1. Shout unto God, all the earth. 2. Sing the honor of his name: make glorious his praise.13. Say unto God, How terrible art thou in thy works! in the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies lie [or feign submission] unto thee. 4. All the earth shall worship thee, and they shall sing unto thee; they shall sing thy name. Selah.
1. Shout unto God, all the earth. The psalm begins with this general declaration, which is afterwards reduced to particulars.2 He addresses himself to the whole world, and from this it would seem evident, that he predicts the extent to which the kingdom of God should reach at the coming of Christ. In the second verse the call is repeated with increasing vehemency, to stir up to the praises of God, such as might otherwise be remiss in the service. To sing the honor of his name, is an expression sufficiently obvious; meaning, that we should extol his sacred name in a manner suitable to its dignity, so that it may obtain its due and deserved adoration. But the clause which follows is rather ambiguous. Some think that it conveys a repetition of the same idea contained in other words, and read, set forth the glory of his praise.3 I prefer taking the Hebrew word signifying praise to be in the accusative case; rendering the words literally, make a glory his praise. And by this I understand him to mean, not as some do, that we should glory exclusively in his praises,4 but simply, that we highly exalt his praises, that they may be glorious. The Psalmist is not satisfied with our declaring them moderately, and insists that we should celebrate his goodness in some measure proportionably to its excellence.
3. Say unto God, How terrible art thou in thy works! Here he proceeds to state the grounds why he would have us to praise God. Many content themselves with coldly descanting to others of his praises, but with the view of awakening and more deeply impressing our hearts, he directs us to address ourselves immediately to God. It is when we hold converse with him apart, and with no human eye to witness us, that we feel the vanity of hypocrisy, and will be likely to utter only what we have well and seriously meditated in our hearts. Nothing tends more to beget a reverential awe of God upon our spirits than sisting ourselves in his presence. What the Psalmist adds is fitted and designed to produce the same feeling, that through the greatness of God's power, his enemies feign submission to him. Are they who would perversely and obstinately revolt from his service, forced to humble themselves before him, whether they will it or not, how much more, then, ought his own children to serve him, who are invited into his presence, by the accents of tenderness, instead of being reduced to subjection by terror? There is an implied contrast drawn between the voluntary homage which they yield, as attracted by the sweet influences of grace, and that slavish obedience which is wrung reluctantly from the unbeliever. The Hebrew word here used for to lie, signifies to yield such a submission as is constrained, and not free or cordial, as Psalm 18:45. Neither the words nor the scope favor the other senses which have been suggested, as, that his enemies would acknowledge themselves to have been deceived in their hopes, or that they would deny having ever intended hostilities against him. There are many ways in which hypocrites may lie, but nothing more is meant by the Psalmist here, than that the power of God is such as to force them into a reluctant subjection.
4. All the earth shall worship thee. The Psalmist had good reason for insisting upon this one point again and again. Though all tongues were tuned to the praise of God, they never could adequately extol it; and yet such are the negligence and the perversity of men, that they will scarcely lift one feeble note in celebration of a theme which should command their united strength and might. We have another prediction here, of a time being to come when God would be worshipped, not only by the Jews, a small section of the human family, but by all the nations which would be eventually brought under his government. And we are not to consider that he refers to such a worship as would be constrained, and only not withheld, because resistance might be dangerous, but to the sincere homage of the heart -- they shall sing unto thee! they shall sing unto thy name. Praise is the best of all sacrifices, (as we are told, Psalm 50:14, 23) and the true evidence of godliness.5