World Wide Study Bible
a Bible passage
How Great Are Your Works
A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath.
1It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
2to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night,
3to the music of the lute and the harp,
to the melody of the lyre.
4For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work;
at the works of your hands I sing for joy.
5How great are your works, O Lord!
Your thoughts are very deep!
6The stupid man cannot know;
the fool cannot understand this:
7that though the wicked sprout like grass
and all evildoers flourish,
they are doomed to destruction forever;
8but you, O Lord, are on high forever.
9For behold, your enemies, O Lord,
for behold, your enemies shall perish;
all evildoers shall be scattered.
10But you have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox;
you have poured over me11Compare Syriac; the meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain fresh oil.
11My eyes have seen the downfall of my enemies;
my ears have heard the doom of my evil assailants.
12The righteous flourish like the palm tree
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
13They are planted in the house of the Lord;
they flourish in the courts of our God.
14They still bear fruit in old age;
they are ever full of sap and green,
15to declare that the Lord is upright;
he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.
5 O Jehovah! how highly exalted are thy works! The Psalmist, having spoken of the works of God in general, proceeds to speak more particularly of his justice in the government of the world. Though God may postpone the punishment of the wicked, he shows, in due time, that in conniving at their sins, he did not overlook or fail to perceive them; and though he exercises his own children with the cross, he proves in the issue, that he was not indifferent to their welfare. His reason for touching upon this particular point seems to be, that much darkness is thrown upon the scheme of Divine Providence by the inequality and disorder which prevail in human affairs. 590590 “Pource que la confusion difforme laquelle se voit en la vie des hommes, obscurcit grandement l’ordre de la providence de Dieu.” We see the wicked triumphing, and applauding their own good fortune, as if there was no judge above, and taking occasion from the Divine forbearance to run into additional excesses, under the impression that they have escaped his hand. The temptation is aggravated by that stupidity and blindness of heart which lead us to imagine that God exerts no superintendence over the world, and sits idle in heaven. It is known, too, how soon we are ready to sink under the troubles of the flesh. The Psalmist, therefore, intentionally selects this as a case in which he may show the watchful care exerted by God over the human family. He begins, by using the language of exclamation, for such is the dreadful distemper and disorder by which our understandings are confounded, that we cannot comprehend the method of God’s works, even when it is most apparent. We are to notice, that the inspired penman is not speaking here of the work of God in the creation of the heavens and earth, nor of his providential government of the world in general, but only of the judgments which he executes amongst men. He calls the works of God great, and his thoughts deep, because he governs the world in quite another manner than we are able to comprehend. Were things under our own management, we would entirely invert the order which God observes; and, such not being the case, we perversely expostulate with God for not hastening sooner to the help of the righteous, and to the punishment of the wicked. It strikes us as in the highest degree inconsistent with the perfections of God, that he should bear with the wicked when they rage against him, when they rush without restraint into the most daring acts of iniquity, and when they persecute at will the good and the innocent; — it seems, I say, in our eyes to be intolerable, that God should subject his own people to the injustice and violence of the wicked, while he puts no check upon abounding falsehood, deceit, rapine, bloodshed, and every species of enormity. Why does he suffer his truth to be obscured, and his holy name to be trampled under foot? This is that greatness of the Divine operation, that depth of the Divine counsel, into the admiration of which the Psalmist breaks forth. It is no doubt true, that there is an incomprehensible depth of power and wisdom which God has displayed in the fabric of the universe; but what the Psalmist has specially in view is, to administer a check to that disposition which leads us to murmur against God, when he does not pursue our plan in his providential managements. When anything in these may not agree with the general ideas of men, we ought to contemplate it with reverence, and remember that God, for the better trial of our obedience, has lifted his deep and mysterious judgments far above our conceptions.