Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
To the Chief Musician, A Psalm of David
1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament sheweth his handywork.
2 Day unto day uttereth speech,
And night unto night sheweth knowledge.
3 There is no speech nor language,
Where their voice is not heard.
4 Their line is gone out through all the earth,
And their words to the end of the world.
In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,
5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
And rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.
6 His going forth is from the end of the heaven,
And his circuit unto the ends of it:
And there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.
7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul:
The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart:
The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold:
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
11 Moreover by them is thy servant warned:
And in keeping of them there is great reward.
12 Who can understand his errors?
Cleanse thou me from secret faults.
13 Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins;
Let them not have dominion over me:
Then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth,
And the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight,
O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
ITS CONTENTS AND COMPOSITION It is usually supposed that this Psalm consists of two parts, the former expressing the praise of God as Creator, the latter the praise of God as revealing Himself in the laws of Moses. Since now, not only the subject, but likewise the language and structure of the verses of the two parts is different, and they seem to follow one another without connection, many interpreters regard the two parts as two entirely different poems, composed at different times (Köster, Hupf., Böttcher), which were afterwards united together by a later poet (Ewald), or by the compiler (De Wette). But it has been very properly remarked against this opinion, that the difference of tone and rhythm corresponds with the difference of subject, and that moreover the subject of the one part has an essential relation to that of the other part, and not a relation subsequently thought out by reflection; for the identity of the God of Revelation with the Creator is the fundamental principle of the Theocracy, and is expressly testified to by the Old Testament from the earliest times. Furthermore these references are here expressed partly by the intentional use of the Divine name of El in the first part, and of Jehovah, and indeed seven times, in the second part, partly by the juxtaposition of Sun and Law, both of which are called Light, the former Job 21:26, the latter Prov. 6:3, which thus mediates the transition from the one part to the other. As for the language of the Psalm, Hitzig especially, has brought into notice, and emphasized against Hupfeld, the ancient and particularly Davidic features, especially of the second part.21 Hengstenberg had already previously carried this out in a peculiar manner by maintaining that there are to be observed not two, but rather three parts; for after the description of actual facts, in two parts the Psalm turns directly to Jehovah, and becomes a prayer for forgiveness and preservation. These opinions are yet so held, that the composition must fall in the period before the sin of David with Bathsheba.
[Delitzsch: “In the title of Ps. 18. David is called עבד ה׳ and in Ps. 19. he calls himself by this name. In both Psalms he calls upon Jehovah wih the name of צוּרי, there at the beginning, here at the close. These, with other points of contact, have co-operated in inducing the compiler to attach this Psalm which celebrates God’s revelation in Nature and the Law, to Ps. 18., which celebrates God’s revelation in the history of David.”22—C. A. B.]
Str. I. Psalm 10:1. Tell … proclaimeth.—[A. V., declare … sheweth]. The heavens are personified as Ps. 50:6; 97:6; as the morning stars, Job 38:7; the trees, Is. 55:12; entire nature, Job 12:7; Ps. 148: 2 sq. Telling and proclaiming may consequently be asserted of them with expressions which elsewhere are used of historical narration, which proclaim the great works of God from generation to generation. This expression is the more pregnant, as the history of the creation of the heavens and its stars in Genesis, to which the word rakia (comp. Ps. 150:1) refers, is represented as toledoth, and has had a historical course, which again was called forth and closely determined by the will of God and His activity as a Divine artificer, so that there is impressed and expressed (Calv.) therein, not only His creative power (Geier, et al.) but the action of His hands, that is His mastership and His majesty, the reflected image of His Godhead (Rom. 1:20). [Hupfeld: “The heavens as the work of God reveal the Creator (as we say, ‘the work praises the master’) comp Ps. 136:5; Is. 40:22 sq.; 42:5; 44:24, etc.”—Handywork=hand-work, work of the hand.—C. A. B.] The participial forms state, that these are constant and characteristic witnesses.
Psalm 10:2. Day unto day poureth forth speech.—[A. V., Uttereth]. The interrupted character of this declaring, which reveals the glory of the Creator, is occasioned by a chain of tradition. It is not said that the heavens preach to us by day and by night (Maurer), or that the changes of time praise God (Isaki, Calv.) and that which in these changes is seen in the heavens, and happens under the heavens on earth, (Aben Ezra, Stier), but the difference of the heavens by day and by night is had in view, and therefore day is placed in direct reference to day, and night to night in order that their communications may gush forth or well forth (Ps. 78:2; Mic. 2:6, 11; Prov. 1:23). [De Wette: “The poet personifies the day and the night, and has them transmit the praise of God to every following day and every following night, as the father transmits to his son the songs and sayings praising his illustrious ancestry which he has inherited from his father.” Rosenm.: “Declaratur prædicatio sine intermissione. Et quia cœlum prædicat per dies et noctes, cum interdiu princeps astrorum, sol, conspicitur, noctu stellarum pulchritudo; et quia dies et noctes sibi invicem succedunt, ideo poëlico artificio finget noster, unum diem peracto cursu et prædicatione sua, tradere diei sequenti verba prædicationis, et noctem quoque, peracto cursu, et quasi hymno cantato, tradere nocti sequenti munus canendi, ut ita continue, et sine ulla intermissione dies et noctes quasi choreas dûcant, et Deum laudibus celebrent.”—C. A. B.]
Psalm 10:3. No speech and no words whose voice unheard (might be) [A. V., (There is) no speech nor language (where) their voice is not heard].—The interpretation of these words as a relative clause, after Vitringa (Observ. Sacr p. 841, 59), approved by De Wette, Delitzsch, Hitzig, accords with the figure previously used, and gives the appropriate sense; that this natural language of the heavens is not a speech whose sound cannot be understood, but is rather a φανερόν (Rom. 1:19) [that is manifest to all.—C. A. B.] The בְלִי, connected with the participle, is a poetical expression altogether like the alpha privativum (Ewald, § 286 g; § 322 a). Against this interpretation may be objected, not so much the parallelism which is thereby lost, as the reference of the suffix to the words which immediately precede, “speech and words,” whilst the suffix in the following line [Psalm 10:4a] refers back to heavens and the firmament, with which day and night correspond. But if we should apply this reference here likewise, and at the same time restore the parallelism (Kimchi et al.), then by this formal correctness we would only get the plain matter of course explanation, destroying the poetical movement and rhythm, that the expressions just used are not exact but poetical. We must not, however, regard this verse as a later gloss. The poetical use of בלי, which even Olshausen remarks, is already opposed to this. Still less can it be maintained that the antithesis is found in the following verse, that these dumb witnesses, without sound and language, are yet loud speakers, heralds everywhere understood. For then we must either supply the particle of antithesis (Flam., et al.), which is altogether arbitrary, or regard ver 3 as the antecedent to Psalm 10:4 (De Dieu), or regard it really as a preceding circumstantial clause (Ewald23), which is as hard to believe as the supposition (Hupf.24) of an Oxymoron only half expressed: dumb, and yet loud enough. This contrast cannot be derived organically from the emphasis of the clause; it is simply forced into the clause. This is still more the case with Hengst, who finds indicated the forcibleness of the testimony which needs no language [Alexander]. The language does not admit of the interpretation which Luther, Calv., Geier and most ancient interpreters follow, after the ancient translations, that this testimony of the heavens is understood by people of all languages [Barnes]; nor indeed of the turn which Hofmann (Theol. Stud. und Krit., 1847) has given it: no speech, and no words, are there that its call is not heard, that is, the speaking of the heavens is carried on along with all other languages; the speech of the heavens sounds above all. Böttcher translates: Where is preaching and where are words? Not a sound of it is to be heard.25
Str. II. Psalm 10:4. Their line.—Only the meaning “measuring line” can be proved for the word קו (Isa. 34:17; Zech. 1:16, etc.), which goes as far, or extends as far, as the territory extends, Jer. 31:39; Job 38:5, Isa 34:17; Ezek. 47:3 (Chald., Isaki, Geier, Rosenm., Hengst., Hupf, Delitzsch). The meaning sounding string (De Wette, after some more ancient interpreters), is no more in the word than that of thread of discourse (Hitzig), or the line of writing (Aben Ezra, Calv., Cocc.). The derivation from קִוָּה=to stretch out, in the sense of τόνος from τείνω (Ewald, Maurer), is possible, and the Sept. (comp. Rom. 10:18) really has φθόγγος, Symm., ἧχος, Vulg. and Jerome, sonus, Peschito, “its proclaiming.” But this meaning of sound, tune, is not proper to the word elsewhere, hence Olsh., Maurer, Gesen., propose to read קוֹלָם instead of קַוָּם, which, however, is used in the previous verse. The parallelism again (Camph.) is more in favor of a word for sound than of one for territory. Yet without this the extent of this proclaiming is stated as locally unlimited, much more embracing the entire circuit of the world.—[In them.—Hupfeld very properly refers the suffix here to the heavens in which God has set up a tent or abode for the sun, so Perowne and Barnes. Barnes: “The meaning is, that the sun has his abode or dwelling-place, as it were, in the heavens. The sun is particularly mentioned, doubtless, as being the most prominent object among the heavenly bodies, as illustrating in an eminent manner the glory of God. The sense of the whole passage is, that the heavens in general proclaim the glory of God, and that this is shown in a particular and special manner by the light, the splendor and the journeyings of the sun.”—C. A. B.]26
[Tent (A. V., tabernacle).—Hupfeld: “A dwelling is poetically assigned to the sun by God, so far as it, like all the stars, has its firm place in the heavens, from whence it begins its daily course in the following verse and again returns; without doubt with special reference to its abode at night (Geier). Comp. in the following verse, the bed-chamber, from which it steps forth in the morning. Thus Hab. 3:11: ‘The sun and moon stand still in their habitation (זְבוּל), and the מַזָּלוֹת, ‘lodgings’ or ‘houses,’ of the constellations of the zodiac as stations of the sun. The same figure among the Greeks and Romans (Hom., Ovid’s Metam.), and Ossian (III. 91). Comp. Herder, Geist. d. Heb. Poes., I. 78 sq.”—C. A. B.]
The allegorical reference of many ancient interpreters to the heavens as a figure of the Church, and the sun as the figure of the gospel, originates from the supposition, that there is here a prophecy used in Rom. 10:18. But the apostle uses these words only on the ground of the parallel here given of the natural and historical revelations as typical of the proclamation of the gospel, which should embrace the entire world. [Perowne: “St. Paul, Rom. 10:18, quotes the former part of this verse in illustration of the progress of the Gospel. ‘Faith,’ he says, ‘cometh by hearing,’ and then asks, ‘Have they (i.e. the nations at large) not heard?’ Yea, rather, so widely has the Gospel been preached, that its progress may be described in the words in which the Psalmist tells of God’s revelation of Himself in nature. The one has now become co-extensive with the other. The prœconium cœlorum is not more universal than the prœconium evangelii.”—C. A. B.]
[Psalm 10:5. And he is like a bridegroom (A. V., Which (is) as a bridegroom).—It is better to regard וְהוּא as beginning an independent clause, as Delitzsch, Moll., Ewald, Perowne, et al. Hupf. uses a colon, but the relative construction is without warrant, and makes the clause too much dependent upon the preceding. Perowne: “Nothing can be more striking than the figures in which the freshness and gladness of the young morning and the strength of the sun’s onward march, are described.” Delitzsch: “The morning light has in it a freshness and cheerfulness, a renewed youth. Therefore the morning sun is compared to a bridegroom, the desire of whose heart is satisfied, who stands as it were at the beginning of a new life, and in whose youthful countenance the joy of the wedding-day still shines.”—As a hero to run a race.—Delitzsch: “As in its rise it is compared to a bridegroom, so in its rapid course (Sir. 43:5) it is compared to a hero (vid.Ps. 18:33), for it goes over its course anew, every time it steps forth, bestowing its light, and overcoming all things with גִּבוּרָה (Judges 5:31).” Riehm: “The meaning is not he rejoices in running, but: he rejoices running = he runs joyfully (Hitzig).” The same comparison is used in the Zendavesta, II. 106 (De Wette). Barnes “The idea is that the sun seems to have a long journey before him and puts forth all his vigor, exulting in the opportunity of manifesting that vigor, and confident of triumphing in the race.”—C. A. B.]27
[Psalm 10:6. His going forth.—Hupf.: “מוֹצָא, the usual word for the rising of the sun, appears here in its original figurative meaning: going forth, with reference to the stepping forth (יצא) from his chamber (Psalm 10:5), in contrast with מָבוֹא, going into the chamber at his setting, “instead of which here תְקוּפָה, revolution, running down (from נקף, Isa. 29:1; הִקִּיף, encompass, revolve), elsewhere of the passing away of the years, Ex. 34:22; 1 Sam. 1:20, here of the daily passing away of the sun” (A. V., circuit). “This is not a description of its ‘extended course” (De Wette), but of the entire extent of its course: from one end of the heavens to the other (corresponding with ‘over the whole earth,’ and ‘to the end of the world,’ Psalm 10:4, which here receive their explanation and fulfilment), and of its all-penetrating heat.”—Nothing is hid from its heat.—Hupfeld: “This refers properly to its all-penetrating warmth, heat (from which the sun poetically has the name הַמָּח, the hot, in contrast to the moon לְבָנָה, the pale, Isa. 30:26); but including likewise the light, comp. in all languages a similar proverb, that the sun ‘sees and brings all things to light.’ ”—Barnes: “The rays of the sun penetrate everywhere. Nothing escapes it. It is not a more march for show and splendor; it is not an idle and useless journey in the heavens; but all things, vegetables, birds, beasts, men,—all that lives,—feel the effect of his vital warmth, and are animated by his quickening influence.”—C. A. B.]
Str. III. Psalm 10:7. [Delitzsch: “The transition from the one part to the other has no external medium, it is only indicated by the fact that the Divine name יהוה [Jehovah] takes the place of אֵל (‘El). The word of nature reveals אל (‘El), the word of Scripture יהוה (Jehovah); the one God’s power and majesty, the other His counsel and will. Twelve eulogies of the law follow, two by two of which are constantly related as presumption and conclusion, according to the scheme of the Cæsura, rising and sinking as waves. We feel how the heart of the poet, when he begins to speak of God’s word and the revelation of His will, begins to beat with redoubled joy.”—C. A. B.]
The law.—The word תוֹרה means properly: instruction, doctrine, and therefore may mean likewise the word of prophecy (Isa. 1:10; 8:16); yes, it may be used of the νόμος of the last times. But this does not prove that it means here the Gospel (Cocc.), or the revelation and word of God in general (many ancient interpreters, likewise Stier). The following synonyms, then Psalm 10:11, show that the reference here is only to the revelation of the law given by Moses as the rule of life for Israel. So it is not said that the Thorah converts the soul (Stier), or leads the spirit back into itself (Augusti), but this expression in its idiomatic use has no reference to the moral character, but to the experiences of life. The refreshment and reanimation of the soul is called its restoration and bringing back. Comp. 1 Sam. 30:12; Lam. 1:11. [Alexander: “The effect of converting the soul would not have been attributed to the law in this connection, where the writer is describing the affections cherished towards the law by men already converted, which removes all apparent inconsistency with Paul’s representation of the law as working death, and at the same time the necessity of making the law mean the Gospel, or in any other way departing from the obvious and usual import of the Hebrew word.”—The testimony.—Perowne: “As testifying, bearing witness of God’s character, both in His goodwill towards those who obey Him, and in His displeasure against transgressions, especially in the latter sense. It is as Harless says: ‘The word of God testifying of Himself and affirming what He is, in opposition to the apostasy of man’ (Ethik. § 14, Anm). Vid.Deut. 31:26, 27 Hence the force of its connection with the ark and the mercy-seat, Ex. 25:16; 26:34; Lev. 16:13; the symbol of God’s righteous severity against sin being hidden beneath the symbol of His grace and mercy.”—C. A. B.]
Simplicity—פֶתי is not the silly (Luther), nor the natural man in general (most interpreters), nor the open-minded and susceptible (Stier), such as the pious and the wise must certainly remain in order to further progress (Hengst.), but the man who is in the condition of one in his minority, uneducated and open to every impression, especially to slander and temptation (Hupf.), who, however, has not yet lost the disposition of a child (Calv.) (comp. Matth. 11:25; 1 Cor. 1:27).
Psalm 10:8 [Delitzsch: “The law is divided into פִקּוּדַים, demands, or declarations respecting the obligations of man [A. V. statutes], these are יִשָׁרִים, right as norma normata, because they proceed from the just and holy will of God, and as norma normans, because they lead in the right way into right paths; they are therefore מְשׂמְּחֵי לֵב, their training and direction removes all obstructions, satisfies the moral needs and gives the glad consciousness of being in the right way to the right end. מִצְוַת ה׳, Jehovah’s statute (from צִוָּה, statuere), is the essence of His commands. The statute is called, lamp, Prov. 6:23, and the law, light. So here, it is בָּרָה, pure, as sunlight (Song of Sol. 6:10), and its light imparts itself by: מְאִירַת עְינַיִם, enlightening the eyes, which is meant not only of enlightening the understanding, but likewise of the entire condition, it makes spiritually clear and lovely as well as spiritually sound and fresh, for dimness of eye is trouble, sadness, perplexity.”—C. A. B ]28
Psalm 10:9. The fear of Jehovah is here evidently metonymic = doctrines or their practice, as Isa. 29:13.—[Clean—Barnes: “טָחוֹר, tâhor, means properly clear, pure, in a physical sense, as opposed to filthy, soiled; then, in a ceremonial sense, as opposed to that which is profane or common (Lev. 13:17), and then, in a moral sense, as a clean heart, etc.,Ps. 12:6; 51:10. It is also applied to pure gold, Ex. 25:11. The sense here is, that there is nothing in it that tends to corrupt the morals or defile the soul. Everything connected with it is of a pure and holy tendency, adapted to cleanse the soul and to make it holy.—Enduring forever.—Standing to all eternity. Not temporary; not decaying; not destined to pass away. It stands firm now, and it will stand firm forever. That is the law of God, considered as adapted to make the heart holy and pure is eternal. What it is now it will ever be. What its teaching is now it will continue to be forever.”—Judgments.—Delitzsch: “מִשְׁפְטִי ה׳ are the jura of the law, as corpus juris divini, all that is right and in accordance with right according to the decision of Jehovah; these laws are אְמֶת, truth, guarding and protecting itself, because as distinguished from most laws other than those of Israel they have an unchangeable, moral foundation”—Righteous altogether—Barnes: “That is, they are, without exception, just; or, they are altogether or wholly righteous.”—C. A. B.]
Psalm 10:10 [Hupfeld: “The conclusion: hence the incomparable value of the Divine law, brought into view by comparison with the most important material goods after which men strive: Gold, as the rarest and therefore the most costly good and most sought after, symbol of the dearest possession and object of the most eager strife of men; Honey, as the sweetest symbol of the most delightful enjoyment The former comparison in the same sense (with pearls and precious stones), likewise Ps. 119:72; 127 and frequently, in Prov. 2:4; 3:14 sq.; 8:10 sq., 19; 16:16; 22:1; Job 28:15 sq.; the latter likewise Psalm 119:103 and Prov. 21:13.”—Honeycomb, more properly as in the margin, dropping of honeycombs. Barnes: “The allusion is to honey that drops from the combs, and therefore the most pure honey. That which is pressed from the comb will have almost inevitably a mixture of bee-bread and of the combs themselves. That which flows from the comb will be pure.”—C. A. B.]
Str. IV Psalm 10:11. [Warned—Barnes: “זַהָר, zahar, means, properly, to be bright, to shine; then to cause to shine, to make light; and then to admonish, to instruct, to warn. The essential idea here is to throw light on a subject, so as to show it clearly; that is, make the duty plain, and the consequences plain. Comp. Lev. 15:31; Ezek. 3:18; 33:7” Alexander: “The phrase, Thy servant, brings the general doctrines of the foregoing context into personal application to the writer.”—C. A. B.]
Psalm 10:12. Errors.—The word שְׁגִיאָה, which occurs only here, denotes the entire compass of unintentional sins, the ἀγνοήματα, which had happened בִּשְׁגָגָה, and even on this account not only concealed from men (Lev. 4:13, but likewise not even known by the person himself (Lev. 5:2 sq.), because they might have been committed unconsciously, but when they became known, were to be atoned for by offerings (Num. 15:22 sq.). In contrast with them are the trespasses (Num. 5:30 sq.), which are said to be committed with uplifted hand and as not to be atoned for, from which therefore the Psalmist wishes to be preserved.
Psalm 10:13. The word זִדִים describes these as boasting [A. V. presumptuous (sins)], but not on the side of their appearance as disregarding all limits, but on the side of the origin of their sin from the heart boasting of its lusts. The plural form of this word is in other passages of Scripture always to be regarded properly as of haughty oppressors, and is likewise here thus taken by many, finally Köster and Olsh. But there is no other reference in this Psalm to the oppression of such hostile persecutors (the Sept. and Vulg. have read זָדִים). The context leads to the sphere of moral preservation, not of protection against external power. The expression ruler [A. V., have dominion] in the following member of the verse is entirely appropriate and clear only when we regard the plural form as denoting the abstract (Kimchi, Rosenm., Delitzsch, Hitzig), which especially recommends itself in an ancient piece of composition. The reference to the evil influence and the tempting power of association and intercourse with proud transgressors (De Wette, Hupf., Camph.), forces the abstract into the explanation in order to be endurable, and obscures the contrast that is in the clause Gen. 4:7, Rom. 5:14, and similar passages which are cited lead directly to an abstract, and חשׁךְ= hold back, preserve, is usually connected with an abstract (Gen. 20:6; 1 Sam. 25:39). Still less is it to be supposed that the intentional sins are here personified as tyrants (Hengst.) which strive to bring the servant of God under their unworthy dominion. It is the boasting of his emotions which is charged against David (1 Sam. 17:28) comp. James 1:14 (Hitzig), which at the close of the verse after its expression as פשׁע, (= apostasy, treachery, rebellion) is marked with a word in apposition which expresses not the frequency (Calv.) but the greatness of the iniquity. The word נקּה (Psalm 10:12 in Piel. Psalm 10:13 in Niphal) is a judicial word, and stands always with reference to guilt and punishment. [Delitzsch: “Declare innocent, speak free, leave unpunished.”—C. A. B.]
Psalm 10:14. [Delitzsch: “The Psalmist finally prays for the gracious acceptance of his prayer, in which heart and mouth unite, based upon the faithfulness of God, which is firm as a rock, and His redemptive Love.”—Be acceptable.—Perowne: “The usual formula applied to God’s acceptance of sacrifices offered to Him (Lev. 1:3, 4, etc.). Prayer to God is the sacrifice of the heart, and of the lips. Comp. Hos. 14:2, ‘so will we offer our lips as calves.’ ” Alexander: “This allusion also serves to suggest the idea, not conveyed by translation, of atonement, expiation, as the ground of the acceptance which the Psalmist hopes or prays for.”—Jehovah, my rock and my redeemer.—(A. V., my strength), in the margin correctly rock. Perowne: “The name of Jehovah is repeated for the seventh time. The epithets ‘my Rock,’ ‘my Redeemer,’ have here a peculiar force. For He is my strength in keeping the Law; my Redeemer as delivering me from the guilt and power of sin.”—C. A. B.]
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. The contemplation of the glory of nature must not lead to the deification of nature; it should lead up beyond the entire world, and beyond all the heavens, to the knowledge of the glory of God mirrored therein, and excite to the adoration of the Almighty Creator declaring Himself therein. The expanse of the heavens which cannot at all be surveyed by man, has yet received its limits from Him who is alone Infinite and Almighty. Even the sun, which is worshipped by so many nations as the King of heaven receives the measure of its motion, and the revolution of its course from the same hand, whose government and work disclose themselves in all things as by the hand of a Master, whom all His works praise. It is true the praise of nature is different by day from what it is by night; yet it preaches incessantly, and its sermon is not only heard everywhere in the world, but likewise is capable of being understood by every one.
2. But if the glorious works of God are so instructive and edifying to man, how much greater advantage may he derive from the law of God which is infinitely more glorious? For it is one and the same God, who declares Himself in creation, and reveals Himself in history. In natural things, however, only the glory of His metaphysical nature can be known; but the glory of His moral nature reveals itself in the words of His law, in which His will and counsel find expressions.
3. The twelve eulogiums of the law, whose parts are related to one another as presumption and consequence, and which are compared by Luther with the twelve fruits of the tree of life, refer to that excellence peculiar to the law of God as such, which is likewise expressly brought into view by Paul, Rom. 7:12, 14, by which it is the jewel of Israel and the comfort of those who act according to it. For the character of the Thorah as a Divine instruction respecting the duties to be fulfilled by the people of God and its individual members in all the relations of life, involves its having essentially the form of a testimony manifesting the will of God, and it divides itself into commandments and statutes which relate to the fear of Jehovah, and have the meaning of legal statutes They consequently have not only gone forth from God and received the essential characteristics of a complete and reliable rule of the rectitude and purity of all ordinances, the sincerity of their end and aim, the truth of statutes and decisions, but likewise treat of the true relation to God according to its subject and aim, and therefore spiritually refresh and admonish, whilst they rejoice the heart and enlighten the eyes. Moreover as essential parts of Divine revelation, they are of eternal duration, and are right, and continue in this connection in the history of redemption (Matth. 5:17 sq.). Thus the law of Jehovah is Israel’s most valuable possession and sweetest food, a gracious gift of God, glad tidings (Ps. 40:10).
4. The true servant of God experiences both the enlightenment and refreshment, the correction and reward of the law. He is preserved from venality and self-righteousness by the fact that the reward presupposes the fulfilment of the law. Moreover the servant of God perceives in the law as the mirror of perfection, his own imperfection, and its reference to human sins in general in their variety, number, and enormity. If he applies it to his own person, his claim of merit falls away. Moreover the law instructs him at the same time respecting the difference between deadly sins and venial sins, respecting the means of atonement, and respecting the conditions of forgiveness of sins, and thus preserves him from despair.
5. Moreover the arrangement of the institutions of atonement and the ordinances respecting their use, belong likewise to the commands and statutes of the Thorah. In these the Creator and Lawgiver reveals Himself as the Redeemer. The law itself thus urges to seek salvation in the grace of God by repentance and faith, whilst it discloses to the sinner his guilt, and makes him experience his inability to help himself, but likewise lets him know the readiness of God to forgive, and brings His saving strength near.
6. The institution of the confessional together with the requirements connected therewith, is in opposition to the confession and prayer made, Ps. 19:13 sq. (comp. Conf. August, art. VI). But no one is to plead as an excuse, or to justify themselves by the secrecy and delicacy of many sins, the unfathomableness of the human heart, the impossibility of a complete knowledge of self and sin. Justification is a speaking clear and a declaring guiltless on the part of God; in this David and Paul agree (comp. likewise Ps. 32). It presupposes on the one side the grace of God, on the other the laying hold of the same, which cannot happen without repentance any more than without faith. But where repentance and faith are, which are mutually necessary to one another, the servant of God is urged ever to make a more complete surrender of himself, and to more entirely consecrate himself to God, partly by the knowledge that with conscientious self-examination, there still remain to him faults to be regretted; partly by the experience, that with the most honest striving after sanctification the danger even of a grave transgression, and likewise of a great fall, never entirely vanishes from him. “If the law is separated from the hope of forgiveness and the Spirit of Christ, it is so far from the sweetness of honey, that it rather kills poor souls by its bitterness.” (Calvin).
7. An evidence of such disposition of soul is the prayer for pardon and preservation, if heart and lip unite in it, and the chief desire of the soul is that God will accept it as an offering well-pleasing to Him, that is, that He will hear it. The soul then turns with it to the God of revelation already known as his rock and his redeemer, in whose protecting power and saving love he trusts with the more security as he has already received and experienced salvation from Him. “Original sin is not destroyed in this world, but pardoned.” (Seb. Schmidt).
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
The glory of God is reflected for man even in the works of creation; but its splendor beams forth from the words of the revealed law, clearer than sunlight, yet it shines towards him most gloriously in acts of salvation for his redemption.—Nature and history preach the same God, that is, 1) the almighty Creator of the world; 2) the holy Lawgiver of the children of men; 3) the gracious Redeemer of penitent sinners.—It is true, our God is invisible, yet not unknown. There has never been a lack of preaching God, but often of people to hear the sermon, heed it, and obey it.—Even pious people have still hidden faults, but they do not hide them.—God helps us not only to know our sins, but likewise to receive pardon for our errors, and to obtain preservation from crimes.—To the people of God the law of God is the most costly good and the sweetest food. Three things are indispensable to the salvation of men, 1) adoration of the majesty of God; 2) repentance for their sins; 3) reconciliation with God by redemption.—He who would be the servant of God, must not only instruct himself by the law of God, but likewise be warned against transgression, and be led to its observance.—As the Lord so the servant; as the service so the reward.
STARKE: As the heavens with their courses and order are a sure witness of the omnipotence and wisdom of God, just so the gospel is to be a constant and faithful witness of Christ. See here the chief end of all the creatures of God! The Creator’s glory is to be advanced by them, and man is to know God aright from them, and learn to love Him and praise Him.—It is shameful for man, the noblest creature, to be silent with respect to those things about which even dumb creatures speak in their fashion.—No day should pass without my glorifying my God, and no night when I should not seek my rest in His grace.—If David already, with the little proportion of revelation which he had, has uttered such excellent words, what should we now say, after the Scriptures of the New Testament have come to us, which have set every thing in a still greater light?—As the gospel is glad tidings, so it likewise works Divine joy in those who allow themselves to be enlightened by it.—The Holy Spirit accomplishes His office of admonishing the soul by the word of God, now by doctrine, now by the refutation of an imbibed error, now by punishing an observed impurity, now by awakening to faithfulness, likewise by consoling support in trouble.—Although the law is a mirror of sin, yet no man can observe and know either the multitude or the secrecy of his faults, still less tell them to others.—He who has given himself to God as a servant will be preserved by Him from being the servant of sin and the slave of Satan.—As long as the righteous are in the world they will not be entirely pure owing to original sin, yet they are pure before God, partly on account of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, partly because God is pleased with their new obedience, whereby they free themselves from all gross prevailing sins.
AMBROSE: Aliud est timere, quia peccaveris, aliud timere, ne pecces; ibi est formodo de supplicio, hic sollicitudo de præmio.—AUGUSTINE: When thou prayest thou speakest with God; when thou readest the Scriptures, God speaks with thee.—OSIANDER: God has done a greater and more glorious work in saving poor sinners, than in creating the world.—ARNDT: God’s word, praise and glory, cannot and must not fail.—R. STIER: The first covenant in which God witnesseth His existence and will, joins on to the religion of nature and conscience which is presupposed, just as the other covenant which brings grace and truth, appeals to the law which preceded it.—O. v. GERLACH: The prayer for forgiveness of debts is followed directly by the prayer for preservation in and from temptation, as in the Lord’s prayer.—THOLUCK: If all the preachers on earth were silent, and no human mouth told any more of God, there in the heavens His great glory and majesty are told and declared without cessation.—UMBREIT: It is a mysterious song, which is sung by the universe, and to which the poet listens; it sounds so that it is heard only in the depths of the human soul, where the spring of faith is.—DIEDRICH: The work must praise the master everywhere, and blessed is he who understands it.
[MATTH. HENRY: From the brightness of the heavens we may collect that the Creator is light; their vastness of extent speaks His immensity; their height His transcendency and sovereignty; their influence upon this earth His dominion, and providence, and universal beneficence; and all declare His almighty power by which they were at first made, and continue to this day, according to the ordinances that were then settled.—The holy Scripture, as it is a rule both of duty to God and of our expectation from Him, is of much greater use and benefit to us than day or night, than the air we breathe in, or the light of the sun.—The discoveries made of God by His works might have served if man had retained his integrity; but to recover Him out of his fallen state another course must be taken, that must be done by the Word of God.—BARNES: The reason why any man is elated with a conviction of his own goodness is that he has no just sense of the requirements of the law of God; and the more any one studies that law, the more will he be convinced of the extent of his own depravity.—SPURGEON: We may rest assured that the true “vestiges of creation” will never contradict Genesis, nor will a correct “Cosmos” be found at variance with the narrative of Moses. He is wisest who reads both the world-book and the Word-book as two volumes of the same work, and feels concerning them, “my Father wrote them both.”—He who would guess at Divine sublimity should gaze upwards into the starry vault; he who would imagine infinity must peer into the boundless expanse; he who desires to see Divine wisdom should consider the balancing of the orbs; he who would know Divine fidelity must mark the regularity of the planetary motions; and he who would attain some conception of Divine power, greatness, and majesty, must estimate the forces of attraction, the magnitude of the fixed stars, and the brightness of the whole celestial train.—The gospel is perfect in all its parts, and perfect as a whole; it is a crime to add to it, treason to alter it, and felony to take from it.—What a blessing that in a world of uncertainties we have something sure to rest upon! We hasten from the quicksands of human speculations to the terra firma of Divine Revelation.—Free grace brings heart joy, earth-born mirth dwells on the lip, and flushes the bodily powers; but heavenly delights satisfy the inner nature, and fill the mental faculties to the brim. There is no cordial of comfort like that which is poured from the bottle of Scripture.—Look at the sun and it puts out your eyes, look at the more than sunlight of Revelation and it enlightens them; the purity of snow causes snow-blindness to the Alpine traveller, but the purity of God’s truth has the contrary effect, and cures the natural blindness of the soul.—Bible truth is enriching to the soul in the highest degree; the metaphor is one which gathers force as it is brought out; gold, fine gold—much fine gold; it is good, better, best; and therefore it is not only to be desired with a miser’s avidity, but with more than that.—Men speak of solid gold, but what is so solid as solid truth?—On the sea of life there would be many wrecks if it were not for the Divine storm-signals which give to the watchful a timely warning. The Bible should be our Mentor, our Monitor, our Memento Mori, our Remembrancer, and the keeper of our conscience.—He best knows himself who best knows the Word, but even such an one will be in a maze of wonder as to what he does not know, rather than on the mount of congratulation as to what he does know.—We have heard of a comedy of errors, but to a good man this is more like a tragedy.—Many books have a few lines of errata at the end, but our errata might well be as large as the volume if we could but have sense enough to see them. Augustine wrote in his older days a series of Retractations; ours might make a library if we had enough grace to be convinced of our mistakes, and to confess them.—If we had eyes like those of God we should think very differently of ourselves.—The transgressions which we see and confess are but like the farmer’s small samples which he brings to market, when he has left his granary full at home.—C. A. B.]
[Riehm: “The change in the structure of the verses occasioned by difference of tone, can so much the less be urged against the unity of the Psalm, since the structure of verses which prevails in the first part, reappears in Psalm 19:11. Against the supposition that the praise of the law betrays a later period of composition, comp. Ps. 18:22 sq. 31. The words of this Psalm resound in Ps. 119”—C. A. B.]
[Perowne: “It may have been written perhaps in the first flush of an Eastern sunrise, when the sun was seen, going forth as a bridegroom out of his chamber and rejoicing as a mighty man to run his course. The song breathes all the life and freshness, all the gladness and glory of the morning. The devout singer looks out, first, on the works of God’s fingers, and sees all creation bearing its constant though silent testimony to its Maker; and then he turns himself with a feeling of deep satisfaction to that yet clearer and better witness concerning Him to be found in the inspired Scriptures. Thus he begins the day; thus he prepares himself for the duties that await him, for the temptations that may assail and the sorrows that may gather as a cloud about him. He has made trial of the preciousness of that word. He knows its deep, hallowing, soul-sustaining power. He knows that it is full of life and healing. But he knows also that it is a word that searches and tries the heart, that reveals the holiness of God, and the sinfulness of man; and therefore he bows himself in prayer, saying, ‘As for errors,—who can understand them? Cleanse Thou me from secret faults.’ ” This Psalm may be compared with Ps. 8 an evening psalm similar in its contemplations to this morning psalm. In both the contemplation of the Divine glory as declared in the heavens, begets a feeling of humility in the soul of the Psalmist which rises in Ps. 8:5, into expression of faith and confidence in God, in Ps. 19, into prayer for forgiveness, preservation and acceptance.—C. A. B.]
[Ewald: “Without talk, without words, without its voice being heard, its sound became loud through the whole earth, etc.”—C. A. B.]
[Hupfeld compares this with Ps. 8:3, the defence of God out of the mouth of sucklings.—C. A. B.]
[Perowne agrees with Hengst. and Hupfeld, thus: “ ‘Their voice is not heard, lit. is inaudible.’ This seems to be a kind of correction or explanation of the bold figure which had ascribed language to the heavens. They have a language, but not one that can be classed with any of the dialects of earth. They have a voice, but one that speaks not to the ear, but to the devout and understanding heart. The sense is very well expressed in the well-known paraphrase of Addison:—
‘What though in solemn silence all
Move round this dark terrestrial ball,
* * * * *
In reason’s ear they all rejoice,
And utter forth a glorious voice,’ ” etc.
So Wordsworth: “The elements are God’s Evangelists; the universe is God’s Church. The sermon which they preach has found its response in the universal assent of mankind. But the eloquence of the elements is a silent eloquence, and thus differs from the articulate utterances of the Church.” The view of our author is preferable.—C. A. B.]
[De Wette, Gesen., Maurer, Hitzig, Baur and Delitzsch regard the suffix as indefinite and relative. Thus De Wette: “The end of the world is here designated as the dwelling of the sun, which is regarded as at the end of the heavens, where it passes the night, where in the evening at sunset it turns in, and in the morning goes forth. Thus Helios turned in with Thetis, and Ossian gives the sun a shady cave, where to pass the night.”—C. A. B.]
[Wordsworth: “It cannot, surely, be by chance that we have here figurative expressions which describe the work of Christ, the King of kings, the Mighty Conqueror, who is compared in both Testaments to the sun (Mal. 4:2; Rev. 1:16; 10:1), and shines forth as a sun in the Tabernacle of His Church, and dispels the darkness of sin and error, and illumines the world with His light: and who is also called the Bridegroom in Scripture, and as a Bridegroom (John 3:29; Rev. 21:9) came forth from His heavenly chamber, to unite our nature to the Divine. He came forth ‘de utero virginali tanquam thalamo’ (says Augustine), in order to espouse to Himself the Bride. His Church, and to join her in mystic wedlock to Himself. And therefore all ancient expositors agree in applying these words to Christ; and this Psalm is appointed, in the Sarum and Latin use, for Christmas Day; and in the Gregorian use, for the Annunciation.”—C. A. B.]
[Perowne: “According to the expressive Hebrew idiom, it is to the soul what food is to the worn and fainting body. It is what the honey which he found in the wood was to Jonathan, when he returned, wearied and exhausted, from the pursuit of his enemies. Comp. Ps. 119:18; Acts 26:18; Eph. 1:18—C. A. B.]
To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.