Psalm 104:32
He looks on the earth, and it trembles: he touches the hills, and they smoke.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(32) Trembleth.—With the praise is united something of awe and fear, since the majesty and power of Him who made the world is so great. Its very existence is dependent on His will, and a glance, a touch from Him would be enough to shake it to its foundations and consume it. For “the smoky mountain tops,” comp. Psalm 144:5, and see Note, Psalm 148:8.

Psalm 104:32. He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth, &c. — Unable to bear his frown. This is a further illustration of God’s powerful providence. As when he affords his favour to creatures, they live and thrive; so, on the contrary, one angry look or touch of his, upon the hills or earth, makes them tremble or smoke, as once Sinai did when God appeared on it.104:31-35 Man's glory is fading; God's glory is everlasting: creatures change, but with the Creator there is no variableness. And if mediation on the glories of creation be so sweet to the soul, what greater glory appears to the enlightened mind, when contemplating the great work of redemption! There alone can a sinner perceive ground of confidence and joy in God. While he with pleasure upholds all, governs all, and rejoices in all his works, let our souls, touched by his grace, meditate on and praise him.He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth - There is great sublimity in this expression, as indicating the power and the majesty of God. He has only to "look" upon his works, and they stand in awe and tremble. The most mighty and fearful convulsions of nature occur as if they were the mere effect of God's "looking" on the earth. Compare Habakkuk 3:10 - "The mountains saw thee, and they trembled."

He toucheth the hills, and they smoke - That is, as Mount Sinai did when God came down upon it. Exodus 19:18. It is as if the hills were conscious of his presence, and were awed.

31-34. While God could equally glorify His power in destruction, that He does it in preservation is of His rich goodness and mercy, so that we may well spend our lives in grateful praise, honoring to Him, and delightful to pious hearts (Ps 147:1). This is a further illustration of God’s powerful providence over all the creatures, and their dependence upon him; as when he affords his favour to creatures, they live and thrive, so one the contrary one angry look or touch of his upon the hills or earth makes them tremble and smoke, as once Sinai did when God appeared in it. And this consideration he may possibly suggest to enforce the foregoing exhortation of glorifying God, because if we do not give him the glory due to his name, he call quickly right himself, and destroy us and all his works. He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth,.... As Sinai did when he descended on it, Psalm 68:8, to which the allusion seems to be; and a look from him, a severe one, a frowning one, will make the inhabitants of the earth to tremble; a providential look, sending famine, pestilence or the sword among them. A displeased look will make the hearts of his own children tremble, as no doubt Peter's did, when the Lord looked upon him, and he remembered his word; and if a look, much more a word, an awful word, as his voice in the law, pronouncing such cursed as keep it not; and especially the tremendous sentence he will pronounce on the wicked at the last day,

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.

He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth: he toucheth the hills, and they {r} smoke.

(r) God's merciful face gives strength to the earth, but his severe countenance burns the mountains.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
32. Who looketh on the earth, and it trembleth,

Toucheth the mountains, and they smoke.

May this manifestation of God in Nature ever continue! May Jehovah never cease to rejoice in His works as He rejoiced when He pronounced all things to be very good (Genesis 1:31; Proverbs 8:31). A look, a touch are enough to remind the earth of the awful power of its Creator, Who if He willed could annihilate as easily as He created. The Psalmist has in mind Amos 9:5 (cp. above Psalm 104:3), Exodus 19:18; Psalm 104:32 b is imitated in Psalm 144:5, Psalm 104:33 in Psalm 146:2.Verse 32. - He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth (comp. Psalm 18:7; Psalm 114:7). The earth "trembles," as knowing that it can be destroyed at any moment. He toucheth the hills, and they smoke; or, the mountains - the strongest portions of the earth (Psalm 36:6; Psalm 65:6) - "smoke" when he touches them (see Exodus 19:18; Deuteronomy 4:11; Psalm 144:5). Fixing his eye upon the sea with its small and great creatures, and the care of God for all self-living beings, the poet passes over to the fifth and sixth days of creation. The rich contents of this sixth group flow over and exceed the decastich. With מה־רבּוּ (not מה־גּדלוּ, Psalm 92:6) the poet expresses his wonder at the great number of God's works, each one at the same time having its adjustment in accordance with its design, and all, mutually serving one another, co-operating one with another. קנין, which signifies both bringing forth and acquiring, has the former meaning here according to the predicate: full of creatures, which bear in themselves the traces of the Name of their Creator (קנה). Beside קיניך, however, we also find the reading קנינך, which is adopted by Norzi, Heidenheim, and Baer, represented by the versions (lxx, Vulgate, and Jerome), by expositors (Rashi: קנין שׁלּך), by the majority of the MSS (according to Norzi) and old printed copies, which would signify τῆς κτίσεώς σου, or according to the Latin versions κτήσεώς σου (possessione tua, Luther "they possessions"), but is inferior to the plural ktisma'toon σου, as an accusative of the object to מלאה. The sea more particularly is a world of moving creatures innumerable (Psalm 69:35). זה היּם does not properly signify this sea, but that sea, yonder sea (cf. Psalm 68:9, Isaiah 23:13; Joshua 9:13). The attributes follow in an appositional relation, the looseness of which admits of the non-determination (cf. Psalm 68:28; Jeremiah 2:21; Genesis 43:14, and the reverse case above in Psalm 104:18). אניּה .) in relation to אני is a nomen unitatis (the single ship). It is an old word, which is also Egyptian in the form hani and ana.

(Note: Vide Chabas, Le papyrus magique Harris, p. 246, No. 826: HANI (אני), vaisseau, navire, and the Book of the Dead 1. 10, where hani occurs with the determinative picture of a ship. As to the form ana, vid., Chabas loc. cit. p. 33.)

Leviathan, in the Book of Job, the crocodile, is in this passage the name of the whale (vid., Lewysohn, Zoologie des Talmuds, 178-180, 505). Ewald and Hitzig, with the Jewish tradition, understand בּו in Psalm 104:26 according to Job 41:5 : in order to play with him, which, however, gives no idea that is worthy of God. It may be taken as an alternative word for שׁם (cf. בּו in Psalm 104:20, Job 40:20): to play therein, viz., in the sea (Saadia). In כּלּם, Psalm 104:27, the range of vision is widened from the creatures of the sea to all the living things of the earth; cf. the borrowed passages Psalm 145:15., Psalm 147:9. כּלּם, by an obliteration of the suffix, signifies directly "altogether," and בּעתּו (cf. Job 38:32): when it is time for it. With reference to the change of the subject in the principal and in the infinitival clause, vid., Ew. 338, a. The existence, passing away, and origin of all beings is conditioned by God. His hand provides everything; the turning of His countenance towards them upholds everything; and His breath, the creative breath, animates and renews all things. The spirit of life of every creature is the disposing of the divine Spirit, which hovered over the primordial waters and transformed the chaos into the cosmos. תּסף in Psalm 104:29 is equivalent to תּאסף, as in 1 Samuel 15:6, and frequently. The full future forms accented on the ultima, from Psalm 104:27 onwards, give emphasis to the statements. Job 34:14. may be compared with Psalm 104:29.

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