|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
147:12-20 The church, like Jerusalem of old, built up and preserved by the wisdom, power, and goodness of God, is exhorted to praise him for all the benefits and blessings vouchsafed to her; and these are represented by his favours in the course of nature. The thawing word may represent the gospel of Christ, and the thawing wind the Spirit of Christ; for the Spirit is compared to the wind, Joh 3:8. Converting grace softens the heart that was hard frozen, and melts it into tears of repentance, and makes good reflections to flow, which before were chilled and stopped up. The change which the thaw makes is very evident, yet how it is done no one can say. Such is the change wrought in the conversion of a soul, when God's word and Spirit are sent to melt it and restore it to itself.
Verse 16. - He giveth snow like wool. The loveliness of new-fallen snow has evidently been felt by the psalmist, to whom it has seemed like a spotless robe of whitest wool spread upon the earth. Snow, though rare in Palestine, does occasionally fall, and is said to "cover the streets of Jerusalem two winters out of three. It generally comes in small quantities; but there are sometimes very snowy winters." In 1879, for instance, snow lay in Jerusalem to a depth of seventeen inches (Geikic, 'The Holy Land and the Bible,' vol. 2. p. 58). He scattereth the hoar-frost like ashes. The metaphor is less appropriate, and was selected, probably, on account of the near resemblance of the two words, kephor and kaepher.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
He giveth snow like wool,.... For colour as white as wool; so the Targum and Kimchi: and for the manner of its falling, lightly and gently as a lock of wool; which for its thinness and fineness it also resembles. Hence the ancients used to call snow , "woolly water" (t); and Martial (u) gives it the name of "densum veilus aquarum", "a thick fleece of waters": so another poet (w) calls clouds flying fleeces of wool, to which they sometimes seem like; Pliny (x) calls it the from of the celestial waters. And it is like wool for its usefulness to the earth; for as wool covers the sheep, and clothes made of it cover men, and keep them warm; so snow filling upon the earth covers it and keeps it warm, and secures the wheat and other fruits of the earth from the injuries of the cold: and this lies among the treasures of the Lord, and he brings it out from thence, and commands it to be on the earth; and it is an useful gift of his providence, for which his name is to be praised; see Job 37:6. The Jews have a saying, as Arama observes, that one day of snow is better than five of rain. In the third year of Valens and Valentinianus, with the Atrebates (a people in the Netherlands), real wool fell from the clouds, mixed with rain (y). Several blessings of grace are signified by this figure; as pardon of sin, the justifying righteousness of Christ, and the efficacy of the word of God, Psalm 51:7;
he scattereth the hoar frost like ashes; which is the dew congealed by the intense cold of the air in the night season (z): this for its colour looks like ashes, and for its infinite number of particles may be compared to them; which are spread here and there, and everywhere; over gardens, fields, lands, herbs, plants, and trees, as if they were strewed with ashes. And to hot ashes it may be compared, because of its burning nature, shrivelling up leaves, herbs, and plants, as if burnt; hence called "pruina" in the Latin tongue (a). The manna is compared to this for its smallness, Exodus 16:14; which was typical of Christ, the hidden manna, and of the ministry of the Gospel; little, mean, and contemptible, in the eyes of carnal men; torturing and tormenting to them, as the fire that came out of the mouths of the witnesses; and is the savour of death unto death to some, while it ii the savour of life unto life to others.
(t) Eustathius in Dionys. Perieget. p. 91. (u) Epigram. l. 4. Ephesians 3. (w) Aristoph. Nubes, p. 146. (x) Nat. Hist. l. 17. c. 2.((y) Orosii Hist. l. 7. c. 32. p. 131. (z) lsidor. Origin. l. 13. c. 10. (a) "Frigora nec tantum cana concreta pruina", Virgil. Georgic. l. 2. v. 376.
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