A Psalm for Festival Services.
This hymn, written altogether in the style of David, bears a liturgical character and was, in fact, used in the Jewish Church upon the occasion of the great festivals, as part of their great hallel, chanted during the time when the Temple-offerings were brought, as well as by the individual families in the intervals of the Passover-meal, although it may originally have been composed for use at the Feast of Tabernacles. Sections of the psalm were in such general use that the pilgrims going forth to meet Jesus at the time of His last entry into Jerusalem chanted them almost spontaneously, Matt. 21, 9; Mark 11, 9; Luke 19, 38. V. 1. O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good, namely, in imparting His kindness in rich blessings upon the faithful; because His mercy endureth forever. Cp. Ps. 106, 1; 107, 1; 136, 1. V. 2. Let Israel, the entire nation, as the chosen people of God, now say that His mercy endureth forever. V. 3. Let the house of Aaron, not only the priests, but the entire Church, as a congregation of priests, now say that His mercy endureth forever. V. 4. Let them now that fear the Lord, all believers of all times, say that His mercy endureth forever. The urgent invitation having gone forth to the whole Church to join in praising the Lord, the psalmist now states the reason for his admonition. V. 5. I called upon the Lord in distress, when he was in straits, in such difficulties that he could turn neither to the right nor to the left; the Lord answered me and set me in a large place, where he had freedom of movement on every side, where he was no longer cramped and hindered on account of being beset by dangers and enemies. V. 6. The Lord is on my side, Rom. 8, 31; I will not fear; what can man, mere men, puny creatures, do unto me? V. 7. The Lord taketh my part with them that help me, as his assistance, Jehovah’s help outweighing that of all other helpers; therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me, the enemies being bound to submit before His almighty power. The psalmist now urges the proper trust in Jehovah, as the One who is exalted in power above all men. V. 8. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man, man at his best being but a weak and helpless creature. V. 9. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes, for their power, after all, is small, and their favor deceitful. V. 10. All nations compassed me about, or, “though all the heathen should surround me,” but in the name of the Lord, trusting in the almighty power of Jehovah, will I destroy them, cut them down, exterminate them. V. 11. They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about, though they attempt their attacks on all sides; but in the name of the Lord I will destroy them, he who makes the Lord his ally always having the balance of power in his favor. V. 12. They compassed me about like bees, or, “like wasps,” who were particularly troublesome and vicious during harvest-time; they are quenched as the fire of thorns, which flares up with great force, but is as quickly extinguished; for in the name of the Lord I will destroy them. Sure of the assistance of Jehovah, the congregation is at all times possessed of a feeling of triumph. V. 13. Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall, the impersonal subject being used in the Hebrew, people have attempted in every possible way to wound and overcome the believer; but the Lord helped me. Therefore his song rings out with that of all the faithful. V. 14. The Lord is my Strength, affording the believer might to overcome, and Song, the subject of hymns of praise at all times, and is become my Salvation, delivering him from all enemies. V. 15. The voice of rejoicing and salvation, the happiness over the marvelous deliverance, as expressed in hymns of the congregation, is in the tabernacles of the righteous, in the homes of all believers, who have become partakers of the righteousness of the Messiah by the gift of God. The right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly, exalted in victory. V. 16. The right hand of the Lord, emblem of almighty power, is exalted, in a rule over all enemies; the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly, in possession of victory. V. 17. I shall not die, thus being deprived of the privilege of praising Jehovah, but live, being preserved by God’s mercy, and declare the works of the Lord, that being one of the glorious duties of all believers. V. 18. The Lord hath chastened me sore, in the anxieties and distresses to which the psalmist had referred in V. 5; but He hath not given me over unto death. Although the psalmist speaks in the singular, he is speaking in the name of the congregation, setting forth their common experience. V. 19. Open to me the gates of righteousness, this name being applied to the gates of the Temple, since they afforded an entrance to the place where God imparted His righteousness in His Word; I will go into them, together with all other members of the congregation, and I will praise the Lord, Jehovah of salvation; v. 20. this gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter, the sacrificial acts on the part of the congregation, and the sacramental acts on the part of God’s servants, uniting them with Him in the most intimate fellowship. V. 21. I will praise Thee, in the full consciousness of this wonderful union with Jehovah; for Thou hast heard me and art become my Salvation. V. 22. The stone which the builders refused, rejecting it with scorn as useless, is become the headstone of the corner, the corner-stone upholding the entire building of the Lord’s Temple. This is a direct prophecy, which, as Jesus says, was fulfilled in Himself, Matt. 21, 42; Mark 12, 10. 11; Acts 4, 11; 1 Pet. 2, 7; Is. 28, 16. The Jews rejected their Savior, refusing to acknowledge Him as the promised Messiah; but He, by the merciful counsel of the Lord, became the Corner-stone of the Christian Church, the Foundation upon which all believers rest their hope of salvation, Eph. 2, 20-22. V. 23. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes, and its marvel grows with every new consideration of the manner in which our salvation was effected. V. 24. This is the day which the Lord hath made, the day, the period of grace and salvation extending down to the last day of the world, Is. 49, 8; 2 Cor. 6, 2; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Cp. Rev. 19, 7. V. 25. Save now, the hosanna of the multitudes on Palm Sunday, I beseech Thee, O Lord! O Lord, I beseech Thee, send now prosperity, true spiritual happiness, Matt. 21, 9. V. 26. Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord, this cry of welcome as used by the chorus of Levites in the Temple-services and by the inhabitants of Jerusalem in greeting their brethren from a distance, being used in an unusually appropriate manner in the case of Christ upon His entrance into the city; we have blessed you out of the house of the Lord, wishing them the wonderful blessings which are dispensed at the Temple. V. 27. God is the Lord, Jehovah is God, the only true God, which hath showed us light, with the spiritual enlightenment in His Word. Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar, the number of the offerings being so great upon festive occasions that the entire court was filled with the animals, so that some of them were led even to the space next to the altar of burnt offering, there to await their turn. This invitation is accepted by the worshiping multitude, in whose name the psalmist now answers. V. 28. Thou art my God, and I will praise Thee, with joyful thanksgiving; Thou art my God, I will exalt Thee, giving Him the honor due His holy name. V. 29. O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy endureth forever, this same merciful favor being the sustaining power in the believers of all the world to this day.