Psalm 104:12
By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which sing among the branches.
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(12) By them.—Better, above them, i.e., in the trees and bushes growing on the bank of the stream. Translate by the present, have their homes.

Psalm 104:12. By them — By the springs of water in the valleys; the fowls of the heaven have their habitation — Delighting to build their nests, and sing among the verdant branches which conceal them from our sight. “The music of birds,” says Mr. Wesley, “was the first song of thanksgiving which was offered on earth before man was formed. All their sounds are different, but all harmonious, and all together compose a choir which we cannot imitate.” (Survey of the Wisdom of God, vol. 1. p. 314, third edition.) “If these little choristers of the air,” adds Dr. H., “when refreshed by the streams near which they dwell, express their gratitude by chanting, in their way, the praises of their Maker and Preserver, how ought Christians to blush, who, besides the comforts and conveniences of this world, are indulged with copious draughts of the water of eternal life, if for so great a blessing they pay not their tribute of thanksgiving, and sing not unto the Lord the songs of Zion!”104:10-18 When we reflect upon the provision made for all creatures, we should also notice the natural worship they render to God. Yet man, forgetful ungrateful man, enjoys the largest measure of his Creator's kindness. the earth, varying in different lands. Nor let us forget spiritual blessings; the fruitfulness of the church through grace, the bread of everlasting life, the cup of salvation, and the oil of gladness. Does God provide for the inferior creatures, and will he not be a refuge to his people?By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation - Among them the fowls of the air dwell. That is, among the trees which spring up by the fountains and water-courses. The whole picture is full of animation and beauty.

Which sing among the branches - Margin, as in Hebrew, "give a voice." Their voice is heard - their sweet music - in the foliage of the trees which grow on the margin of the streams and by the fountains. There is scarcely to be found a more beautiful poetic image than this.

10-13. Once destructive, these waters are subjected to the service of God's creatures. In rain and dew from His chambers (compare Ps 104:3), and fountains and streams, they give drink to thirsting animals and fertilize the soil. Trees thus nourished supply homes to singing birds, and the earth teems with the productions of God's wise agencies, By them; either upon the waters, where many fowls have their common abode; or in the ground nigh unto them; or in the trees, which commonly grow by the banks of rivers.

Which sing among the branches; which, being delighted and refreshed by the waters, send forth their pleasant notes. By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation,.... Another use of the springs, fountains, and rivers of water; by the sides and on the shores of these, some birds delight to be, and on trees that grow here do they build their nests; and here, having wetted their throats, they sit, and chirp, and sing: to doves, by rivers of water, is the allusion in Sol 5:12.

Which sing among the branches; of trees that grow by the sides of fountains and rivers; see Ezekiel 17:23. To such birds may saints be compared; being, like them, weak, defenceless, and timorous; liable to be taken in snares, and sometimes wonderfully delivered; as well as given to wanderings and strayings: and to fowls of the heaven, being heaven born souls, and partakers of the heavenly calling. These have their habitation by the fountain of Jacob, by the river of divine love, beside the still waters of the sanctuary; where they sing the songs of Zion, the songs of electing, redeeming, and calling grace.

By {f} them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which sing among the branches.

(f) There is no part of the world so barren where most evident signs of God's blessing do not appear.

12. Beside them dwell the birds of the heaven;

From among the leafage they utter their song.

Beside the springs and streams grow the trees which are the home of the birds, whose song of praise to their Maker ever rises from their branches.Verse 12. - By them; i.e. "by the springs" (see ver. 10). Shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation. Birds need water as much as any other animals, and in dry tracts frequently congregate at the springs. Which sing (or, utter a voice) among the branches of the trees which in the East spring up wherever there is moisture. In a second decastich the poet speaks of the restraining of the lower waters and the establishing of the land standing out of the water. The suffix, referring back to ארץ, is intended to say that the earth hanging free in space (Job 26:7) has its internal supports. Its eternal stability is preserved even amidst the judgment predicted in Isaiah 24:16., since it comes forth out of it, unremoved from its former station, as a transformed, glorified earth. The deep (תּהום) with which God covers it is that primordial mass of water in which it lay first of all as it were in embryo, for it came into being ἐξ ὕδατος καὶ δι ̓ ὕδατος (2 Peter 3:5). כּסּיתו does not refer to תהום (masc. as in Job 28:14), because then עליה would be required, but to ארץ, and the masculine is to be explained either by attraction) according to the model of 1 Samuel 2:4), or by a reversion to the masculine ground-form as the discourse proceeds (cf. the same thing with עיר 2 Samuel 17:13, צעקה Exodus 11:6, יד Ezekiel 2:9). According to Psalm 104:6, the earth thus overflowed with water was already mountainous; the primal formation of the mountains is therefore just as old as the תהום mentioned in direct succession to the תהו ובהו. After this, Psalm 104:7 describe the subduing of the primordial waters by raising up the dry land and the confining of these waters in basins surrounded by banks. Terrified by the despotic command of God, they started asunder, and mountains rose aloft, the dry land with its heights and its low grounds appeared. The rendering that the waters, thrown into wild excitement, rose up the mountains and descended again (Hengstenberg), does not harmonize with the fact that they are represented in Psalm 104:6 as standing above the mountains. Accordingly, too, it is not to be interpreted after Psalm 107:26 : they (the waters) rose mountain-high, they sunk down like valleys. The reference of the description to the coming forth of the dry land on the third day of creation requires that הרים should be taken as subject to יעלוּ. But then, too, the בקעות are the subject to ירדוּ, as Hilary of Poictiers renders it in his Genesis, 5:97, etc.: subsidunt valles, and not the waters as subsiding into the valleys. Hupfeld is correct; Psalm 104:8 is a parenthesis which affirms that, inasmuch as the waters retreating laid the solid land bare, mountains and valleys as such came forth visibly; cf. Ovid, Metam. i.:344: Flumina subsidunt, montes exire videntur.
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