Verse 6. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two edged sword in their hand. It seems they are not always on their beds, but are ready for deeds of prowess. When called to fight, the meek are very hard to overcome; they are just as steady in conflict as they are steadfast in patience. Besides, their way of fighting is of an extraordinary sort, for they sing to God but keep their swords in their hands. They can do two things at a time: if they do not wield the trowel and the sword, at least they sing and strike. In this Israel was not an example, but a type: we will not copy the chosen people in making literal war, but we will fulfil the emblem by carrying on spiritual war. We praise God and contend with our corruptions; we sing joyfully and war earnestly with evil of every kind. Our weapons are not carnal, but they are mighty, and wound with both back and edge. The word of God is all edge; whichever way we turn it, it strikes deadly blows at falsehood and wickedness. If we do not praise we shall grow sad in our conflict; and if we do not fight we shall become presumptuous in our song. The verse indicates a happy blending of the chorister and the crusader.
Note how each thing in the believer is emphatic: if he sings, it is high praises, and praises deep down in his throat, as the original hath it; and if he fights, it is with the sword, and the sword is two edged. The living God imparts vigorous life to those who trust him. They are not of a neutral tint: men both hear them and feel them. Quiet is their spirit, but in that very quietude abides the thunder of an irresistible force. When godly men give battle to the powers of evil each conflict is high praise unto the God of goodness. Even the tumult of our holy war is a part of the music of our lives.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 6. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth and a two edged sword in their hand. Praise and power go ever hand in hand. The two things act and react upon each other. An era of spiritual force in the Church is always one of praise; and when there comes some grand outburst of sacred song, we may expect that the people of God are entering upon some new crusade for Christ. Cromwell's Ironsides were sneeringly called Psalm singers; but God's Psalm singers are always Ironsides. He who has a "new song in his mouth" is ever stronger, both to suffer and to labour, than the man who has a dumb spirit and a hymnless heart. When he sings at his work, he will both do more and do it better than he would without his song. Hence, we need not be surprised that all through its history the Church of God has travelled "along the line of music." --William Taylor, in "The Study", 1873.
Verse 6. The high praises of God. This expression needs a little explication, because so variously rendered by most interpreters; some rendering it only, exaltations of God; others, praising exalting God; others, sublime praises of God; others, praises highly uttered unto God: the reason whereof is, because the word romemoth in the text signifies sometimes actively, and then it notes the height, exaltation, and lifting up of anything to the observation of others; and sometimes passively, and then it notes the height, worth, excellency of the thing that is exalted, or lifted up, in itself. But the scope and nature of the duty prescribed in the text necessarily comprehends both -- as well the high acts for which God is to be praised, as the high praises to be given unto God for those high acts; but especially the latter, namely, the height and excellency of the duty of praise to be performed for those high acts of God. This appears from the whole argument of the Psalm, which is entirely laudatory, as also from the instrument wherewith these high praises are to be performed, namely, the "mouth", "the high praises of God in their mouth"; showing that the height herein mentioned is a property of man's work in praising God, and not only of the work of God, for which he is to be praised. In my observations I shall comprehend both, and all the particulars in the duty prescribed besides, which is this --
The duty of praising God is a high duty, which must exalt and lift up the high God in it.
This truth I shall labour to demonstrate,
- From the Object.
- The Effect.
- Their Price.
- Their Performance; or, to use the School terms, they are "high":
- The praises of God are "high" in relation to their Object, which is none other but the Most High God, and that in the consideration of his transcendent height and sublimity over and above all other things or persons: so the Psalmist's resolution intimates ( Psalms 7:17 ), "I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness", which he expresses in the following words, "To sing praise to the name of the Lord most high"; and Psalms 92:1 : "It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High." In which places, and very many more in the Scriptures, it is evident that the Lord, considered in his highest sublimity, is the object of high praise, and that by most special and peculiar appropriation of it unto himself, and none other ( Isaiah 42:8 ).
- In the second place, the praises of God will appear to be of a high, sublime nature, from the high effect, the genuine and proper fruit they produce, viz., that although their object, to whom they are peculiarly appropriate (I mean the Lord himself) be in his own nature, and of himself, most infinitely high and transcendent, yet by the attribution and performance of praise unto him, doth he account his name, his power, his wisdom, and justice, and himself to be exalted thereby. What else do those expressions in Scripture imply wherein it is asserted, that by this high duty of praise the high Jehovah is exalted ( Psalms 108:32 ); His sublime perfections are extolled and lifted up ( Psalms 68:4 ); His great Name is magnified ( Luke 1:64 ); His infinite majesty is glorified ( Psalms 50:23 )? Oh how high must be that duty, that adds height to the high God, that magnifies the great God, and glorifies the God of glory, and makes him higher, greater, and more glorious than he was before!
- Thirdly, the praises of God are of a high nature, appreciative, in respect of the high estimation the Lord himself hath of them, which appears two ways:
- By the high price wherewith he purchases them;
- By the high delight he takes in them, after he hath procured them.
First. The price wherewith God is willing to purchase them is very high, for not only the expense of all his wisdom, power, and goodness, put forth in creation, not only the laying out of all his counsel, care, love, and faithfulness in providence and preservation; but also the rich treasure of his promises, covenant, grace, yea, the precious blood of his own Son, in our redemption, is given freely, absolutely, intentionally, and ultimately, for no other thing but the purchase of high praises to God ( Ephesians 1:5-6 ). All that God doth and giveth; all that Christ doth and suffereth, is for the praise of the glory of his grace. I confess, consider men's highest praises of God, as they are man's performance, they are poor and inconsiderable things; but consider them as they are the testimonies and expressions of a believing heart, declaring and making known the unspeakable wisdom, faithfulness, bounty, and excellencies of God, exercised in his works; in this notion the Scripture declares the heart of God to be so taken with the desire of them, that he is willing to give heaven, earth, Himself, and Son to poor men for the praises of their hearts, hands, and tongues; and accounts himself abundantly satisfied. Therefore, when his people will speak good of his name, they speak of him in the dialect of angels' notes, "the high praises of God."
Secondly. The high value that God hath of "high praises" will be evident by the high delight and pleasure God takes in them thus purchased; for skilful artists, and high principled, elevated understandings, never take pleasure or delight in any thing or work which is not answerable to their highest principles, and proportionable to their uttermost skill and desire. Now the Lord, who is of the most perfect understanding, and deepest skill and knowledge, declares himself to take infinite delight in his people's praises. It is his solace and pleasure to be attended with them, either in earth or in heaven, by men or angels; and his soul is ravished with the thoughts and contemplation of them.
- In the fourth place, the praises of God are high, and of a high nature perfective, that is, in respect of the high measure of grace they are to be attended withal in their performance: the Lord requiring the duty of high praise to be performed with a great measure of Scripture light, with a high degree of effectual fifth, and with a more ample proportion of practical holiness than any other of the most solemn exercises of his public worship. --Condensed from a Sermon by Samuel Fairclough, entitled "The Prisoner's Praise", 1650.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
- The Christian life a combination of adoration and conflict.
- In each case it should be at its best: "high praises", "two edged sword."
- In each case holiness should be conspicuous: it is of saints that the text speaks.