Matthew Henry's Counsel on Singing of Psalms

Status
Not open for further replies.

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Readers of Matthew Henry's commentary on the Psalms will note that he commonly provides exhortations on how to rightly sing each Psalm. I have collected his comments in this regard on the first eight psalms as an encouragement to note these exhortations when reading his commentary.

Psalm 1.1-3:

In singing these verses, being duly affected with the malignant and dangerous nature of sin, the transcendent excellencies of the divine law, and the power and efficacy of God's grace, from which our fruit is found, we must teach and admonish ourselves, and one another, to watch against sin and all approaches towards it, to converse much with the word of God, and abound in the fruit of righteousness; and, in praying over them, we must seek to God for his grace both to fortify us against every evil word and work and to furnish us for every good word and work.
Psalm 1.4-6:

In singing these verses, and praying over them, let us possess ourselves with a holy dread of the wicked man's portion, and deprecate it with a firm and lively expectation of the judgment to come, and stir up ourselves to prepare for it, and with a holy care to approve ourselves to God in every thing, entreating his favour with our whole hearts.
Psalm 2.1-9:

In singing this, and praying it over, we must give glory to Christ as the eternal Son of God and our rightful Lord, and must take comfort from this promise, and plead it with God, that the kingdom of Christ shall be enlarged and established and shall triumph over all opposition.
Psalm 2.10-12:

In singing this, and praying it over, we should have our hearts filled with a holy awe of God, but at the same time borne up with a cheerful confidence in Christ, in whose mediation we may comfort and encourage ourselves and one another. We are the circumcision, that rejoice in Christ Jesus.
Psalm 3.1-3:

In singing this, and praying it over, we should possess ourselves with an apprehension of the danger we are in from the multitude and malice of our spiritual enemies, who seek the ruin of our souls by driving us from our God, and we should concern ourselves in the distresses and dangers of the church of God, which is every where spoken again, every where fought against; but, in reference to both, we should encourage ourselves in our God, who owns and protects and will in due time crown his own interest both in the world and in the hearts of his people.
Psalm 3.4-8:

In singing this, and praying it over, we must own the satisfaction we have had in depending upon God and committing ourselves to him, and encourage ourselves, and one another to continue still hoping and quietly waiting for the salvation of the Lord.
Psalm 4.1-5:

In singing these verses we must preach to ourselves the doctrine of the provoking nature of sin, the lying vanity of the world, and the unspeakable happiness of God's people; and we must press upon ourselves the duties of fearing God, conversing with our own hearts, and offering spiritual sacrifices; and in praying over these verses we must beg of God grace thus to think and thus to do.
Psalm 4.6-8:

In singing these verses, and praying over them, let us, with a holy contempt of the wealth and pleasure of this world, as insufficient to make us happy, earnestly seek the favour of God and pleasingly solace ourselves in that favour; and, with a holy indifferency about the issue of all our worldly concerns, let us commit ourselves and all our affairs to the guidance and custody of the divine Providence, and be satisfied that all shall be made to work for good to us if we keep ourselves in the love of God.
Psalm 5.1-6:

In singing these verses, and praying them over, we must engage and stir up ourselves to the duty of prayer, and encourage ourselves in it, because we shall not seek the Lord in vain; and must express our detestation of sin, and our awful expectation of that day of Christ's appearing which will be the day of the perdition of ungodly men.
Psalm 5.7-12:

In singing these verses, and praying them over, we must by faith put ourselves under God's guidance and care, and then please ourselves with his mercy and grace and with the prospect of God's triumphs at last over all his enemies and his people's triumphs in him and in his salvation.
Psalm 6.1-7:

In singing this, and praying over it, we must give glory to God, as a God ready to hear prayer, must own his goodness to us in hearing our prayers, and must encourage ourselves to wait upon him and to trust in him in the greatest straits and difficulties.
Psalm 7.1-9:

As far as we have the testimony of an unbiased conscience for us that in any instance we are wronged and injuriously reflected on, we may, in singing these verses, lodge our appeal with the righteous God, and be assured that he will own our righteous cause, and will one day, in the last day at furthest, bring forth our integrity as the light.
Psalm 7.10-17:

In singing this psalm we must do as David here does (v. 17), praise the Lord according to his righteousness, that is, give him the glory of that gracious protection under which he takes his afflicted people and of that just vengeance with which he will pursue those that afflict them. Thus we must sing to the praise of the Lord most high, who, when his enemies deal proudly, shows that he is above them.
Psalm 8.1-2:

In singing this let us give God the glory of his great name, and of the great things he has done by the power of his gospel, in the chariot of which the exalted Redeemer rides forth conquering and to conquer, and ought to be attended, not only with our praises, but with our best wishes. Praise is perfected (that is, God is in the highest degree glorified) when strength is ordained out of the mouth of babes and sucklings.
Psalm 8.3-9:

In singing this and praying it over, though we must not forget to acknowledge, with suitable affections, God's common favours to mankind, particularly in the serviceableness of the inferior creatures to us, yet we must especially set ourselves to give glory to our Lord Jesus, by confessing that he is Lord, submitting to him as our Lord, and waiting till we see all things put under him and all his enemies made his footstool.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
In our group Bible study at our church we are studying several of the Psalms. Last time we focused on Ps. 19. I took note of a suggestion in Henry's commentary concerning his being attuned to these being sung, not just for doctrinal teaching. I noticed this too, Andrew.

I've been personally studying all the Psalms in reference to what praise we are to give to God, what we are to praise Him for, in what venues we are to do that, and in what form. I just got past the Hundredth Psalm. It's been very educational.

I look forward to more installmensts of your study in this area, Andrew.
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Hm, I don't remember that from reading Henry. Amen. Thanks for the post.
You're very welcome!

In our group Bible study at our church we are studying several of the Psalms. Last time we focused on Ps. 19. I took note of a suggestion in Henry's commentary concerning his being attuned to these being sung, not just for doctrinal teaching. I noticed this too, Andrew.

I've been personally studying all the Psalms in reference to what praise we are to give to God, what we are to praise Him for, in what venues we are to do that, and in what form. I just got past the Hundredth Psalm. It's been very educational.

I look forward to more installmensts of your study in this area, Andrew.
:up: Excellent, John. I'll try to come back to this soon. Blessings!
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
I found the following in Henry's preface to his commentary on the Psalms:

Though singing be properly the voice of joy, yet the intention of songs is of a much greater latitude, to assist the memory, and both to express and to excite all the other affections as well as this of joy. The priests had a mournful muse as well as joyful ones; and the divine institution of singing psalms is thus largely intended; for we are directed not only to praise God, but to teach and admonish ourselves and one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, Col. iii. 16. 2.
...
See what a good master we serve, and what pleasantness there is in wisdom's ways, when we are not only commanded to sing at our work, and have cause enough given us to do so, but have words also put in our mouths and songs prepared to our hands.
...
And methinks it is a great comfort to us, when we are singing David's psalms, that we are offering the very same praises to God that were offered to him in the days of David and the other godly kings of Judah.
...
Let good Christians divide them for themselves, so as may best increase their acquaintance with them, that they may have them at hand upon all occasions and may sing them in the spirit and with the understanding.
 

Tim

Puritan Board Graduate
This has been a wonderfully encouraging thing to find in Matthew Henry's work. Thanks for this contribution to the board, Andrew!
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
This has been a wonderfully encouraging thing to find in Matthew Henry's work. Thanks for this contribution to the board, Andrew!
You're welcome!

I have long relied on John Brown of Haddington's Notes on the Psalter which was first published in 1775 for this purpose.

Links and Downloads Manager - Old Testament - The Psalms in Metre with Notes by John Brown of Haddington - The PuritanBoard

But I now see that a version of the Scottish Metrical Psalter was also published with Matthew Henry's notes on the Psalms in the same year (1775).

I like this focus because it helps one to sing with understanding rather than by mere rote. May we all sing the psalms with grace in our hearts.
 

Prufrock

Arbitrary Moderation
Thank you for the post; I had heard of John Brown's work on the Psalms, but never had hopes of finding it. I've just been briefly skimming over the link, and I'm quite excited to read it carefully. It looks to be very beneficial.

(If you ever find a version of Henry's notes, please post!)
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Thank you for the post; I had heard of John Brown's work on the Psalms, but never had hopes of finding it. I've just been briefly skimming over the link, and I'm quite excited to read it carefully. It looks to be very beneficial.

(If you ever find a version of Henry's notes, please post!)
Will do! If you like Brown's notes online, you might want to consider getting the 1991 P&R edition. There are a couple of used copies available for purchase here. There are other editions out there too, including the 1991 PHP edition.
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
In addition to versions of the Scottish Metrical Psalter which contain annotations by John Brown of Haddington and / or Matthew Henry (I saw a reference to an 1835 edition which contained notes by Brown and Henry), there is also an edition of the same with annotations from David Dickson's commentary on the Psalms (the earliest version I have seen a reference to so far is dated 1748).
-----Added 11/25/2008 at 09:49:18 EST-----
Ps. 9.1-20:

In singing this psalm we must give to God the glory of his justice in pleading his people's cause against his and their enemies, and encourage ourselves to wait for the year of the redeemed and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion, even the final destruction of all anti-christian powers and factions, to which many of the ancients apply this psalm.
Ps. 10.1-11:

In singing this psalm and praying it over, we should have our hearts much affected with a holy indignation at the wickedness of the oppressors, a tender compassion of the miseries of the oppressed, and a pious zeal for the glory and honour of God, with a firm belief that he will, in due time, give redress to the injured and reckon with the injurious.
Ps. 10.12-18:

In singing these verses we must commit religion's just but injured cause to God, as those that are heartily concerned for its honour and interests, believing that he will, in due time, plead it with jealousy.
Ps. 11.1-7:

In singing this psalm we must encourage and engage ourselves to trust in God at all times, must depend upon him to protect our innocence and make us happy, must dread his frowns as worse than death and desire his favour as better than life.
Ps. 12.1-8:

In singing this psalm, and praying it over, we must bewail the general corruption of manners, thank God that things are not worse than they are, but pray and hope that they will be better in God's due time.
Ps. 13.1-6:

In singing this psalm and praying it over, if we have not the same complaints to make that David had, we must thank God that we have not, dread and deprecate his withdrawings, sympathize with those that are troubled in mind, and encourage ourselves in our most holy faith and joy.
Ps. 14.1-3:

In singing this let us lament the corruption of our own nature, and see what need we have of the grace of God; and, since that which is born of the flesh is flesh, let us not marvel that we are told we must be born again.
Ps. 14.4-7:

The world is bad; O that the Messiah would come and change its character! There is a universal corruption; O for the times of reformation! Those will be as joyful times as these are melancholy ones. Then shall God turn again the captivity of his people; for the Redeemer shall ascend on high, and lead captivity captive, and Jacob shall then rejoice. The triumphs of Zion's King will be the joys of Zion's children. The second coming of Christ, finally to extinguish the dominion of sin and Satan, will be the completing of this salvation, which is the hope, and will be the joy, of every Israelite indeed. With the assurance of that we should, in singing this, comfort ourselves and one another, with reference to the present sins of sinners and sufferings of saints.
Ps. 15.1-5:

In singing this psalm we must teach and admonish ourselves, and one another, to answer the characters here given of the citizen of Zion, that we may never be moved from God's tabernacle on earth, and may arrive, at last, at that holy hill where we shall be for ever out of the reach of temptation and danger.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top