Lectionary Calendar
Monday, July 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 104

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty.

Bless the Lord, O my soul — This was much in David’s mouth, as Deo gratias was in Austin’s. See Psalms 103:1 ; Psalms 103:22 , after which this psalm is fitly set. There he blesseth God for his benefits to himself and the whole Church; here, for his works of creation and government common to the whole world. The Greek and Latin translations prefix this title, David de generatione Mundi. υπερ του κοσμου συστασεως , Continet opera Bereshith, saith Kimchi. It is of the same subject with the first chapter of Genesis, the first five days’ works are here after a sort considered and celebrated, as a mirror wherein God’s majesty may be clearly discerned. This psalm is by some called David’s natural theology.

Thou art very greatNon molis dimensione, sed virtutis et rerum gestarum gloria, Thou hast made thee a great name by thy works of wonder.

Thou art clothed with honour and majestyi.e. With thy creatures, which are as a garment, both to hide thee in one respect, and to hold thee forth in another, to be seen.

Verse 2

Who coverest [thyself] with light as [with] a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:

Who coverest thyself with light — That lovely creature that first shone out of darkness, and is chief among all things sensible, as coming nearest to the unapproachable glory of God; like as the robe royal is next unto the king. Herod upon a set day came forth arrayed in royal apparel, in cloth of silver, saith Josephus, which being beaten upon by the sun’s beams, dazzled the eyes of the people, and drew from them that blasphemous acclamation, Acts 12:21 . God, when he made the world, showed himself in all his royalty; neither can we ascribe too much unto him.

Who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain — The whole expanse or firmament is as a canopy over God’s throne, or rather as a curtain or screen between us and the Divine majesty, the sight whereof we cannot bear.

Verse 3

Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind:

Who layest the beams of his chambers in the waters — God, as he hath founded the solid earth upon the fluid waters, Psalms 26:9 ; so the highest heaven upon those waters above the firmament, Genesis 1:7 Psalms 17:11 . This notably sets forth the wisdom and power of this Almighty architect, since artists say, In solido extruendam, The foundation of a building should be hard and rocky, and experience sealeth to it.

Who maketh the clouds, … — These are his chariot royal, drawn (or rather driven) by the winds, as his chariot horses.

Verse 4

Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire:

Who maketh his angels spirits — Immaterial substances, fit to attend upon the Father of spirits, and with speed to move suddenly and invisibly into most remote parts.

His ministers a flaming fire — Seraphims they are called for their burning zeal, like so many heavenly salamanders; as also for their irresistible power; the angel that destroyed Sennacherib’s army is held to have done it by burning them within, although it appeared not outwardly, as some have been burnt by lightning.

Verse 5

[Who] laid the foundations of the earth, [that] it should not be removed for ever.

Who laid the foundations of the earth — Heb. He hath founded the earth upon her bases. See Psalms 24:2 Job 38:4 ; Job 38:6 . See Trapp on " Psalms 24:2 " See Trapp on " Job 38:4 " See Trapp on " Job 38:6 "

That it should not be removed for ever — Neither can it be, by reason of its own weightiness whereby it remaineth immovable in the centre of the universe. Say it should move any way, it must move towards heaven, and so ascend, which is utterly against the nature of heavy bodies.

Verse 6

Thou coveredst it with the deep as [with] a garment: the waters stood above the mountains.

Thou coverest it with the deep as with a garmentOperueras, Thou hadst at first covered it, till thou for man’s sake hadst made a distinction; for else such a garment would this have been to the earth as the shirt made for the murdering of Agamemnon, where he had no issue out.

The waters stood above the mountains — As the garment, in the proper use of it, is above the body; and so they would still, did not God, for our sakes, set them their bounds and borders.

Verse 7

At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away.

At thy rebuke they fled — At thy word of command and angry countenance, overawing that raging and ranging creature: so Christ rebuked the winds and waves.

They hasted away — They ran away headlong, as for life.

Verse 8

They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys unto the place which thou hast founded for them.

They go up by the mountains — They run any way, in post haste, breaking through thick and thin, and nowhere resting, till embodied in the abyss, their elemental place and station. This is check to our dulness and disobedience. If a man had been present, saith one, when God thus commanded the seas to retreat from the earth, he might have seen both a terrible and a joyful spectacle.

Verse 9

Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth.

Thou hast set a bound, … — A certain compass and course; an argument of God’s singular and sweet power and providence. See Job 38:10-11 , See Trapp on " Job 38:10 " See Trapp on " Job 38:11 "

Verse 10

He sendeth the springs into the valleys, [which] run among the hills.

He sendeth the springs into the valleys — God doth this; he by certain issues or vents sendeth forth the waves of the sea (which here and there break out in springs, leaving their saltness behind them), that men and other earthly creatures might have that υδωρ μεν αριστον (as Pindarus styleth it), for the satisfying of their thirst and for other necessary uses. This is David’s philosophy, and his son Solomon saith the same, Ecclesiastes 1:7 ; though Aristotle assign another cause of the perennity of the fountains and rivers.

Verse 11

They give drink to every beast of the field: the wild asses quench their thirst.

They give drink to every beast — A great mercy, as we have lately found in these late dry years, 1653, 1654, wherein God hath given us to know the worth of water by the want of it, Bona sunt a tergo formosissima.

The wild asses — Those hottest creatures, Job 39:8-11 .

Verse 12

By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, [which] sing among the branches.

By them shall the fowls of the heaven

Which sing among the branches — Most melodiously, many of them; therefore it is reckoned as a judgment to lose them, Jeremiah 4:25 ; Jeremiah 9:10 .

Verse 13

He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works.

He watereth the hills from his chambers — That is from his clouds, he giveth water to hills and high places, where wells and rivers are not.

The earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy worksi.e. With the rain of thy clouds, dropping fatness.

Verse 14

He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth;

He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle — He caused it to grow at first, before cattle were created, Genesis 1:11-12 . And so he doth still, as the first cause; by rain and dew from heaven, as the second cause.

And herb for the service of manAd esum et ad usum, for food, medicine, …, Genesis 1:29 . Green herbs, it seemeth, was a great dish with the ancients, which, therefore, they called Holus, ab ολον . Aristippus told his fellow philosopher, who fed upon them, If you can please Dionysius you need not eat green herbs, he presently replied, If you can eat green herbs you need not please Dionysius, and be his parasite.

That he may bring forth food out of the earthAlma parens Tellus "Labour not for the meat that perisheth, but for the meat," …, John 6:27 .

Verse 15

And wine [that] maketh glad the heart of man, [and] oil to make [his] face to shine, and bread [which] strengtheneth man’s heart.

And wine that maketh glad — That he may the more cheerfully serve his Maker, his heart being lifted up, as Jehoshaphat’s was, in the ways of obedience, Judges 9:13 Proverbs 31:6-7 .

And oil to make his face to shine — The word signifieth ointments of all sorts, whereof see Pliny, lib. 12, 13. These man might want and subsist; but God is bountiful.

And bread which strengtheneth, … — In nature, Animantis cuiusque vita est fuga; were it not for the repair of nutrition the natural life would be extinguished. The Latins call bread panis , of the Greek παν ; because it is the chief nourishment.

Verse 16

The trees of the LORD are full [of sap]; the cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted;

The trees of the Lord are fall of sap — Heb. are satisfied, viz. with moisture, sucked by their roots out of the earth plentifully watered, whereby they are nourished, grow mightily, and serve man for meat, drink, medicine, …

The cedars of Lebanon — These are instanced, as tallest and most durable. God’s temple at Jerusalem was built of them; and so was the devil’s temple at Ephesus, for he will needs be God’s ape.

Verse 17

Where the birds make their nests: [as for] the stork, the fir trees [are] her house.

Where the birds make their nests — Each, according to their natural instinct, with wonderful art.

As for the stork — That Pietaticultrix, as Petronius calleth her (and her name in Hebrew soundeth as much), because she nourisheth and cherisheth the old ones whereof she came; whence αντιπελαργειν , Genetricum senectam invicem educant (Plin.). Ciconiis pietas eximia inest (Solin.).

Verse 18

The high hills [are] a refuge for the wild goats; [and] the rocks for the conies.

The high hills are a refuge — These wild, but weak, creatures are so wise, as to secure themselves from violence; when pursued they run to their refuges; and should not we to God, for the securing of our comforts, and safeguarding of our persons?

Verse 19

He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down.

He appointed the moon for seasons — Most nations reckoned the year by the moon, rather than by the sun.

The sun knoweth his going down — As if he were a living and intelligent creature; so justly doth he observe the law laid upon him by God, and runs through his work. See Job 38:12 .

Verse 20

Thou makest darkness, and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep [forth].

Thou makest darkness — Which, though it be dreadful, yet is it useful, and in the vicissitude of light and darkness much of God’s wisdom and goodness is to be seen. We must see that we turn not the day into night, nor night into day, without some special and urgent occasion.

Verse 21

The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God.

The young lions roar — Rousing themselves out of their dens by night, and then usually seizing upon what prey God sendeth them in; for they are at his, and not at their own, finding.

And seek — Like as the young ravens cry to him, Psalms 147:9 . by implication only. See Joel 1:18 ; Joel 1:20 .

Verse 22

The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens.

They yather themselves toyether — viz. Into their dens and lurking holes, smitten with fear of light and of men. A sweet providence, but little considered.

Verse 23

Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening.

Man goeth forth unto his work — His honest employment in his particular place and calling, whether manual or mental; eating his bread in the sweat either of his brow or of his brain.

Until the evening — That time of rest and refreshment. The Lord Burleigh (William Cecil), when he put off his gown at night, used to say, Lie there, Lord Treasurer; and, bidding adieu to all state affairs, disposed himself to his quiet rest.

Verse 24

O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.

O Lord, how manifold, …q.d. They are so many and so great that I cannot recount or reckon them up, but am even swallowed up of wonderment; all that I can say is, that they are magna et mirifica. In man’s body only there are miracles enough, between head and foot, to fill a volume.

The earth is full — It is God’s great purse, Psalms 24:1 .

Verse 25

[So is] this great and wide sea, wherein [are] things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts.

So is this great and wide seaLatum manibus, id est sinubus; yet not so great and wide as man’s heart, wherein is not only that leviathan, some special foul lusts, but creeping things innumerable, crawling bugs and baggage vermin.

Wherein are creeping things innumerable — Far more, and of more kinds, than there are on earth.

Verse 26

There go the ships: [there is] that leviathan, [whom] thou hast made to play therein.

There go the ships — The use whereof was first showed by God in Noah’s ark, whence afterwards Audax Iapeti genus, Japhet’s offspring sailed, and replenished the islands.

There is that leviathan — Whereof see Job 41:1-34 , with notes.

Verse 27

These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give [them] their meat in due season.

These wait all upon thee — The great housekeeper of the world, who carvest them out their meet measures of meat, and at fit seasons. Of thee they have it, per causarum concatenationem.

Verse 28

[That] thou givest them they gather: thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good.

That thou givest them they gather — Neither have they the least morsel of meat but what thou castest them by thy providence. Turcicure imperium quantum quantum est nihil est nisi panis mica quam dives paterfamilias proiecit caniubs, saith Luther.

Thou openest thine hand — By opening the bosom of the earth thou richly providest for them, ο δοτηρ εαων .

Verse 29

Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.

Thou hidest thy facei.e. Thou withdrawest thy favour, thy concurrence, thine influence, they are troubled, or terrified, a cold sweat sitteth upon their limbs, animam agunt, they shortly expire; for in God we live, move, and have our being, Acts 17:28 A frown of Augustus Caesar proved to be the death of Cornelius Gallus. Sir Christopher Hatton, Lord Chancellor of England, died Sept. 20, 1591, of a flux of his urine and grief of mind conceived upon some angry words given him by Queen Elizabeth (Camden).

Thou takest away their breath — Heb. Thou gatherest it, callest for it again, viz. their vital vigour.

Verse 30

Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.

Thou sendest forth thy spiritVirtutem vivificam.

They are created — Others of the same kind are; and so the face of the earth is renewed, while another generation springeth up. This is matter of praise to their Maker.

Verse 31

The glory of the LORD shall endure for ever: the LORD shall rejoice in his works.

The glory of the Lord shall endure for ever — Or, Let glory be to the Lord for ever, sc. for his great works of creation and conservation.

The Lord shall rejoice in his works — As he did at the creation, when he saw all to be good, and very good; so still, it doth God good, as it were, to see the poor creatures feed, and men to give him the honour of all.

Verse 32

He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth: he toucheth the hills, and they smoke.

He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth — This must be considered, that God may be as well feared as loved and praised.

He toucheth the hills, and they smoke — It is, therefore, ill falling into his hands, who can do such terrible things with his looks and touches.

Verse 33

I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.

I will siny unto the Lord — Though others be slack to do God this right, to help him to his own, to give him the glory due to his name, yet I will do it, and do it constantly, so long as I have a breath to draw.

Verse 34

My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD.

My meditation of him shall be sweet — Or, Let it be sweet unto him, let him kindly accept it, though it be mean and worthless, through Christ’s odour poured thereinto.

I will be glad in the Lord — Withdrawing my heart from other vile and vain delights, or, at least, vexed at mine own dullness, for being no more affected with such inexplicable ravishments.

Verse 35

Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless thou the LORD, O my soul. Praise ye the LORD.

Let the sinners be consumed, … — Such sinners against their own souls, as when they know God, or might know him by his wonderful works, glorify him not as God, neither are thankful, Romans 1:21 ; but pollute and abuse his good creatures, to his dishonour, fighting against him with those lives that he hath given them.

Bless thou the Lord, O my soul — The worse others are the better be thou, kindling thyself from their coldness, …

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 104". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/psalms-104.html. 1865-1868.
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