Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary
If possible, the composition of this hymn riseth to higher notes than the former. The sacred writer, in the close of the foregoing Psalm, called upon the Zion of the Lord to praise him; but here the call is more earnest.
Israel, by name, is here demanded to come forward to the pleasant employment of praise; and Jesus, King in Zion, is to be their one glorious theme. I beg the reader to remark, that here is nothing said of Israel's being joyful in what their King had done for them. These things, in their proper place, became sweet subjects of praise. But the subject of praise, in which Israel is now to be engaged, is Jesus himself. Reader, pause over this apparently small, but most important distinction. The Lord is gracious in his gifts, gracious in his love, gracious in his salvation. Everything he gives, is from his mercy, and is ever to be so acknowledged. But Jesus's gifts, are not himself: I cannot be satisfied with his gifts, while I know that to others he gives his person. It is Jesus himself that I want. Though he give me all things that I need, yet if he be to me himself all things that I need, in him I have all things. Hence, therefore, let us see, that Jesus not only gives us all, but that he is, our all. Let Israel rejoice in him that made him; let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.
I beg to call the reader's attention to a proper idea on the subject of dancing, from what is here said of it, and to observe, that even from hence, if there were no other passages in the word of God concerning it, a moment's recollection might convince him, that it never could wean that frivolous, childish, and (when we consider its tendency) may we not add, too often sinful custom, used in modern times. To praise God's name in the dance, as this Psalm expresseth it, carries with it somewhat solemn, grave, and full of devotion. Thus Miriam went forth to lead the Israelitish women in the dance, after the destruction of Pharaoh at the Red Sea; and the words of the song which accompanied that dancing most decidedly prove, that nothing of a wanton or trifling nature could mingle in that solemnity: Sing ye to the Lord (saith Miriam) for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea, Exodus 15:21. Now let the reader pause, and ask himself whether the dancing recorded in Scripture was in the least similar to the dancing of modern times? Could any of the frivolous characters of the present day, among our men and women, or the young children of both sexes, while (to use the language of the prophet, with stretched forth necks, and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go) they trip it in the dance; could they be supposed to say, Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath done gloriously? And if such language would ill accord with their vain employments, must we not look for some better and higher meaning in the dancing referred to in Scripture? Isaiah 3:16. It hath been supposed, and the idea is not altogether destitute of propriety, that the dancing of the Scripture, was an imitation of the heavenly bodies, in the revolution of the planets. For when we consider, that, from the earliest times, the study of astronomy became not only a favorite science, but a most useful one to guide the traveler, there seems to be no small reason wherefore pious and devout minds might not be supposed to adopt some plan of exercise, which is called dancing, to express holy, joy, and thankfulness to the Lord, upon any remarkable occasion, in their solemnities; and while singing to the Lord's praise, attempt to imitate those works of the Lord, in which the fixed stars perform their regular order and motion. I do not presume to say that this was the case; but I do venture to believe, that whether the idea be founded us certainty or not, the dancing of the Scriptures was as foreign from the dancing so called of the present day, as light is opposite to darkness. And I cannot but earnestly recommend to parents of the rising generation, to discountenance a practice the reverse of all godliness, as dancing is, and rather let their young ones be taught to bend the knee before God.
Sweet thought! may we not, while reading it, take up Solomon's humble inquiry, But will God indeed dwell on earth? 1 Kings 8:27.
These are all so many gracious calls to the redeemed, to praise God in Christ everywhere, at home and abroad; when upon their beds, and when elsewhere; in the church, and in the closet. And they seem to refer to the triumph of the church of Christ over all her enemies, both in this world and in that which is to come. It looks into the kingdom of glory, as well as refers to the kingdom of grace. The honour which all the saints of the kingdom shall have, will one day be final, and full; when Christ shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all that believe. In the faithful expectation of that day, let the saints of Jesus rejoice; looking for, and hasting unto, that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour, Jesus Christ. 2 Thessalonians 1:10; Titus 2:13.
READER, do you feel your heart warmed to join the host of the redeemed, here called upon to sing aloud redemption? Do you know it, and can you sing it? The Psalmist calls it, a new song. And so it is indeed; and it can only be sung by a new heart. If the Lord hath taught it you, there will be indeed rejoicing in him, that hath not only made you, but new made you: not only created and given you a being, but hath newly created you in Christ Jesus, and given you both a being and a well-being in the Lord, and in his great salvation. When John saw the Lamb on Mount Zion, encircled with his royal redeemed army, and heard them sing this same new song; he tells us, that no man could learn that song, but the hundred and forty and four thousand which were redeemed from the earth. Pause, Reader! and while we read this blessed Psalm, and hear the saints of God called upon to such sacred melody, I pray you see to it, that you and I, if we have not learned it, may ask the Chief Musician, even Jesus, to teach it us. Jesus, I would say, help us to praise thee, and to sing to thy glory? Shall the redeemed around thy throne sing to thy glory, shall they chant aloud the sweet song of redemption, and wilt thou not teach me to warble the notes of it below? Lord, help me now to praise thee; and while the saints sing upon their beds, and the high praises of God in Christ are in their mouths, tune my heart to the same, and let the name of Jesus be upon my heart and on my tongue. Oh! for grace to say, My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise, even with my glory. Awake, psaltery and harp, I myself will awake early: I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people; and I will sing praises unto thee among the nations.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Psalms 149 Overview". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pmc/psalms-149.html. 1828.
the First Week of Advent