Psalm 146:4
His breath goes forth, he returns to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) In that very day . . .—Comp. Antony’s words:

“But yesterday the word of Cæsar might

Have stood against the world; now lies he there,

And none so poor to do him reverence.”

SHAKSPEARE, Julius Cæsar.

Thoughts.—The Hebrew word is peculiar to this passage. “Fabrications” would reproduce its etymological meaning.

146:1-4 If it is our delight to praise the Lord while we live, we shall certainly praise him to all eternity. With this glorious prospect before us, how low do worldly pursuits seem! There is a Son of man in whom there is help, even him who is also the Son of God, who will not fail those that trust in him. But all other sons of men are like the man from whom they sprung, who, being in honour, did not abide. God has given the earth to the children of men, but there is great striving about it. Yet, after a while, no part of the earth will be their own, except that in which their dead bodies are laid. And when man returns to his earth, in that very day all his plans and designs vanish and are gone: what then comes of expectations from him?His breath goeth forth - He dies like other people, no matter how exalted he is. See the notes at Isaiah 2:22.

He returneth to his earth - See the notes at Psalm 90:3. The earth - the dust - is "his" -

(a) It is his, as that from which he was made: he turns back to what he was. Genesis 3:19 : "dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."

(b) The earth - the dust - the grave is his, as it is his home - the place where he will abide.

(c) It is his, as it is the only property which he has in reversion. All that a man - a prince, a nobleman, a monarch, a millionaire - will soon have will be his grave - his few feet of earth. That will be his by right of possession; by the fact that, for the time being, he will occupy it, and not another man. But that, too, may soon become another man's grave, so that even there he is a tenant only for a time; he has no permanent possession even of a grave. How poor is the richest man!

In that very day - The very day - the moment - that he dies.

His thoughts perish - His purposes; his schemes; his plans; his purposes of conquest and ambition; his schemes for becoming rich or great; his plans of building a house, and laying out his grounds, and enjoying life; his design of making a book, or taking a journey, or giving himself to ease and pleasure. Luke 12:19-20 : "and I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry; but God said unto him, Thou fool! this night thy soul shall be required of time." Such are all the purposes of men!

PSALM 146

Ps 146:1-10. An exhortation to praise God, who, by the gracious and faithful exercise of His power in goodness to the needy, is alone worthy of implicit trust.

He returneth, in his body, Ecclesiastes 12:7,

to his earth; to that earth from which all mankind, princes not excepted, had their original.

In that very day, as soon as ever he is dead, his thoughts perish; all his designs and endeavours, either for himself or for others. His breath goeth forth,.... That is, the breath of a son of man, of any and everyone of the princes; it goes forth continually, and is drawn in again as long as a man lives; but at death it goes forth, and returns no more till the resurrection: the breath which the Lord breathed into man, and which is in his nostrils while he lives, and is very precarious. And when it is taken away, he dies, and

he returneth to his earth; from whence he was taken, and of which he was made; upon which he lived, where he dwelt, and in which he took delight and pleasure, minding earth and earthly things, and which is now all he has; who, though he may have had many large estates and possessions, nay, have ruled over many kingdoms and countries, yet his property of earth is now no more than the length and breadth of a grave; he returns to earth as soon as he dies, becoming a lump of clay; and particularly when he is interred in it, and when by corruption and worms he is turned into it;

in that very day his thoughts perish; in the day, hour, and moment he dies: not that the soul ceases, or ceases to think at death; it is immortal, and dies not; and, as it exists in a separate state after death, it retains all its powers and faculties, and, among the rest, its power of thinking; which it is capable of exercising, and does, as appears from the case of the souls under the altar, Revelation 6:9. But the meaning is, that at death all the purposes and designs of men are at an end; all their projects and schemes, which they had formed, and were pursuing, now come to nothing; whether to do good to others, or to aggrandize themselves and families; and therefore such mortal creatures are not to be depended upon, since all their promises may fail; nay, even their good designs may be frustrated; see Job 17:12.

His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his {c} thoughts perish.

(c) As their vain opinions, by which they flattered themselves and so imagined wicked enterprises.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. Cp. Psalm 104:29; Isaiah 2:22.

to his earth] The ‘ground’ (ădâmâh) from which he was taken and ‘of which his name (âdâm = ‘man’) reminds him.

his thoughts] Or, purposes. The word is common in Aramaic, but occurs here only in the Heb. of the O.T.

The author of 1 Macc, appears to have had both this passage and Psalm 104:29 in his mind when he wrote (1Ma 2:63), “To-day he will be exalted, and to-morrow he will not be found, because he is returned to his dust, and his thought is perished.”Verse 4. - His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; or, "when his breath goes forth" - i.e., when he breathes his last - "he returns to his earth," i.e. to the earth of which he was made (Genesis 2:7, 19). In that very day his thoughts perish. All his schemes and projects ('eshtonoth, a word not occurring elsewhere) come to an end - are nipped in the bud - perish. So weak is he, and not to be depended on. The poet now celebrates in detail the deeds of the gracious King. The words with ל are pure datives, cf. the accusative expression in Psalm 146:8. He in person is the support which holds fast the falling ones (נופלים, here not the fallen ones, see Psalm 28:1) in the midst of falling (Nicephorus: τοὺς καταπεσεῖν μέλλοντας ἑδραιοῖ, ὥστε μὴ καταπεσεῖν), and the stay by which those who are bowed together raise themselves. He is the Provider for all beings, the Father of the house, to whom in the great house of the world the eyes (עיני with the second ê toneless, Ew. 100, b) of all beings, endowed with reason and irrational, are directed with calm confidence (Matthew 6:26), and who gives them their food in its, i.e., in due season. The language of Psalm 104:27 is very similar, and it proceeds here, too, as there in Psalm 104:28 (cf. Sir. 40:14). He opens His hand, which is ever full, much as a man who feeds the doves in his court does, and gives רצון, pleasure, i.e., that which is good, which is the fulfilling of their desire, in sufficient fulness to all living things (and therefore those in need of support for the body and the life). Thus it is to be interpreted, according to Deuteronomy 33:23 (after which here in the lxx the reading varies between εὐδοκίας and εὐλογίας), cf. Acts 14:17, ἐμπιπλών τροφῆς καὶ εὐφροσύνης τάς καρδίας ἡμῶν. השׂבּיע is construed with a dative and accusative of the object instead of with two accusatives of the object (Ges. 139. 1, 2). The usage of the language is unacquainted with רצון as an adverb in the sense of "willingly" (Hitzig), which would rather be ברצונך. In all the ways that Jahve takes in His historical rule He is "righteous," i.e., He keeps strictly to the rule (norm) of His holy love; and in all His works which He accomplishes in the course of history He is merciful (חסיד), i.e., He practises mercy (חסד, see Psalm 12:2); for during the present time of mercy the primary essence of His active manifestation is free preventing mercy, condescending love. True, He remains at a distance from the hypocrites, just as their heart remains far from Him (Isaiah 29:13); but as for the rest, with impartial equality He is nigh (קרוב as in Psalm 34:19) to all who call upon Him בּאמת, in firmness, certainty, truth, i.e., so that the prayer comes from their heart and is holy fervour (cf. Isaiah 10:20; Isaiah 48:1). What is meant is true and real prayer in opposition to the νεκρὸν ἔργον, as is also meant in the main in John 4:23. To such true praying ones Jahve is present, viz., in mercy (for in respect of His power He is everywhere); He makes the desire of those who fear Him a reality, their will being also His; and He grants them the salvation (σωτηρία) prayed for. Those who are called in Psalm 145:19 those who fear Him, are called in Psalm 145:20 those who love Him. Fear and love of God belong inseparably together; for fear without love is an unfree, servile disposition, and love without fear, bold-faced familiarity: the one dishonours the all-gracious One, and the other the all-exalted One. But all who love and fear Him He preserves, and on the other hand exterminates all wanton sinners. Having reached the Tav, the hymn of praise, which has traversed all the elements of the language, is at an end. The poet does not, however, close without saying that praising God shall be his everlasting employment (פּי ידבּר with Olewejored, the Mahpach or rather Jethib sign of which above represents the Makkeph), and without wishing that all flesh, i.e., all men, who αρε σὰρξ καὶ αἷμα, בּשׂר ודם, may bless God's holy Name to all eternity. The realization of this wish is the final goal of history. It will then have reached Deuteronomy 32:43 of the great song in Deuteronomy 32 - Jahve one and His Name one (Zechariah 14:9), Israel praising God ὑπὲρ ἀληθείας, and the Gentiles ὑπὲρ ἐλέους (Romans 15:8.).
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