23. He hath afflicted my strength in the way; and shortened my days. 24. I said, O my God! Cut me not off in the midst of my days: for 1 thy years are from generation to generation. 25. Thou hast aforetime founded the earth; and the heavens are the work of thy hands. 26. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: and all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: 27. But thou art the same, 2 and thy years shall not fail. 328. The children of thy servants shall dwell, and their seed shall be established before thee.
What then does the prophet mean when he prays,
"All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field; but the word of our God shall stand for ever."
Now since God links us to himself by means of his word, however great the distance of our frail condition from his heavenly glory, our faith should nevertheless penetrate to that blessed state from which he looks down upon our miseries. Although the comparison between his eternal existence and the brief duration of human life is introduced also for another purpose, yet when he sees that men pass away as it were in a moment, and speedily evanish, it moves him to compassion, as shall presently be declared at greater length.
Interpreters, however, do not all explain these words, The heavens shall perish, in the same way. Some understand them as expressing simply the change they shall undergo, which will be a species of destruction; for although they are not to be reduced to nothing, yet this change of their nature, as it may be termed, will destroy what is mortal and corruptible in them, so that they shall become, in a manner, different and new heavens. Others explain the words conditionally, and make the supplement, "If it so please God," regarding it as a thing absurd to say that the heavens are subject to corruption. But first, there is no necessity for introducing these supplementary words, which obscure the sense instead of making it plainer. In the next place, these expositors improperly attribute an immortal state to the heavens, of which Paul declares that they "groan and travail in pain," like the earth and the other creatures, until the day of redemption, (Romans 8:22) because they are subject to corruption; not indeed willingly, or in their own nature, but because man, by precipitating himself headlong into destruction, has drawn the whole world into a participation of the same ruin. Two things are to be here attended to; first, that the heavens are actually subject to corruption in consequence of the fall of man; and, secondly, that they shall be so renewed as to warrant the prophet to say that
When it is said that the seed of God's servants shall be established before his face, the meaning is, that it is not after the manner of the world, or according to the way in which the heavens and the earth are established, that the salvation of true believers is made steadfast, but because of the holy union which exists between them and God. By
1 "Car." -- Fr. This supplement is not in the Latin version.
2 The original word for the same is
3 This and the two preceding verses are applied by the Apostle Paul to Christ in Hebrews 1:10, 11, 12, in proof of his superiority to angels. In this passage then, Christ, it would appear, is the person addressed; for if the apostle's inspiration is admitted, the correctness of his interpretation of the Old Testament Scriptures cannot be doubted. Inappropriate applications of them, it is evident, would be inconsistent with his having spoken under the infallible guidance of the Spirit of God. And if these verses are applicable to the Savior of men, they contain an irrefragable proof of his essential divinity. He is called Jehovah throughout the psalm, a name peculiar to God only; the creation of all things is said to be performed by him, a work peculiar to God only; eternity and immutability are ascribed to him, attributes which in the strict and absolute sense belong exclusively to God.
4 Way or journey is a term often used in Scripture to denote the course of a man's life; and here the Psalmist speaks, as other sacred writers not unfrequently do, of the whole Jewish nation as if it were one man, and of its continuance, which was to be until the coming of Christ, as if the life of one man. It was now, so to speak, only in its meridian. An attention to this remark will assist the reader in understanding Calvin's exposition of the passage.
5 Consequently, the ruin and desolation to which they seemed given up by the Babylonish captivity, was like the cutting off or shortening of their days.
6 "Possibly the Psalmist (whom some learned interpreters suppose to be Daniel) may have respect to that prophecy, Daniel 9:24, 25, which probably was published before this time; for this time was almost precisely the midst of the days between the building of the material temple by Solomon, and the building of the spiritual temple, or the Church, by the Messias; there being about a thousand years distance between these two periods, whereof seventy prophetical weeks, or four hundred and ninety years, were yet to come. And so he prays that God would not root them out of this Babylonish captivity, but would graciously restore them to their own land, and preserve them as a Church and nation there, until the coming of the Messias." -- Poole's Annotations.
7 "The phrase is borrowed from the fact, that hands are the instruments by which men usually perform any operation; and this is, like other human operations and affections, figuratively transferred to God." -- Stuart on Hebrews 1:10.
Back to BibleStudyGuide.org.
These files are public domain. This electronic edition was downloaded from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library.