|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
121:1-8 The safety of the godly. - We must not rely upon men and means, instruments and second causes. Shall I depend upon the strength of the hills? upon princes and great men? No; my confidence is in God only. Or, we must lift up our eyes above the hills; we must look to God who makes all earthly things to us what they are. We must see all our help in God; from him we must expect it, in his own way and time. This psalm teaches us to comfort ourselves in the Lord, when difficulties and dangers are greatest. It is almighty wisdom that contrives, and almighty power that works the safety of those that put themselves under God's protection. He is a wakeful, watchful Keeper; he is never weary; he not only does not sleep, but he does not so much as slumber. Under this shade they may sit with delight and assurance. He is always near his people for their protection and refreshment. The right hand is the working hand; let them but turn to their duty, and they shall find God ready to give them success. He will take care that his people shall not fall. Thou shalt not be hurt, neither by the open assaults, nor by the secret attempts of thine enemies. The Lord shall prevent the evil thou fearest, and sanctify, remove, or lighten the evil thou feelest. He will preserve the soul, that it be not defiled by sin, and disturbed by affliction; he will preserve it from perishing eternally. He will keep thee in life and death; going out to thy labour in the morning of thy days, and coming home to thy rest when the evening of old age calls thee in. It is a protection for life. The Spirit, who is their Preserver and Comforter, shall abide with them for ever. Let us be found in our work, assured that the blessings promised in this psalm are ours.
Verse 6. - The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. These were the chief dangers of travelers, whether pilgrims or others. Coup de soleil was feared by day, and the deleterious influence of the moon's rays by night. This last has sometimes been doubted, but the observation of modern travelers seems to show that bad effects actually fellow on sleeping in the moonlight in hot countries (see Curzon's 'Travels,' p. 36; Leopolt, 'India Missions,' p. 7).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The sun shall not smite thee by day,.... With its rays, which it shoots forth like darts, and which fly swiftly, and pierce and hurt: hence Apollo, the same with the sun, is represented with a bow and arrows (o); so the rays of the sun seem to be called in Habakkuk 2:11;
nor the moon by night; this clause should be supplied, as a learned man (p) observes, thus, "neither shall the moon cool thee by night"; for that has no warmth in it, and cannot smite with heat, as the sun does: for even, as he observes, its rays focused by a magnifying glass will not communicate the least degree of sensible heat to bodies objected thereunto; yet some say (q) the moon is not only moist, but heats bodies as the sun. And Isaac Vossius (r) observes, that there can be no light, which, separately considered, does not contain some heat at least: and Macrobius (s) speaks of the lunar heat; and Plutarch (t) ascribes heat and inflammation to it, and asserts it to be fire. It is said (u) that some men of good credit, in a voyage to Guinea, strongly affirmed, that, in the night season, they felt a sensible heat to come from the beams of the moon. The Septuagint version is, "the sun shall not burn thee by day, nor the moon by night". And burning may be ascribed to the cold frosty air in a moonlight night, as to the north wind, as in the Apocrypha:
"20 When the cold north wind bloweth, and the water is congealed into ice, it abideth upon every gathering together of water, and clotheth the water as with a breastplate. 21 It devoureth the mountains, and burneth the wilderness, and consumeth the grass as fire.'' (Sirach 43)
see Genesis 31:40; and our English poet (w) expresses a sentiment to this effect; yet not what affects the bodies of men, but plants, trees, &c. and this not owing to the moon, but to the air. However, these clauses are not to be understood literally; for good men may be smitten and hurt by the heat of the one and the cold of the other, as Jacob and Jonah, Genesis 31:40; but mystically, of persecuting antichristian tyrants, which are sometimes signified by the sun and moon, as both in Rome Pagan and Papal, Revelation 6:12; and of persecution and tribulation itself, Matthew 13:6; and is sometimes applied to the perfect state of the saints, either in the New Jerusalem, or ultimate glory, when there will be nothing more of this kind, Revelation 7:15. And there are some periods in the present state, when those entirely cease; nor are the saints ever really hurt by them, they being always for their good; or, however, not so as to affect their eternal happiness. The Targum is,
"in the day, when the sun rules, the morning spirits shall not smite thee; nor the nocturnal ones in the night, when the moon rules.''
(o) Macrob. Saturnal. l. 1. c. 17. (p) Scheuchzer. Physic. Sacr. p. 976, 977. (q) Suidas in voce so Theodoret. (r) De Motu Marium & Vent. c. 6. Vid. Senecae Nat. Quaest. l. 5. c. 9. (s) Saturnal. l. 7. c. 16. (t) De Facie Lunae, in tom. 2. p. 933. (u) The Second Voyage in Eden's Travels, p. 350. 2.((w) "----The parching air----Burns frore (frosty) and cold performs the effect of fire". Milton's Paradise Lost, l. 2. v. 594.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
6-8. God keeps His people at all times and in all perils.
nor the moon by night—poetically represents the dangers of the night, over which the moon presides (Ge 1:16).
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