Verses 1–5

We have here,

I. The calls given to God’s Israel to praise. All his works were, in the foregoing psalm, excited to praise him; but here his saints in a particular manner are required to bless him. Observe then, 1. Who are called upon to praise God. Israel in general, the body of the church (Ps. 149:2), the children of Zion particularly, the inhabitants of that holy hill, who are nearer to God than other Israelites; those that have the word and ordinances of God near to them, that are not required to travel far to them, are justly expected to do more in praising God than others. All true Christians may call themselves the children of Zion, for in faith and hope we have come unto Mount Zion, Heb. 12:22. The saints must praise God, saints in profession, saints in power, for this is the intention of their sanctification; they are devoted to the glory of God, and renewed by the grace of God, that they may be unto him for a name and a praise. 2. What must be the principle of this praise, and that is holy joy in God: Let Israel rejoice, and the children of Zion be joyful, and the saints be joyful in glory. Our praises of God should flow from a heart filled with delight and triumph in God’s attributes, and our relation to him. Much of the power of godliness in the heart consists in making God our chief joy and solacing ourselves in him; and our faith in Christ is described by our rejoicing in him. We then give honour to God when we take pleasure in him. We must be joyful in glory, that is, in him as our glory, and in the interest we have in him; and let us look upon it as our glory to be of those that rejoice in God. 3. What must be the expressions of this praise. We must by all proper ways show forth the praises of God: Sing to the Lord. We must entertain ourselves, and proclaim his name, by singing praises to him (Ps. 149:3), singing aloud (Ps. 149:5), for we should sing psalms with all our heart, as those that are not only not ashamed of it, but are enlarged in it. We must sing a new song, newly composed upon every special occasion, sing with new affections, which make the song new, though the words have been used before, and keep them from growing threadbare. Let God be praised in the dance with timbrel and harp, according to the usage of the Old-Testament church very early (Exod. 15:20), where we find God praised with timbrels and dances. Those who from this urge the use of music in religious worship must by the same rule introduce dancing, for they went together, as in David’s dancing before the ark, and Jdg. 21:21. But, whereas many scriptures in the New Testament keep up singing as a gospel-ordinance, none provide for the keeping up of music and dancing; the gospel-canon for psalmody is to sing with the spirit and with the understanding. 4. What opportunities must be taken for praising God, none must be let slip, but particularly, (1.) We must praise God in public, in the solemn assembly (Ps. 149:1), in the congregation of saints. The more the better; it is the more like heaven. Thus God’s name must be owned before the world; thus the service must have a solemnity put upon it, and we must mutually excite one another to it. The principle, end, and design of our coming together in religious assemblies is that we may join together in praising God. Other parts of the service must be in order to this. (2.) We must praise him in private. Let the saints be so transported with their joy in God as to sing aloud upon their beds, when they awake in the night, full of the praises of God, as David, Ps. 119:62. When God’s Israel are brought to a quiet settlement, let them enjoy that, with thankfulness to God; much more may true believers, that have entered into God’s rest, and find repose in Jesus Christ, sing aloud for joy of that. Upon their sick-beds, their death-beds, let them sing the praises of their God.

II. The cause given to God’s Israel for praise. Consider, 1. God’s doings for them. They have reason to rejoice inn God, to devote themselves to his honour and employ themselves in his service; for it is he that made them. He gave us our being as men, and we have reason to praise him for that, for it is a noble and excellent being. He gave Israel their being as a people, as a church, made them what they were, so very different from other nations. Let that people therefore praise him, for he formed them for himself, on purpose that they might show forth his praise, Isa. 43:21. Let Israel rejoice in his Makers (so it is in the original); for God said, Let us make man; and in this, some think, is the mystery of the Trinity. 2. God’s dominion over them. This follows upon the former: if he made them, he is their King; he that gave being no doubt may give law; and this ought to be the matter of our joy and praise that we are under the conduct and protection of such a wise and powerful King. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! for behold thy king comes, the king Messiah, whom God has set upon his holy hill of Zion; let all the children of Zion be joyful in him, and go forth to meet him with their hosannas, Zech. 9:9. 3. God’s delight in them. He is a king that rules by love, and therefore to be praised; for the Lord takes pleasure in his people, in their services, in their prosperity, in communion with them, and in the communications of his favour to them. He that is infinitely happy in the enjoyment of himself, and to whose felicity no accession can be made, yet graciously condescends to take pleasure in his people, Ps. 147:11. 4. God’s designs concerning them. Besides the present complacency he has in them, he has prepared for their future glory: He will beautify the meek, the humble, and lowly, and contrite in heart, that tremble at his word and submit to it, that are patient under their afflictions and show all meekness towards all men. These men vilify and asperse, but God will justify them, and wipe off their reproach; nay, he will beautify them; they shall appear not only clear, but comely, before all the world, with the comeliness that he puts upon them. He will beautify them with salvation, with temporal salvations (when God works remarkable deliverances for his people those that had been among the pots become as the wings of a dove covered with silver, Ps. 68:13), but especially with eternal salvation. The righteous shall be beautified in that day when they shine forth as the sun. In the hopes of this, let them now, in the darkest day, sing a new song.