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other in the brilliancy of its pictures and the fire of its language, rises to the height of inspiration and takes its place in the Holy Writings from the fulness and reality of its belief in the presence of God. Even as lyric poems, the Psalms of Nature are unsurpassed; nowhere do we find greater elevation of thought or greater perfection of structurel. The greatness, the glory, the everlasting order of Nature are reflected on the soul of a poet, already filled with an abiding sense of God's presence. Old truths are illustrated and confirmed by the contemplation of Nature; or the poet's soul is stirred to new3 thought by some great and fearful phenomenon. The Hebrew Psalmist can never forget the living God in nature; he apprehends and paints nature as full of God and revealing God to him in every motion; and it is only through God that it becomes living and intelligible to him. Hence to the Hebrew poet, songs of Nature rise in reality to be Hymns of Praise.
THE PRAISE OF JEHOVAH IN THE STORM. THERE is nothing in all creation which so brings the omnipotence
of the God of heaven home to the Hebrew's, nothing which makes the connexion between heaven and earth and the influence of heaven upon earth so real, as a thunder-storm. The clouds are His chariot; the lightning is the fire of His nostrils; if He do but touch the hills, they shall smoke. The rarity and violence of such storms in Palestine4 gave them a significance elsewhere unknown. Hence it is under this image that they picture to themselves God's most tremendous judgments. “Behold the name of the Lord cometh from far, burn‘ing with His anger; His lips are full of indignation and His tongue is 'a devouring fire; and His breath is as an overflowing stream.' * * * ‘And the Lord shall cause His glorious voice to be heard, and shall
show the lighting down of His arm with the indignation of His anger, “and with the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering and tempest 'and hailstones.'
I Cp. note on page 22.
Cp. Pss. viii. xix. 4 Cp. Stanley, Sinai and Palestine, c. ii. p. 124.
3 Cp. Ps. xxix. 5 Cp. Isa. xxx. 27-30.
1. The Psalmist calleth on the angels round the throne to bow down and worship Jehovah,
when He shall reveal Himself in thunder and lightning to the world. Give unto Jehovah, ye sons of God,
give unto Jehovah glory and strength ! give unto Jehovah the honour due unto His name,
'worship Jehovah in holy apparel !
HARK! JEHOVAH is above the waters, the God of Glory thundered,
Jehovah above the waterfloods;
HARK ! JEHOVAH is in majesty.
how Jehovah breaketh in pieces the cedars of Lebanon, and maketh them to skip like calves,
Lebanon also and Sirion like young buffaloes; HARK ! JEHOVAH how He flasheth forth flames of fire !
HARK! JEHOVAH shaketh the wilderness,
Jehovah shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh; HARK! JEHOVAH maketh the hinds to calve,
and strippeth the forests of their leaves ;
Jehovah shall give His people the blessing of peace!
Ver. 3. Hark! Jehovah, literally the 'voice of Jehovah,' or Jehovah revealed in thunder.
shouteth glory. Cp. Isaiah vi. 3, 'And the Seraphim cried one with another and said, Holy, Holy, Holy is Jehovah, God of Hosts; His glory the fulness of the earth.'
The closest examination of this Psalm only reveals more strikingly the perfection of its structure. It has the regular form of the pæan or triumphal ode and is divided into three members :
1. The Prelude, in which the Psalmist calls on the angels round the throne to do homage to Jehovah, when He shall reveal Himself in thunder and lightning to the world.
II. The Body of the Psalm, in three equal strophes, each of five lines, marking the successive stages of the storm; ist, its distant gathering; the low faint muttering of the thunder in the far off unapproachable realms of sky; and, its sudden advance, seizing the mountains and crushing the cedars; then, in the 3rd, it passes on and spreads over the plain and dies away ; thus making the whole universe to tremble from sky to earth, from the hills of Lebanon in the north to the wilderness of Kadesh in the south. These strophes contain the revelations of Jehovah to man, issued like royal mandates in peals of thunder.
Nay more, each of these strophes is itself divided into five lines, and each line begins with a fresh burst of the storm.
In strophe i we have in the first line the distant muttering of the thunder ; the peal becomes louder and clearer in lines 2 and 3; and in lines 4 and 5 rings with ever-increasing and more continuous roll, the voice of Jehovah, through the world.
In strophe 2 the storm falls with its crashing power on the cedars; then with bounding speed upon the mountains themselves, making them to skip like buffaloes ; and it ends with the flashing of the forked lightning.
In strophe 3 we have the same structure; the sound of Jehovah making the wilderness to tremble, sweeping in jubilant might from Lebanon to Kadesh; bowing the very beasts in the throes of labour, while the hurricane strips the forest of its leaves, till it is hushed and lost in the diapason, which through all the world telleth of His glory.
III. The Conclusion, that men should learn the protecting love of Jehovah; who though He sitteth a King above the mighty flood, shall give strength unto His people and the blessing of peace.
§ 8. PSALM XIX. THE PRAISE OF JEHOVAH IN THE FIRMAMENT AND IN THE LAW. IT is no longer storm and tempest that move the poet's soul, but the 1 calm bright sky which sheds its splendour every day over Palestine. Such a sky, unchangeable in its everlasting radiance, is the
most eloquent witness to the glory of God the Creator, and draws the mind of man with silent but irresistible power from the visible to the invisible, from itself to the whole universe.
In this Psalm--in the form at least in which it has come down to us—we find in striking contrast two distinctive modes of Hebrew feeling ; the older feeling, which saw God revealed in Nature, the later, which saw God revealed in the Law. Of the former, which belongs to the time of David, these Psalms of Nature are the grandest specimens; of the latter, which did not arise till the time of Josiah, the 119th Psalm is the most elaborate expression. The placing of these two ideas side by side is not without its beauty and its interest; but is due to the later period when the nation looked rather to the study of the Law than to the world around them for the revelation of God.
I. The glory of God in Creation The heavens declare the glory of God,
the firmament sheweth His handywork, day unto day uttereth speech,
night unto night revealeth knowledge; they have neither speech nor language,
neither are their voices heard,
and their words into the ends of the world,
and boundeth like a giant to run his course; from the uttermost part of the heaven he hath his rising,
and his circuit even unto the end of it again; and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.
Ver. 5. tabernacle. The sun has pitched his tent in the heavens, at the end of the world, the western horizon, in which after his daily journey he sinks to rest.
Ver. 6. The train of thought in vv, 1–6 is manifestly incomplete ; the idea of ver. 2 is not
Cp. $ 130, Preface.
III. The glory of God in His law. The law of Jehovah is perfect and refresheth the soul, 7 the testimony of Jehovah is true and giveth wisdom
unto the simple ; the statutes of Jehovah are right and rejoice the heart 8 the commandment of Jehovah is pure and giveth light
unto the eyes; the fear of Jehovah is clean and endureth for ever, 9
the judgments of Jehovah are true and righteous altogether, more to be desired are they than gold, yea than much fine gold, 10
sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
Moreover by them is Thy servant taught:
and in keeping of them there is great reward ! who can tell how oft he offendeth ?
O cleanse Thou me from the sin that I wist not of! keep Thy servant also from presumptuous men, lest they 13
get dominion over me! then shall I be innocent and free from great transgression!
carried out; we are not told, as we should expect after ver. 6, how the night teaches the glory of God. We see from $ 9. viii. 3, ‘The moon and the stars which Thou hast ordained,' that the night also teaches His glory, differently perhaps but not less powerfully; which suggests the idea, that some such beautiful words are lost after ver. 6 of this Psalm. The construction of the strophe leads us to the same conclusion, that four lines are lost, which would suffice for the expression of the missing sense.
Ver. 7. The 3rd and 4th strophes are separated from the first part of the psalm by the strongest divergence both of sentiment and language. The changed rhythm and the artificial structure of the and part contrast strongly with the simpler and more powerful language of the first; while feelings characteristic of the closing period of the monarchy appear in the expression of the Psalmist's fears, that with the ever-growing anxiety to satisfy the minutiæ of a written Law his own unconscious sins against these prohibitions would also increase, and that he may be led away by the seductive or constraining influence of presumptuous men--the name given in later Psalms to such as inclined to heathenism.
Ver. 8. giveth light unto the eyes, i.e, of the understanding. It means in § 27. xiii. 3 and Ezra ix. 8, giving light to eyes growing dim from sorrow. But here the Psalmist is speaking of the teaching and commandments of Jehovah.
Ver. 13. presumptuous men. It was no easy task in those times to keep free from the seduction or constraint of the great men who in clined to heathenism. Hence the frequent