness, of mercy, it should call forth continued praise in all parts of his dominions.
I will speak - That is, in my acts of praise. I will not be ashamed to be known as his worshipper; I will publicly declare my belief in his existence, his greatness, his goodness.
Of the glorious honor of thy majesty - The glory of the honor of thy majesty. This accumulation of epithets shows that the heart of the psalmist was full of the subject, and that he labored to find language to express his emotions. It is beauty; it is glory; it is majesty: it is all that is great, sublime, wonderful - all combined - all concentrated - in one Being.
And of thy wondrous works - Margin, "things," or "words." The reference is to wondrous deeds or acts considered as the subject of discourse or praise.
And men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts - The force, the power of those things done by thee which are suited to inspire fear or reverence. The great power displayed in those acts shall be a ground or reason for celebrating thy praise. The manifestations of that power will so deeply impress the minds of people, that they will be led to speak of them.
And I will declare thy greatness - Hebrew, "And thy greatness, I will declare it." In respect to that, I will recount it, or I will make it known to others.
They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness - Hebrew, The memory of the greatness of thy goodness they will pour forth. The word rendered "abundantly utter" means to bud forth, to gush out, to flow, as a fountain. Pro 18:4; Pro 1:23; Pro 15:2, Pro 15:28. It is applied to words as poured forth in praise. The meaning is, that the heart is full, as a fountain is full of water, and that it naturally overflows, or seeks to discharge itself. The thought of the goodness of God fills the heart, and makes it overflow with gratitude.
And shall sing of thy righteousness - They shall shout for joy at the displays of thy justice; at the manifestations of thy righteous character.
The Lord is gracious - See Psa 86:5, note; Psa 86:15, note.
And full of compassion - Kind; compassionate; ready to do good. See the notes at Psa 103:8.
Slow to anger - See Psa 103:8, where the same expression occurs.
And of great mercy - Margin, great in mercy. His greatness is shown in his mercy; and the manifestation of that mercy is great: great, as on a large scale; great, as manifested toward great sinners; great, in the sacrifice made that it may be displayed; great, in the completeness with which sin is pardoned - pardoned so as to be remembered no more.
The Lord is good to all - To all his creatures. That is, he is kind and compassionate toward them; he is disposed and ready to do them good. There is not one of them whom he is not ready and willing to bless; not one whose happiness would not be agreeable to him, or whose welfare he is not ready to promote. Compare Psa 100:5.
And his tender mercies are over all his works - In all that he has made there is evidence that he is a kind and benevolent God. He has a heart to love, to bless, what he has made; everywhere arrangements are made for happiness; he is not disposed to cast off the feeble, the erring, and the suffering; he is willing to receive back again those who have wandered from him, to pardon the offending, to wipe away the tears of the sorrowful.
All thy works shall praise thee - Or, do praise thee; that is, all thy works show what thou art, and combine in setting forth thy perfections. See the notes at Psa 19:1.
And thy saints shall bless thee - Or, do bless thee. All those who are holy in heaven and on earth, the angels around thy throne, and thy people below, all combine to proclaim thy praise.
They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom - Of thy reign; of the great principles of thy government and laws. They see in that reign evidence that thou art worthy of universal praise. Seeing this, it becomes to them a subject on which they talk or converse (compare Mal 3:16) - a subject of interest to their hearts, and "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." People talk about that which interests them; those things in which they have pleasure; those which they desire to understand; those in which they see difficulties that they would wish to have solved. It is one of the characteristics of the "saints" - of the people of God - that they do talk about God and his kingdom; that the subject is to them a pleasant theme of meditation and conversation; that they have the kind of pleasure in talking about God which other people have in conversing about their farms or their merchandise, their children and friends, the news of the day, politics, literature, or science.
And talk of thy power - As put forth in the works of creation; as manifested in the dispensations of thy providence; as evinced in the conversion of sinners; as displayed in carrying thy truth around the world; as exhibited in sustaining fine sufferer, and in giving peace and support to the dying.
To make known to the sons of men his mighty acts - To bring other people to understand and to appreciate the evidences of the power of God. A man who sees this himself will wish that others may see it also. This is the foundation of the desire which warms and animates the heart of the Christian missionary - the desire to make the great truths of redemption known as far as possible, even to the ends of the earth.
And the glorious majesty of his kingdom - And the glory of the majesty of his reign. They wish to communicate the knowledge of this to those ignorant of it. They themselves see this to be glorious, and they wish that all others may see it also.
Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom ... - See Psa 10:16, note; Dan 4:34, note. The meaning is, that the reign of God will continue forever and ever. It will never pass away as other dominions do; it will not change as dynasties do among people; it will not be overthrown as they are; its great principles will stand firm forever and ever. Compare the notes at Psa 72:17.
The Lord upholdeth all that fall - The word used here is a participle, literally, "The Lord sustaining;" that is, the Lord is a Sustainer or Upholder of all that fall. The allusion is to those who have no power to go of themselves; who would sink under the burdens of life if they were not supported. The idea is, that it is a characteristic of the Lord, that he does sustain such; that all such may confidently look to him to uphold them.
And raiseth up all those that be bowed down - The word here also is a participle: "he is lifting up;" that is, he is a lifter up. The reference is to those who are bent and bowed under the duties, the cares, the trials of life; who go bowed down under those burdens. God is able to strengthen them so that they can bear those burdens without being crushed under them.
The eyes of all wait upon thee - Margin, Look unto thee. All creatures, on the land, in the air, in the waters; all in heaven; all throughout the universe. That is, It is as if all directed their eyes to thee imploringly for the supply of their needs. To no one else can they look for those things which are needful for them. A universe thus looks every day, every hour, every moment, to its God! How sublime the scene!
And thou givest them their meat in due season - See the notes at Psa 104:27, where the same words occur.
Thou openest thine hand - By the mere opening of the hand all needful gifts are bestowed on the creatures dependent on thee. The same words are found in Psa 104:28; see the notes at that passage.
And satisfiest the desire of every living thing - All kinds of creatures - people, fowls, beasts, fishes, insects - the innumerable multitudes that swarm on the earth, in the air, in the waters. In Psa 104:28, it is, "They are filled with good." The meaning is essentially the same. Of course this is to be taken in a general sense. It cannot mean that absolutely no one ever needs, or ever perishes from want, but the idea is that of the amazing beneficence and fullness of God in being able and willing to satisfy such multitudes; to keep them from perishing by cold, or hunger, or nakedness. And, in fact, how few birds perish by hunger; how few of the infinite number of the inhabitants of the sea; how few animals that roam over deserts, or in vast plains; how few people; how few even of the insect tribes - how few in the world revealed by the microscope - the world beneath us - the innumerable multitudes of living things too small even to be seen by the naked eye of man!
The Lord is righteous in all his ways - In his own character; in his laws; in his providential dealings; in his arrangements for the redemption and salvation of man. In his own character he is what it is desirable that a God should be; in all his laws he ordains that only which it is desirable should be enacted; in all his dealings with people he does that which it is desirable should be done. He violates no right; he wrongs no one; he demands of no one a service which would be unjust; he makes no arrangements for pardon and salvation which it is not best should be made. It is much for a man to be able to say in all that occurs to him under the divine administration, "It is right;" it is much for a man to have such confidence in God as to be able to feel that all he does in respect to nations is the best thing that could be done. Compare Psa 89:14, note; Psa 97:2, note.
And holy in all his works - Margin, merciful, or bountiful. The Hebrew word is merciful. The idea seems to be that righteousness and mercy are equally consulted in his arrangements; that they meet together, and act harmomoniously in the divine plans. Compare the notes at Psa 85:10.
The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him - There is a sense in which he is "nigh" to all, for he is everywhere present; but there is a special sense in which he seems to be near to us; in which he manifests himself to us; in which he gives us evidence of his presence. It is in prayer, in praise, in his ordinances - in his gracious interpositions in our behalf - in the peace and joy which we have in communion with him. Compare the notes at Psa 34:18 : "The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart."
To all that call upon him in truth - In sincerity; not hypocritically; worshipping him as the true God, and with a sincere desire to obtain his favor. Compare the notes at Joh 4:24. We can have no hope that God will hear us unless we are sincere in our worship. He sees the heart, and he will act toward us as we are, and not as we profess to be.
He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him - Of those who worship him with reverence - those who are his true friends. See the notes at Mat 7:7-8; notes at Joh 14:13; notes at Jo1 5:14; notes at Psa 34:15.
He also will hear their cry, and will save them - He will regard their expressed desire - their earnest prayer.
The Lord preserveth all them that love him - He keeps them; watches over them; defends them; makes them the object of his care. See Psa 31:20, note, Psa 31:23, note; Psa 97:10, note.
But all the wicked will he destroy - All that are found ultimately to be wicked; all that on the final trial deserve to be classed with the wicked. See Psa 9:17, note; Psa 11:6, note; Mat 25:46, note.
My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord - That is, I will utter his praise. In view of all these things, in view of his character and doings, I will praise him. I will be found among those who honor him; who acknowledge him as the true God; who render homage for what he is, and thanks for what he has done.
And let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever - All people; all that dwell upon the earth. Let his praise be universal and eternal. This is the language of true piety; all in whose bosom there is any true religion will heartily say Amen. No desire of a pious heart is more constant and strong than that God should be praised, adored, honored by all intelligent creatures; that he should be known and acknowledged in all the earth as the true God; that his praise should ascend from all parts of the universe forever. See the notes at Psa 100:1-5.