Psalm 104:19
He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down.
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(19) The moon for seasons.—See Psalm 89:37, Note. The mention of the inferior luminary first is no doubt partly due to its importance in fixing the calendar, but partly also to the diurnal reckoning, “the evening and the morning” as making the day.

The sun knoweth.—So Job 38:12’ of the dawn. The sun is no mere mechanical timepiece to the Israelite poet, but a conscious servant of God. How beautifully this mention of sunset prepares the way for the exquisite picture of the nocturnal landscape, as the sunrise in Psalm 104:22 does for the landscape of the day.

In Genesis the creation of the “heavenly bodies”—the fourth day’s work—is related in, so to speak, a scientific manner. But the poet, as in the former part of his treatment of the subject, at once goes to the influence of these phenomena on animated being. In Genesis the lamps of heaven are, as it were, hung out at God’s command; in the poem they seem to move to their office of guiding the seasons and illuminating the earth like living things who are conscious of the glorious function they have to perform.

Psalm 104:19. He appointeth the moon, &c. — “From a survey of the works of God upon the earth, the psalmist proceeds to extol that divine wisdom which is manifested in the motions and revolutions of the heavenly bodies, and in the grateful vicissitude of day and night occasioned thereby.” For seasons — For measuring the weeks and months, and, among many nations, years also, distinguishing the seasons of the year, and directing the business of the husbandman; for governing the tides, the state of the weather, and divers other natural events; as also the times for sacred and civil affairs, which were commonly regulated by the moon, not only among the Jews, but among heathen also: see on Genesis 1:14. The full and change, the increase and decrease of the moon, exactly observe the appointment of the Creator. The sun, also, knoweth his going down — Namely, the time and place in which he is to set every day of the year, which, though varied from day to day, yet he as regularly and exactly observes as if he were an intelligent being, and had the understanding of a man or angel to guide him, in obeying the laws of his Creator.

104:19-30 We are to praise and magnify God for the constant succession of day and night. And see how those are like to the wild beasts, who wait for the twilight, and have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. Does God listen to the language of mere nature, even in ravenous creatures, and shall he not much more interpret favourably the language of grace in his own people, though weak and broken groanings which cannot be uttered? There is the work of every day, which is to be done in its day, which man must apply to every morning, and which he must continue in till evening; it will be time enough to rest when the night comes, in which no man can work. The psalmist wonders at the works of God. The works of art, the more closely they are looked upon, the more rough they appear; the works of nature appear more fine and exact. They are all made in wisdom, for they all answer the end they were designed to serve. Every spring is an emblem of the resurrection, when a new world rises, as it were, out of the ruins of the old one. But man alone lives beyond death. When the Lord takes away his breath, his soul enters on another state, and his body will be raised, either to glory or to misery. May the Lord send forth his Spirit, and new-create our souls to holiness.He appointed the moon for seasons - Genesis 1:14-18. That is, The moon, as well as the sun, is appointed to divide time; to determine its progress; to indicate the return of festival occasions, or appointed times to be observed in any manner. It is, in fact, the foundation of the division of the year into "months," and consequently the indication of all that is to be observed in the "months" of the year. But for this, there would be no natural divisions of time except those of day and night, and of the year. How great an advantage it is for the purpose of life, to have time broken up into brief intervals or periods which can be marked and remembered, both in our private life and in history, it is not necessary to say. God has been pleased to add to the natural divisions of time into days, and years, and months, an "artificial" division - the "fourth" part of the moon's course - "a week," indicated by the Sabbath, thus greatly facilitating the plans of life in regard to stated times or "seasons," and especially in regard to religious observances. The idea in the passage before us is, that the whole arrangement is one of benevolence, promoting the comfort of man, and bringing the ideas of succession, variety, and beauty into the system.

The sun knoweth his going down - As if conscious of what he is doing, he knows the exact time of setting, and never varies, but always obeys the divine command; never sets "before" his time - unexpectedly shortening the day, and leaving man in sudden darkness in the midst of his toil; and never lingers above the horizon "after" the moment has come for his setting, but withdraws at the exact time, enabling man to close his toil, and seek repose, and giving an opportunity for another class of creatures to come forth on the animated scene. Their good is regarded as well as that of man; and the operations of nature are so arranged as to promote the welfare of all.

16-19. God's care of even wild animals and uncultivated parts of the earth.19 He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down.

20 Thou makest darkness, and it is night; wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth.

21 The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God.

22 The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens.

23 Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening.

Psalm 104:19

The appointed rule of the great lights is now the theme for praise. The moon is mentioned first, because in the Jewish day the night leads the way. "He appointed the moon for seasons." By the waxing and waning of the moon the year is divided into months, and weeks, and by this means the exact dates of the holy days are arranged. Thus the lamp of night is made to be of service to man, and in fixing the period of religious assemblies (as it did among the Jews) it enters into connection with his noblest being. Never let us regard the moon's motions as the inevitable result of inanimate impersonal law, but as the appointment of our God. "The sun knoweth his going down." In finely poetic imagery the sun is represented as knowing when to retire from sight, and sink below the horizon. He never loiters on his way, or pauses as if undecided when to descend; his appointed hour for going down, although it is constantly varying, he always keeps to a second. We need to be aroused in the morning, but he arises punctually, and though some require to watch the clock to know the hour of rest, he, without a timepiece to consult, hides himself in the western sky the instant the set time has come. For all this man should praise the Lord of the sun and moon, who has made these great lights to be our chronometers, and thus keeps our world in order, and suffers no confusion to distract us.

Psalm 104:20

"Thou makest darkness, and it is night." Drawing down the blinds for us, he prepares our bedchamber that we may sleep. Were there no darkness we should sigh for it, since we should find repose so much more difficult if the weary day were never calmed into night. Let us see God's hand in the veiling of the sun, and never fear either natural or providential darkness, since both are of the Lord's own making. "Wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth." Then is the lion's day, his time to hunt his food. Why should not the wild beast have his hour as well as man? He has a service to perform, should he not also have his food? Darkness is fitter for beasts than man; and those men are most brutish who love darkness rather than light. When the darkness of ignorance broods over a nation, then all sorts of superstitions, cruelties, and vices abound; the gospel, like the sunrising, soon clears the world of the open ravages of these monsters, and they seek more congenial abodes. We see here the value of true light, for we may depend upon it where there is night there will also be wild beasts to kill and to devour.

Psalm 104:21

"The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God." This is the poetic interpretation of a roar. To whom do the lions roar? Certainly not to their prey, for the terrible sound tends to alarm their victims, and drive them away. They after their own fashion express their desires for food, and the expression of desire is a kind of prayer. Out of this fact comes the devout thought of the wild beast's appealing to its Maker for food. But neither with lions nor men will the seeking 6f prayer suffice, there must be practical seeking too, and the lions are well aware of it. What they have in their own language asked for they go forth to seek; being in this thing far wiser than many men who offer formal prayers not half so earnest as those of the young lions, and then neglect the means in the use of which the object of their petitions might be gained. The lions roar and seek; too many are liars before God, and roar but never seek.

How comforting is the thought that the Spirit translates the voice of a lion, and finds it to be a seeking of meat from God! May we not hope that our poor broken cries and groans, which in our sorrow we have called "the voice of our roaring" (Psalm 22:10), will be understood by him, and interpreted in our favour. Evidently he considers the meaning rather than the music of the utterance, and puts the best construction upon it.

Psalm 104:22

"The sun ariseth." Every evening has its morning to make the day. Were it not that we have seen the sun rise so often we should think it the greatest of miracles, and the most amazing of blessings. "They gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens." Thus they are out of man's way, and he seldom encounters them unless he desires to do so. The forest's warriors retire to their quarters when the morning's drum is heard, finding in the recesses of their dens a darkness suitable for their slumbers; there they lay them down and digest their food, for God has allotted even to them their portion of rest and enjoyment. There was one who in this respect was poorer than lions and foxes, for he had not where to lay his head: all were provided for except their incarnate Provider. Blessed Lord, thou hast stooped beneath the conditions of the brutes to lift up worse than brutish men!


For seasons; to measure and distinguish the times, both months, and, amongst many nations, years also; as also the seasons of divers natural events, as of the ebbing and flowing of the waters, and of the humours in man’s body; and other seasons for sacred and civil affairs, which were commonly regulated by the moon, not only amongst the Jews, but among heathens also. See Poole "Genesis 1:14".

His going down, to wit, the time and place in which he is to set every day of the year, which, though varied from day to day, yet he so regularly and exactly observes, as if he had the understanding of a man or angel to guide him in obeying the laws of his Creator. See Job 38:12. What is here expressed concerning his setting is necessarily supposed concerning his rising also; but he mentions only his setting, as most agreeable to the context, because that did usher in the rising of the moon, of which he now spake, and the entrance of the night, of which he speaks in the next words.

He appointeth the moon for seasons,.... Or, "he made" (e); for the moon is the work of his hands, Psalm 8:3 as is likewise the sun. From the rain the psalmist passes to the luminaries; for this reason, as Aben Ezra thinks, because they are the cause of rain: the moon is taken notice of in the first place, because, as Kimchi observes, the night was before the day; and in the night of the fourth day were the sun, moon, and stars; but the sun rose in the morning. The moon was made for seasons as well as the sun, Genesis 1:16 or that times might be numbered by it, as the Targum, both months and years; one of its courses and revolutions making a month, and twelve of these a year; which lunar years were in use among some nations: as also it is supposed to have an influence on the ebbing and flowing of the tides; and served to regulate the festivals of the Jews, their set appointed times, as the word signifies, and is used of them, and which were governed by it. And this Jarchi takes to be the sense of the passage; though Aben Ezra more truly remarks, that it purely belongs to the work of creation, and the original design and use of this luminary. It was an emblem of the ceremonial law; which consisted, among other things, in the observation of new moons; which gave some light in the time of Jewish darkness, though but a dim one, in comparison of the Gospel; had its imperfections, was changeable, waxed old, and vanished away; and which the church is said to have under her feet, being abolished, Revelation 12:1. Though some think the world is meant, which is changeable and fading. It was also an emblem of the church, Sol 6:10 which receives her light from Christ, the sun of righteousness; has its different phases and appearances; sometimes being in prosperity, and sometimes in adversity; has its spots and imperfections, and yet beautiful, through the grace of God and righteousness of Christ.

The sun knoweth his going down; not the going down of the moon, which is the sense of some, according to Kimchi; but his own going down; and so he knows his rising, to which this is opposed, Psalm 50:1 and every revolution, diurnal or annual, he makes; and which he constantly and punctually observes, as if he was a creature endued with reason and understanding; see Psalm 19:5. He knows the time of his setting, as the Targum, Syriac, and Arabic versions; and also the place where he is to set, at the different seasons of the year, and indeed every day. This luminary is an emblem of Christ, the sun of righteousness, Psalm 84:11 the fountain of all light; the light of nature, grace, and glory; and of all spiritual life and heat, as well as fruitfulness. He arose at his incarnation, and set at his death, the time of both which he full well knew; and he has his risings and settings, with respect to the manifestation of himself to his people, or hiding himself from them, which depend on his pleasure.

(e) "fecit", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, &c.

He appointed {i} the moon for seasons: {k} the sun knoweth his going down.

(i) As to separate the night from the day, and to note days, months and years.

(k) That is, by his course, either far or near, it notes summer, winter and other seasons.

19. The changes of the moon mark periods of time and the proper times for festivals. Cp. Sir 43:7, “From the moon is the sign for the festival.” The sun knows and fulfils its daily duty. The sunset is mentioned, to introduce the picture of night in Psalm 104:20 ff.; and night precedes day, as commonly in oriental reckoning.

19–23. Moon and sun mark the seasons and the alternations of day and night. The work of the fourth day, Genesis 1:14.

Verse 19. - He appointed the moon for seasons (comp. Genesis 1:14). The Jewish festivals depended greatly on the moon, the Passover being celebrated at the time of the full moon of the first month (Exodus 12:6), and the other festivals depending mostly on the Passover. And the sun knoweth his going down. Observes the laws, that is to say, appointed for him. Psalm 104:19The fifth decastich, in which the poet passes over from the third to the fourth day, shows that he has the order of the days of creation before his mind. The moon is mentioned first of all, because the poet wishes to make the picture of the day follow that of the night. He describes it in Psalm 104:19 as the calendarial principal star. מועדים are points and divisions of time (epochs), and the principal measurer of these for civil and ecclesiastical life is the moon (cf. Sir. 43:7, ἀπὸ σελήνης σημεῖον ἑορτῆς), just as the sun, knowing when he is to set, is the infallible measurer of the day. In Psalm 104:20 the description, which throughout is drawn in the presence of God in His honour, passes over into direct address: jussives (תּשׁת, ויהי) stand in the hypothetical protasis and in its apodosis (EW. 357, b). It depends upon God's willing only, and it is night, and the wakeful life of the wild beasts begins to be astir. The young lions then roar after their prey, and flagitaturi sunt a Deo cibum suum. The infinitive with Lamed is an elliptical expression of a conjugatio periphrastica (vid., on Habakkuk 1:17), and becomes a varying expression of the future in general in the later language in approximation to the Aramaic. The roar of the lions and their going forth in quest of prey is an asking of God which He Himself has implanted in their nature. With the rising of the sun the aspect of things becomes very different. שׁמשׁ is feminine here, where the poet drops the personification (cf. Psalm 19:1-14). The day which dawns with sunrise is the time for man. Both as to matter and style, Psalm 104:21 call to mind Job 24:5; Job 37:8; Job 38:40.
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