Thus said the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that you build to me?…
Here are described two phases of the Divine greatness, one material, and the other moral; the superiority of the latter being clearly implied.
I. THE MATERIAL GREATNESS OF GOD. "Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool." Here God represents Himself as a mighty potentate, leaving us to infer the measure of His kingly glory and the extent of His dominion from these two things — His throne and His footstool. Thus the glory of the whole is indicated by the glory of the part.
1. The throne. We must note carefully the full extent and purport of the figure, "The heaven is My throne. It is not that the heaven is the place of His throne, but that the heaven is itself the throne. The conception, bold as it is, strikingly agrees with another figure used by inspiration to set forth the transcendent majesty of God, "Behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee." The figure is a bold one. The human imagination, daring as its flights often are, could never have conceived it. It is purely a Divine conception, and the text is careful to say so, "Thus saith the Lord."
2. His footstool. "The earth. ' We know very little of the heaven. We know a great deal about the earth. Men have taken its dimensions, explored its resources, and discovered its glories. Yet this magnificent object is but His footstool. The footstool is the humblest article of furniture in the household; so needless is it deemed that thousands of houses dispense with it altogether. Others easily convert the thing nearest to hand into a footstool, as occasion may require. Nevertheless, some have expended no little skill and expense upon the construction even of footstools. There is preserved as a relic in Windsor Castle such an article, once belonging to the renowned Hindoo prince, Tippoo Sahib. It is in the form of a bear's head, carved in ivory, with a tongue of gold, teeth of crystal, and its eyes a pair of rubies. This article is adjudged worth £10,000. It is after all but a footstool. If Tippoo Sahib's footstool were so magnificent, what must have been the splendour of his throne! Yet, were all the thrones of the world collected together into one vast pile, they would form but a heap of rubbish as compared with God's footstool.
II. THE TEXT PRESENTS US WITH ANOTHER PHASE OF HIS GLORY — THE MORAL, WHICH IS ALSO HIS GREATER GLORY. "But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word." What a contrast we have presented to us here. God, the Mighty Potentate, from the height of His heavenly throne, looking down with yearning, compassionate regard upon such objects as are here described, the very dust of His footstool. There is a moral grandeur in this far transcending the power of language to describe. In order to appreciate fully the beauty and glory of this act, we must notice particularly the characters which are its special objects. They are described as those who are "poor" and are "of a contrite spirit," and that "tremble at His word." These several expressions do not describe one and the same condition. They indicate three distinct and progressive stages of spiritual experience.
1. Destitution. "Poor." It is not physical poverty that is meant, for the wealthiest, those who abound most in worldly possessions, are equally with the most destitute in the condition here indicated by the term "poor. It describes a spiritual condition — the spiritual poverty into which all men are reduced through sin — the wretched, the miserable, the oppressed of sin and guilt — the poor in the sense of being without hope, destitute of true peace and happiness.
2. The second stage indicated is one of conviction — the misery becoming a felt fact. " And of a contrite spirit." In these words we have indicated that condition of the mind when the all-crushing fact of its poverty and wretchedness has come home with overwhelming conviction.
3. The third stage is one of hope. "Trembleth at My word." God, out of the infinite depth of His compassion, hath spoken to this poor, wretched, sin-convicted creature, and the word spoken is a word of hope. The "trembling" at the word does not mean regarding it with fear, terror, or dismay, but solemnly, feelingly, and trustingly. It is the trembling of gratitude and of an awakened hope — an exquisite thrill of gratitude piercing the whole soul, causing it to vibrate with responsive joy to the message of hope. This wonderful condescension of God in relation to sinful men is His greater glory, it redounds to His honour far more than His conversion of the heavens into His throne and of the earth into His footstool.
(A. J. Parry.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?