Verse 3. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet. With the loudest, clearest note call the people together. Make all men to know that we are not ashamed to worship. Summon them with unmistakable sound to bow before their God. The sound of trumpet is associated with the grandest and most solemn events, such as the giving of the law, the proclamation of jubilee, the coronation of Jewish kings, and the raging of war. It is to be thought of in reference to the coming of our Lord in his second advent and the raising of the dead. If we cannot give voice to this martial instrument, at least let our praise be as decided and bold as if we could give a blast upon the horn. Let us never sound a trumpet before us to our own honour, but reserve all our trumpeting for God's glory. When the people have been gathered by blast of trumpet, then proceed to praise him with the psaltery and harp. Stringed instruments are to be used as well as those which are rendered vocal by wind. Dulcet notes are to be consecrated as well as more startling sounds. The gospel meaning is that all powers and faculties should praise the Lord -- all sorts of persons, under all circumstances, and with differing constitutions, should do honour unto the Lord of all. If there be any virtue, if there be any talent, if there be any influence, let all be consecrated to the service of the universal Benefactor. Harp and lyre -- the choicest, the sweetest, must be all our Lord's.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 3. Trumpets and horns are the only instruments concerning which any directions are given in the law. --James Anderson.
Verse 3. Trumpet. Of natural horns and of instruments in the shape of horns the antiquity and general use are evinced by every extensive collection of antiquities ... The Hebrew word shophar, rendered "trumpet", seems, first to denote horns of the straighter kind, including, probably, those of neat cattle, and all the instruments which were eventually made in imitation of and in improvement upon such horns. The name shophar means bright or clear, and the instrument may be conceived to have been so called from its clear and shrill sound, just as we call an instrument a "clarion", and speak of a musical tone as "brilliant" or" clear." In the service of God this shophar, or trumpet, was only employed in making announcements, and for calling the people together in the time of the holy solemnities, of war, of rebellion, or of any other great occasion. The strong sound of the instrument would have confounded a choir of singers, rather than have elevated their music. (John Kitto.) The shophar is especially interesting to us as being the only Hebrew instrument whose use on certain solemn occasions seems to be retained to this day. Engel, with his usual trustworthy research, has traced out and examined some of those in modern synagogues. Of those shown in our engraving, one is from the synagogue of Spanish and Portuguese Jews, Bevis Marks, and is, he says, one foot in length; the other is one used in the Great Synagogue, St. James's place, Aldgate, twenty- one inches in length. Both are made of horn. --James Stainer.
Verse 3. The "psaltery" was a ten stringed instrument. It is constantly mentioned with the "harp." The psaltery was struck with a plectrum, the harp more gently with the fingers. Psaltery and harp speak to us in figure of "law and gospel." --Thomas Le Blanc.
Verse 3-5. As St. Augustine says here, "No kind of faculty is here omitted. All are enlisted in praising God." The breath is employed in blowing the trumpet; the fingers are used in striking the strings of the psaltery and the harp; the whole hand is exerted in beating the timbrel; the feet move in the dance; there are stringed instruments (literally strings); there is the organ (the ugab, syrinx) composed of many pipes, imposing combination, and the cymbals clang upon one another. --C. Wordsworth.
Verse 3-5. The variety of musical instruments, some of them made use of in the camp, as trumpets; some of them more suitable to a peaceable condition, as psalteries and harps; some of them sounding by blowing wind in them; some of them sounding by lighter touching of them, as stringed instruments; some of them by beating on them more sharply, as tabrets, drums and cymbals; some of them sounding by touching and blowing also, as organs: all of them giving some certain sound, some more quiet, and some making more noise: some of them having a harmony by themselves; some of them making a concept with other instruments, or with the motions of the body in dancing, sonic of them serving for one use, some of them serving for another, and all of them serving to set forth God's glory, and to shadow forth the duty of worshippers, and the privileges of the saints. The plurality and variety (I say) of these instruments were fit to represent divers conditions of the spiritual man, and of the greatness of his joy to be found in God, and to teach what stirring up should be of the affections and powers of our soul, and of one another, unto God's worship; what harmony should be among the worshippers of God, what melody each should make in himself, singing to God with grace in his heart, and to show the excellency of God's praise, which no means nor instrument, nor any expression of the body joined thereunto, could sufficiently set forth in these exhortations to praise God with trumpet, psaltery, & c. --David Dickson.
Verse 3-5. Patrick has an interesting note on the many instruments of music in Psalms 149:1-9 , which we quote here: "The ancient inhabitants of Etruria used the trumpet; the Arcadians, the whistle; the Sicilians, the pectid; the Cretians, the harp; the Thracians, the cornet; the Lacedemonians, the pipe; the Egyptians, the drum; the Arabians, the cymbal". (Clem. Paedag. ii. 4.) May we not say that in this Psalm's enumeration of musical instruments, there is a reference to the variety which exists among men in the mode of expressing joy, and exciting to feeling? --Andrew A. Bonar.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 3. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet.