For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Frame.—Rather, fashioning; referring to Genesis 2:7, or possibly to the image so common in the prophecy of the potter’s vessel.Psalm 103:14-16. For he knoweth our frame — The weakness and mortality of our natures, and the frailty and misery of our condition, (as the expression seems to be explained in the following clause) That we are but dust — And that if he should let loose his hand upon us, we should be irrecoverably destroyed. For, as for man — Fallen, mortal man; his days are as grass — Which grows out of the earth, rises but a little way above it, and soon withers and returns to it again: see Isaiah 40:6-7. As a flower of the field — If man, in his best estate, seem somewhat more than grass; if he flourish in health and strength, youth and beauty, riches and honour; if he look fresh and fair, gay and lovely, glorious and powerful; yet even then he is but as a flower which, though distinguished a little from the grass, will wither with it; yea, as a flower of the field — Which is more exposed to winds and other violences than the flowers of the garden, that are secured by the art and care of the gardener; so he flourisheth — Unfolds his beauty in youth, and flourishes a while in the vigour of manhood; but the wind — A blasting or blighting wind, unseen and unlooked for; passeth over it — Over the flower, even when it is in its perfection; and it is gone — It droops, shrinks, and bows its head; its leaves fall off, and it sinks into the ground that gave it birth. And the place thereof shall know it no more — There is no more any appearance or remembrance of it in the place where it stood and flourished. Thus the life of man is not only wasting of itself, but its period is liable to be anticipated by a thousand accidents. If the breath of the divine displeasure pass over him, and God, with rebukes, correct him for iniquity, his beauty consumes away like a moth fretting a garment: his comeliness and vigour; his prosperity, wealth, and glory; his health, strength, and life, waste away gradually, or vanish suddenly; and he bows his drooping head and mingles again with his native dust; his friends and his companions look for him at the accustomed spot which he once adorned, but in vain: the earth has opened her mouth to receive him, and his place shall know him no more.
He remembereth that we are dust - Made of the earth. Genesis 2:7; Genesis 3:19. In his dealings with us he does not forget of what frail materials he made us, and how little our frames can bear. He tempers his dealings to the weakness and frailty of our nature, and his compassion interposes when the weight of sorrows would crush us. Remembering, too, our weakness, he interposes by his power to sustain us, and to enable us to bear what our frame could not otherwise endure. Compare the notes at Isaiah 57:16.
knoweth our frame—literally, "our form."
we are dust—made of and tending to it (Ge 2:7).Our frame; either,
1. The corruption of our natures; which God is pleased sometimes to make an argument to pity and spare men, as Genesis 8:21. So the sense is, He considereth that great and constant propension to evil which is naturally in all mankind, and that therefore if he should deal severely with us, he should immediately destroy us all. So this clause contains one motive of God’s pity, and the next another. Or rather,
2. The weakness and mortality of our natures, and the frailty and misery of our condition, as it seems to be explained in the following clause, that we are but dust. So the sense is, He considereth that if he should let loose his hand upon us, and pour forth all his wrath, we should be suddenly and irrecoverably destroyed, and therefore he spareth us. Genesis 6:5, and by which the Jews generally express the depravity and corruption of nature; and so the Targum here paraphrases it,
"for he knows our evil concupiscence, which causes us to sin;''
and to this sense Kimchi.
He remembereth that we are dust (b); are of the dust originally, and return to it again at death; and into which men soon crumble when he lays his hand upon them; this he considers, see Psalm 78:38. The Targum is,
"it is remembered before him, that we are of the dust:''
the Septuagint version makes a petition of it, "remember that we are dust"; and so the Arabic version. And we should remember it ourselves, and be humble before God; and wonder at his grace and goodness to us, Genesis 18:27.For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)14. Here as often the frailty of man is pleaded as a motive for mercy. Cp. Psalm 78:39; Psalm 89:47.
our frame] Lit. our formation; what we are made of. The verse is an allusion to Genesis 2:7, “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground.”Verse 14. - For he knoweth our frame; or, our formation (Kay) - the manner in which we were formed (see Genesis 2:7). He remembereth that we are dust (comp. Genesis 2:7; Genesis 3:19; Genesis 19:27; Job 34:15, etc.). Psalm 103:6 describes God's gracious and fatherly conduct towards sinful and perishing men, and that as it shines forth from the history of Israel and is known and recognised in the light of revelation. What Psalm 103:6 says is a common-place drawn from the history of Israel. משׁפּטים is an accusative governed by the עשׂה that is to be borrowed out of עשׂה (so Baer after the Masora). And because Psalm 103:6 is the result of an historical retrospect and survey, יודיע in Psalm 103:7 can affirm that which happened in the past (cf. Psalm 96:6.); for the supposition of Hengstenberg and Hitzig, that Moses here represents Israel like Jacob, Isaac, and Joseph in other instances, is without example in the whole Israelitish literature. It becomes clear from Psalm 103:8 in what sense the making of His ways known is meant. The poet has in his mind Moses' prayer: "make known to me now Thy way" (Exodus 33:13), which Jahve fulfilled by passing by him as he stood in the cleft of the rock and making Himself visible to him as he looked after Him, amidst the proclamation of His attributes. The ways of Jahve are therefore in this passage not those in which men are to walk in accordance with His precepts (Psalm 25:4), but those which He Himself follows in the course of His redemptive history (Psalm 67:3). The confession drawn from Exodus 34:6. is become a formula of the Israelitish faith (Psalm 86:15; Psalm 145:8; Joel 2:13; Nehemiah 9:17, and frequently). In Psalm 103:9. the fourth attribute (ורב־חסד) is made the object of further praise. He is not only long (ארך from ארך, like כּבד from כּבד) in anger, i.e., waiting a long time before He lets His anger loose, but when He contends, i.e., interposes judicially, this too is not carried to the full extent (Psalm 78:38), He is not angry for ever (נטר, to keep, viz., anger, Amos 1:11; cf. the parallels, both as to matter and words, Jeremiah 3:5; Isaiah 57:16). The procedure of His righteousness is regulated not according to our sins, but according to His purpose of mercy. The prefects in Psalm 103:10 state that which God has constantly not done, and the futures in Psalm 103:9 what He continually will not do.
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