7. O God! when thou wentest forth before thy people, when thou didst march through the wilderness; Selah: 8. The earth was moved, the heavens also dropped at the presence of this God: Sinai at the presence of God, the God of Israel.1 9. Thou, O God! shalt make a liberal2 rain to fall upon thine inheritance, and thou refreshest it when it is weary. 10. Thy congregation3 shall dwell therein; thou, O God! wilt prepare in thy goodness for the poor.
7. O God! when thou wentest forth before thy people, etc. The Psalmist now proceeds to show that the Divine goodness is principally displayed in the Church, which God has selected as the great theater where his fatherly care may be manifested. What follows is evidently added with the view of leading the posterity of Abraham, as the Lord's chosen people, to apply the observations which had been just made to themselves. The deliverance from Egypt having been the chief and lasting pledge of the Divine favor, which practically ratified their adoption under the patriarch, he briefly adverts to that event. He would intimate that in that remarkable exodus, proof had been given to all succeeding ages of the love which God entertained for his Church. Why were so many miracles wrought? why were heaven and earth put into commotion? why were the mountains made to tremble? but that all might recognize the power of God as allied with the deliverance of his people. He represents God as having been their leader in conducting them forth. And this not merely in reference to their passage of the Red Sea, but their journeys so long as they wandered in the wilderness. When he speaks of the earth being moved, he would not seem to allude entirely to what occurred upon the promulgation of the law, but to the fact that, throughout all their progress, the course of nature was repeatedly altered, as if the very elements had trembled at the presence of the Lord. It was upon Mount Sinai, however, that God issued the chief displays of his awful power; it was there that thunders were heard in heaven, and the air was filled with lightnings; and, accordingly, it is mentioned here by name as having presented the most glorious spectacle of the Divine majesty which was ever beheld. Some read, This Sinai, etc., connecting the pronoun
9. Thou, O God! shalt make a liberal rain to fall4 upon thine inheritance. Mention is made here of the continued course of favor which had been extended to the people from the time when they first entered the promised land. It is called the inheritance of God, as having been assigned over to his own children. Others understand by the inheritance spoken of in the verse, the Church, but this is not correct, for it is afterwards stated as being the place where the Church dwelt. The title is appropriately given to the land of Canaan, which God made over to them by right of inheritance. David takes notice of the fact, that, from the first settlement of the seed of Abraham in it, God had never ceased to make the kindest fatherly provision for them, sending his rain in due season to prepare their food. The words translated a liberal rain, read literally in the Hebrew a rain of freenesses, and I agree with interpreters in thinking that he alludes to the blessing as having come in the exercise of free favor,5 and to God, as having of his own unprompted goodness provided for all the wants of his people. Some read a desirable rain; others, a rain flowing without violence, or gentle; but neither of these renderings seems eligible. Others read a copious or plentiful rain; but I have already stated what appears to me to be the preferable sense. It was a proof, then, of his Divine liberality, that God watered the land seasonably with showers. There is clearly a reference to the site of Judea, which owed its fertility to dews and the rains of heaven. In allusion to the same circumstance, he speaks of its being refreshed when weary. The reason is assigned -- because it had been given to his chosen people to dwell in. On no other account was it blessed, than as being the habitation of God's Church and people. The more to impress upon the minds of the Jews their obligations to Divine goodness, he represents them as pensioners depending upon God for their daily food. He fed them upon the finest of the wheat, giving them wine, and honey, and oil in abundance -- still he proportioned the communication of his kindness so as to keep them always dependent in expectation upon himself. Some, instead of reading, Thou wilt prepare with thy goodness, etc., render it, Thou wilt prepare with rich food; but, without absolutely objecting to this translation, I rather think that he adverts to the circumstance of God's being led to provide for his people entirely by his own good pleasure.
2 "C'est, par ta volonte et liberalite." -- Fr. marg. "That is, by thy free will and liberality."
3 Thy congregations, or company. This is the reading adopted also by Dathe, Berlin, and De Rossi; and it "is a much better exposition than those of the two latest English translators, Bishop Horsley and Mr Fry: --
'Thy flocks dwelt in the mansion which thou preparedst.' -- Horsley.
'Thy food settled upon it.' -- Fry."
Rogers' Book of Psalms in Hebrew, etc., volume 2, Page 220.
4 Heb. Shall shake out, i.e., from the clouds, a liberal rain.
5 Ainsworth reads, "a rain of liberalities." Horsley, "a shower of unmerited kindnesses;" "literally," says he, "a plentiful rain, rain being used here metaphorically."