You attend to the earth and water it; with abundance You enrich it. The streams of God are full of water, for You prepare our grain by providing for the earth.
I. BECAUSE IT IS THE SPECIAL GIFT OF GOD TO MAN. It came from God at first. It is renewed year by year. Wherever man dwells it may be cultivated in some form or other. "How it stands, that yellow corn, on its fair taper stems, its golden head bent, all rich and waving there! The mute earth at God's kind bidding has produced it once again - man's bread" (Luther).
II. BECAUSE IT IS INDISPENSABLE TO THE WELFARE OF MAN. Corn is not only valuable, but necessary. Individuals may live without it, but for man, on the broad scale, it is indispensable. The worth is known by the want. When there is a scarcity of corn, all the markets of the world are affected. Bread is the staff of life. It is because of its worth and its suitableness to human needs that corn is constituted the symbol of the highest blessings. It stands for the Word of God. It figures the great redemption (John 12:24). It foreshadows the glory of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15).
III. BECAUSE IT DEPENDS FOR ITS CONTINUANCE ON THE LABOUR OF MAN. Many gifts come to us irrespective of our own efforts, but corn is not one of them. Its enjoyment is conditional. It is an annual. It has not an independent existence. It does not live and propagate itself by its own seed. It requires the care of man, else it would soon die out and be lost. In order to be preserved it must be sown by man's own hand in ground which man's own hand has tilled. The land must be prepared for the corn, as well as the corn for the land. Manifold blessings result from this arrangement. Thrift is good. Labour is a healthful discipline. Providing for the wants of ourselves and others binds us more closely together as brethren. If there be famine in Canaan, there is corn in Egypt; and this leads to commerce and friendly intercourse between nations. Besides, in the fact that year after year we must sow in order to reap; that each season's supply is but a measured quantity, never much in excess of what is required for food; and that the powers of heaven must work together with the powers of earth to secure a bountiful harvest; - we are taught in the most impressive manner our dependence upon God, and our obligations to praise him for his goodness and his wonderful works. - W.F.
Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it.I. GOD'S VISIT TO THE EARTH IN HIS PROVIDENCE. It is to this visit that our text immediately refers: "Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it." It was not to cast fire upon it that the Lord came. It would not have been strange had He done that; but there is enough of fire in the composition of the globe to burn it to a coal, only the Lord waters it from His chambers, and keeps down the flames by casting showers of water upon them.
1. He visits the earth to soften its heart towards man.
2. He visits the earth to bring down the blessings upon it. 3 He visits the earth to assist it to serve man. The Lord blesseth the increase of the earth, so that one man can raise enough of corn to support scores of others, who in their turn serve him in some other way. The earth is full of His riches.
II. GOD'S VISIT TO THE EARTH IN HIS SALVATION. This is the great visit to us. But for this visit it would have scarcely been worthy of the God of love to visit us in His providence.
1. He comes on this visit without being invited.
2. The earth was armed against God when He came on this visit.
3. The earth is the only place that He visits in the character of a Saviour.
4. Of all God's visits, this is the one that cost Him most.
5. Of all the visits God has ever made, this is the one that will redound most to His glory.
III. GOD'S VISIT TO THE EARTH IN JUDGMENT.
1. Although there are many things concerning this visit which have not been revealed to us, we know that He will come with terrible majesty. He will not humble Himself, neither will He be humbled by any one else "at that day." He will be accompanied by a glorious throng. "Ten thousands of His saints." "All the holy angels with Him."
2. His object in coming will be to "reckon" with His servants. We know not whether He will "reckon" with the sun when giving it liberty; but I know that He will reckon with me, and that He will reckon with you.
3. The chief thing in view to be done then, will be to gather His subjects together, to glorify them openly, and to take them home with Him. He, too, will be for ever glorified in His saints.
(D. Roberts, D. D.)
Thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God
I. THE CONTINUITY OF THE STREAM. The missionary spirit, like everything God-like in man, presses forward, acts for the future, hopes for the future, lives in the future, but it draws strength and refreshment from the experience, the examples, the accumulated power and wisdom of the past. Nay, just in proportion as we are animated by this reverence for the past, as we acknowledge our obligations to it, as we feel our connection with it; in short, as we realize this idea of continuity in the Church of Christ, in the same degree will the true missionary spirit — wise, zealous, humble, self-denying, enlightened, enterprising, innovating, in the best sense — because conservative in the best sense — prevail. The Church of Christ is a tree souring upward to heaven, spreading its branches far and wide, but its roots are buried far below the surface in a dark antiquity. Christian men, above all, Christian missionaries, are the heirs of all the ages.
II. THE COURSE OF THE RIVER IN ITS VICISSITUDES. The present time is confessedly a crisis fraught with manifold anxieties. If there are many bright gleams — and are there not many? — it is no less true that dark clouds overhang the horizon, threatening at any moment to deluge the Church of Christ. At such a crisis, what lessons does the image of the river, interpreted by the history of the past, suggest? Do they tend to dismay or to encouragement, to despair or to hope? To this question there is one clear and decisive answer. The river has its eddies and its back currents; it has its retrograde movements and its meandering channels, when it seems to recede even from its goal; it buries itself perhaps underground, or it loses itself in marshy swamps; it is hemmed in amid rocky heights, intrusive boundaries, which threaten to close in upon it and obstruct its course for ever. If we saw only one reach of the river, we should prophesy its failure in reaching its ultimate destination; but we know that despite all obstruction, despite all treacherous appearances, it must flow onward and downward and empty itself into the ocean. Whatever partial aberrations there may be, its general course is the same. This is the law of its being, and so also with the Church of God. We ought to know, and we ought to feel, independent of history, that the truth cannot perish; that the Church of God cannot fail. This is a spiritual law as the other was a physical law. It must survive, it must flow ever onward and onward till it reaches the ocean of the eternal truth.
III. HOW IS THIS STREAM FED? What accessions does it receive? What are its tributaries? From all quarters of the heavens the streams fall into the main channels, fall direct from lofty mountain heights, draining here broad tablelands, there flowing amid barren rocks and rolling meadows and extensive plains; from the right hand and from the left they issue to swell the bulk of the rolling tide. But, as they joint the main stream, they betray their separate sources; they have their own colour, their own swiftness, and they seem almost to keep their own channel. At length the fusion is complete, they have mingled their waters in the main stream, they are lost in it; but meanwhile, and this is what I ask you specially to mark, they have communicated to it their own characteristics, their purifying or fertilizing qualities, and thus, strengthening and strengthened, giving something and receiving more, they roll down in one broad, irresistible, ever-flowing stream, bearing on their breast the natives of divers climes and the products of many soils, sweeping their rich argosies of men and treasure onwards towards the one far-off ocean which is their common goal. The tributaries of the mighty river — are we not reminded by these words of another image Under which the same truth is prefigured by psalmist and prophet, when the nations of the earth gather together from the four winds of heaven to the Holy City and pour in, each its special products, its choicest gifts as a tribute to the treasury of the God of Israel? One offers its finely woven fabrics, another its elaborately chased vessels and its rich carvings, another its costly perfume, another its ivory, its rare woods, its precious metals. Do we ask what is the counterpart to all this in the history of the Christian Church? Has not each Christian nation on its accession, as it was gathered into the fold of Christ, given some fresh cause of strength to the Church, emphasized some doctrinal truth, or developed some practical capacity, or fostered some religious sentiment, and thus contributed to the more complete understanding, or effective working, of the faith once delivered to the saints? And can we suppose that this mighty stream, this river of God, has no more great tributaries to receive, that all the literary streams which might swell and purify and fertilize its waters, have been dried up? Has the Hindoo, with his calm resignation and quiet endurance, with his quick, subtle intellect; has the Chinese, with his stubborn pertinacity and utter fearlessness of death — have these no rich offering, think you, to present at the altar, no new contribution to the fulness of the Gospel of Christ?
Thou preparest them
(H. Macmillan, D. D.)
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