Verse 7. For God is the King of all the earth. The Jews of our Saviour's time resented this truth, but had their hearts been right they would have rejoiced in it. They would have kept their God to themselves, and not even have allowed the Gentile dogs to eat the crumbs from under his table. Alas! how selfishness turns honey into wormwood. Jehovah is not the God of the Jews only, all the nations of the earth are, through the Messiah, yet to own him Lord. Meanwhile his providential throne governs all events beneath the sky. Sing praises with understanding. Sing a didactic Psalm. Sound doctrine praises God. Even under the economy of types and ceremonies, it is clear that the Lord had regard to the spirituality of worship, and would be praised thoughtfully, intelligently, and with deep appreciation of the reason for song. It is to be feared from the slovenly way in which some make a noise in singing, that they fancy any sound will do. On the other hand, from the great attention paid by some to the mere music, we feel sadly sure that the sense has no effect upon them. Is it not a sin to be tickling men's ears with sounds when we profess to be adoring the Lord? What has a sensuous delight in organs, anthems, etc., to do with devotion? Do not men mistake physical effects for spiritual impulses? Do they not often offer to God strains far more calculated for human amusement than for divine acceptance? An understanding enlightened of the Holy Spirit is then and then only fully capable of offering worthy praise.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 7. For God is the King of all the earth: as if he had said, "our King, said I? it is too little; he is King of all the earth." John Trapp.
Verse 7. Sing ye praises with understanding. How may we make melody in our hearts to God in singing of Psalms? We must sing with understanding. We must not be guided by the time, but the words of the Psalm; we must mind the matter more than the music, and consider what we sing, as well as how we sing; the tune may affect the fancy, but it is the matter affects the heart, and that God principally eyes. The psalmist advises us in this particular, and so doth the apostle 1 Corinthians 14:15 . Otherwise this sweet duty would be more the work of a chorister than of a Christian, and we should be more delighted in an anthem of the musician's making, than in a Psalm of the Spirit's making. A. Lapide observes that in the text, 1 Corinthians 14:15 , the word understanding is maschil, (lykvm), profound judgment: we must sing wisely, if we will sing gratefully; we must relish what we sing. In a word, we must sing as we must pray; now the most rude petitioner will understand what he prays. 1Co 14:15. If we do not understand what we sing, it argues carelessness of spirit, or hardness of heart; and this makes the service impertinent. Upon this the worthy Davenant cries out, "Adieu to the bellowing of the Papists, who sing in an unknown tongue." God will not understand us in that service which we understand not ourselves. One of the first pieces of the creation was light, and this must break out in every duty. John Wells (--1676), in "Morning Exercises."
Verse 7. Sing ye praises with understanding, sing an instructive song. Let sense and sound go together. Let your hearts and heads go with your voices. Understand what you sing, and feel what you understand. Adam Clarke.
Verse 7. Sing ye praises with understanding; because in the full light of the new dispensation, the darkness of the patriarchal ages, the seeing as through a glass of the Levitical law, are turned into the vision of full and very reality. Hugo Victorinus.
Verse 7. Sing ye praises with understanding. Mark this, thou who daily readest the Psalms, and yet does not understand them. Simon de Muis.
Verse 7. With understanding. If they had sung with understanding, they had not adored stones. When a man sensible sang to a stone insensible, did he sing "with understanding"? But now, brethren, we see not with our eyes whom we adore, and yet correctly we adore. Much more is God commended to us, that with our eyes see him not. Augustine.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 7. (last clause). The psalmody of the instructed, and instruction by psalmody; praise should be both the fruit and the vehicle of teaching.