10. Sending out springs by the valleys, which shall run between 1 the hills. 11. All the beasts of the field shall drink thereof: the wild asses 2 shall quench 3 their thirst. 12. Nigh them the fowls of the air shall dwell, from the midst of the branches they shall send out their voice. 413. Watering the mountains from his chambers: the earth shall be satisfied from the fruit of thy 5 works. 14. Making grass to grow for cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may produce bread out of the earth. 15. And wine cheereth the heart of man, to make his face to shine with oil, and bread sustaineth man's heart. 6
The same subject is prosecuted in the 13th verse, where it is said
The words in the last clause,
But as there is nothing to which we are more prone, than to abuse God's benefits by giving way to excess, the more bountiful he is towards men, the more ought they to take care not to pollute, by their intemperance, the abundance which is presented before them. Paul had therefore good reason for giving that prohibition, (Romans 13:14)
"Make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof;"
for if we give full scope to the desires of the flesh, there will be no bounds. As God bountifully provides for us, so he has appointed a law of temperance, that each may voluntarily restrain himself in his abundance. He sends out oxen and asses into pastures, and they content themselves with a sufficiency; but while furnishing us with more than we need, he enjoins upon us an observance of the rules of moderation, that we may not voraciously devour his benefits; and in lavishing upon us a more abundant supply of good things than our necessities require, he puts our moderation to the test. The proper rule with respect to the use of bodily sustenance, is to partake of it that it may sustain, but not oppress us. The mutual communication of the things needful for the support of the body, which God has enjoined upon us, is a very good check to intemperance; for the condition upon which the rich are favored with their abundance is, that they should relieve the wants of their brethren. As the prophet in this account of the divine goodness in providence makes no reference to the excesses of men, we gather from his words that it is lawful to use wine not only in cases of necessity, but also thereby to make us merry. This mirth must however be tempered with sobriety, first, that men may not forget themselves, drown their senses, and destroy their strength, but rejoice before their God, according to the injunction of Moses, (Leviticus 23:40;) and, secondly, that they may exhilarate their minds under a sense of gratitude, so as to be rendered more active in the service of God. He who rejoices in this way will also be always prepared to endure sadness, whenever God is pleased to send it. That rule of Paul ought to be kept in mind, (Philippians 4:12,)
"I have learned to abound, -- I have learned to suffer want."
If some token of the divine anger is manifest, even he who has an overflowing abundance of all kinds of dainty food, will restrict himself in his diet knowing that he is called to put on sackcloth, and to sit among ashes. Much more ought he whom poverty compels to be temperate and sober, to abstain from such delicacies. In short, if one man is constrained to abstain from wine by sickness, if another has only vapid wine, and a third nothing but water, let each be content with his own lot, and willingly and submissively wean himself from those gratifications which God denies him.
The same remarks apply to oil. We see from this passage that ointments were much in use among the Jews, as well as among the other eastern nations. At the present day, it is different with us, who rather keep ointments for medicinal purposes, than use them as articles of luxury. The prophet, however, says, that oil also is given to men, that they may anoint themselves therewith. But as men are too prone to pleasure, it is to be observed, that the law of temperance ought not to be separated from the beneficence of God, lest they abuse their liberty by indulging in luxurious excess. This exception must always be added, that no person may take encouragement from this doctrine to licentiousness.
Moreover, when men have been carefully taught to bridle their lust, it is important for them to know, that God permits them to enjoy pleasures in moderation, where there is the ability to provide them; else they will never partake even of bread and wine with a tranquil conscience; yea, they will begin to scruple about the tasting of water, at least they will never come to the table but in fearfulness. Meanwhile, the greater part of the world will wallow in pleasures without discrimination, because they do not consider what God permits them; for his fatherly kindness should be to us the best mistress to teach us moderation.
1 In our English version it is among; but between is the more proper rendering. "
2 The wild ass differs from the tame only by being stronger and nimbler, more courageous and lively. Wild asses are still found in considerable numbers in the deserts of Great Tartary, in Persia, Syria, the islands of the Archipelago, and throughout Mauritania. They are gregarious, and have been known to assemble by hundreds and thousands. It has been observed of these animals that, though dull and stupid, they are remarkable for their instinct in discovering in the arid desert the way to rivers, brooks, or fountains of water, so that the thirsty traveler has only to observe and follow their steps, in order to his being led to the cooling stream.
3 The literal rendering of the Hebrew word
4 "'From between these boughs or leaves the fowls of the air send out their voice'; not by singing only, (for that is peculiar to few,) but by making any noise that is proper to them." -- Hammond. On the 10th, 11th, and 12th verses, Dimock observes, -- "The murmuring brooks, the great number of beasts and cattle, with the melodious birds, afford a most picturesque scene of rural delight."
5 In the preceding clause God is spoken of in the third person, and here in the second. The change of persons from the second to the third, and from the third to the second, is very observable throughout this psalm. -- See page 143, note.
6 In the French version it is, "Et le vin qui resjouit le coeur de l'homme, et l'huile pour faire reluire sa face, et le pain qui soustient le coeur de l'homme." -- "And wine that cheereth the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread that sustains the heart of man."
Back to BibleStudyGuide.org.
These files are public domain. This electronic edition was downloaded from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library.