Who cover yourself with light as with a garment: who stretch out the heavens like a curtain:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Who coverest.—Perhaps better with the participles of the original retained:
Putting on light as a robe;
Spreading the heavens as a curtain.
The psalmist does not think of the formation of light as of a single past act, but as a continued glorious operation of Divine power and splendour. Not only is light as to the modern poet,
“Nature’s resplendent robe,
Without whose vesting beauty all were wrapt
In unessential gloom,”
but it is the dress of Divinity, the “ethereal woof” that God Himself is for ever weaving for His own wear.
Curtain.—Especially of a tent (see Song of Solomon 1:5, &c.), the tremulous movement of its folds being expressed in the Hebrew word. Different explanations have been given of the figure. Some see an allusion to the curtains of the Tabernacle (Exodus 26, 27). The associations of this ritual were dear to a religious Hebrew, and he may well have had in his mind the rich folds of the curtain of the Holy of Holies. So a modern poet speaks of
“The arras-folds, that variegate
The earth, God’s ante-chamber.
Herder, again, refers the image to the survival of the nomadic instinct. But there is no need to put a limit to a figure so natural and suggestive. Possibly images of palace, temple, and tent, all combined, rose to the poet’s thought, as in Shelley’s “Ode to Heaven”:—
“Palace roof of cloudless nights!
Paradise of golden lights!
Deep immeasurable vast,
Which art now, and which wert then;
Of the present and the past,
Of the Eternal where and when,
Presence-chamber, temple, home,
Of acts and ages yet to come!”Genesis 1:3, "And God said, Let there be light, and there was light." He seemed to put on light as a garment; he himself appeared as if invested with light. It was the first "manifestation" of God. He seemed at once to have put on light as his robe.
Who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain - As an expanse spread over us. The word used here means a curtain or hanging, so called from its tremulous motion, from a word meaning to tremble. Thus it is applied to a curtain before a door; to a tent, etc. It is applied here to the heavens, as they seem to be "spread out" like the curtains of a tent, as if God had spread them out for a tent for himself to dwell in. See the notes at Isaiah 40:22.
stretchest out the heavens—the visible heavens or sky which cover the earth as a curtain (Isa 40:12).Coverest, or adornest, or clothest. With light; either,
1. With that light which no man can approach unto, as it is called 1 Timothy 6:16, wherewith therefore he may well be said to be covered or hid from the eyes of mortal men. Or rather,
2. With that first-created light, Genesis 1:3, which the psalmist fitly puts in the first place, as being the first of God’s visible works.
Like a curtain; the use whereof it hath, partly in reference to that glorious mansion of the blessed God and his holy angels, which these visible heavens (far above which it is, Ephesians 4:10) do veil and cover; and partly in reference to the earth, which they enclose and protect. 1 John 1:5. and to whom this term "light" well agrees; Light being one of the names of the Messiah in the Old Testament, Psalm 43:3, and is often given him in the New Testament, as the author of the light of nature, grace, and glory, John 1:9. He is now possessed of the light and glory of the heavenly state, of which his transfiguration on the mount was an emblem, when his face shone like the sun, and his raiment was as the light, Matthew 17:2.
Who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain; alluding to the firmament or expanse, which, being spread out like a curtain, divided between the waters and the waters, Genesis 1:6. Heaven is represented as a tent stretched out, with curtains drawn around it, to hide the dazzling and unapproachable light in which the Lord dwells, Isaiah 40:22 and it is as a curtain or canopy stretched out and encompassing this earth; the stretching of it out belongs to God alone, and is a proof of the deity of Christ, to whom it is here and elsewhere ascribed, Job 9:8. Here Christ dwells invisible to us at present; he is received up into heaven, retained there, and from thence will descend at the last day; and in the mean while is within the curtains of heaven, unseen by us.Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)2. Light, the first created element, is as it were God’s robe, revealing while it conceals Him. Nothing can serve better as the expression of His Nature (1 John 1:5; 1 Timothy 6:16). Light is universally diffused; it is the condition of life, the source of gladness, the emblem of purity.
who stretchest out &c.] Cp. Isaiah 40:22. The canopy of the sky is compared to a tent-curtain, stretched out over the earth. By His simple fiat God spread out these heavens as easily as a man might pitch his tent. Their vastness is a symbol of the majesty of the King Who dwells in His royal pavilion, Whom yet “heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain.”
Observe the present participles, covering thyself, stretching out. The original act of creation is regarded as continued into the present in the maintenance of the universe.Verse 2. - Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment. Light was the first thing created (Genesis 1:3), before either the heaven (Genesis 1:6-8) or the earth (Genesis 1:9, 10). In light God, the invisible, as it were, enshrouds himself, making it the image of his hidden glory. Who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain; or, "a canopy" (comp. Isaiah 40:22; Isaiah 42:5; Isaiah 44:25). The metaphor is taken from the stretching out or "spreading out" of a tent (see Isaiah 40:22). Psalm 90:5., cf. Isaiah 40:6-8; Isaiah 51:12; that of the flower, Job 14:2. אנושׁ is man as a mortal being; his life's duration is likened to that of a blade of grass, and his beauty and glory to a flower of the field, whose fullest bloom is also the beginning of its fading. In Psalm 103:16 בּו (the same as in Isaiah 40:7.) refers to man, who is compared to grass and flowers. כּי is ἐάν with a hypothetical perfect; and the wind that scorches up the plants, referred to man, is an emblem of every form of peril that threatens life: often enough it is really a breath of wind which snaps off a man's life. The bold designation of vanishing away without leaving any trace, "and his place knoweth him no more," is taken from Job 7:10, cf. ibid. Job 8:18; Job 20:9. In the midst of this plant-like, frail destiny, there is, however, one strong ground of comfort. There is an everlasting power, which raises all those who link themselves with it above the transitoriness involved in nature's laws, and makes them eternal like itself. This power is the mercy of God, which spans itself above (על) all those who fear Him like an eternal heaven. This is God's righteousness, which rewards faithful adherence to His covenant and conscientious fulfilment of His precepts in accordance with the order of redemption, and shows itself even to (ל) children's children, according to Exodus 20:6; Exodus 34:7; Deuteronomy 7:9 : on into a thousand generations, i.e., into infinity.
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