Verse 35. Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more. - Or, He shall consume the wicked and ungodly, till no more of them be found. Then the wicked shall be turned into hell, with all the nations that forget God. No wonder, with these prospects before his eyes, he cries out, "Bless Jehovah, O my soul! Hallelujah!" And ye that hear of these things, bless the Lord also.
ANALYSIS OF THE HUNDRED AND FOURTH PSALM
The scope of this Psalms is the same with that of the former, i.e., to excite them to praise God in consideration of his benefits; but yet on a different ground. In the former, for the benefits of grace conferred upon his Church; in this, for the gifts of nature bestowed in general upon all. Those flow immediately from his mercy; these, from his power, wisdom, and goodness, and depend upon his providence, and are manifest in the creation, governance, and preservation of all things. The creature then is the subject of this Psalm, relative to which we have a long but very methodical narration.
I. The exhortation proposed briefly, ver. 1.
II. The exhortation urged by the inspection of the fabric, the beauty, order, and government of the world, ver. 1-33.
III. The duty practiced by himself, ver. 33, 34.
IV. An imprecation on them that neglect the duty, ver. 35.
I. He begins with a double apostrophe: - 1. To his own soul, to praise God: "Bless the Lord, O my soul;" which was the conclusion of the former Psalm.
2. To his God: "O Lord my God," whom he describes to be great and glorious. That he may set forth his majesty and glory, borrowing his figure from the person of some great king, presenting himself very glorious to his people in his robes, in his pavilion, with a glittering canopy extended over his throne; sometimes in his chariot, drawn by the swiftest horses, with his nobles, ministers, and servants, waiting on his pleasure.
In this way he describes the majesty of God in the works of the first and second day, for by that order he proceeds in setting forth God's works, that in which they were made.
1. His robe is the light, the work of the first day, which is the purest, the most illustrious and cheerful of all God's creatures. With this "he is clothed as with a garment," for he is light, John i. 1; and he dwells in that inaccessible light that no man hath seen, nor can see, 1 Tim. vi. 16.
2. His pavilion stretched round about him is the heavens, the work of the second day. These are as the hangings and curtains of his chamber of presence, by his fiat and power stretched out as we now see them: "He stretched out the heavens as a curtain." 3. His palace built in a most miraculous manner. The beams are laid, not as usual on a solid body, but upon that which is most fluent: "He lays the beams of his chambers in the waters." In Gen. i. 7 we read of the "waters above the firmament," which were a part of the second day's work; and of these the prophet surely speaks.
4. His chariot, the clouds: "Who makes the clouds his chariot." Upon these he rides in a most wonderful manner, in all places he pleases; which are now in this place, and then instantly removed to another.
5. The horses that draw it, the winds, alipedes, as the poets feigned the horses who drew the chariot of the sun. The psalmist intends to show that by the power of God they are brought upon the face of heaven, and removed at his pleasure.
6. His attendants, angels: "He maketh his angels spirits, his ministers a flaming fire." No creature of greater quickness and agility than a spirit, no element more active than fire. These blessed spirits he sends forth as he pleases, to defend his servants; and as a flame of fire to consume and burn up his enemies: in which appears his might and majesty.
II. Next, the prophet descends from the heavens, and out of the air, and speaks of the work of the third day; and begins with the earth, that element which is best known to us, in which he shows the power and wisdom of God many ways.
1. In the foundation of it upon its center. Strange it is that so great and heavy a body should remain in the midst of it and not sink; this the prophet attributes to the power and providence of God: "Who laid the foundations of the earth that it should not be removed for ever." 2. Another part of his providence about the earth was, that the water, being the lighter element, covered the earth, and thus rendered it useless. God, either by taking some parts of the upper superficies out of the earth in some places, made it more hollow, and putting them in others, made it convex or in other words, by raising some and depressing others, made room for the sea; this was the work of God's word, and the prophet speaks of this in the three following verses.
1. He shows in what condition the earth was in the first creation; it was covered, and under water: "Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains." 2. He shows that the earth became uncovered by the voice, power, and fiat of God: "Let the waters be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear." This the psalmist here calls the rebuke of God, the voice of thunder; for God no sooner spake than it was done: "At thy rebuke they fled, at the voice of thy thunder they were afraid." 3. And so there became a new world. The mountains and valleys take the lower place; the mists and vapours go up by the mountains.
4. There they inclose them: "Thou hast set a bound," &c. Yet not violently kept there, but restrained by an ordinary law of nature, it being natural for water to descend to the lower places.
III. He next speaks of the rivers and springs, and shows God's wonderful providence over them: - 1. "He sendeth the springs," the streams of water, from the hills "into the valleys." 2. "The end of this infinitely declares God's providence; it is for the sustenance of beasts and fowls, or they must perish for thirst: "The springs and rivers give drink to every beast of the field, the wild asses," &c.
IV. But the springs and rivers cannot water all parts of the earth; therefore, his wisdom devised the rain and the clouds.
"He watereth the hills from his chambers." The effect of which is:-
1. In general, the satisfaction of the earth, which, being thirsty, gapes for rain: "The earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works." 2. In particular, the effects and consequences of the dews. 1. Grass for the cattle: "He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle." 2. Herbs for meat and medicine: "And herbs for the service of man." 3. All kinds of food: "And that he may bring forth food." 4. "And wine that makes glad the heart of man," lawfully used. 5. "And oil to make his face to shine." Oil supplies and strengthens the nerves, and keeps the flesh smooth, fresh, and youthful. 6. "And bread which strengtheneth man's heart;" for it is always the chief and necessary part of the service.
V. Neither hath the God of providence forgotten to provide us trees for shade, building, and fuel, as well as to yield us fruit.
1. "The trees of the Lord also." His trees, because he first made them, and now causes them to grow. "They are full of sap," which is another effect of the rain.
2. "Where the birds make their nests." 3. Other creatures are not forgotten; not the goats nor the conies: "For the high hills," &c.
The psalmist next mentions the work of the fourth day; the creation of the two great luminaries, the sun and the moon.
1. "God appointed the moon for certain seasons." 2. "And the sun knoweth his going down." And in this division of time, the providence of God is admirable: "Thou makest darkness, and it is night." 1. For the good of the beasts, even the wildest, that they be sustained.
1. The night comes, and the beasts of the forest creep forth: "The young lions," &c. 2. Again, the day appears: "The sun ariseth, and they appear not," &c.
2. For the good of man: "Man goeth forth to his labour." Labour he must all day, and then take rest: "Labour till the evening." Upon the consideration of all which the prophet exclaims: "O God, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches." l."How manifold are thy works." How great, how excellent, how worthy of praise! such that I cannot express them.
2. "In wisdom hast thou made them all." Nothing is done by chance or rashness, but with great reason; neither too much nor too little.
3. "All the earth is full of thy riches." No place, no part of it, but thy works proclaim that thou art a bountiful and most wise Creator; an open handed and liberal bestower of riches.
The prophet has hitherto set forth God's wisdom in his works; in the heavens, air, the earth; and now he descends into the sea.
1. In the amplitude of it: It is the great and wide sea.
2. In the abundance of the fish, the work of the fifth day: "Wherein are things creeping innumerable." 3. In the useful art of navigation, which God taught by Noah's ark: "There go the ships." 4. In the whale: "There is that leviathan." And the conservation or the creature now follows, from verse 27 to 30; where their dependence is shown upon the providence of God, both for their meat, life, and continuation of their species. 1. "These all wait upon thee;" they expect till thou givest.
2. "That thou mayest give them their meat." Meat fit for every season of the year, and when they want it.
3. "That thou givest them they gather." That, and no more nor less: and his power and blessing must co-operate with the second causes.
4. This he farther explains: "Thou openest thine hand, and they are filled with good." Farther, life and death are in thy power. Death, and the forerunner of it; trouble.
1. "Thou hidest thy face;" seemest displeased, and withdrawest help and assistance; "and they are troubled." 2. "Thou takest away their breath; they die." And life also.
1. "Thou sendest forth thy spirit," a vital spirit, by restoring new individuals to every species.
2. And by this "thou renewest the face of the earth;" which, if not done, the whole would fail in an age.
Now, after this long catalogue of the creatures, and God's power, wisdom, and goodness made most manifest in the creation, governance, and sustentation of them, he descends, ver. 32.
1. "Let the glory of the Lord," his glory, for his wisdom, and goodness and power, "endure for ever." Hallowed be his name! 2. "The Lord shall rejoice in his works." Let man be so careful to use them well, that by the abuse he grieve not God, and cause him to repent that he made them.
3. Which if it happen, it would be remembered that he is a God, and able to punish the ungrateful person: "For if he looketh on the earth with a threatening brow, it trembleth." He makes then an open profession of his of practice.
1. "I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live," &c.
2. And this he would do with delight: "My meditation of him shall be sweet," &c.
3. And he concludes with an imprecation against unthankful and negligent persons, who regard not the works of God, and will not see his glory, power, wisdom, and goodness, in his creating, governing, and sustaining this universe; and therefore very little praise him.
Against these he prays that they may be confounded or converted.
"But, O my soul," be not thou like to them, - "bless the Lord.