Praise ye the Lord: for it is good to sing praises unto our God (comp. Psalms 92:1 ). For it is pleasant (see Psalms 135:3 ). And praise is comely ; rather, becoming , or seemly—suitable , that is, to such a Being as we know God to be.
We are summoned by the psalmist to praise God; we are told that praise is "pleasant" and "comely" ( Psalms 147:1 ); it is an act which is congenial and fitting, because the God we worship is one who is worthy of all the homage we can pay him; he is "greatly to be praised" ( Psalms 145:3 ). The grounds on which we are invited to bless God are very familiar, but they are very sound and strong; we can never dwell too much upon them.
I. HIS INFINITUDE IN UNDERSTANDING . ( Psalms 147:5 .) "There is no searching of his understanding" ( Isaiah 40:28 ; see Romans 11:33-36 ). When we consider what must be the understanding of him who created and who sustains this marvelous framework of nature, who guides and upholds all things throughout the vast universe, every smallest thing as well as the greatest being subject to him and dependent upon him, we get some faint idea of the absolute boundlessness of the Divine wisdom.
II. HIS ALMIGHTINESS . "Of great power" (verse5).
III. HIS BENEFICENCE . ( Psalms 147:8 , Psalms 147:9 .) It would be a terrible thing, indeed, for all created beings if almighty power were under the control of malevolence, or even of selfishness. We see what happens when exceptional human power is directed by unscrupulousness; we see what suffering, what desolation, is the result. We are so familiar with the thought of God's goodness that we are not much affected by it; but we ought to be profoundly stirred by the truth that omnipotence, exercised every where in God's vast domain, through every sphere, is put forth to feed, to clothe, to shelter, to help, to relieve, to brighten, to bless.
IV. HIS CONDESCENSION . ( Psalms 147:4 .) God "humbles himself to behold" every particular star that shines in the heavens, every single event that happens on the earth, every individual human soul that thinks, that feels, that struggles, that endures. Christ "calleth his own sheep by name" ( John 10:3 ). He not only cares generally for his flock, but particularly for each member of it.
V. His RIGHTEOUSNESS . ( Psalms 147:6 .) Those who are content to accept his ruling, and to take cheerfully the humblest sphere he has assigned them, he "lifts up;" to them he gives honor, satisfaction, joy, life. The meek are made to "inherit the land" ( Matthew 5:5 ), to spend peaceful, happy, useful days. But the wicked that exalt themselves unjustly and unscrupulously, he casteth to the ground." God makes pride, violence, vice, to lead downwards, and to end in shame.
VI. HIS TENDERSESS . ( Psalms 147:3 .) When our spirit is very sorely wounded, when our heart bleeds after some specially hard blow, then we shrink from the rough handling of conventional condolence; we fee] that we cannot bear the touch of any hand but the gentlest of all. There is often the truest kindness in silent sympathy, for speech would be hurtful, and make the wound bleed again. Only Christ can help us then. He can render us the ministry we need—can heal the broken heart, and bind up its wounds. There are deep places through which, now and again, we have to pass, of which it has been truly said, " That is a mighty baptism, and only Christ can go down with us into those waters." But he can, and he does. His Divine tenderness" soothes our sorrows, and heals our wounds."
VII. HIS GOOD PLEASURE . ( Psalms 147:10 , Psalms 147:11 .) God's regard is not given to any of those outward and visible things, in beholding which we take pleasure, and on which we rely for safety; his regard is granted to the human spirit that is reverently turned to him in lowly worship, to the heart that is trusting in his promised mercy. The Divine Savior is not approving the Church that is boasting of its wealth, or its numbers, or the compactness of its organization; he is well pleased with the little company of souls that are realizing his presence, having true fellowship with him, sharing his suffering and sacrifice, leaning on his Word.
VIII. HIS SALVATION AND RESTORATION . ( Psalms 147:2 .) He who brought back the exiles from Babylon, redeeming them from servitude and dishonor, and who "built up" Jerusalem, is the God who now brings home to himself those that have been afar off; and is he who now builds up his Church in the face of its enemies.
In praise of praise.
This psalm carries on and gloriously sustains the great Hallel of adoring gratitude and glad thanksgiving with which the Book of Psalms ends. This first verse contains a threefold laudation of the Lord's praise.
I. BECAUSE " IT IS GOOD ." And this is most true.
1. In reference to God. For it ministers pleasure to him. Do not the experiences of many a parental heart bear witness to this truth? Are not we delighted with the loving utterances of our children, by which they testify their heart's affection towards us? It may be but the prattle of childish lips, or the lispings of such as are hardly more than babes, but it is delightful all the same; and our children's affection, when it has become older and more thoughtful,—what would our homes be without it? And right sure are we that our poor praise delights the Lord to whom it is rendered; he recognizes in it that response to his own love, for which all love, and emphatically his, cannot but crave. And it is good in his sight, further, because it wins him glory from men.
II. BECAUSE " IT IS PLEASANT ."
III. BECAUSE " IT IS COMELY ."—S.C.
The pleasantness of praise.
When the poet Carpani inquired of his friend Haydn how it happened that his church music was always so cheerful, the great composer made the following reply: "I cannot make it otherwise; I write according to the thought I feel. When I think upon God, my heart is so full of joy that the notes dance and leap, as it were, from my pen, and since God has given me a cheerful heart, it will be pardoned me that I praise him with a cheerful spirit." Religious life and relations are often wrongly toned through the influence of the strange sentiment that what is acceptable to God must be a strain and trial to us. This strange sentiment rests on the mistaken idea that matter itself is evil, and, as man is material, his work is, at every cost, to master and crush the material element. This is at the root of Hinduism and Buddhism; it inspires the hermit; it fills nunneries and monasteries; and it explains the bodily austerities of good men, such as Henry Martyn, who walked about with pebbles in his shoes, as if to make himself miserable and so make himself acceptable to God. This notion is far more widespread, and far more mischievous, than is usually recognized. Constantly we find good people suspecting themselves of insincerity, or quite sure that something dreadful is going to happen, if they find themselves happy, and really enjoying their religious duties and exercises.
I. TO FEEL THE PLEASANTNESS OF PRAISE IS A SIGN OF CHERISHING RIGHT THOUGHTS OF GOD . What he recognizes is the good of his creatures, and that includes their happiness . And this characteristic of God is in no way affected by the fact that man has sinned. God is still anxious for his happiness, and helps him out of the bondage of sin that he may be happy. Long faces, miserable tones, depressing anticipations, and exaggerated and constant wailings about sin, do not honor or please God. He wants even his sinful children to find and feel the pleasantness of the praise they offer to him. It is comely to enjoy our religion.
II. TO FEEL THE PLEASANTNESS OF PRAISE IS A SIGN OF CHERISHING RIGHT THOUGHTS CONCERNING OURSELVES . There are times when a man ought to cherish a due sense of his sinfulness and sin, but to he always wailing over it nourishes formality and insincerity. A man is a sinner, but he is a child of God nevertheless, and does well to remember his sonship oftener than his sin.—R.T.
Jehovah the infinitely Mighty and Omniscient One, in the creation and in the human world, worthy, therefore, of all praise and worship.
"Celebrates God's almighty and gracious rule over his people, and over the world of nature, but mingles with this a special commemoration of his goodness in bringing back his people from their captivity, and rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem."
I. GOD IS ALMIGHTY IN THE WORK OF THE MATERIAL UNIVERSE .
1. He created the heavenly worlds . ( Isaiah 40:26 .)
2. He has a perfect knowledge of them . ( Psalms 147:4 .) He knows all the innumerable multitude: "telleth the number of the stars." And knows each one of them in particular: "and calleth them all by their names." "Not one faileth." God is great in power, and great in knowledge; "there is no searching of his understanding." The inference from all this is only suggested, not stated.
II. GOD IS ALL - GOOD AS WELL AS ALMIGHTY AND OMNISCIENT . ( Psalms 147:2 , Psalms 147:3 , Psalms 147:6 .) He must know and be able to succor human woe to whom it is an easy thing to create and count and guide the stars.
1. He can recover from slavery and restore to freedom . ( Psalms 147:2 .) Those who have been taken captive, and dispersed abroad. Slaves are those fit for slavery.
2. He can restore men from the depths of suffering and despair . ( Psalms 147:3 .) The broken in heart, and most deeply wounded.
3. God ' s justice is perfect in its retributive work . ( Psalms 147:6 .) He exalts the righteous above their afflictions, and casts down the prosperous wicked.—S.