John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible
INTRODUCTION TO PSALM 104
This psalm, though without a title, was probably written by David, since it begins and ends as the former does, as Aben Ezra observes; and to him the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions, ascribe it. The inscription of the Syriac version is,
"a psalm of David, when he went to worship before the ark of the Lord with the priests; and as to us, it teaches us confession and prayer; and intimates to us the constitution of the beginning of the creatures; and declares some things concerning the angels.'
Some copies of the Septuagint version have it,
"a psalm of David concerning the constitution of the world;'
which indeed is the subject matter of it; for it treats of the creation of all things, of the heavens and the earth, and of all creatures in them; and of the providence of God in taking care of them. Christ is the divine Person addressed and described throughout the whole, as appears from the quotation of Psalm 104:5 and the application of it to him in Hebrews 1:7.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,.... As for the blessings of grace and mercy expressed in the preceding psalm, so on account of the works of creation and providence, enumerated in this; in which Christ has an equal concern, as in the former.
O Lord my God, thou art very great; the Messiah, who is Jehovah our righteousness, Lord of all, truly God, and the God of his people; see John 20:28 and who is great, and very great, in his divine Person, being the great God, and our Saviour; great in all his works of creation, providence, and redemption; great in all his offices of Prophet, Priest, and King; a Saviour, and a great one; the great Shepherd of the Sheep; the Man, Jehovah's Fellow.
Thou art clothed with honour and majesty; being the brightness of his Father's glory, and having on him the glory of the only begotten of the Father, and a natural majesty in him as the Son of God and King of the whole universe; and, as Mediator, he has honour and majesty laid upon him by his Father, Psalm 21:5, he has all the regalia and ensigns of royal majesty; he is on a throne, high and lifted up, even the same with his divine Father; he has a crown of glory on his head, he is crowned with glory and honour; he has a sceptre of righteousness in his hand, and is arrayed in robes of majesty; and, as thus situated, is to look upon like a jasper and sardine stone; or as if he was covered with sparkling gems and precious stones, Revelation 4:2 and, having all power in heaven and earth, over angels and men, honour and glory given him by both.
Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment,.... Referring, as Aben Ezra and Kimchi think, to the light, which was first created; and indeed this was commanded out of darkness by God the Word, or by the essential Word of God. Light is expressive of the nature of God himself, who is light, and in him is no darkness at all, and who dwells in light
Who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain; alluding to the firmament or expanse, which, being spread out like a curtain, divided between the waters and the waters, Genesis 1:6. Heaven is represented as a tent stretched out, with curtains drawn around it, to hide the dazzling and unapproachable light in which the Lord dwells, Isaiah 40:22 and it is as a curtain or canopy stretched out and encompassing this earth; the stretching of it out belongs to God alone, and is a proof of the deity of Christ, to whom it is here and elsewhere ascribed, Job 9:8. Here Christ dwells invisible to us at present; he is received up into heaven, retained there, and from thence will descend at the last day; and in the mean while is within the curtains of heaven, unseen by us.
Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters,.... Or "his upper rooms"
Who maketh the clouds his chariot; to ride in; in these sometimes Jehovah rides to execute judgment on his enemies, Isaiah 19:1 and in these sometimes he appears in a way of grace and mercy to his people, Exodus 13:21, in these, as in chariots, Christ went up to heaven; and in these will he come a second time; and into these will the saints be caught up to meet the Lord in the air at his coming, Acts 1:9.
Who walketh upon the wings of the wind; see Psalm 18:10 which is expressive of his swiftness in coming to help and assist his people in time of need; who helps, and that right early; and may very well be applied both to the first and second coming of Christ, who came leaping upon the mountains, and skipping upon the hills, when he first came; and, when he comes a second time, will be as a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of spices, Song of Solomon 2:8. The Targum is,
"upon the swift clouds, like the wings of an eagle;'
hence, perhaps, it is, the Heathens have a notion of Jupiter's being carried in a chariot through the air, when it thunders and lightens
Who maketh his angels spirits,.... The angels are spirits, or spiritual substances, yet created ones; and so differ from God, who is a spirit, and from the Holy Spirit of God, who are Creators and not creatures; angels are spirits without bodies, and so differ from the souls or spirits of men, and are immaterial, and so die not; these are made by Christ, by whom all things are made, Colossians 1:16 and so he must be greater and more excellent than they; for which purpose the passage is quoted in Hebrews 1:7. Some render it, "who maketh his angels as the winds"; to which they may be compared for their invisibility, they being not to be seen, no more than the wind, unless when they assume an external form; and for their penetration through bodies in a very surprising manner; see Acts 12:6, and for their great force and power, being mighty angels, and said to excel in strength, Psalm 103:20, and for their swiftness in obeying the divine commands; so the Targum,
"he maketh his messengers, or angels, swift as the wind.'
His ministers a flaming fire; angels are ministers to God, stand before him, behold his face, wait for and listen to his orders, and execute them; they are ministers to Christ, they were so at his incarnation, in his infancy, when in the wilderness and in the garden, at his resurrection and ascension, and will attend him at his second coming; and these are ministers to his people, take the care of them, encamp about them, do many good offices to them in life, and at death carry their souls to Abraham's bosom: these are made a flaming fire, or "as" flaming fire, for their force and power; so the Targum,
"his ministers strong as flaming fire;'
and for their swiftness as before; and because of their burning love to God, Christ, and his people, and their flaming zeal for his cause and interest; hence thought by some to be called "seraphim": and because they are sometimes the executioners of God's wrath; and have sometimes appeared in fiery forms, as in forms of horses of fire and chariots of fire, and will descend with Christ in flaming fire at the last day; see 2 Kings 2:11. Some invert the words, both reading and sense, thus, "who maketh the winds his angels, or messengers, and flaming fire his ministers"; so Jarchi, Aben Ezra, and Kimchi; we read of stormy wind fulfilling his word, Psalm 148:8, he sends out his winds at his pleasure to do his errands; as to dry up the waters of the flood, to drive back the waters of the Red sea, and make dry land, to bring quails from thence, and scatter them about the camp of Israel, and in many other instances. So flaming fire was used as his ministers in burning Sodom and Gomorrah; and multitudes of the murmuring Israelites, and the captains with their fifties; but this sense is contrary to the order of the words, and the design of them, and to the apostle's sense of them, Hebrews 1:7 which is confirmed by the Targum, Septuagint, and all the Oriental versions.
Who laid the foundations of the earth,.... Or "founded the earth upon its bases"
That it should not be removed for ever: for though it may be shaken by earthquakes, yet not removed; nor will it be until the dissolution of all things, when it shall flee away before the face of the Judge, and a new earth shall succeed, Revelation 20:11.
Thou coverest it with the deep as with a garment,.... This refers not to the waters of the flood, when the earth was covered with them, even the tops of the highest mountains; but to the huge mass of waters, the abyss and depth of them, which lay upon the earth and covered it as a garment, at its first creation, as the context and the scope of it show; and which deep was covered with darkness, at which time the earth was without form, and void, Genesis 1:2 an emblem of the corrupt state of man by nature, destitute of the image of God, void and empty of all that is good, having an huge mass of sin and corruption on him, and being darkness itself; though this depth does not separate the elect of God, in this state, from his love; nor these aboundings of sin hinder the superaboundings of the grace of God; nor the operations of his Spirit; nor the communication of light unto them; nor the forming and renewing them, so as to become a curious piece of workmanship; even as the state of the original earth did not hinder the moving of the Spirit upon the waters that covered it, to the bringing of it into a beautiful form and order.
The waters stood above the mountains; from whence we learn the mountains were from the beginning of the creation; since they were when the depths of water covered the unformed chaos; and which depths were so very great as to reach above the highest mountains; an emblem of the universal corruption of human nature; the highest, the greatest men that ever were, comparable to mountains, have been involved in it, as David, Paul, and others.
At thy rebuke they fled,.... The depths of water that covered the earth fled, went off apace, when Christ, the essential Word, gave the word of command that they should; saying, "Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear, and it was so", Genesis 1:9 and this being called a "rebuke", suggests as if there was something amiss, irregular and disorderly, and to be amended; as if these waters were not in their proper place.
At the voice of thy thunder they hasted away; ran off with great precipitancy; just as a servant, when his master puts on a stern countenance, and speaks to him in a thundering, menacing manner, hastes away from him to do his will and work. This is an instance of the mighty power of Christ; and by the same power he removed the waters of the deluge; when they covered the earth, and the tops of the highest hills; and rebuked the Red sea, and it became dry land; and drove back the waters of Jordan for the Israelites to pass through; and who also rebuked the sea of Galilee when his disciples were in distress: and with equal ease can he and does he remove the depth of sin and darkness from his people at conversion; rebukes Satan, and delivers out of his temptations, when he comes in like a flood; and rebukes the waters of affliction when they threaten to overwhelm; who are his servants, and come when he bids them come, and go when he bids them go.
They go up by the mountains, they go down by the valleys,.... The Targum is,
"they ascend out of the deep to the mountains;'
that is, the waters, when they went off the earth at the divine orders, steered their course up the mountains, and then went down by the valleys to the place appointed for them; they went over hills and dales, nothing could stop them or retard their course till they came to their proper place; which is another instance of the almighty power of the Son of God. Some render the words, "the mountains ascended, the valleys descended
Thou hast set a bound, that they may not pass over,.... The Targum adds,
"to the rolling waves of the sea.'
Set doors with bolts and bars, cliffs, rocks, and shores: and, what is more surprising, sand, which is penetrable, flexible, and moveable, is set as a perpetual bound to the raging ocean and its waves, which they cannot pass over: see Job 38:8. So the Lord has set a bound to the proud waters of afflictions, and says, Thus far shall ye go, and no farther; and to the life of man, which he cannot exceed, Job 14:5. But he has given man a law, as a rule to walk by, as the boundary of his conversation, and this he transgresses; in which he is less tractable than the raging sea and its waves. That they turn not again to cover the earth; as they did when it was first made, Psalm 104:6 that is, not without the divine leave and power; for they did turn again and cover the earth, at the time of the flood; but never shall more. Some think there is no need to make this exception; since this was written after the flood, and when God had swore that the waters should no more go over the earth, Isaiah 54:9.
He sendeth the springs into the valleys,.... The Targum is,
"who sendeth fountains into the rivers.'
Either from the waters of the sea, which being drained through the sand, become sweet and drinkable; or from the hills and mountains. This is an instance of divine goodness, that having removed the waters from the earth, and shut them up in the sea, and which, through the saltness of them, not being proper drink for men and beasts, he has been pleased to form and open springs, fountains, wells, and rivers of fresh water in the valleys, for the supply of both. Though this is not to be compared with the wells of salvation, and springs and fountains of grace, which he has opened for his chosen people. God himself is a spring or fountain of living water; his love is a river, whose streams delight the city of God; his covenant a source and spring of all blessings and promises. Christ is the fountain of gardens; his fulness is a supply for all his people: the Spirit of God and his grace are a well of living water, springing up unto eternal life. The word and ordinances are the springs in Zion,
which run among the hills, the several congregated churches, to the watering and refreshing of them; just as springs and rivers of water run in the dales and valleys among the hills, by which they are bounded.
They give drink to every beast of the field,.... These fountains, springs, and rivers, afford water for all the beasts of the field; who are therefore said to honour and praise the Lord on account of it, Isaiah 43:19.
The wild asses quench their thirst; or "break"
By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation,.... Another use of the springs, fountains, and rivers of water; by the sides and on the shores of these, some birds delight to be, and on trees that grow here do they build their nests; and here, having wetted their throats, they sit, and chirp, and sing: to doves, by rivers of water, is the allusion in Song of Solomon 5:12.
Which sing among the branches; of trees that grow by the sides of fountains and rivers; see Ezekiel 17:23. To such birds may saints be compared; being, like them, weak, defenceless, and timorous; liable to be taken in snares, and sometimes wonderfully delivered; as well as given to wanderings and strayings: and to fowls of the heaven, being heaven born souls, and partakers of the heavenly calling. These have their habitation by the fountain of Jacob, by the river of divine love, beside the still waters of the sanctuary; where they sing the songs of Zion, the songs of electing, redeeming, and calling grace.
He watereth the hills from his chambers,.... The house of his superior treasures, as the Targum. The airy regions, Psalm 104:3 with the clouds of heaven, by the rain which they drop down upon them; the usefulness of which blessings of nature is largely described in this and some following verses. "The hills", which are naturally dry and barren, and receive but little advantage from the springs, fountains, and rivers below, are supplied with water from above; and become fruitful, bear herbage, and are clothed with flocks. This seems to refer to the first rain that was upon the earth, Genesis 2:5 and which favour is continued to all lands, excepting some part of the land of Egypt, and in all ages since; see Psalm 65:9. So ministers of the word, who are set in the first place, and are eminent in the church of God, and who water others, are watered themselves with the gifts and graces of the Spirit descending from above, as the apostles were, in an extraordinary manner, at the day of Pentecost; and as others in a more ordinary manner daily are. So likewise the churches of Christ, comparable to hills and mountains for firmness and visibility, and the several members thereof, are watered with the dews of divine favour, with the rain of the divine word; which comes down from heaven as the rain does, and drops and distils like that; and with the grace of the divine Spirit, whereby their souls become as a watered garden, whose springs fail not.
The earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works; with the fruits which grow out of it by means of rain, as are after mentioned; herbs, grass, and trees, so Aben Ezra: or with the influences of the heavens, which are the work of God's hands, and by which the earth is made fruitful; or more particularly with the virtue and efficacy of the rain, so Kimchi; which is the Lord's peculiar work, Jeremiah 14:22. This the earth drinking in, is as satisfied with as a thirsty man is with drinking a draught of water; see Deuteronomy 11:11. So the people of God, comparable to the good earth that drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, are satisfied with the love of God, with the blessings of his grace, with the doctrines of his Gospel, and with the ordinances of his house.
He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle,.... By means of rain falling upon the tender herb, and upon the mown grass, whereby provision of food is made for those creatures that live upon grass.
And herb for the service of man: some herbs being for physic for him, and others for food, and all more or less for his use. Herbs were the original food of man, Genesis 1:29 and still a dinner of herbs, where love is, is better than a stalled ox, and hatred therewith, Proverbs 15:17. Some render it, "and herb at the tillage of man"
That he may bring forth food out of the earth; either that man may do it by his tillage; or rather that the Lord may do it, by sending rain, and causing the grass and herbs to grow. However, man's food, as well as the food of beasts, comes out of the earth, as he himself does, and to which he must return.
And wine that maketh glad the heart of man,.... That is, by means of rain watering the earth, vines are caused to grow out of it; which produce wine, that has such a virtue in it, as to cheer the heart of man, even of a miserable, distressed, and afflicted man, as the word
And oil to make his face to shine: or, "to make his face shine more than oil"
"to enlighten the face with oil.'
To this the grace of the Spirit is often compared in Scripture, with which both Christ and his members are said to be anointed, Acts 10:38. This not only cheers and refreshes them, and is therefore called the oil of joy and gladness, Psalm 45:7, but beautifies and adorns them, and even makes them fat and flourishing, and so their faces to shine; as well as causes their lamps of profession to burn clearly, and the light of their good works to shine before men to the glory of God.
And bread which strengthens man's heart: the earth being watered with rain, causes the wheat sown in it to grow up; of which bread is made for the support of man's life, and is the chief sustenance of it; and is therefore commonly called "the staff of life", and, by the prophet, "the whole stay of bread", Isaiah 3:1, by which human nature is invigorated, and the strength of man is kept up and increased; for the phrase, see Genesis 18:5. Of this nature are the provisions of God's house, which go by the same name, the word and ordinances; and especially Christ Jesus himself, the true and living bread; by which the Christian's spiritual life is supported and maintained, and he is comforted and refreshed, and strengthened for every good work.
The trees of the Lord are full of sap,.... Or "satiated"
The cedars of Lebanon which he hath planted; a mountain on the borders of Judea, so called from its whiteness, through the snow on it, as the Alps are; and where grew great quantities of large and spreading cedars, which were not of man's, but of the Lord's planting: these were watered and made to grow with the rain of heaven. Rauwolff
"though this hill in former ages has been quite covered over with cedars, yet they are so decreased, that I could tell, says he, no more but twenty four, that stood round about in a circle; and two others, the branches whereof are quite decayed with age.'
Where the birds make their nests,.... As they do in large, tall, spreading trees: not any particular "birds", as the sparrow, to which the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions, and Apollinarius, restrain it: but birds in general are intended; and especially such as build in large trees, as before and after mentioned. Jarchi applies it to the Israelites dwelling among the trees in the garden of Eden: and it may be much better applied to the saints dwelling in the churches, among the trees of righteousness, under the shadow of Gospel ordinances; see Ezekiel 17:23.
As for the stork, the fir trees are her house; where she makes her nest, and brings up her young. Kimchi says it is a large bird, and builds its nest in high trees, as in cedars; but the bird which goes by the name of "pelargus" with the Greeks, and of "ciconia" with the Latins, and of "stork" with us, for the most part builds its nest on the tops of towers and temples
The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats,.... Who have their name in Hebrew
And the rocks for the conies; who being a feeble folk, make their houses in them, to protect them from creatures of superior power and strength, Proverbs 30:26. Some interpret it of the "hedgehog", as the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions: others of "hares", as the Syriac and Arabic, and so Apollinarius; and others of "mountain mice". Now what the hills and rocks are to the above creatures, a refuge and a habitation for them, that Christ is to those that fly to him for refuge; though weak and feeble, sinful and unworthy, he is their rock, the rock of their refuge, their strong tower, and place of defence.
He appointeth the moon for seasons,.... Or, "he made"
The sun knoweth his going down; not the going down of the moon, which is the sense of some, according to Kimchi; but his own going down; and so he knows his rising, to which this is opposed, Psalm 50:1 and every revolution, diurnal or annual, he makes; and which he constantly and punctually observes, as if he was a creature endued with reason and understanding; see Psalm 19:5. He knows the time of his setting, as the Targum, Syriac, and Arabic versions; and also the place where he is to set, at the different seasons of the year, and indeed every day. This luminary is an emblem of Christ, the sun of righteousness, Psalm 84:11 the fountain of all light; the light of nature, grace, and glory; and of all spiritual life and heat, as well as fruitfulness. He arose at his incarnation, and set at his death, the time of both which he full well knew; and he has his risings and settings, with respect to the manifestation of himself to his people, or hiding himself from them, which depend on his pleasure.
Thou makest darkness, and it is night,.... The darkness was before the light, and the night before the day, Genesis 1:2 and now the darkness and night are made by the setting of the sun before mentioned; see Isaiah 45:7.
Wherein all the beasts of the field do creep forth; out of their dens, and range about for their prey, as the evening wolves and others: and these are not the only creatures that choose the night and darkness; all wicked men do the same; whose deeds are evil, and do not care to come to the light, lest they should be reproved; particularly drunkards, adulterers, thieves, and murderers, John 3:20. So the Scribes and Pharisees, when they consulted to take away the life of Christ, and agreed with Judas to betray him, did it in the night: so false teachers, who are wolves in sheep's clothing, when it is a night of darkness with the church, take the advantage of it, to creep about and spread their pernicious doctrines; see 2 Timothy 3:6.
The young lions roar after their prey,.... Or, "at the prey"
And seek their meat from God; as all creatures in their way do; as the ravens by crying, so the young lions by roaring; neither one nor other can provide for themselves, but God, in his providence, supplies them all with food; see Psalm 104:27. And should not we seek and ask our meat of God too, even both temporal and spiritual? And may we not expect it from him? Does he feed the ravens, and also the young lions, and will he not take care of his own people, and feed them with food convenient for them, and especially when they ask it of him? Psalm 34:10.
The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together,.... Having gone some one way, some another, seeking their prey; but upon the sun's rising gather together in order to return from whence they came, abhorring the light of the sun, as some creatures do, and fearing being hunted and taken by men, the fear of whom is still in some measure upon the beasts of the field, Genesis 9:2. So wicked men do not care for the light of the day, nor do false teachers choose to come to the light of the word; these owls and bats, these, as Tertullian calls them; and Satan himself chooses to set upon persons when they are in darkness, and in melancholy and disconsolate frames; and is afraid of believers, when they put on the armour of light, especially the shield of faith, and resist him with it, then he flees from them.
And lay them down in their dens; for rest and safety, and to feed themselves and young ones with the ravin they bring with them; see Song of Solomon 4:8.
Man goeth forth to his work,.... Having taken sleep in the night, being comfortably refreshed, and his strength recruited; he rises with the rising sun, and goes forth cheerfully and with intrepidity to his work in the field, or elsewhere, the beasts being fled and gone.
And to his labour until the evening; to till the ground, and do other services and labour, either of the head or hand; for man is born and designed for labour, and not for sloth and idleness: in his innocent state he was set to dress the garden and keep it; and, after the fall, his doom was to get his bread by the sweat of his brow; and he is to work while the day lasts, till the evening and night come on, when he betakes himself to sleep and rest again. So the believer, though the work of redemption and salvation is wrought for him, and the work of grace is wrought in him, each by another hand; yet he has work enough to do, which he is created for, and under obligation to perform; and in which he is to continue steadfast and immovable, while the day of life lasts, till the night of death comes, and no man can work; and then he rests from his labours, and his works follow him.
O Lord, how manifold are thy works,.... The psalmist having taken notice of many of the works of creation, stops and wonders at the number of them; though he had not gone through them all, and there were even things innumerable behind; see Psalm 104:25, he admires the sum of them, how great it was; and not only the quantity but the quality of them; for so the words may be rendered, "how great are thy works"
In wisdom hast thou made them all not only one thing, as the heavens, Psalm 136:5, but everything is wisely contrived and made; there is a most glorious display of the wisdom of God in the most minute thing his hands have made; he has made everything beautiful in its season: a skilful artificer, when he has finished his work and looks it over again, often finds some fault or another in it: but when the Lord had finished his works of creation, and looked over them, he saw that all was good; infinite wisdom itself could find no blemish in them: what weak, foolish, stupid creatures must they be that pretend to charge any of the works of God with folly, or want of wisdom? Some by "wisdom" here understand Christ himself, the wisdom of God; and not amiss, since without him was not anything made; see Proverbs 3:19.
The earth is full of thy riches: or possessions
So is this great and wide sea,.... One of the great and manifold works of God, made in his wisdom, and full of his riches and possessions, as the earth is; this is that collection of waters which God called seas, Genesis 1:10 and is, as Kimchi observes, great in length, and wide and spacious in breadth; or "broad of hands"
Wherein are things creeping innumerable; so that it seems there are reptiles in the water as well as on land; and indeed every creature without feet, and that goes upon its belly, in the element where it is, whether earth or water, is a creeping thing; of these swimming or creeping things the number is exceeding great, especially of the latter sort; fishes increasing much more than the beasts of the earth. Their species are innumerable; so their kinds or sorts are reckoned up by some one hundred and forty four
Both small and great beasts; for there are creatures in the seas which answer to those on the dry land, both of the lesser and greater sort, as sea lions, sea horses, sea cows, sea hogs, &c. these may represent the rulers and governors of the world, supreme and subordinate; it is no unusual thing for great monarchies, and persons of great power and authority, to be signified by beasts rising out of the sea, Daniel 7:3.
There go the ships,.... From place to place, from one end of the world to the other, for the sake of merchandise
There is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein; the Targum adds,
"for the righteous at the feast of the house of his habitation.'
Of this creature there is an account in Job 41:1. Some take it to be the crocodile, which is both a sea and river fish; the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Ethiopic, and Arabic versions, and so Apollinarius, call it the dragon; it is more generally thought to be the whale; Aben Ezra says it is the name of every great fish; it is a sportive creature, tumbles about in the great sea, and plays with the waters of it, which it tosses up in great quantities; and with the fishes of the sea, which it devours at pleasure; and laughs at the shaking of the spear; and to which mariners throw out their empty casks to play with, when near them, and they in danger by it; see Job 41:5. This creature is generally reckoned by the ancients a figure of Satan, it being king over all the children of pride, Job 41:34 as he is the prince of the power of the air, and god of this world; who has been playing his tricks in it from the beginning of it, not only deceiving our first parents, but all the nations of the world; nor are saints ignorant of his devices. It sometimes describes a tyrannical prince, as the kings of Babylon and of Egypt, Isaiah 27:1 and is a true picture of antichrist, the beast which rose out of the sea; nor is there any like him on earth; see Revelation 13:1.
These wait all upon thee,.... Or "hope in thee"
That thou mayest give them their meat in due season; or "in his time"
That thou givest them they gather,.... What God bestows upon them as a bounty of Providence they take and make use of, and in their way thankfully, and without repining; some gather it up for immediate use and service, and not into barns; others gather it up for time to come, as the ant, Matthew 6:26. Kimchi understands this of a time of scarcity, when they gather here a little and there a little; as he does the following clause of a time of plenty.
Thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good; God, in whose hand all things are, and from whence all things come, opens his hand of providence, and liberally and bountifully gives, as this phrase signifies, Deuteronomy 15:11 and all his creatures are filled with his good things to their satisfaction: and thus the spiritual food which he gives his people, they gather it by the hand of faith, as the Israelites gathered the manna in the wilderness every morning, and according to their eating, what was sufficient for them; and to whom he gives liberally, even all things richly to enjoy; all things pertaining to life and godliness; Christ, and all things along with him; abundance of grace here, and glory hereafter; and they are satisfied with his good things as with marrow and fatness.
Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled,.... God may be said to hide his face from the creatures when he withholds their food from them, when there is a scarcity of provisions, a famine in the land; when there is no pasture for them to feed on, nor brooks of water to drink of; then are they troubled or perplexed, as in Joel 1:18 and know not what to do, nor where to go for help, but faint, and sink, and die. So in a spiritual sense when God hides his face from his people, removes his Shechinah, or divine Majesty and Presence, as the Targum here; and withdraws the influences of his grace and Spirit; or when they have no food for their souls, or what they have is not blessed, then are they troubled, Psalm 30:7.
Thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust; their original dust, from whence they sprung, as man himself does; the breath of all is from the Lord; he gives it to his creatures, and when he pleases he takes it away; and when he does, they die and become dust again.
Thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created,.... Thy Holy Spirit, as the Targum, who was at first concerned in the creation of all things, the heavens and the earth, and man upon it, Genesis 1:2, Job 26:13 which may be alluded to here; though it seems chiefly to intend the generation and production of creatures in the room of those that die off; that so their species may be preserved, and there may be a constant succession of them, as there is in all ages, Ecclesiastes 1:4.
And thou renewest the face of the earth; by a new set of creatures of all kinds being brought upon it to fill it. As there is also a daily renewing it every morning by the rising sun, giving fresh life and vigour to all created beings; and a yearly one every spring, when the face of all nature is renewed and revived. Jarchi and Arama understand it of the resurrection of the dead; this sense Kimchi mentions as an article of their faith, but not as the sense of the text. It may be applied to the renewing work of the Spirit of God in the souls of men, by whom they are made new, and by whom they are daily renewed in the Spirit of their minds. And there are particular seasons in which God sends forth his Spirit and renews the face of things in the world, and in his churches; upon the effusion of his Spirit in the first times of the Gospels, there was a new face of things, not only in the land of Judea, but throughout the whole Gentile world, where old things passed away, and all things became new; as in the latter day, when the Spirit shall be poured forth from on high, there will be a renewing of the face of the earth again; it will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea; the kingdoms of it will become Christ's; new heavens and a new earth will be created, and Jerusalem will be made a rejoicing, and her people a joy, Isaiah 65:17.
The glory of the Lord shall endure for ever,.... The glory which arises from the works of his hands, which is due unto him, and shall be given him; this is opposed to the perishing and fading glory of all created beings: and as Christ is the person spoken of throughout the whole psalm, this may be understood of his glory as the only begotten of the Father; and which is equal to his Father's glory, and is the same yesterday, today, and for ever; and of the glory of his office as Mediator: and of all his works of nature and grace, of creation and redemption: nor will there be creatures wanting, angels and men to glorify his name, to all eternity. The Targum, Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions render it as a prayer, "let the glory of the Lord be for ever"; or, let him be for ever glorified, on account of the perfections of his nature, and the works of his hands; as he will and ought to be.
The Lord shall rejoice in his works; being well pleased with them, as he was with the works of creation; they appearing, on a survey of them, to be all very good, Genesis 1:31 so he rejoices in the sustaining and preservation of them; and the rather when he is glorified in them. And this should be a reason why glory should be given him, that he may rejoice in his works, and not be grieved, as he is sometimes said to be and to repent of his making them, Genesis 6:6. Christ rejoices in the work of redemption, which he undertook and performed with pleasure; he rejoiced at the finishing it, and he rejoices in the application of it to his people and will rejoice in their complete enjoyment of it; they being the objects of his love, in whom he has an interest; whom he engaged for, are the purchase of his blood, and for whom he prays and intercedes; he rejoices in them as the work of his hands now; in their persons, who are his "hephzibah", in whom he delights; "his beulah", to whom he is married: he rejoices in his own grace wrought in them, and in the exercise of it on him; he rejoices over them to do them good, and never ceases doing good to them and for them.
He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth,.... As Sinai did when he descended on it, Psalm 68:8, to which the allusion seems to be; and a look from him, a severe one, a frowning one, will make the inhabitants of the earth to tremble; a providential look, sending famine, pestilence or the sword among them. A displeased look will make the hearts of his own children tremble, as no doubt Peter's did, when the Lord looked upon him, and he remembered his word; and if a look, much more a word, an awful word, as his voice in the law, pronouncing such cursed as keep it not; and especially the tremendous sentence he will pronounce on the wicked at the last day,
go, ye cursed, &c. and if a look and a word are so terrible, what will be the lighting down of his arm, with the indignation of his anger upon those who have refused to give him glory? For the words seem to carry in them a reason why he should be glorified, taken from the consequence of not glorifying him, who has such a majesty in his looks, such a terror in his countenance, and such power in his hands.
He toucheth the hills, and they smoke; as Sinai likewise did, when he was upon it, Exodus 19:18, and as other hills do, when touched with lightning; the tops of mountains, the higher they are, the sooner and the more they smoke
I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live,.... Or, "in my life or lives
I will sing praise unto my God while I have my being: because he lived, and moved, and had his being in him; and it was continued to him, and he was upheld in it; and not only for his being, but for his well being; as for his temporal, so for his spiritual mercies, which he had from him as his God, as his covenant God; such as peace, pardon, righteousness, and eternal life: a view of God as our own God, such a view as Thomas had of Christ, when he said, "my Lord, and my God", is enough to make a man sing; and when the psalmist says he would do this as long as he lived and had a being, this is not to be understood as if this work would end with his life, or that he had no thought of praising him hereafter; but it signifies his constancy in this employment, while in the land of the living; knowing that in the grave he could not praise the Lord with his bodily organs as now; though he knew that this would be his eternal employ in the world of spirits, in his soul, during its separate state, and in soul and body after the resurrection.
My meditation of him shall be sweet,.... Of the glories, excellencies, and perfections of his person; of his offices, as Mediator, King, Priest, and Prophet, the Saviour and Redeemer; of his works of creation, providence, and redemption; of his word, the blessed truths and comfortable doctrines of it; of his providential dispensations, and gracious dealings with his people in the present state; which to meditate upon, when grace is in exercise, is very sweet, delightful, and comfortable. The Targum renders it as a petition,
"let my meditation be sweet before him;'
that is, grateful and acceptable to him: or, as the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions, "let my speech", discourse, colloquy, address in prayer; see Psalm 141:2, or, "let my praise", so the Arabic and Syriac versions: the spiritual sacrifices both of prayer and praise are acceptable to God through Christ; and the speech of the church, and every believer, whether in the one way or the other, is sweet to Christ, very pleasant and delightful to him, Song of Solomon 2:14.
I will be glad in the Lord: the Targum is,
"in the Word of the Lord;'
in the essential Word, the Lord Jesus Christ; in his person, the greatness, glory, beauty, and fulness of it; in his righteousness, its purity, perfection, and perpetuity; in his salvation, being so suitable, complete, and glorious.
Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth,.... Not in common, for all men are sinners, even good men are not without sin; but notorious sinners, whose lives are one continued series and course of sinning; such as will not have Christ to reign over them, and do not give him the glory due unto him; particularly antichrist, the man of sin, and his followers; they that worship the beast and his image: these will be consumed with the breath of his mouth, and with the brightness of his coming, and will perish out of his land, 2 Thessalonians 2:3.
And let the wicked be no more; as the wicked one, antichrist, will be no more when consumed; there will never rise another, when the beast and false prophet are taken and cast alive into the lake of fire; there will no more of the antichristian party remain, the remnant of them will be slain with the sword; after the battle of Armageddon, there will be none left of the followers of antichrist, nor any ever rise up any more.
Bless thou the Lord, O my soul; as for his mercies, spiritual and temporal, so for the destruction of all his enemies. The psalm begins and ends alike as the preceding.
Praise ye the Lord, or hallelujah: this is the first time this word is used in this book of Psalms, though frequently afterwards: and it is observable that it is only used, in the New Testament, at the prophecy of the destruction of antichrist, Revelation 19:1 which may serve to confirm the sense before given; and is to be considered as a call upon the saints to praise the Lord, on account of his righteous judgments on his and his church's enemies; so Aben Ezra.
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Sunday, December 11th, 2016
the Third Week of Advent
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