This psalm has been compared to a stream which, as it flows, gradually acquires strength and volume till its waves of praise swell like those of the sea. The poet begins by invoking his own soul to show its gratitude for the Divine favour, and, by a highly artistic touch, makes the psalm, after rising to sublime heights, end with the same appeal to personal experience. But national mercies till much the larger space in his thought, and he speaks throughout as much in the person of the community as his own. Beyond one probable Aramaism in Psalm 103:3, and a possible dependence in one passage on the Book of Job (comp. Psalm 103:16 with Job 17:10), there is nothing to indicate the time of the psalm’s composition. The rhythm is varied, and the form irregular.
Diseases.—Here chiefly in a moral sense, as the parallelism “iniquity” shows, even if the next verse, taken literally, implies an allusion to physical suffering as well.
Crowneth.—A metaphor drawn from the common custom of wearing wreaths and garlands on festive occasions (Ecclesiasticus 32:2). Comp. Psalm 8:5.
Who satisfleth thine age with good, so that
Thy youth renews itself like the eagle.
The eagle’s.—Heb., nesher; properly, the griffon, or great vulture. See Exodus 19:4; and Note to Obadiah 1:4.
The rendering of the Prayer Book, “like the eagle’s,” follows the LXX. The idea that the eagle renewed its youth formed the basis of a Rabbinical story, and no doubt appears also in the myth of the Phœnix. But the psalmist merely refers to the fresh and vigorous appearance of the bird with its new plumage.
For as the heaven is higher than the earth,
So far (above what was expected) for them fearing him prevails his mercy.
(For the same comparison, see Isaiah 55:7-9; and comp. Isaiah 38:17; Micah 7:19.)
“If one sharp wind sweep o’er the field,
It withers in an hour.”
But the pestilential winds of the East are described as bringing a heat like that of an oven, which immediately blasts every green thing.
Know it no more.—Comp. Job 7:10. Man vanishes away without leaving a trace behind. The pathos of the verse has been well caught in the well-known lines of Gray:—
“One morn I missed him on the accustomed hill,
Along the heath, and near his favourite tree:
Another came, nor yet beside the rill,
Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he.”
1.High angels around the throne.
2. Angelic powers, such as winds, lightnings, &c, specially commissioned to do God’s behests, as in Psalm 104:4.
3.Creation generally. (Comp. Psalms 148)
“Earth with her thousand voices praises God.”
Nor can the psalmist himself remain silent, but must repeat the self-dedication with winch he began his song.