Verse 4. Praise him with the timbrel and dance. Associated with the deliverance at the Red Sea, this form of worship set forth the most jubilant and exultant of worship. The hands and the feet were both employed, and the entire body moved in sympathy with the members. Are there not periods of life when we feel so glad that we would fain dance for joy? Let not such exhilaration be spent upon common themes, but let the name of God stir us to ecstasy. Let us exult as we cry,
"In the heavenly Lamb thrice happy I am,
And my heart it doth dance at the sound of his name."
There is enough in our holy faith to create and to justify the utmost degree of rapturous delight. If men are dull in the worship of the Lord our God they are not acting consistently with the character of their religion.
Praise him with stringed instruments and organs. We have here the three kinds of musical instruments: timbrels, which are struck, and strings, and pipes; let all be educated to praise the Lord. Nothing is common and unclean: all may be sanctified to highest uses. Many men, many minds, and these as different as strings and pipes; but there is only one God, and that one God all should worship. The word translated "organs" signifies pipe -- a simpler form of wind instrument than the more modern and more elaborate organ. Doubtless many a pious shepherd has poured out gracious pastorals from a reed or oaten pipe, and so has magnified his God.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 4. Stringed instruments. Minnim (which is derived from a root signifying "division", or" distribution", hence strings) occurs in Psalms 45:8 , and Psalms 150:4 , and is supposed by some to denote a stringed instrument, but it seems merely a poetical allusion to the strings of any instrument. Thus, in Psalms 45:8 , we would read, "Out of the ivory palaces the strings (i.e. concerts of music) have made thee glad"; and so in Psalms 150:4 , "Praise him with strings (stringed instruments), and ugabs." --John Kitto.
Verse 4. Organs. bgw[, 'ugab is the word rendered "organ" in our version. The Targum renders the word simply by abwba, a pipe; the Septuagint varies, it has kiqra in Genesis, ylmoj in Job, and organon, in the Psalms. The last is the sense which the Arabic, Syriac, Latin, English, and most other versions have adopted. The organon simply denotes a double or manifold pipe; and hence, in particular, the Pandaean or shepherd's pipe, which is at this day called a "mouth organ", among ourselves. (Kitto.) A collection of tubes of different sizes, stopped at one end and blown at the other, forms the musical instrument known as Pan's pipes, in the Greek syrinx, surunx ... Was the 'ugab a syrinx or an organ? As the former seems to have been the more ancient of the two, and as 'ugab is included in the very first allusion to musical instruments in the Bible, it would seem reasonable to say at once that it was a syrinx, especially as this instrument was, and is to this day, commonly met with in various parts of Asia. Yet it would, indeed, be strange if such an instrument were selected for use in divine worship; and that the ugab was so used is proved beyond a doubt by its mention in Psalms 150:1-6 : "Praise him with the minnim and ugab." Its mention here in antithesis to a collective name for stringed instruments, surely points to the fact of its being a more important instrument than a few river reeds fixed together with wax. Let us not forget that we have but one and the same name for the single row of about fifty pipes, placed, perhaps, in a little room, and the mighty instrument of five thousand pipes, occupying as much space as an ordinary dwelling house. Each is an organ. May it not have been the case that the 'ugab, which in Genesis 4:21 is mentioned as the simply constructed wind instrument, in contrast to the simple stringed instrument, the kinnor, was a greatly inferior instrument to that which in Psalms 150:1-6 is thought worthy of mention by the side of a term for the whole string power? --J. Stainer.