Verse 3. Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised. Worship should be somewhat like its object -- great praise for a great God. There is no part of Jehovah's greatness which is not worthy of great praise. In some beings greatness is but vastness of evil: in him it is magnificence of goodness. Praise may be said to be great when the song contains great matter, when the hearts producing it are intensely fervent, and when large numbers unite in the grand acclaim. No chorus is too loud, no orchestra too large, no psalm too lofty for the lauding of the Lord of Hosts.
"And his greatness is unsearchable."
"Still his worth your praise exceeds,
Excellent are all his deeds."
Song should be founded upon search; hymns composed without thought are of no worth, and tunes upon which no pains have been spent are beneath the dignity of divine adoration. Yet when we meditate most, and search most studiously we shall still find ourselves surrounded with unknowable wonders, which will baffle all attempts to sing them worthily. The best adoration of the Unsearchable is to own him to be so, and close the eyes in reverence before the excessive light of his glory. Not all the minds of all the centuries shall suffice to search out the unsearchable riches of God; he is past finding out; and, therefore, his deserved praise is still above and beyond all that we can render to him.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 3. Great is the Lord. If "great" here be referred to God as a king, then a great king he is in respect of the breadth of his empire, for all creatures, from the highest angel to the poorest worm, are under him. "Great" for length; for "his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom." "Great" for depth; for he rules even in the hearts of kings, of all men, over rules their thoughts, affections, nothing is hid from him. And "great" again for height; being "a great King above all gods", ruling by his own absolute power and authority; whereas all other kings have their sword from him, and rule by a delegated and vicarious power. --William Nicholson.
Verse 3. His greatness is unsearchable. God is so great, that till Christ revealed the Father, Deity was lost in its own infinity to the perception of men. He who attempts to navigate an infinite ocean must come back to his starting point, never being able to cross. So the ancient philosophers, disputing as to the Divine Nature, were baffled by their own ingenuity, they had to confess that they comprehended nothing of God except that he was incomprehensible. Without Christ, men can only find out about God that they can never find him. --Thomas Le Blanc.
Verse 3. (last clause.) The Vulgate renders thus, "Of his greatness no end." The Hebrew is, "Of his greatness no investigation." As the classic Greeks would say, ajexicniastos, not to be traced out. -- Simon de Muis, 1587-1644.
Verse 3. God had searched David through and through ( Psalms 139:1 ), but David proved he could not search God's greatness. --Martin Geier.
Verse 3-6. Psalms 145:3 Psalms 145:4 contain the material of praise, and Psalms 145:5 Psalms 145:6 the praise itself. Ps 145:3 states a proposition, and Psalms 145:4 gives the amplification. --Hermann Venema.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
- The dignity of man is here implied in his capacity for praising God greatly.
- His immortality in his capacity for praising his unsearchable greatness. --G. R.
Verse 3. (last clause.) The unsearchable greatness of God. Consider it,
- As a fact amply demonstrated.
- As a rebuke to despondency: see Isaiah 40:28 .
- As the stay of a soul oppressed by mysteries.
- As indicating a subject for our everlasting study. --J. F.
- Our obligation to past generations.
- Our duty to generations to come. --G. R.