Psalm 104:24-26

24. O Jehovah! how magnificent are thy works! thou hast made all things in wisdom: the earth is full of thy riches. 25. Great is this sea, and wide in extent; therein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great animals. 26. There go the ships 1 and the leviathan, which thou hast made to sport itself in it.


24. O Jehovah! how magnificent are thy works. The prophet does not make a full enumeration of the works of God, which would be an endless task, but only touches upon certain particulars, that every one may be led from the consideration of them to reflect the more attentively on that wisdom by which God governs the whole world, and every particular part of it. Accordingly, breaking off his description, he exclaims with admiration, -- How greatly to be praised are thy works! even as we then only ascribe to God due honor when seized with astonishment, we acknowledge that our tongues and all our senses fail us in doing justice to so great a subject. If a small portion of the works of God make us amazed, how inadequate are our feeble minds to comprehend the whole extent of them! In the first place, it is said, that God has made all things in wisdom, and then it is added, that the earth is full of his riches. The mention of wisdom only is not intended to exclude the divine power, but the meaning is, that there is nothing in the world confused, -- that, so far from this, the vast variety of things mixed together in it are arranged with the greatest wisdom, so as to render it impossible for any thing to be added, abstracted, or improved. This commendation is set in opposition to the unhallowed imaginations, which often creep upon us when we are unable to discover the designs of God in his works, as if indeed he were subject to folly like ourselves, so as to be forced to bear the reprehension of those who are blind in the consideration of his works. The prophet also, by the same eulogium, reproves the madness of those who dream, that the world has been brought into its present form by chance, as Epicurus raved about the elements being composed of atoms. As it is an imagination more than irrational to suppose, that a fabric so elegant, and of such surpassing embellishment, was put together by the fortuitous concourse of atoms, the prophet here bids us attend more carefully to the wisdom of God, and to that wonderful skill which shines forth in the whole government of the world. Under riches are comprehended the goodness and beneficence of God; for it is not on his own account that he has so richly replenished the earth but on ours, that nothing which contributes to our advantage may be wanting. We ought to know that the earth does not possess such fruitfulness and riches of itself, but solely by the blessing of God, who makes it the means of administering to us his bounty.

25. Great is this sea, and wide in extent. After having treated of the evidences which the earth affords of the glory of God, the prophet goes down into the sea, and teaches us that it is a new mirror in which may be beheld the divine power and wisdom. Although the sea were not inhabited by fishes, yet the mere view of its vastness would excite our wonder, especially when at one time it swells with the winds and tempests, while at another it is calm and unruffled. Again, although navigation is an art which has been acquired by the skill of men, yet it depends on the providence of God, who has granted to men a passage through the mighty deep. But the abundance and variety of fishes enhance in no small degree the glory of God in the sea. Of these the Psalmist celebrates especially the leviathan or the whale 2 because this animal, though there were no more, presents to our view a sufficient, yea, more than a sufficient, proof of the dreadful power of God, and for the same reason, we have a lengthened account of it in the book of Job. As its movements not only throw the sea into great agitation, but also strike with alarm the hearts of men, the prophet, by the word sport, intimates that these its movements are only sport in respect of God; as if he had said, The sea is given to the leviathans, as a field in which to exercise themselves.

1 Fry reads in the text, "There pass the ships," and at the foot of the page, "There go the whales." "I cannot," says he, "but indulge a conjecture in this place, that either the word we translate ships had anciently another meaning, and signified some aquatic animal; or that for twyna, we should read Mynynt, or Mynt: compare Genesis 1:21, 'And God created great whales, Myldgh Mynynx, and every living creature that moveth, hyxh tsmrh, which the waters brought forth abundantly after their kind.' It has, however, been thought by some, that not whales, but some large marine animals, known on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, are intended by the term." -- "The first line of this verse," says Dimock, "should probably be read in a parenthesis, if it is not an interpolation; and the grammatical construction requires that we should read Nwklh. That wonderful piece of mechanism, a ship, whereby man becomes the lord of the sea, seems to have been originally constructed under the divine direction. -- See Genesis 6:14."

2 The leviathan, which is described at large in Job 40., is now generally understood by commentators to be not the whale, but the crocodile, an inhabitant of the Nile. That it should here be numbered with the marine animals, need not surprise us, as the object of the divine poet is merely to display the kingdom of the watery world. Of these wide domains the sea of the Nile forms, in his view, a part. "My transfertur ad omnia flumina majora. Est igitur in specie Nilus. Jes. 19, 5; Nab. 3, 8." -- Sire. Lex. Heb. -- See volume 3, page 175, note 1.


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