13. For thou hast possessed1 my reins; thou hast covered me 2 in my mother's womb, 14. I will praise thee; for I have been made wonderful terribly; marvellous are thy works, and my soul shall know them well. 15. My strength is not hid from thee,3 which thou hast made in secret: I was woven together in the lowest parts of the earth. 16. Thine eyes did see my shapelessness; all are written in thy book, they were formed by days, and not one of them.
1 "The usual signification of
2 The "covering" here spoken of, is illustrated by Job 10:2, where God is said to have "clothed us with skin and flesh, and fenced us with bones and sinews." "A work so astonishing," observes Bishop Horne, "that before the Psalmist proceeds in his description of it, he cannot help break ing forth in rapture at the thought: 'I will praise thee, for! am fearfully and wonderfully made.'"
3 "Ou, mon os n'est point cache de toy." -- Fr. marg. "Or, my bone is not hid from thee."
4 "Fearfully and wonderfully made Never was so terse and expressive a description of the physical conformation of man given by any human being. So fearfully are we made, that there is not an action or gesture of our bodies, which does not, apparently, endanger some muscle, vein, or sinew, the rupture of which would destroy either life or health. We are so wonderfully made, that our organization infinitely surpasses, in skill, contrivance, design, and adaptation of means to ends, the most curious and complicated piece of mechanism, not only ever executed 'by art and man's device, but ever conceived by the human imagination." -- Warner.
5 "The:figure," says Walford, "is derived from the darkness and obscurity of caverns and other recesses of the earth."
"By all, but not by thee unknown,
My substance grew, and, o'er it thrown,
The fine-wrought web from nature's loom,
All wove in secret and in gloom."
And after observing that the foetus is gradually formed and matured for the birth, like plants and flowers under ground, he adds -- " The process is compared to that in a piece of work wrought with a needle, or fashioned in the loom: which, with all its beautiful variety of color, and proportion of figure, ariseth by degrees to perfection, under the hand of the artist, framed according to a pattern lying before him, from a rude mass of silk, or other materials. Thus, by the power and wisdom of God, and after a plan delineated in his book, is a shapeless mass wrought up into the most curious texture of nerves, veins, arteries, bones, muscles, membranes, and skin, most skilfully interwoven and connected with each other, until it becometh a body harmoniously diversified with all the limbs and lineaments of a man, not one of which at first appeared, any more than the figures were to be seen in the ball of silk. But then, which is the chief thing here insisted on by the Psalmist, whereas the human artificer must have the clearest light whereby to accomplish his task, the divine work-master seeth in secret, and effecteth all his wonders within the dark and narrow confines of the womb." Bishop Lowth supposes that the full force and beauty of the metaphor in this passage will not be understood, unless it is perceived that the Psalmist alludes to the art of embroidery as consecrated by the Jews to sacred purposes, in decorating the garments of the priests and the curtains at the entrance of the tabernacle. "In that most perfect ode, Psalm 139," says he, "which celebrates the immensity of the omnipresent Deity, and the wisdom of the divine artificer in forming the human body, the author uses a metaphor derived from the most subtle art of Phrygian workmen:
'When I was formed in the secret place,
When I was wrought with a needle in the depths of the earth.
Whoever observes this, (in truth he will not be able to observe it in the common translations,)and at the same time reflects upon the wonderful mechanism of the human body, the various amplifications of the veins, arteries, fibres, and membranes; the 'indescribable texture' of the whole fabric; may indeed feel the beauty and gracefulness of this well-adapted metaphor, but will miss much of its force and sublimity, unless he be apprised that the art of designing in needle-work was wholly dedicated to the use of the sanctuary, and by a direct precept of the divine law, chiefly employed in furnishing' a part of the sacerdotal habits, and the veils for the entrance of the tabernacle. (Exodus 28:39; Exodus 26:36; Exodus 27:16; compare Ezekiel 16:10, 13, 18.) Thus the poet compares the wisdom of the divine artificer with the most estimable of human arts -- that art which was dignified by being consecrated altogether to the use of religion; and the workmanship of which was so exquisite, that even the sacred writings seem to attribute it to a supernatural guidance. See Exodus 35:30-35." -- Lowth's Lectures on the Sacred Poetry of the Hebrews, volume 1.
7 "Que sera-ce donc quand on viendra a contempler par le menu chacune partie?" -- Fr.
8 "They (my members) have been daily formed, or forming. They were not formed at once, but gradually; each day increasing in strength and size. This expression is probably parenthetical, so that the last words of the verse will refer to the writing of those things previously mentioned in God's register." -- Phillips.
9 "The meaning is," says Warner, "there was a time when none of those curious parts, of which my form consists, existed. The germ of them all was planted by thee in the first instance; and gradually matured, by thy power, wisdom, and goodness, into that wonderful piece of mechanism which the human form exhibits." Phillips gives a different turn to the clause: "And not one of them, or among them, was omitted. Not one of the particulars concerning my formation has been left out of thy record."
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