Psalm 103:16
For the wind passes over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) The windi.e., the hot, scorching blast, as in Isaiah 40:7. Even in our humid climate, it may be said of a flower—

“If one sharp wind sweep o’er the field,

It withers in an hour.”

But the pestilential winds of the East are described as bringing a heat like that of an oven, which immediately blasts every green thing.

Know it no more.—Comp. Job 7:10. Man vanishes away without leaving a trace behind. The pathos of the verse has been well caught in the well-known lines of Gray:—

“One morn I missed him on the accustomed hill,

Along the heath, and near his favourite tree:

Another came, nor yet beside the rill,

Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he.”

103:15-18 How short is man's life, and uncertain! The flower of the garden is commonly more choice, and will last the longer, for being sheltered by the garden-wall, and the gardener's care; but the flower of the field, to which life is here compared, is not only withering in itself, but exposed to the cold blasts, and liable to be cropt and trod on by the beasts of the field. Such is man. God considers this, and pities him; let him consider it himself. God's mercy is better than life, for it will outlive it. His righteousness, the truth of his promise, shall be unto children's children, who tread in the footsteps of their forefathers' piety. Then shall mercy be preserved to them.For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone - Margin, as in Hebrew, "it is not." The reference is either to a hot and burning wind, that dries up the flower; or to a furious wind that tears it from its stem; or to a gentle breeze that takes off its petals as they loosen their hold, and are ready to fall. So man falls - as if a breath - a breeze - came over him, and he is gone. How easily is man swept off! How little force, apparently, does it require to remove the most beautiful and blooming youth of either sex from the earth! How speedily does beauty vanish; how soon, like a fading flower, does such a one pass away!

And the place thereof shall know it no more - That is, It shall no more appear in the place where it was seen and known. The "place" is here personified as if capable of recognizing the objects which are present, and as if it missed the things which were once there. They are gone. So it will soon be in all the places where we have been; where we have been seen; where we have been known. In our dwellings; at our tables; in our places of business; in our offices, counting-rooms, studies, laboratories; in the streets where we have walked from day to day; in the pulpit, the court-room, the legislation-hall; in the place of revelry or festivity; in the prayer-room, the Sabbath-school, the sanctuary - we shall be seen no longer. We shall be gone: and the impression on those who are there, and with whom we have been associated, will be best expressed by the language, "he is gone!" Gone; - where? No one that survives can tell. All that they whom we leave will know will be that we are absent - that we are "gone." But to us now, how momentous the inquiry, "Where shall we be, when we are gone from among the living?" Other places will "know" us; will it be in heaven, or hell?

15, 16. So short and frail is life that a breath may destroy it.

it is gone—literally, "it is not."

know it no more—no more recognize him (Ps 90:6; Isa 40:6-8).

A blasting or stormy wind bloweth upon it, and there is no more any appearance nor remembrance of it in the place where it stood and flourished. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone,.... A stormy wind, as the Targum, which tears it up by its roots, or blows off the flower, and it is seen no more; or a blighting easterly wind, which, blowing on it, shrivels it up, and it dies at once; such an one as blasted the seven ears of corn in Pharaoh's dream, Genesis 41:23 or any impetuous, drying, and noxious wind: and so when the east wind of adversity passes over a man, his riches, and honour, and estate, are presently gone; or some bodily distemper, which takes away health, strength, and beauty, and impairs the mind; and especially death, which removes at once into another world.

And the place thereof shall know it no more; the place where the flower grew shall know it no more; or it shall be seen no more in it: so man, when he dies, though he is not annihilated, he is somewhere; he is in another world, either of happiness or woe; yet he is not in this world, in the house and family, in the station and business he was; he is no longer known nor seen among men on earth; see Job 7:10.

For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. The verse may refer to the withering of the flower (A.V.), but it is more poetical to understand it metaphorically of the disappearance of the man.

For a wind passeth over him, and he is not,

And his place shall know him no more.

“The east wind, blowing over the desert in summer, is dry and parching, and withers up all vegetation.” Tristram, Nat. Hist. p. 34. Cp. Hosea 13:15. The second line is from Job 7:10; cp. Job 8:18, Job 20:9.Verse 16. - For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; literally, it is not. The burning sirocco, the wind of the desert, variously named in various places, blows upon the flower, and almost immediately scorches it up. So man, when he flourishes most, is for the most part brought low by the wind of suffering, trouble, sickness, calamity, and sinks out of sight. And the place thereof shall know it no more; rather, knows it no more. Seeing it not, forgets it, as if it had never been. So with the greatest men - they pass away and are forgotten (comp. Job 7:10). His range of vision being widened from himself, the poet now in 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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