Genesis 9:16
And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look on it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
9:8-17 As the old world was ruined, to be a monument of justice, so this world remains to this day a monument of mercy. But sin, that drowned the old world, will burn this. Articles of agreement among men are sealed, that what is promised may be the more solemn, and the doing of what is covenanted the more sure to mutual satisfaction. The seal of this covenant was the rainbow, which, it is likely, was seen in the clouds before, but was never a seal of the covenant till now it was made so. The rainbow appears when we have most reason to fear the rain prevailing; God then shows this seal of the promise, that it shall not prevail. The thicker the cloud, the brighter the bow in the cloud. Thus, as threatening afflictions abound, encouraging consolations much more abound. The rainbow is the reflection of the beams of the sun shining upon or through the drops of rain: all the glory of the seals of the covenant are derived from Christ, the Sun of righteousness. And he will shed a glory on the tears of his saints. A bow speaks terror, but this has neither string nor arrow; and a bow alone will do little hurt. It is a bow, but it is directed upward, not toward the earth; for the seals of the covenant were intended to comfort, not to terrify. As God looks upon the bow, that he may remember the covenant, so should we, that we may be mindful of the covenant with faith and thankfulness. Without revelation this gracious assurance could not be known; and without faith it can be of no use to us; and thus it is as to the still greater dangers to which all are exposed, and as to the new covenant with its blessings.The token of the covenant is now pointed out. "For perpetual ages." This stability of sea and land is to last during the remainder of the human period. What is to happen when the race of man is completed, is not the question at present. "My bow." As God's covenant is the well-known and still remembered compact formed with man when the command was issued in the Garden of Eden, so God's bow is the primeval arch, coexistent with the rays of light and the drops of rain. It is caused by the rays of the sun reflected from the falling raindrops at a particular angle to the eye of the spectator. A beautiful arch of reflected and refracted light is in this way formed for every eye. The rainbow is thus an index that the sky is not wholly overcast, since the sun is shining through the shower, and thereby demonstrating its partial extent. There could not, therefore, be a more beautiful or fitting token that there shall be no more a flood to sweep away all flesh and destroy the land.

It comes with its mild radiance only when the cloud condenses into a shower. It consists of heavenly light, variegated in hue, and mellowed in lustre, filling the beholder with an involuntary pleasure. It forms a perfect arch, extends as far as the shower extends, connects heaven and earth, and spans the horizon. In these respects it is a beautiful emblem of mercy rejoicing against judgment, of light from heaven irradiating and beatifying the soul, of grace always sufficient for the need of the reunion of earth and heaven, and of the universality of the offer of salvation. "Have I given." The rainbow existed as long as the present laws of light and air. But it is now mentioned for the first time, because it now becomes the fitting sign of security from another universal deluge, which is the special blessing of the covenant in its present form. "In the cloud." When a shower-cloud is spread over the sky, the bow appears, if the sun, the cloud, and the spectator are in the proper relation to one another. 16. "And I will look upon it to remember." The Scripture is most unhesitating and frank in ascribing to God all the attributes and exercises of personal freedom. While man looks on the bow to recall the promise of God, God himself looks on it to remember and perform this promise. Here freedom and immutability of purpose meet.

The covenant here ostensibly refers to the one point of the absence, for all time to come, of any danger to the human race from a deluge. But it presupposes and supplements the covenant with man subsisting from the very beginning. It is clearly of grace; for the Lord in the very terms affirms the fact that the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth, while at the same time the original transgression belonged to the whole race. The condition by which any man becomes interested in it is not expressed, but easily understood from the nature of a covenant, a promise, and a sign, all of which require of us consenting faith in the party who covenants, promises, and gives the sign. The meritorious condition of the covenant of grace is dimly shadowed forth in the burnt-offerings which Noah presented on coming out of the ark. One thing, however, was surely and clearly revealed to the early saints; namely, the mercy of God. Assured of this, they were prepared humbly to believe that all would rebound to the glory of his holiness, justice, and truth, as well as of his mercy, grace, and love, though they might not yet fully understand how this would be accomplished.

13. I do set my bow in the cloud—set, that is, constitute or appoint. This common and familiar phenomenon being made the pledge of peace, its appearance when showers began to fall would be welcomed with the liveliest feelings of joy. i.e. This covenant made with all succeeding generations of men and beasts. This and the like speeches are oft ascribed to God after the manner of men, who being forgetful, need helps for their memory. And the bow shall be in the cloud,.... Not whenever there is a cloud, but at some certain times, when that and the sun are in a proper position to form one, and when divine wisdom sees right there should be one; then it appears and continues for a time, and as the cloud becomes thinner and thinner, it disappears:

and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth; not that forgetfulness, or remembrance, properly speaking, belong to God, but this is said after the manner of men; who by this token may be assured, whenever they see the bow in the cloud, that God is not unmindful of the covenant he has made with all creatures, and which is to continue to the end of the world.

And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. remember] Used of God, cf. Genesis 8:1. Here it suggests that the primitive tradition implied that God might forget, if it were not for “the bow.” The word “remember” may be anthropomorphic; but in the later stage of the tradition, as in this passage, the rainbow is the “sign” or “reminder” for man, not for God.

the everlasting covenant] See Genesis 17:7; Genesis 17:13; Genesis 17:19; Exodus 31:16; Leviticus 24:8; Numbers 18:19; Numbers 25:13, a phrase used by P. Heb. b’rîth ‘ôlâm, LXX διαθήκη αἰώνιος, Lat. foedus sempiternum.Verse 16. - And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant. Literally, the covenant of eternity. One of those pregnant Scripture sayings that have in them an almost inexhaustible fullness of meaning, which does not at first sight dis. close itself to the eye of the unreflecting reader. In so far as the Noachic covenant was simply a promise that there should be no recurrence of a flood, the covenant of eternity had a corresponding limit in its duration to the period of this present terrestrial economy. But, rightly viewed, the Noachic covenant was the original Adamic covenant set up again in a different form; and hence, when applied to it, the phrase covenant of eternity is entitled to retain its highest and fullest significance, as a covenant reaching from eternity to eternity. Between God and every living creature of all-flesh that is upon the earth. To give Noah and his sons a firm assurance of the prosperous continuance of the human race, God condescended to establish a covenant with them and their descendants, and to confirm this covenant by a visible sign for all generations. בּרית הקים is not equivalent to בּרית כּרת; it does not denote the formal conclusion of an actual covenant, but the "setting up of a covenant," or the giving of a promise possessing the nature of a covenant. In summing up the animals in Genesis 9:10, the prepositions are accumulated: first בּ embracing the whole, then the partitive מן restricting the enumeration to those which went out of the ark, and lastly ל yl, "with regard to," extending it again to every individual. There was a correspondence between the covenant (Genesis 9:11) and the sign which was to keep it before the sight of men (Genesis 9:12): "I give (set) My bow in the cloud" (Genesis 9:13). When God gathers (ענן Genesis 9:14, lit., clouds) clouds over the earth, "the bow shall be seen in the cloud," and that not for man only, but for God also, who will look at the bow, "to remember His everlasting covenant." An "everlasting covenant" is a covenant "for perpetual generations," i.e., one which shall extend to all ages, even to the end of the world. The fact that God Himself would look at the bow and remember His covenant, was "a glorious and living expression of the great truth, that God's covenant signs, in which He has put His promises, are real vehicles of His grace, that they have power and essential worth not only with men, but also before God" (O. v. Gerlach). The establishment of the rainbow as a covenant sign of the promise that there should be no flood again, presupposes that it appeared then for the first time in the vault and clouds of heaven. From this it may be inferred, not that it did not rain before the flood, which could hardly be reconciled with Genesis 2:5, but that the atmosphere was differently constituted; a supposition in perfect harmony with the facts of natural history, which point to differences in the climate of the earth's surface before and after the flood. The fact that the rainbow, that "coloured splendour thrown by the bursting forth of the sun upon the departing clouds," is the result of the reciprocal action of light, and air, and water, is no disproof of the origin and design recorded here. For the laws of nature are ordained by God, and have their ultimate ground and purpose in the divine plan of the universe which links together both nature and grace. "Springing as it does from the effect of the sun upon the dark mass of clouds, it typifies the readiness of the heavenly to pervade the earthly; spread out as it is between heaven and earth, it proclaims peace between God and man; and whilst spanning the whole horizon, it teaches the all-embracing universality of the covenant of grace" (Delitzsch).
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