To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. A Song.
1 Praise is awaiting You, O God, in Zion;
And to You the vow shall be performed.
2 O You who hear prayer,
To You all flesh will come.
3 Iniquities prevail against me;
As for our transgressions,
You will provide atonement for them.
4 Blessed is the man You choose,
And cause to approach You,
That he may dwell in Your courts.
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house,
Of Your holy temple.
5 By awesome deeds in righteousness You will answer us,
O God of our salvation,
You who are the confidence of all the ends of the earth,
And of the far-off seas;
6 Who established the mountains by His strength,
Being clothed with power;
7 You who still the noise of the seas,
The noise of their waves,
And the tumult of the peoples.
8 They also who dwell in the farthest parts are afraid of Your signs;
You make the outgoings of the morning and evening rejoice.
9 You visit the earth and water it,
You greatly enrich it;
The river of God is full of water;
You provide their grain,
For so You have prepared it.
10 You water its ridges abundantly,
You settle its furrows;
You make it soft with showers,
You bless its growth.
11 You crown the year with Your goodness,
And Your paths drip with abundance.
12 They drop on the pastures of the wilderness,
And the little hills rejoice on every side.
13 The pastures are clothed with flocks;
The valleys also are covered with grain;
They shout for joy, they also sing.
This joyous hymn was probably composed for use in the sanctuary on the occasion of one of the great annual festivals. It expressly dwells on the Divine bounty in the fertility of the earth (Leviticus 23:9-14). — Meyer, page 80.
Each of the three sections of this psalm deal with an expression of God’s grace towards man, beginning with that which is the greatest of all: His forgiveness of sin. He will hear the prayer and forgive the sin of all men (lit., “all flesh,” meaning any human being, whether Jew or Gentile who come to Him—the phraseology of which parallels Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the Temple (see 1 Kings 8:41-43). “How blessed” is the one whom God thus chooses (v.4)—i.e., chooses to forgive (per v.3). And if such forgiveness comes about by God’s choice, then it cannot come about through the striving or merit of man; it is, simply put, a gift of God.
God’s grace is expressed in His awesome deeds (v.5)—i.e., the awe-inspiring miracles that He performed to deliver His people Israel. So too, just as Israel affirms in their “song” of response that God “has become my salvation (Exodus 15:2), so too does David affirm in this “song” (as the psalm is called in its heading) that the Lord is the “God of our salvation.”
In the last section David focuses on God’s grace as expressed in His ongoing (not necessarily miraculous, as in the previous section) provision for His people—as for mankind in general—by upholding the natural order. — Wechsler, pages 171-172.
The remnant according to the election of grace (Romans 11:5) here sings of the day of the establishment in Zion, and over the happy earth, of the Kingdom of God and the power of His Messiah (Revelation 12:10); of the new moral birth necessary to entrance into that Kingdom (v.4); of the sufferings of its subjects (v.3); and of the judgment of its foes (v.5). Israel will then perform her vow of praise (v.1), and the converted nations will unite with her in the worship of Messiah (vs. 2 and 8). — Williams, page 350.