|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
104:19-30 We are to praise and magnify God for the constant succession of day and night. And see how those are like to the wild beasts, who wait for the twilight, and have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. Does God listen to the language of mere nature, even in ravenous creatures, and shall he not much more interpret favourably the language of grace in his own people, though weak and broken groanings which cannot be uttered? There is the work of every day, which is to be done in its day, which man must apply to every morning, and which he must continue in till evening; it will be time enough to rest when the night comes, in which no man can work. The psalmist wonders at the works of God. The works of art, the more closely they are looked upon, the more rough they appear; the works of nature appear more fine and exact. They are all made in wisdom, for they all answer the end they were designed to serve. Every spring is an emblem of the resurrection, when a new world rises, as it were, out of the ruins of the old one. But man alone lives beyond death. When the Lord takes away his breath, his soul enters on another state, and his body will be raised, either to glory or to misery. May the Lord send forth his Spirit, and new-create our souls to holiness.
Verse 19. - He appointed the moon for seasons (comp. Genesis 1:14). The Jewish festivals depended greatly on the moon, the Passover being celebrated at the time of the full moon of the first month (Exodus 12:6), and the other festivals depending mostly on the Passover. And the sun knoweth his going down. Observes the laws, that is to say, appointed for him.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
He appointeth the moon for seasons,.... Or, "he made" (e); for the moon is the work of his hands, Psalm 8:3 as is likewise the sun. From the rain the psalmist passes to the luminaries; for this reason, as Aben Ezra thinks, because they are the cause of rain: the moon is taken notice of in the first place, because, as Kimchi observes, the night was before the day; and in the night of the fourth day were the sun, moon, and stars; but the sun rose in the morning. The moon was made for seasons as well as the sun, Genesis 1:16 or that times might be numbered by it, as the Targum, both months and years; one of its courses and revolutions making a month, and twelve of these a year; which lunar years were in use among some nations: as also it is supposed to have an influence on the ebbing and flowing of the tides; and served to regulate the festivals of the Jews, their set appointed times, as the word signifies, and is used of them, and which were governed by it. And this Jarchi takes to be the sense of the passage; though Aben Ezra more truly remarks, that it purely belongs to the work of creation, and the original design and use of this luminary. It was an emblem of the ceremonial law; which consisted, among other things, in the observation of new moons; which gave some light in the time of Jewish darkness, though but a dim one, in comparison of the Gospel; had its imperfections, was changeable, waxed old, and vanished away; and which the church is said to have under her feet, being abolished, Revelation 12:1. Though some think the world is meant, which is changeable and fading. It was also an emblem of the church, Sol 6:10 which receives her light from Christ, the sun of righteousness; has its different phases and appearances; sometimes being in prosperity, and sometimes in adversity; has its spots and imperfections, and yet beautiful, through the grace of God and righteousness of Christ.
The sun knoweth his going down; not the going down of the moon, which is the sense of some, according to Kimchi; but his own going down; and so he knows his rising, to which this is opposed, Psalm 50:1 and every revolution, diurnal or annual, he makes; and which he constantly and punctually observes, as if he was a creature endued with reason and understanding; see Psalm 19:5. He knows the time of his setting, as the Targum, Syriac, and Arabic versions; and also the place where he is to set, at the different seasons of the year, and indeed every day. This luminary is an emblem of Christ, the sun of righteousness, Psalm 84:11 the fountain of all light; the light of nature, grace, and glory; and of all spiritual life and heat, as well as fruitfulness. He arose at his incarnation, and set at his death, the time of both which he full well knew; and he has his risings and settings, with respect to the manifestation of himself to his people, or hiding himself from them, which depend on his pleasure.
(e) "fecit", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, &c.
The Treasury of David
19 He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down.
20 Thou makest darkness, and it is night; wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth.
21 The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God.
22 The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens.
23 Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening.
The appointed rule of the great lights is now the theme for praise. The moon is mentioned first, because in the Jewish day the night leads the way. "He appointed the moon for seasons." By the waxing and waning of the moon the year is divided into months, and weeks, and by this means the exact dates of the holy days are arranged. Thus the lamp of night is made to be of service to man, and in fixing the period of religious assemblies (as it did among the Jews) it enters into connection with his noblest being. Never let us regard the moon's motions as the inevitable result of inanimate impersonal law, but as the appointment of our God. "The sun knoweth his going down." In finely poetic imagery the sun is represented as knowing when to retire from sight, and sink below the horizon. He never loiters on his way, or pauses as if undecided when to descend; his appointed hour for going down, although it is constantly varying, he always keeps to a second. We need to be aroused in the morning, but he arises punctually, and though some require to watch the clock to know the hour of rest, he, without a timepiece to consult, hides himself in the western sky the instant the set time has come. For all this man should praise the Lord of the sun and moon, who has made these great lights to be our chronometers, and thus keeps our world in order, and suffers no confusion to distract us.
"Thou makest darkness, and it is night." Drawing down the blinds for us, he prepares our bedchamber that we may sleep. Were there no darkness we should sigh for it, since we should find repose so much more difficult if the weary day were never calmed into night. Let us see God's hand in the veiling of the sun, and never fear either natural or providential darkness, since both are of the Lord's own making. "Wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth." Then is the lion's day, his time to hunt his food. Why should not the wild beast have his hour as well as man? He has a service to perform, should he not also have his food? Darkness is fitter for beasts than man; and those men are most brutish who love darkness rather than light. When the darkness of ignorance broods over a nation, then all sorts of superstitions, cruelties, and vices abound; the gospel, like the sunrising, soon clears the world of the open ravages of these monsters, and they seek more congenial abodes. We see here the value of true light, for we may depend upon it where there is night there will also be wild beasts to kill and to devour.
"The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God." This is the poetic interpretation of a roar. To whom do the lions roar? Certainly not to their prey, for the terrible sound tends to alarm their victims, and drive them away. They after their own fashion express their desires for food, and the expression of desire is a kind of prayer. Out of this fact comes the devout thought of the wild beast's appealing to its Maker for food. But neither with lions nor men will the seeking 6f prayer suffice, there must be practical seeking too, and the lions are well aware of it. What they have in their own language asked for they go forth to seek; being in this thing far wiser than many men who offer formal prayers not half so earnest as those of the young lions, and then neglect the means in the use of which the object of their petitions might be gained. The lions roar and seek; too many are liars before God, and roar but never seek.
How comforting is the thought that the Spirit translates the voice of a lion, and finds it to be a seeking of meat from God! May we not hope that our poor broken cries and groans, which in our sorrow we have called "the voice of our roaring" (Psalm 22:10), will be understood by him, and interpreted in our favour. Evidently he considers the meaning rather than the music of the utterance, and puts the best construction upon it.
"The sun ariseth." Every evening has its morning to make the day. Were it not that we have seen the sun rise so often we should think it the greatest of miracles, and the most amazing of blessings. "They gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens." Thus they are out of man's way, and he seldom encounters them unless he desires to do so. The forest's warriors retire to their quarters when the morning's drum is heard, finding in the recesses of their dens a darkness suitable for their slumbers; there they lay them down and digest their food, for God has allotted even to them their portion of rest and enjoyment. There was one who in this respect was poorer than lions and foxes, for he had not where to lay his head: all were provided for except their incarnate Provider. Blessed Lord, thou hast stooped beneath the conditions of the brutes to lift up worse than brutish men!
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