The singers went before
The apostles and ministers of the word, the sweet singers of Israel, the charmers that charm so very wisely: the Gospel is a joyful sound; it is like vocal music, harmonious and delightful; it is as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, as Ezekiel's ministry was, ( Ezekiel 33:32 ) ; it is a voice of love, grace, and mercy, of peace, pardon, and righteousness, and of eternal life and salvation by Christ; it is as music in the ears of sensible souls, when sounded forth, and sung out clearly and distinctly by the faithful ministers of it. The allusion seems to be to singers going before armies, when marching to battle, or returning with victory; see ( 2 Chronicles 20:21 2 Chronicles 20:28 ) ;
the players on instruments [followed] after;
so the sweet strains of the Gospel, the melodious notes and distinguishing sounds of it, as well as the praises of God's people, are, in the New Testament, signified by harps, and men's playing upon them, ( Revelation 5:8 ) ( 14:2 ) ( 15:2 ) ;
amongst [them were] the damsels playing with timbrels;
or "in the midst of the virgins playing [with] timbrels" F21; or "beating on tabrets"; as women used to do when they met their kings returning from the conquest of their enemies; see ( 1 Samuel 18:6 1 Samuel 18:7 ) ; these may be the pure and primitive churches of Christ, and the members thereof, rejoicing at the preaching of the Gospel, and praising God for the blessings of grace in it; in the midst of which the ministers of the word sung the new song of Gospel truths: and who may be compared to damsels or virgins for their beauty and comeliness through Christ; for their relation to him, being betrothed unto him; and for their strong and chaste affection for him; for their uncorruptness in doctrine and worship, and their uprightness in their lives and conversation, ( Revelation 14:4 ) ; the allusion may be to Miriam and the women with her at the Red sea, ( Exodus 15:20 ) ; and the Targum interprets the whole verse of Moses and Aaron singing at the Red sea, and of Miriam and the women playing with timbrels.
F21 (twmle Kwtb) "in medio puellarum", Pagninus, Montanus; "inter puellas", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; so Cocceius, Gejerus.