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104. Psalm 104
1Bless Jehovah, O my soul.
O Jehovah my God, thou art very great;
Thou art clothed with honor and majesty:
2Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment;
Who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain;
3Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters;
Who maketh the clouds his chariot;
Who walketh upon the wings of the wind;
4Who maketh awinds his messengers;
Flames of fire his ministers;
5 aWho laid the foundations of the earth,
That it should not be moved for ever.
6Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a vesture;
The waters stood above the mountains.
7At thy rebuke they fled;
At the voice of thy thunder they hasted away
8 a(The mountains rose, the valleys sank down)
Unto the place which thou hadst founded for them.
9Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over;
That they turn not again to cover the earth.
10He sendeth forth springs into the valleys;
They run among the mountains;
11They give drink to every beast of the field;
The wild asses quench their thirst.
12By them the birds of the heavens have their habitation;
They asing among the branches.
13He watereth the mountains from his chambers:
The earth is filled with the fruit of thy works.
14He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle,
And herb for the aservice of man;
That he may bring forth afood out of the earth,
15And wine that maketh glad the heart of man,
aAnd oil to make his face to shine,
And bread that strengtheneth man's heart.
16The trees of Jehovah are filled with moisture,
The cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted;
17Where the birds make their nests:
As for the stork, the fir-trees are her house.
18The high mountains are for the wild goats;
The rocks are a refuge for the conies.
19He appointed the moon for seasons:
The sun knoweth his going down.
20Thou makest darkness, and it is night,
Wherein all the beasts of the forest creep forth.
21The young lions roar after their prey,
And seek their food from God.
22The sun ariseth, they get them away,
And lay them down in their dens.
23Man goeth forth unto his work
And to his labor until the evening.
24O Jehovah, how manifold are thy works!
In wisdom hast thou made them all:
The earth is full of thy ariches.
25Yonder is the sea, great and wide,
Wherein are things creeping innumerable,
Both small and great beasts.
26There go the ships;
There is leviathan, whom thou hast formed to play atherein.
27These wait all for thee,
That thou mayest give them their food in due season.
28Thou givest unto them, they gather;
Thou openest thy hand, they are satisfied with good.
29Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled;
Thou atakest away their breath, they die,
And return to their dust.
30Thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created;
And thou renewest the face of the ground.
31Let the glory of Jehovah endure for ever;
Let Jehovah rejoice in his works:
32Who looketh on the earth, and it trembleth;
He toucheth the mountains, and they smoke.
33I will sing unto Jehovah as long as I live:
I will sing praise to my God while I have any being.
34Let thy meditation be sweet unto him:
I will rejoice in Jehovah.
35Let sinners be consumed out of the earth.
And let the wicked be no more.
Bless Jehovah, O my soul.
aPraise ye Jehovah.
The Divine Majesty.
1 Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. 2 Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain: 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: 4 Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire: 5 Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever. 6 Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains. 7 At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away. 8 They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys unto the place which thou hast founded for them. 9 Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth.
When we are addressing ourselves to any religious service we must stir up ourselves to take hold on God in it (Isa. lxiv. 7); so David does here. "Come, my soul, where art thou? What art thou thinking of? Here is work to be done, good work, angels' work; set about it in good earnest; let all the powers and faculties be engaged and employed in it: Bless the Lord, O my soul!" In these verses,
I. The psalmist looks up to the divine glory shining in the upper world, of which, though it is one of the things not seen, faith is the evidence. With what reverence and holy awe does he begin his meditation with that acknowledgment: O Lord my God! thou art very great! It is the joy of the saints that he who is their God is a great God. The grandeur of the prince is the pride and pleasure of all his good subjects. The majesty of God is here set forth by various instances, alluding to the figure which great princes in their public appearances covet to make. Their equipage, compared with his (even of the eastern kings, who most affected pomp), is but as the light of a glow-worm compared with that of the sun, when he goes forth in his strength. Princes appear great, 1. In their robes; and what are God's robes? Thou art clothed with honour and majesty, v. 1. God is seen in his works, and these proclaim him infinitely wise and good, and all that is great. Thou coverest thyself with light as with a garment, v. 2. God is light (1 John i. 5), the Father of lights (Jam. i. 17); he dwells in light (1 Tim. vi. 16); he clothes himself with it. The residence of his glory is in the highest heaven, that light which was created the first day, Gen. i. 3. Of all visible beings light comes nearest to the nature of a spirit, and therefore with that God is pleased to cover himself, that is, to reveal himself under that similitude, as men are seen in the clothes with which they cover themselves; and so only, for his face cannot be seen. 2. In their palaces or pavilions, when they take the field; and what is God's palace and his pavilion? He stretches out the heavens like a curtain, v. 2. So he did at first, when he made the firmament, which in the Hebrew has its name from its being expanded, or stretched out, Gen. i. 7. He made it to divide the waters as a curtain divides between two apartments. So he does still: he now stretches out the heavens like a curtain, keeps them upon the stretch, and they continue to this day according to his ordinance. The regions of the air are stretched out about the earth, like a curtain about a bed, to keep it warm, and drawn between us and the upper world, to break its dazzling light; for, though God covers himself with light, yet, in compassion to us, he makes darkness his pavilion. Thick clouds are a covering to him. The vastness of this pavilion may lead us to consider how great, how very great, he is that fills heaven and earth. He has his chambers, his upper rooms (so the word signifies), the beams whereof he lays in the waters, the waters that are above the firmament (v. 3), as he has founded the earth upon the seas and floods, the waters beneath the firmament. Though air and water are fluid bodies, yet, by the divine power, they are kept as tight and as firm in the place assigned them as a chamber is with beams and rafters. How great a God is he whose presence-chamber is thus reared, thus fixed! 3. In their coaches of state, with their stately horses, which add much to the magnificence of their entries; but God makes the clouds his chariots, in which he rides strongly, swiftly, and far above out of the reach of opposition, when at any time he will act by uncommon providences in the government of this world. He descended in a cloud, as in a chariot, to Mount Sinai, to give the law, and to Mount Tabor, to proclaim the gospel (Matt. xvii. 5), and he walks (a gentle pace indeed, yet stately) upon the wings of the wind. See Ps. xviii. 10, 11. He commands the winds, directs them as he pleases, and serves his own purposes by them. 4. In their retinue or train of attendants; and here also God is very great, for (v. 4) he makes his angels spirits. This is quoted by the apostle (Heb. i. 7) to prove the pre-eminence of Christ above the angels. The angels are here said to be his angels and his ministers, for they are under his dominion and at his disposal; they are winds, and a flame of fire, that is, they appeared in wind and fire (so some), or they are as swift as winds, and pure as flames; or he makes them spirits, so the apostle quotes it. They are spiritual beings; and, whatever vehicles they may have proper to their nature, it is certain they have not bodies as we have. Being spirits, they are so much the further removed from the encumbrances of the human nature and so much the nearer allied to the glories of the divine nature. And they are bright, and quick, and ascending, as fire, as a flame of fire. In Ezekiel's vision they ran and returned like a flash of lightning, Ezek. i. 14. Thence they are called seraphim—burners. Whatever they are, they are what God made them, what he still makes them; they derive their being from him, having the being he gave them, are held in being by him, and he makes what use he pleases of them.
II. He looks down, and looks about, to the power of God shining in this lower world. He is not so taken up with the glories of his court as to neglect even the remotest of his territories; no, not the sea and dry land.
1. He has founded the earth, v. 5. Though he has hung it upon nothing (Job xxvi. 2), ponderibus librata suis—balanced by its own weight, yet it is as immovable as if it had been laid upon the surest foundations. He has built the earth upon her basis, so that though it has received a dangerous shock by the sin of man, and the malice of hell strikes at it, yet it shall not be removed for ever, that is, not till the end of time, when it must give way to the new earth. Dr. Hammond's paraphrase of this is worth noting: "God has fixed so strange a place for the earth, that, being a heavy body, one would think it should fall every minute; and yet, which way soever we would imagine it to stir, it must, contrary to the nature of such a body, fall upwards, and so can have no possible ruin but by tumbling into heaven."
2. He has set bounds to the sea; for that also is his. (1.) He brought it within bounds in the creation. At first the earth, which, being the more ponderous body, would subside of course, was covered with the deep (v. 6): The waters were above the mountains; and so it was unfit to be, as it was designed, a habitation for man; and therefore, on the third day, God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered to one place, and let the dry land appear, Gen. i. 9. This command of God is here called his rebuke, as if he gave it because he was displeased that the earth was thus covered with water and not fit for man to dwell on. Power went along with this word, and therefore it is also called here the voice of his thunder, which is a mighty voice and produces strange effects, v. 7. At thy rebuke, as if they were made sensible that they were out of their place, they fled; they hasted away (they called, and not in vain, to the rocks and mountains to cover them), as it is said on another occasion (Ps. lxxii. 16), The waters saw thee, O God! the waters saw thee; they were afraid. Even those fluid bodies received the impression of God's terror. But was the Lord displeased against the rivers? No; it was for the salvation of his people, Hab. iii. 8, 13. So here; God rebuked the waters for man's sake, to prepare room for him; for men must not be made as the fishes of the sea (Hab. i. 14); they must have air to breathe in. Immediately therefore, with all speed, the waters retired, v. 8. They go over hill and dale (as we say), go up by the mountains and down by the valleys; they will neither stop at the former nor lodge in the latter, but make the best of their way to the place which thou hast founded for them, and there they make their bed. Let the obsequiousness even of the unstable waters teach us obedience to the word and will of God; for shall man alone of all the creatures be obstinate? Let their retiring to and resting in the place assigned them teach us to acquiesce in the disposals of that wise providence which appoints us the bounds of our habitation. (2.) He keeps it within bounds, v. 9. The waters are forbidden to pass over the limits set them; they may not, and therefore they do not, turn again to cover the earth. Once they did, in Noah's flood, because God bade them, but never since, because he forbids them, having promised not to drown the world again. God himself glorifies in this instance of his power (Job xxxviii. 8, &c.) and uses it as an argument with us to fear him, Jer. v. 22. This, if duly considered, would keep the world in awe of the Lord and his goodness, That the waters of the sea would soon cover the earth if God did not restrain them.
The Divine Bounty.
10 He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills. 11 They give drink to every beast of the field: the wild asses quench their thirst. 12 By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which sing among the branches. 13 He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works. 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; 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. 16 The trees of the Lord are full of sap; the cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted; 17 Where the birds make their nests: as for the stork, the fir trees are her house. 18 The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats; and the rocks for the conies.
Having given glory to God as the powerful protector of this earth, in saving it from being deluged, here he comes to acknowledge him as its bountiful benefactor, who provides conveniences for all the creatures.
I. He provides fresh water for their drink: He sends the springs into the valleys, v. 10. There is water enough indeed in the sea, that is, enough to drown us, but not one drop to refresh us, be we ever so thirsty—it is all so salt; and therefore God has graciously provided water fit to drink. Naturalists dispute about the origin of fountains; but, whatever are their second causes, here is their first cause; it is God that sends the springs into the brooks, which walk by easy steps between the hills, and receive increase from the rain-water that descends from them. These give drink, not only to man, and those creatures that are immediately useful to him, but to every beast of the field (v. 11); for where God has given life he provides a livelihood and takes care of all the creatures. Even the wild asses, though untameable and therefore of no use to man, are welcome to quench their thirst; and we have no reason to grudge it them, for we are better provided for, though born like the wild ass's colt. We have reason to thank God for the plenty of fair water with which he has provided the habitable part of his earth, which otherwise would not be habitable. That ought to be reckoned a great mercy the want of which would be a great affliction; and the more common it is the greater mercy it is. Usus communis aquarum—water is common for all.
II. He provides food convenient for them, both for man and beast: The heavens drop fatness; they hear the earth, but God hears them, Hos. ii. 21. He waters the hills from his chambers (v. 13), from those chambers spoken of (v. 3), the beams of which he lays in the waters, those store-chambers, the clouds that distil fruitful showers. The hills that are not watered by the rivers, as Egypt was by the Nile, are watered by the rain from heaven, which is called the river of God (Ps. lxv. 9), as Canaan was, Deut. xi. 11, 12. Thus the earth is satisfied with the fruit of his works, either with the rain it drinks in (the earth knows when it has enough; it is a pity that any man should not) or with the products it brings forth. It is a satisfaction to the earth to bear the fruit of God's works for the benefit of man, for thus it answers the end of its creation. The food which God brings forth out of the earth (v. 14) is the fruit of his works, which the earth is satisfied with. Observe how various and how valuable its products are.
1. For the cattle there is grass, and the beasts of prey, that live not on grass, feed on those that do; for man there is herb, a better sort of grass (and a dinner of herbs and roots is not to be despised); nay, he is furnished with wine, and oil, and bread, v. 15. We may observe here, concerning our food, that which will help to make us both humble and thankful. (1.) To make us humble let us consider that we have a necessary dependence upon God for all the supports of this life (we live upon alms; we are at his finding, for our own hands are not sufficient for us),—that our food comes all out of the earth, to remind us whence we ourselves were taken and whither we must return,—and that therefore we must not think to live by bread alone, for that will feed the body only, but must look into the word of God for the meat that endures to eternal life. Let us also consider that we are in this respect fellow-commoners with the beasts; the same earth, the same spot of ground, that brings grass for the cattle, brings corn for man. (2.) To make us thankful let us consider, [1.] That God not only provides for us, but for our servants. The cattle that are of use to man are particularly taken care of; grass is made to grow in great abundance for them, when the young lions, that are not for the service of man, often lack and suffer hunger. [2.] That our food is nigh us, and ready to us. Having our habitation on the earth, there we have our storehouse, and depend not on the merchant-ships that bring food from afar, Prov. xxxi. 14. [3.] That we have even from the products of the earth, not only for necessity, but for ornament and delight, so good a Master do we serve. First, Does nature call for something to support it, and repair its daily decays? Here is bread, which strengthens man's heart, and is therefore called the staff of life; let none who have that complain of want. Secondly, Does nature go further, and covet something pleasant? Here is wine, that makes glad the heart, refreshes the spirits, and exhilarates them, when it is soberly and moderately used, that we may not only go through our business, but go through it cheerfully. It is a pity that that should be abused to overcharge the heart, and unfit men for their duty, which was given to revive their heart and quicken them in their duty. Thirdly, Is nature yet more humoursome, and does it crave something for ornament too? Here is that also out of the earth—oil to make the face to shine, that the countenance may not only be cheerful but beautiful, and we may be the more acceptable to one another.
2. Nay, the divine providence not only furnishes animals with their proper food, but vegetables also with theirs (v. 16): The trees of the Lord are full of sap, not only men's trees, which they take care of and have an eye to, in their orchards, and parks, and other enclosures, but God's trees, which grow in the wildernesses, and are taken care of only by his providence; they are full of sap and want no nourishment. Even the cedars of Lebanon, an open forest, though they are high and bulky, and require a great deal of sap to feed them, have enough from the earth; they are trees which he has planted, and which therefore he will protect and provide for. We may apply this to the trees of righteousness, which are the planting of the Lord, planted in his vineyard; these are full of sap, for what God plants he will water, and those that are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God, Ps. xcii. 13.
III. He takes care that they shall have suitable habitations to dwell in. To men God has given discretion to build for themselves and for the cattle that are serviceable to them; but there are some creatures which God more immediately provides a settlement for. 1. The birds. Some birds, by instinct, make their nests in the bushes near rivers (v. 12): By the springs that run among the hills some of the fowls of heaven have their habitation, which sing among the branches. They sing, according to their capacity, to the honour of their Creator and benefactor, and their singing may shame our silence. Our heavenly Father feeds them (Matt. vi. 26), and therefore they are easy and cheerful, and take no thought for the morrow. The birds being made to fly above the earth (as we find, Gen. i. 20), they make their nests on high, in the tops of trees (v. 17); it should seem as if nature had an eye to this in planting the cedars of Lebanon, that they might be receptacles for the birds. Those that fly heavenward shall not want resting-places. The stork is particularly mentioned; the fir-trees, which are very high, are her house, her castle. 2. The smaller sort of beasts (v. 18): The wild goats, having neither strength nor swiftness to secure themselves, are guided by instinct to the high hills, which are a refuge to them; and the rabbits, which are also helpless animals, find shelter in the rocks, where they can set the beasts of prey at defiance. Does God provide thus for the inferior creatures; and will he not himself be a refuge and dwelling-place to his own people?
The Divine Bounty.
19 He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down. 20 Thou makest darkness, and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth. 21 The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God. 22 The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens. 23 Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening. 24 O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches. 25 So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts. 26 There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein. 27 These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season. 28 That thou givest them they gather: thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good. 29 Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. 30 Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.
We are here taught to praise and magnify God,
I. For the constant revolutions and succession of day and night, and the dominion of sun and moon over them. The heathen were so affected with the light and influence of the sun and moon, and their serviceableness to the earth, that they worshipped them as deities; and therefore the scripture takes all occasions to show that the gods they worshipped are the creatures and servants of the true God (v. 19): He appointed the moon for seasons, for the measuring of the months, the directing of the seasons for the business of the husbandman, and the governing of the tides. The full and change, the increase and decrease, of the moon, exactly observe the appointment of the Creator; so does the sun, for he keeps as punctually to the time and place of his going down as if he were an intellectual being and knew what he did. God herein consults the comfort of man. 1. The shadows of the evening befriend the repose of the night (v. 20): Thou makes darkness and it is night, which, though black, contributes to the beauty of nature, and is as a foil to the light of the day; and under the protection of the night all the beasts of the forest creep forth to feed, which they are afraid to do in the day, God having put the fear and dread of man upon every beast of the earth (Gen. ix. 2), which contributes as much to man's safety as to his honour. See how nearly allied those are to the disposition of the wild beasts who wait for the twilight (Job xxiv. 15) and have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness; and compare to this the danger of ignorance and melancholy, which are both as darkness to the soul; when, in either of those ways, it is night, then all the beasts of the forest creep forth. Satan's temptations then assault us and have advantage against us. Then the young lions roar after their prey; and, as naturalists tell us, their roaring terrifies the timorous beasts so that they have not strength nor spirit to escape from them, which otherwise they might do, and so they become an easy prey to them. They are said to seek their meat from God, because it is not prepared for them by the care and forecast of man, but more immediately by the providence of God. The roaring of the young lions, like the crying of the young ravens, is interpreted asking their meat of God. Does God put this construction upon the language of mere nature, even in venomous creatures? and shall he not much more interpret favourably the language of grace in his own people, though it be weak and broken, groanings which cannot be uttered? 2. The light of the morning befriends the business of the day (v. 22, 23): The sun arises (for, as he knows his going down, so, thanks be to God, he knows his rising again), and then the wild beasts betake themselves to their rest; even they have some society among them, for they gather themselves together and lay down in their dens, which is a great mercy to the children of men, that while they are abroad, as becomes honest travellers, between sun and sun, care is taken that they shall not be set upon by wild beasts, for they are then drawn out of the field, and the sluggard shall have no ground to excuse himself from the business of the day with this, That there is a lion in the way. Therefore then man goes forth to his work and to his labour. The beasts of prey creep forth with fear; man goes forth with boldness, as one that has dominion. The beasts creep forth to spoil and do mischief; man goes forth to work and do good. There is the work of every day, which is to be done in its day, which man must apply to every morning (for the lights are set up for us to work by, not to play by) and which he must stick to till evening; it will be time enough to rest when the night comes, in which no man can work.
II. For the replenishing of the ocean (v. 25, 26): As the earth is full of God's riches, well stocked with animals, and those well provided for, so that it is seldom that any creature dies merely for want of food, so is this great and wide sea which seems a useless part of the globe, at least not to answer the room it takes up; yet God has appointed it its place and made it serviceable to man both for navigation (there go the ships, in which goods are conveyed, to countries vastly distant, speedily and much more cheaply than by land-carriage) and also to be his storehouse for fish. God made not the sea in vain, any more than the earth; he made it to be inherited, for there are things swimming innumerable, both small and great animals, which serve for man's dainty food. The whale is particularly mentioned in the history of the creation (Gen. i. 21) and is here called the leviathan, as Job xli. 1. He is made to play in the sea; he has nothing to do, as man has, who goes forth to his work; he has nothing to fear, as the beasts have, that lie down in their dens; and therefore he plays with the waters. It is a pity that any of the children of men, who have nobler powers and were made for nobler purposes, should live as if they were sent into the world, like leviathan into the waters, to play therein, spending all their time in pastime. The leviathan is said to play in the waters, because he is so well armed against all assaults that he sets them at defiance and laughs at the shaking of a spear, Job xli. 29.
III. For the seasonable and plentiful provision which is made for all the creatures, v. 27, 28. 1. God is a bountiful benefactor to them: He gives them their meat; he opens his hand and they are filled with good. He supports the armies both of heaven and earth. Even the meanest creatures are not below his cognizance. He is open-handed in the gifts of his bounty, and is a great and good housekeeper that provides for so large a family. 2. They are patient expectants from him: They all wait upon him. They seek their food, according to the natural instinct God has put into them and in the proper season for it, and affect not any other food, or at any other time, than nature has ordained. They do their part for the obtaining of it: what God gives them they gather, and expect not that Providence should put it into their mouths; and what they gather they are satisfied with—they are filled with good. They desire no more than what God sees fit for them, which may shame our murmurings, and discontent, and dissatisfaction with our lot.
IV. For the absolute power and sovereign dominion which he has over all the creatures, by which every species is still continued, though the individuals of each are daily dying and dropping off. See here, 1. All the creatures perishing (v. 29): Thou hidest thy face, withdrawest thy supporting power, thy supplying bounty, and they are troubled immediately. Every creature has as necessary a dependence upon God's favours as every saint is sensible he has and therefore says with David (Ps. xxx. 7), Thou didst hide thy face and I was troubled. God's displeasure against this lower world for the sin of man is the cause of all the vanity and burden which the whole creation groans under. Thou takest away their breath, which is in thy hand, and then, and not till then, they die and return to their dust, to their first principles. The spirit of the beast, which goes downward, is at God's command, as well as the spirit of a man, which goes upward. The death of cattle was one of the plagues of Egypt, and is particularly taken notice of in the drowning of the world. 2. All preserved notwithstanding, in a succession (v. 30): Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created. The same spirit (that is, the same divine will and power) by which they were all created at first still preserves the several sorts of creatures in their being, and place, and usefulness; so that, though one generation of them passes away, another comes, and from time to time they are created; new ones rise up instead of the old ones, and this is a continual creation. Thus the face of the earth is renewed from day to day by the light of the sun (which beautifies it anew every morning), from year to year by the products of it, which enrich it anew every spring and put quite another face upon it from what it had all winter. The world is as full of creatures as if none died, for the place of those that die is filled up. This (the Jews say) is to be applied to the resurrection, which every spring is an emblem of, when a new world rises out of the ashes of the old one.
In the midst of this discourse the psalmist breaks out into wonder at the works of God (v. 24): O Lord! how manifold are thy works! They are numerous, they are various, of many kinds, and many of every kind; and yet in wisdom hast thou made them all. When men undertake many works, and of different kinds, commonly some of them are neglected and not done with due care; but God's works, though many and of very different kinds, are all made in wisdom and with the greatest exactness; there is not the least flaw nor defect in them. The works of art, the more closely they are looked upon with the help of microscopes, the more rough they appear; the works of nature through these glasses appear more fine and exact. They are all made in wisdom, for they are all made to answer the end they were designed to serve, the good of the universe, in order to the glory of the universal Monarch.
The Divine Bounty.
31 The glory of the Lord shall endure for ever: the Lord shall rejoice in his works. 32 He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth: he toucheth the hills, and they smoke. 33 I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. 34 My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord. 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.
The psalmist concludes this meditation with speaking,
I. Praise to God, which is chiefly intended in the psalm.
1. He is to be praised, (1.) As a great God, and a God of matchless perfection: The glory of the Lord shall endure for ever, v. 31. It shall endure to the end of time in his works of creation and providence; it shall endure to eternity in the felicity and adorations of saints and angels. Man's glory is fading; God's glory is everlasting. Creatures change, but with the Creator there is no variableness. (2.) As a gracious God: The Lord shall rejoice in his works. He continues that complacency in the products of his own wisdom and goodness which he had when he saw every thing that he had made, and behold it was very good, and rested the seventh day. We often do that which, upon the review, we cannot rejoice in, but are displeased at, and wish undone again, blaming our own management. But God always rejoices in his works, because they are all done in wisdom. We regret our bounty and beneficence, but God never does; he rejoices in the works of his grace: his gifts and callings are without repentance. (3.) As a God of almighty power (v. 32): He looks on the earth, and it trembles, as unable to bear his frowns—trembles, as Sinai did, at the presence of the Lord. He touches the hills, and they smoke. The volcanoes, or burning mountains, such as Ætna, are emblems of the power of God's wrath fastening upon proud unhumbled sinners. If an angry look and a touch have such effects, what will the weight of his heavy hand do and the operations of his outstretched arm? Who knows the power of his anger? Who then dares set it at defiance? God rejoices in his works because they are all so observant of him; and he will in like manner take pleasure in those that fear him and that tremble at his word.
2. The psalmist will himself be much in praising him (v. 33): "I will sing unto the Lord, unto my God, will praise him as Jehovah, the Creator, and as my God, a God in covenant with me, and this not now only, but as long as I live, and while I have my being." Because we have our being from God, and depend upon him for the support and continuance of it, as long as we live and have our being we must continue to praise God; and when we have no life, no being, on earth, we hope to have a better life and better being in a better world and there to be doing this work in a better manner and in better company.
II. Joy to himself (v. 34): My meditation of him shall be sweet; it shall be fixed and close; it shall be affecting and influencing; and therefore it shall be sweet. Thoughts of God will then be most pleasing, when they are most powerful. Note, Divine meditation is a very sweet duty to all that are sanctified: "I will be glad in the Lord; it shall be a pleasure to me to praise him; I will be glad of all opportunities to set forth his glory; and I will rejoice in the Lord always and in him only." All my joys shall centre in him, and in him they shall be full.
III. Terror to the wicked (v. 35): Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth; and let the wicked be no more. 1. Those that oppose the God of power, and fight against him, will certainly be consumed; none can prosper that harden themselves against the Almighty. 2. Those that rebel against the light of such convincing evidence of God's being, and refuse to serve him whom all the creatures serve, will justly be consumed. Those that make that earth to groan under the burden of their impieties which God thus fills with his riches deserve to be consumed out of it, and that it should spue them out. 3. Those that heartily desire to praise God themselves cannot but have a holy indignation at those that blaspheme and dishonour him, and a holy satisfaction in the prospect of their destruction and the honour that God will get to himself upon them. Even this ought to be the matter of their praise: "While sinners are consumed out of the earth, let my soul bless the Lord that I am not cast away with the workers of iniquity, but distinguished from them by the special grace of God. When the wicked are no more I hope to be praising God world without end; and therefore, Praise you the Lord; let all about me join with me in praising God. Hallelujah; sing praise to Jehovah." This is the first time that we meet with Hallelujah; and it comes in here upon occasion of the destruction of the wicked; and the last time we meet with it is upon a similar occasion. When the New-Testament Babylon is consumed, this is the burden of the song, Hallelujah, Rev. xix. 1, 3, 4, 6.