Bless the Lord, O my soul: thus the psalmist ends the psalm as he begun it; not excusing himself by what he had done, nor by calling upon others to this service; knowing that this is constant employment for time and eternity; a work in which he delighted, and was desirous of being concerned in, now and for ever.
INTRODUCTION TO Psalm 104
This psalm, though without a title, was probably written by David, since it begins and ends as the former does, as Aben Ezra observes; and to him the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions, ascribe it. The inscription of the Syriac version is,
"a psalm of David, when he went to worship before the ark of the Lord with the priests; and as to us, it teaches us confession and prayer; and intimates to us the constitution of the beginning of the creatures; and declares some things concerning the angels.''
Some copies of the Septuagint version have it,
"a psalm of David concerning the constitution of the world;''
which indeed is the subject matter of it; for it treats of the creation of all things, of the heavens and the earth, and of all creatures in them; and of the providence of God in taking care of them. Christ is the divine Person addressed and described throughout the whole, as appears from the quotation of Psalm 104:5 and the application of it to him in Hebrews 1:7.
O Lord my God, thou art very great; the Messiah, who is Jehovah our righteousness, Lord of all, truly God, and the God of his people; see John 20:28 and who is great, and very great, in his divine Person, being the great God, and our Saviour; great in all his works of creation, providence, and redemption; great in all his offices of Prophet, Priest, and King; a Saviour, and a great one; the great Shepherd of the Sheep; the Man, Jehovah's Fellow.
Thou art clothed with honour and majesty; being the brightness of his Father's glory, and having on him the glory of the only begotten of the Father, and a natural majesty in him as the Son of God and King of the whole universe; and, as Mediator, he has honour and majesty laid upon him by his Father, Psalm 21:5, he has all the regalia and ensigns of royal majesty; he is on a throne, high and lifted up, even the same with his divine Father; he has a crown of glory on his head, he is crowned with glory and honour; he has a sceptre of righteousness in his hand, and is arrayed in robes of majesty; and, as thus situated, is to look upon like a jasper and sardine stone; or as if he was covered with sparkling gems and precious stones, Revelation 4:2 and, having all power in heaven and earth, over angels and men, honour and glory given him by both.
Who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain; alluding to the firmament or expanse, which, being spread out like a curtain, divided between the waters and the waters, Genesis 1:6. Heaven is represented as a tent stretched out, with curtains drawn around it, to hide the dazzling and unapproachable light in which the Lord dwells, Isaiah 40:22 and it is as a curtain or canopy stretched out and encompassing this earth; the stretching of it out belongs to God alone, and is a proof of the deity of Christ, to whom it is here and elsewhere ascribed, Job 9:8. Here Christ dwells invisible to us at present; he is received up into heaven, retained there, and from thence will descend at the last day; and in the mean while is within the curtains of heaven, unseen by us.
(h) "Pura in luce refulsit alma parens", Virgil. Aeneid. 2. "Et paulo post, pallas insedit, nimbo effulgens".
Who maketh the clouds his chariot; to ride in; in these sometimes Jehovah rides to execute judgment on his enemies, Isaiah 19:1 and in these sometimes he appears in a way of grace and mercy to his people, Exodus 13:21, in these, as in chariots, Christ went up to heaven; and in these will he come a second time; and into these will the saints be caught up to meet the Lord in the air at his coming, Acts 1:9.
Who walketh upon the wings of the wind; see Psalm 18:10 which is expressive of his swiftness in coming to help and assist his people in time of need; who helps, and that right early; and may very well be applied both to the first and second coming of Christ, who came leaping upon the mountains, and skipping upon the hills, when he first came; and, when he comes a second time, will be as a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of spices, Sol 2:8. The Targum is,
"upon the swift clouds, like the wings of an eagle;''
hence, perhaps, it is, the Heathens have a notion of Jupiter's being carried in a chariot through the air, when it thunders and lightens (k).
(i) Sept. "coenacula sua superiora", Gejerus; so Michaelis. (k) Vid. Horat. Camin. l. 1. Ode 34. v. 5. "Namque diespiter", &c. Et. Ode 12. v. 58. "Tu gravi curru quaties Olympum".
"he maketh his messengers, or angels, swift as the wind.''
His ministers a flaming fire; angels are ministers to God, stand before him, behold his face, wait for and listen to his orders, and execute them; they are ministers to Christ, they were so at his incarnation, in his infancy, when in the wilderness and in the garden, at his resurrection and ascension, and will attend him at his second coming; and these are ministers to his people, take the care of them, encamp about them, do many good offices to them in life, and at death carry their souls to Abraham's bosom: these are made a flaming fire, or "as" flaming fire, for their force and power; so the Targum,
"his ministers strong as flaming fire;''
and for their swiftness as before; and because of their burning love to God, Christ, and his people, and their flaming zeal for his cause and interest; hence thought by some to be called "seraphim": and because they are sometimes the executioners of God's wrath; and have sometimes appeared in fiery forms, as in forms of horses of fire and chariots of fire, and will descend with Christ in flaming fire at the last day; see 2 Kings 2:11. Some invert the words, both reading and sense, thus, "who maketh the winds his angels, or messengers, and flaming fire his ministers"; so Jarchi, Aben Ezra, and Kimchi; we read of stormy wind fulfilling his word, Psalm 148:8, he sends out his winds at his pleasure to do his errands; as to dry up the waters of the flood, to drive back the waters of the Red sea, and make dry land, to bring quails from thence, and scatter them about the camp of Israel, and in many other instances. So flaming fire was used as his ministers in burning Sodom and Gomorrah; and multitudes of the murmuring Israelites, and the captains with their fifties; but this sense is contrary to the order of the words, and the design of them, and to the apostle's sense of them, Hebrews 1:7 which is confirmed by the Targum, Septuagint, and all the Oriental versions.
That it should not be removed for ever: for though it may be shaken by earthquakes, yet not removed; nor will it be until the dissolution of all things, when it shall flee away before the face of the Judge, and a new earth shall succeed, Revelation 20:11.
(l) "super bases ejus", Montanus, Musculus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; so the Tigurine version, Gejerus, Michaelis.
The waters stood above the mountains; from whence we learn the mountains were from the beginning of the creation; since they were when the depths of water covered the unformed chaos; and which depths were so very great as to reach above the highest mountains; an emblem of the universal corruption of human nature; the highest, the greatest men that ever were, comparable to mountains, have been involved in it, as David, Paul, and others.
At the voice of thy thunder they hasted away; ran off with great precipitancy; just as a servant, when his master puts on a stern countenance, and speaks to him in a thundering, menacing manner, hastes away from him to do his will and work. This is an instance of the mighty power of Christ; and by the same power he removed the waters of the deluge; when they covered the earth, and the tops of the highest hills; and rebuked the Red sea, and it became dry land; and drove back the waters of Jordan for the Israelites to pass through; and who also rebuked the sea of Galilee when his disciples were in distress: and with equal ease can he and does he remove the depth of sin and darkness from his people at conversion; rebukes Satan, and delivers out of his temptations, when he comes in like a flood; and rebukes the waters of affliction when they threaten to overwhelm; who are his servants, and come when he bids them come, and go when he bids them go.
"they ascend out of the deep to the mountains;''
that is, the waters, when they went off the earth at the divine orders, steered their course up the mountains, and then went down by the valleys to the place appointed for them; they went over hills and dales, nothing could stop them or retard their course till they came to their proper place; which is another instance of the almighty power of the Son of God. Some render the words, "the mountains ascended, the valleys descended (m)"; and then the meaning is, when the depth of waters were called off the earth, the mountains and valleys appeared, the one seemed to rise up and the other to go down; but the former reading seems best, and emblematically describes the state of God's people in this world, in their passage to their appointed place; who have sometimes mountains of difficulties to go over, and which seem insuperable, and yet they surmount them; sometimes they are upon the mount of heaven by contemplation, and have their hearts and affections above; they mount up with wings as eagles; sometimes they are upon the mount of communion with God, and by his favour their mount stands strong, and they think they shall never be moved; at other times they are down in the valleys, in a low estate and condition; in low frames of soul, in a low exercise of grace, and in the valley of the shadow of death, of afflictive providences in soul or body: and as the waters, thus steering their course under a divine direction, and by an almighty power, at length came unto the place which, the psalmist says, thou hast founded for them, meaning the seas; which the Lord founded and prepared for the reception of them; and which collection of waters in one place he called by that name, Genesis 1:10. So the Lord's people, through a variety of circumstances, trials, and exercises, will be all brought safe to the place appointed for them, and prepared by Christ in his Father's house; where they will be swallowed up in the boundless ocean of everlasting love.
(m) So Pagninus, Musculus, Cocceius.
"to the rolling waves of the sea.''
Set doors with bolts and bars, cliffs, rocks, and shores: and, what is more surprising, sand, which is penetrable, flexible, and moveable, is set as a perpetual bound to the raging ocean and its waves, which they cannot pass over: see Job 38:8. So the Lord has set a bound to the proud waters of afflictions, and says, Thus far shall ye go, and no farther; and to the life of man, which he cannot exceed, Job 14:5. But he has given man a law, as a rule to walk by, as the boundary of his conversation, and this he transgresses; in which he is less tractable than the raging sea and its waves. That they turn not again to cover the earth; as they did when it was first made, Psalm 104:6 that is, not without the divine leave and power; for they did turn again and cover the earth, at the time of the flood; but never shall more. Some think there is no need to make this exception; since this was written after the flood, and when God had swore that the waters should no more go over the earth, Isaiah 54:9.
"who sendeth fountains into the rivers.''
Either from the waters of the sea, which being drained through the sand, become sweet and drinkable; or from the hills and mountains. This is an instance of divine goodness, that having removed the waters from the earth, and shut them up in the sea, and which, through the saltness of them, not being proper drink for men and beasts, he has been pleased to form and open springs, fountains, wells, and rivers of fresh water in the valleys, for the supply of both. Though this is not to be compared with the wells of salvation, and springs and fountains of grace, which he has opened for his chosen people. God himself is a spring or fountain of living water; his love is a river, whose streams delight the city of God; his covenant a source and spring of all blessings and promises. Christ is the fountain of gardens; his fulness is a supply for all his people: the Spirit of God and his grace are a well of living water, springing up unto eternal life. The word and ordinances are the springs in Zion,
which run among the hills, the several congregated churches, to the watering and refreshing of them; just as springs and rivers of water run in the dales and valleys among the hills, by which they are bounded.
The wild asses quench their thirst; or "break" (n) it. Those creatures that live in dry and desert places, and are themselves dry and thirsty; and though so stupid as they be, yet provision of water is made for them, and they are directed where to seek for it, and find it; see Job 39:5. And if God takes care of the beasts of the field, even the most wild and stupid, will he not take care of his own people? He will, and does. He opens rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; he gives waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to his people, his chosen, Isaiah 41:18.
(n) "frangent", Pagninus, Montanus; "frangunt", Vatablus, Cocceius, Gejerus, Michaelis; so Ainsworth.
Which sing among the branches; of trees that grow by the sides of fountains and rivers; see Ezekiel 17:23. To such birds may saints be compared; being, like them, weak, defenceless, and timorous; liable to be taken in snares, and sometimes wonderfully delivered; as well as given to wanderings and strayings: and to fowls of the heaven, being heaven born souls, and partakers of the heavenly calling. These have their habitation by the fountain of Jacob, by the river of divine love, beside the still waters of the sanctuary; where they sing the songs of Zion, the songs of electing, redeeming, and calling grace.
The earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works; with the fruits which grow out of it by means of rain, as are after mentioned; herbs, grass, and trees, so Aben Ezra: or with the influences of the heavens, which are the work of God's hands, and by which the earth is made fruitful; or more particularly with the virtue and efficacy of the rain, so Kimchi; which is the Lord's peculiar work, Jeremiah 14:22. This the earth drinking in, is as satisfied with as a thirsty man is with drinking a draught of water; see Deuteronomy 11:11. So the people of God, comparable to the good earth that drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, are satisfied with the love of God, with the blessings of his grace, with the doctrines of his Gospel, and with the ordinances of his house.
And herb for the service of man: some herbs being for physic for him, and others for food, and all more or less for his use. Herbs were the original food of man, Genesis 1:29 and still a dinner of herbs, where love is, is better than a stalled ox, and hatred therewith, Proverbs 15:17. Some render it, "and herb at the tillage of man" (o): grass grows of itself for the use of the cattle; but the herb, as wheat and the like, which is for the use of man, is caused to grow when man has taken some pains with the earth, and has tilled and manured it: but the former sense seems best.
That he may bring forth food out of the earth; either that man may do it by his tillage; or rather that the Lord may do it, by sending rain, and causing the grass and herbs to grow. However, man's food, as well as the food of beasts, comes out of the earth, as he himself does, and to which he must return.
(o) "ad culturam", Cocceius, some in Vatablus, and Michaelis; so Gussetius, p. 572.
And oil to make his face to shine: or, "to make his face shine more than oil" (q); and so it continues the account of the virtue of wine, which not only cheers the heart, but makes the countenance brisk and lively, and even shine again: but, according to our version, and others, this is a distinct effect of the rain, causing olive trees to grow out of the earth, productive of oil; which being eaten, fattens, and so makes the face to shine; as it also does by anointing with it, which was much in use for that purpose in the eastern countries, as well as for cheering and refreshing; see Ruth 3:3. Pliny (r) says, oil purifies or clears; and particularly of oil of almonds, he says, that it makes clean, makes bodies soft, smooths the skin, procures gracefulness; and, with honey, takes spots or specks out of the face. Kimchi makes mention of another use of oil, in lighting lamps; by which the face of man is enlightened, or light is given him. So the Targum,
"to enlighten the face with oil.''
To this the grace of the Spirit is often compared in Scripture, with which both Christ and his members are said to be anointed, Acts 10:38. This not only cheers and refreshes them, and is therefore called the oil of joy and gladness, Psalm 45:7, but beautifies and adorns them, and even makes them fat and flourishing, and so their faces to shine; as well as causes their lamps of profession to burn clearly, and the light of their good works to shine before men to the glory of God.
And bread which strengthens man's heart: the earth being watered with rain, causes the wheat sown in it to grow up; of which bread is made for the support of man's life, and is the chief sustenance of it; and is therefore commonly called "the staff of life", and, by the prophet, "the whole stay of bread", Isaiah 3:1, by which human nature is invigorated, and the strength of man is kept up and increased; for the phrase, see Genesis 18:5. Of this nature are the provisions of God's house, which go by the same name, the word and ordinances; and especially Christ Jesus himself, the true and living bread; by which the Christian's spiritual life is supported and maintained, and he is comforted and refreshed, and strengthened for every good work.
(p) "mortalis", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "sorry man", Ainsworth. (q) "prae oleo", Vatablus, Gejerus; "magis quam oleum", Piscator. (r) Nat. Hist. l. 23. c. 4.
The cedars of Lebanon which he hath planted; a mountain on the borders of Judea, so called from its whiteness, through the snow on it, as the Alps are; and where grew great quantities of large and spreading cedars, which were not of man's, but of the Lord's planting: these were watered and made to grow with the rain of heaven. Rauwolff (t), who was upon this mountain in 1574, says,
"though this hill in former ages has been quite covered over with cedars, yet they are so decreased, that I could tell, says he, no more but twenty four, that stood round about in a circle; and two others, the branches whereof are quite decayed with age.''
But Thevenot (u), who has been there since, affirms there are no more nor less than twenty three, great and small; of the largeness, thickness, and height of these trees; see Gill on Isaiah 37:24. Saints are often compared to trees, which are planted by the Lord in Christ, and in his churches; and particularly to cedars, for their height, strength, and durableness; see Psalm 92:13, and these, through the grace of God, are full of sap and spiritual life, and are filled with the fruits of righteousness, and are often represented as planted and growing by rivers of water; see Numbers 24:6.
(s) "satiantur", Vatablus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius; so Musculus, Gejerus, Michaelis. (t) Travels, par. 2. ch. 13. p. 191. (u) Travels, par. 1. B. 2. ch. 60. p. 224.
As for the stork, the fir trees are her house; where she makes her nest, and brings up her young. Kimchi says it is a large bird, and builds its nest in high trees, as in cedars; but the bird which goes by the name of "pelargus" with the Greeks, and of "ciconia" with the Latins, and of "stork" with us, for the most part builds its nest on the tops of towers and temples (w), and the roofs of high houses, and seldom in trees; and when it does, it is in such that are not far from the habitations of men, which it loves to be near: perhaps the reason of its not building on houses in Palestine might be because their roofs were flat and frequented, and therefore built on high trees there, as fir trees and cedars. And Olympiodorus (x) says it does not lay its eggs on the ground, but on high trees; and Michaelis on the text attests, that he himself had seen, in many places in Germany, storks nests on very high and dry oaks. It has its name in Hebrew from a word (y) which signifies "holy", "merciful", and "beneficent"; because of the great care which it takes of its dam when grown old (z): and a like behaviour among men is called piety by the apostle, 1 Timothy 5:4. But in the Chaldee tongue, and so in the Targum, it has its name from its whiteness; for though its wings are black, the feathers of its body are white: and so Virgil (a) describes it as a white bird, and as an enemy to serpents; for which reason the Thessalians forbad the killing them, on pain of banishment (b). It was an unclean bird, according to the ceremonial law, Leviticus 11:19. Good men are called by the same name, holy and beneficent; and though they are unclean by nature, yet Christ, the green fir tree, Hosea 14:8 is the house of their habitation; in him they dwell by faith, who receives sinners, and eats with them, Luke 15:2. It is usual with the Latin poets to call the nests of birds their houses (c).
(w) Vid. Turnebi Adversar. l. 8. c. 18. & Praetorii Disp. Histor. Physic. de Crotalistria, c. 6. Heldelin. in ibid. c. 11. (x) Apud Bachart. Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 2. c. 29. col. 330. (y) a Buxtorf. Lexic. fol. 247. (z) Solinus, c. 53. Aelian. de Animal. l. 3. c. 23. (a) "Candida venit avis longis invisa colubris", Georgic. l. 2.((b) Plutarch. de Iside et Osir. prope finem. (c) "Frondiferasque domos avium", Lucret. l. 1. v. 19. "Antiquasque domos avium", Virgil. Georgic. l. 2. v. 209.
And the rocks for the conies; who being a feeble folk, make their houses in them, to protect them from creatures of superior power and strength, Proverbs 30:26. Some interpret it of the "hedgehog", as the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions: others of "hares", as the Syriac and Arabic, and so Apollinarius; and others of "mountain mice". Now what the hills and rocks are to the above creatures, a refuge and a habitation for them, that Christ is to those that fly to him for refuge; though weak and feeble, sinful and unworthy, he is their rock, the rock of their refuge, their strong tower, and place of defence.
(d) ab Buxtorf. Lexic. fol. 322.
The sun knoweth his going down; not the going down of the moon, which is the sense of some, according to Kimchi; but his own going down; and so he knows his rising, to which this is opposed, Psalm 50:1 and every revolution, diurnal or annual, he makes; and which he constantly and punctually observes, as if he was a creature endued with reason and understanding; see Psalm 19:5. He knows the time of his setting, as the Targum, Syriac, and Arabic versions; and also the place where he is to set, at the different seasons of the year, and indeed every day. This luminary is an emblem of Christ, the sun of righteousness, Psalm 84:11 the fountain of all light; the light of nature, grace, and glory; and of all spiritual life and heat, as well as fruitfulness. He arose at his incarnation, and set at his death, the time of both which he full well knew; and he has his risings and settings, with respect to the manifestation of himself to his people, or hiding himself from them, which depend on his pleasure.
(e) "fecit", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, &c.
Wherein all the beasts of the field do creep forth; out of their dens, and range about for their prey, as the evening wolves and others: and these are not the only creatures that choose the night and darkness; all wicked men do the same; whose deeds are evil, and do not care to come to the light, lest they should be reproved; particularly drunkards, adulterers, thieves, and murderers, John 3:20. So the Scribes and Pharisees, when they consulted to take away the life of Christ, and agreed with Judas to betray him, did it in the night: so false teachers, who are wolves in sheep's clothing, when it is a night of darkness with the church, take the advantage of it, to creep about and spread their pernicious doctrines; see 2 Timothy 3:6.
And seek their meat from God; as all creatures in their way do; as the ravens by crying, so the young lions by roaring; neither one nor other can provide for themselves, but God, in his providence, supplies them all with food; see Psalm 104:27. And should not we seek and ask our meat of God too, even both temporal and spiritual? And may we not expect it from him? Does he feed the ravens, and also the young lions, and will he not take care of his own people, and feed them with food convenient for them, and especially when they ask it of him? Psalm 34:10.
(f) "ad praedam", Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, &c.
And lay them down in their dens; for rest and safety, and to feed themselves and young ones with the ravin they bring with them; see Sol 4:8.
And to his labour until the evening; to till the ground, and do other services and labour, either of the head or hand; for man is born and designed for labour, and not for sloth and idleness: in his innocent state he was set to dress the garden and keep it; and, after the fall, his doom was to get his bread by the sweat of his brow; and he is to work while the day lasts, till the evening and night come on, when he betakes himself to sleep and rest again. So the believer, though the work of redemption and salvation is wrought for him, and the work of grace is wrought in him, each by another hand; yet he has work enough to do, which he is created for, and under obligation to perform; and in which he is to continue steadfast and immovable, while the day of life lasts, till the night of death comes, and no man can work; and then he rests from his labours, and his works follow him.
In wisdom hast thou made them all not only one thing, as the heavens, Psalm 136:5, but everything is wisely contrived and made; there is a most glorious display of the wisdom of God in the most minute thing his hands have made; he has made everything beautiful in its season: a skilful artificer, when he has finished his work and looks it over again, often finds some fault or another in it: but when the Lord had finished his works of creation, and looked over them, he saw that all was good; infinite wisdom itself could find no blemish in them: what weak, foolish, stupid creatures must they be that pretend to charge any of the works of God with folly, or want of wisdom? Some by "wisdom" here understand Christ himself, the wisdom of God; and not amiss, since without him was not anything made; see Proverbs 3:19.
The earth is full of thy riches: or possessions (h); for as the Lord is the maker, he is the proprietor and the possessor of heaven and earth, and all that is in them, and can and does dispose thereof as seems good in his sight; and whatever of the riches and good things of the earth men may have, they are only stewards, the Lord is the rightful owner and possessor of them; see Genesis 14:19, with which compare Psalm 33:5; see Gill on Psalm 33:5.
(g) "quam multa ac magna", Gejerus. (h) "possessione tua", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Gejerus; "tuis possessionibus", Tigurine version, Vatablus, Piscator, Michaelis.
Wherein are things creeping innumerable; so that it seems there are reptiles in the water as well as on land; and indeed every creature without feet, and that goes upon its belly, in the element where it is, whether earth or water, is a creeping thing; of these swimming or creeping things the number is exceeding great, especially of the latter sort; fishes increasing much more than the beasts of the earth. Their species are innumerable; so their kinds or sorts are reckoned up by some one hundred and forty four (n), by others one hundred and fifty three (o), and by others one hundred and seventy six (p); the Malabarians reckon, up 900,000 fishes, and 1,100,000 creeping things (q). These are an emblem of the common people of the world, which are innumerable; see Habakkuk 1:14.
Both small and great beasts; for there are creatures in the seas which answer to those on the dry land, both of the lesser and greater sort, as sea lions, sea horses, sea cows, sea hogs, &c. these may represent the rulers and governors of the world, supreme and subordinate; it is no unusual thing for great monarchies, and persons of great power and authority, to be signified by beasts rising out of the sea, Daniel 7:3.
(i) "latum manibus", Montanus; "spatiosum manibus", V. L. "amplum manibus", Vatablus. (k) Virgil. Aeneid. 5. Lucretius, l. 6. (l) "Veluti par divexum in mare brachium transitum tentaturus", Liv. Hist. l. 44. c. 35. "Nec brachia longos" &c. Ovid. Metamorph. l. 1. Fab. 1. v. 13, 14. (m) Origin. l. 13. c. 16. (n) Origin. l. 12. c. 6. (o) Oppianus in Halienticis. Vid. Hieron. in Ezekiel 47. fol. 260. (p) Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 32. c. 11. (q) Scheuchzer. Physic. Sacr. vol. 4. p. 963.
There is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein; the Targum adds,
"for the righteous at the feast of the house of his habitation.''
Of this creature there is an account in Job 41:1. Some take it to be the crocodile, which is both a sea and river fish; the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Ethiopic, and Arabic versions, and so Apollinarius, call it the dragon; it is more generally thought to be the whale; Aben Ezra says it is the name of every great fish; it is a sportive creature, tumbles about in the great sea, and plays with the waters of it, which it tosses up in great quantities; and with the fishes of the sea, which it devours at pleasure; and laughs at the shaking of the spear; and to which mariners throw out their empty casks to play with, when near them, and they in danger by it; see Job 41:5. This creature is generally reckoned by the ancients a figure of Satan, it being king over all the children of pride, Job 41:34 as he is the prince of the power of the air, and god of this world; who has been playing his tricks in it from the beginning of it, not only deceiving our first parents, but all the nations of the world; nor are saints ignorant of his devices. It sometimes describes a tyrannical prince, as the kings of Babylon and of Egypt, Isaiah 27:1 and is a true picture of antichrist, the beast which rose out of the sea; nor is there any like him on earth; see Revelation 13:1.
(r) So Homer calls ships , Iliad. 3. v. 46.
That thou mayest give them their meat in due season; or "in his time" (t); everyone in its own time, which is natural to them, and they have been used to; at which time the Lord gives it to them and they take it; it would be well if men would do so likewise, eat and drink in proper and due time, Ecclesiastes 10:17. Christ speaks a word in season to weary souls; his ministers give to everyone their portion of meat in due season; and a word spoken in due season, how good and sweet is it? Isaiah 1:4.
(s) "sperant", Pagninus, Cocceius, Michaelis; "sperabunt", Montanus. (t) "in tempore suo", Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, &c.
Thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good; God, in whose hand all things are, and from whence all things come, opens his hand of providence, and liberally and bountifully gives, as this phrase signifies, Deuteronomy 15:11 and all his creatures are filled with his good things to their satisfaction: and thus the spiritual food which he gives his people, they gather it by the hand of faith, as the Israelites gathered the manna in the wilderness every morning, and according to their eating, what was sufficient for them; and to whom he gives liberally, even all things richly to enjoy; all things pertaining to life and godliness; Christ, and all things along with him; abundance of grace here, and glory hereafter; and they are satisfied with his good things as with marrow and fatness.
Thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust; their original dust, from whence they sprung, as man himself does; the breath of all is from the Lord; he gives it to his creatures, and when he pleases he takes it away; and when he does, they die and become dust again.
And thou renewest the face of the earth; by a new set of creatures of all kinds being brought upon it to fill it. As there is also a daily renewing it every morning by the rising sun, giving fresh life and vigour to all created beings; and a yearly one every spring, when the face of all nature is renewed and revived. Jarchi and Arama understand it of the resurrection of the dead; this sense Kimchi mentions as an article of their faith, but not as the sense of the text. It may be applied to the renewing work of the Spirit of God in the souls of men, by whom they are made new, and by whom they are daily renewed in the Spirit of their minds. And there are particular seasons in which God sends forth his Spirit and renews the face of things in the world, and in his churches; upon the effusion of his Spirit in the first times of the Gospels, there was a new face of things, not only in the land of Judea, but throughout the whole Gentile world, where old things passed away, and all things became new; as in the latter day, when the Spirit shall be poured forth from on high, there will be a renewing of the face of the earth again; it will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea; the kingdoms of it will become Christ's; new heavens and a new earth will be created, and Jerusalem will be made a rejoicing, and her people a joy, Isaiah 65:17.
The Lord shall rejoice in his works; being well pleased with them, as he was with the works of creation; they appearing, on a survey of them, to be all very good, Genesis 1:31 so he rejoices in the sustaining and preservation of them; and the rather when he is glorified in them. And this should be a reason why glory should be given him, that he may rejoice in his works, and not be grieved, as he is sometimes said to be and to repent of his making them, Genesis 6:6. Christ rejoices in the work of redemption, which he undertook and performed with pleasure; he rejoiced at the finishing it, and he rejoices in the application of it to his people and will rejoice in their complete enjoyment of it; they being the objects of his love, in whom he has an interest; whom he engaged for, are the purchase of his blood, and for whom he prays and intercedes; he rejoices in them as the work of his hands now; in their persons, who are his "hephzibah", in whom he delights; "his beulah", to whom he is married: he rejoices in his own grace wrought in them, and in the exercise of it on him; he rejoices over them to do them good, and never ceases doing good to them and for them.
go, ye cursed, &c. and if a look and a word are so terrible, what will be the lighting down of his arm, with the indignation of his anger upon those who have refused to give him glory? For the words seem to carry in them a reason why he should be glorified, taken from the consequence of not glorifying him, who has such a majesty in his looks, such a terror in his countenance, and such power in his hands.
He toucheth the hills, and they smoke; as Sinai likewise did, when he was upon it, Exodus 19:18, and as other hills do, when touched with lightning; the tops of mountains, the higher they are, the sooner and the more they smoke (u). God, with a touch of his hand, can set mountains on fire, open "volcanos", and cause them to burn for years together; as Etna, Vesuvius, Hecla, and others: and how easily can he set on fire the course of nature, burn the world, and all that is in it! It is but touching it, and it takes fire immediately: this he can as easily do as a man can light a torch or a candle; and as easily can he destroy sinners with the fire of his wrath, or cast them into everlasting fire, with the devil and his angels, which will burn to the lowest hell; and what are hills and mountains, or the greatest personages on earth, if he does but touch them, or lay his hand upon them in wrath? They are crushed as the moth; they are nothing before our great Zerubbabel.
(u) "Montis vicina cacumina coelo----Tanto "magis edita fumant", Lucret. de Rerum Natura, l. 6. v. 458, 459.
I will sing praise unto my God while I have my being: because he lived, and moved, and had his being in him; and it was continued to him, and he was upheld in it; and not only for his being, but for his well being; as for his temporal, so for his spiritual mercies, which he had from him as his God, as his covenant God; such as peace, pardon, righteousness, and eternal life: a view of God as our own God, such a view as Thomas had of Christ, when he said, "my Lord, and my God", is enough to make a man sing; and when the psalmist says he would do this as long as he lived and had a being, this is not to be understood as if this work would end with his life, or that he had no thought of praising him hereafter; but it signifies his constancy in this employment, while in the land of the living; knowing that in the grave he could not praise the Lord with his bodily organs as now; though he knew that this would be his eternal employ in the world of spirits, in his soul, during its separate state, and in soul and body after the resurrection.
(w) "in vita mea", V. L. Pagninus; "in vitis meis", Montanus.
"let my meditation be sweet before him;''
that is, grateful and acceptable to him: or, as the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions, "let my speech", discourse, colloquy, address in prayer; see Psalm 141:2, or, "let my praise", so the Arabic and Syriac versions: the spiritual sacrifices both of prayer and praise are acceptable to God through Christ; and the speech of the church, and every believer, whether in the one way or the other, is sweet to Christ, very pleasant and delightful to him, Sol 2:14.
I will be glad in the Lord: the Targum is,
"in the Word of the Lord;''
in the essential Word, the Lord Jesus Christ; in his person, the greatness, glory, beauty, and fulness of it; in his righteousness, its purity, perfection, and perpetuity; in his salvation, being so suitable, complete, and glorious.