Psalms 19:4 MEANING

Psalm 19:4
(4) Their line.--Heb., kav, a cord, used of a plummet line (Zechariah 1:16); a measuring cord (Jeremiah 31:39, where also same verb, gone forth). In Isaiah 28:10, the word is used ethically for a definition or law. But neither of these seems very appropriate here. The verse wants sound or voice, and words of this intention actually appear in the LXX., Vulg., Symmachus, Jerome, and the Syriac.

The use which St. Paul makes of these words (Romans 10:18) is as natural as striking. The march of truth has always been compared to the spread of light. But the allegorical interpretation based on the quotation, making the heavens a figure of the Church and the sun of the Gospel, loses the force and beauty of the Apostle's application.

In them hath . . .--This clause is not only rightly joined to Psalm 19:4, but concludes a stanza: the relative in the next verse of the Authorised Version mars the true construction.

A tabernacle.--The tent-chamber into which the sun retired after his day's journey, and from which he started in the morn, Aurora, or dawn (according to Grecian mythology) drawing back the curtains for his departure, was naturally a conception common to all nations. That the phenomena of sunset should engage the poet's attention before those of sunrise was inevitable in a race who reckoned "the evening and the morning were the first day." The LXX. and Vulg. completely spoil the picture by rendering "he hath pitched his tent in the sun."

Verse 4. - Their line is gone out through all the earth. It is much disputed what "their line" means. The word used, qav (קַו), means, ordinarily, a "measuring-line" (Ezekiel 47:3: Zechariah 1:16, etc.), whence it comes to have the further sense of a terminus or boundary; that which the measuring-line marks out. It is also thought to have signified an architect's rule; and, hence, anything regulative, as a decree, precept, or law (see Isaiah 28:10). The LXX. translated it in this place by φθόγγος, "a musical sound;" and Dr. Kay supposes "the regulative chord," or "key-note." to be intended. Perhaps "decree" would be in this place the best rendering, since it would suit the "words" (minim) of the second clause. The "decree" of the heavens is one proclaiming the glory of God, and the duty of all men to worship him. And their words to the end of the world. Though they have neither speech nor language, nor any articulate words, yet they have "words" in a certain sense. Millim is said to be used of thoughts just shaping themselves into language, but not yet uttered (Kay). In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun. God has made the heavens the sun's dwelling-place, the place where he passes the day. There is, perhaps, a tacit allusion to the Shechinah, which dwelt in the tabernacle of the congregation:

19:1-6 The heavens so declare the glory of God, and proclaim his wisdom, power, and goodness, that all ungodly men are left without excuse. They speak themselves to be works of God's hands; for they must have a Creator who is eternal, infinitely wise, powerful, and good. The counter-changing of day and night is a great proof of the power of God, and calls us to observe, that, as in the kingdom of nature, so in that of providence, he forms the light, and creates the darkness, Isa 45:7, and sets the one against the other. The sun in the firmament is an emblem of the Sun of righteousness, the Bridegroom of the church, and the Light of the world, diffusing Divine light and salvation by his gospel to the nations of the earth. He delights to bless his church, which he has espoused to himself; and his course will be unwearied as that of the sun, till the whole earth is filled with his light and salvation. Let us pray for the time when he shall enlighten, cheer, and make fruitful every nation on earth, with the blessed salvation. They have no speech or language, so some read it, and yet their voice is heard. All people may hear these preachers speak in their own tongue the wonderful works of God. Let us give God the glory of all the comfort and benefit we have by the lights of heaven, still looking above and beyond them to the Sun of righteousness.Their line is gone out through all the earth,.... Not the line or writings in the book of the creatures, the heavens, and the earth, which lie open, and are legible, and to be seen and read of all men; nor the line and writings in the book of the Scriptures, called line upon line, and precept upon precept, Isaiah 28:13, which, though first given to the Jews, were written for the instruction of others, and have been communicated to them; but the line of the apostles: everyone had his line or measure; or the course he was to steer was measured out and directed to him; the line of one, where he was to go and preach the Gospel, reached so far one way, and the line of another reached so far another way; and what with one and another, their line reached throughout all the earth; see 2 Corinthians 10:13; the apostle citing these words in Romans 10:18; renders them, "their sound went", &c. the sound of the Gospel, as published by them; which agrees with the next clause;

and their words to the end of the world; to the isles afar off, even to these northern and distant ones of England, Scotland, and Ireland, which were reached and visited with the Gospel, either by the apostles, or at least by some of the first ministers of the word;

in them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun; that is, in the heavens and firmament, where the natural sun is placed; and its habitation is fitly called a tabernacle, because it is always in motion and never stops: or this may have some respect to its setting, when, according to the common appearance, and to common understandings, it seems to be hid as in a tent or tabernacle; to be as it were gone to bed, and at rest; when in the morning it rises gay and cheerful, and comes forth like a bridegroom out of his chamber, as is said in Psalm 19:5, but this is all to be understood, spiritually and mystically, of Christ the sun of righteousness, who has his tabernacle among his people, his churches; and particularly has a place, and the chief place, in the ministry of the Gospel, being the sum and substance of it; and this is of God's putting there, who committed to his apostles the word of reconciliation, the sum of which is Christ; and this is what makes the Gospel so glorious a light, so clear a revelation as it is: the nature, continuance, and extent of this revelation, are described in the foregoing verses; the perspicuity and clearness of it is set forth in this clause, and in what follows.

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