You make darkness, and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Creep forth.—The word “forth” is better omitted. The Hebrew verb is that especially used of crawling animals and reptiles, and here, no doubt, his chosen to express the stealthy motion of the beasts when on the track of their prey. (See Psalm 104:25; comp. Job 37:8; Job 38:40.)Psalm 104:20. Thou makest darkness — Which succeeds the light, by virtue of thy decree and established order; and it is night — Which, though black and dismal, contributes to the beauty of nature, and is as a foil to the light of the day. Wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth — To seek their prey, which they are afraid to do in the day-time, God having put the fear and dread of man upon them, (Genesis 9:2,) which contributes as much to man’s safety as to his honour. Thus, by this vicissitude of day and night, God hath wisely and mercifully provided, both for men, that they may follow their daily labours without danger from wild beasts, and for the beasts, that they may procure a subsistence.
Wherein all the beasts of the forest - The margin is, "the beasts thereof do trample on the forest." The reference is to the beasts which seek their prey at night.
Do creep forth - The Hebrew word used here means properly "to creep," as the smaller animals do, which have feet, as mice, lizards, crabs, or as those do which glide or drag themselves upon the ground, having no feet, as worms and serpents. Genesis 1:21, Genesis 1:26, Genesis 1:28, Genesis 1:30; Genesis 9:2. The allusion here is to the quiet and noiseless manner in which the animals come forth at night in search of their prey, or seem to crawl out of their hiding-places - the places where they conceal themselves in the day-time. The idea is, that the arrangements which God has made in regard to day and night are wisely adapted to the animals which he has placed on the earth. The earth is full of animated beings, accomplishing by day and night the purposes of their existence.Darkness; which succeeds the light by virtue of thy decree and established order.
Creep forth, to look out for prey, which in the day time they dare not do for fear of men. So by this vicissitude of day and night God hath wisely and mercifully provided both for men, that they may follow their day labours without danger from wild beasts, and for the beasts, that they may procure a subsistence. Genesis 1:2 and now the darkness and night are made by the setting of the sun before mentioned; see Isaiah 45:7.
Wherein all the beasts of the field do creep forth; out of their dens, and range about for their prey, as the evening wolves and others: and these are not the only creatures that choose the night and darkness; all wicked men do the same; whose deeds are evil, and do not care to come to the light, lest they should be reproved; particularly drunkards, adulterers, thieves, and murderers, John 3:20. So the Scribes and Pharisees, when they consulted to take away the life of Christ, and agreed with Judas to betray him, did it in the night: so false teachers, who are wolves in sheep's clothing, when it is a night of darkness with the church, take the advantage of it, to creep about and spread their pernicious doctrines; see 2 Timothy 3:6.Thou makest darkness, and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verses 20, 21. - Thou makest darkness, and it is night. The mention of the moon and sun introduces a picture of night (vers. 20, 21) and a picture of the day (vers. 22, 23). The day draws in - darkness descends - night is come. At once there is a stir in the animal world. Man has gone to his rest; but the time is arrived wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth. The primeval jungle is alive with motion and sound. All the animals are on the alert. seeking their prey. The young lions are heard above all; they roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God. The awful sound of their hungry roar drowns almost all other sounds, and shakes with terror the hearts of those that hear. Suddenly, however, night turns into day - Isaiah 13:9, but with a change of subject (cf. e.g., Amos 1:11; Amos 2:4), in the finite verb. On what is said of wine we may compare Ecclesiastes 10:19, Sir. 40:20, and more especially Isaiah, who frequently mentions wine as a representative of all the natural sources of joy. The assertion that משּׁמן signifies "before oil equals brighter than oil," is an error that is rightly combated by Bttcher in his Proben and two of his "Gleanings,"
(Note: Proben, i.e., Specimens of Old Testament interpretation, Leipzig 1833, and Aehrenlese (Gleanings), referred to in the preface of these volumes. - Tr.)
which imputes to the poet a mention of oil that is contrary to his purpose in this connection wand inappropriate. Corn, wine, and oil are mentioned as the three chief products of the vegetable kingdom (Luther, Calvin, Grotius, Dathe, and Hupfeld), and are assumed under עשׂב in Psalm 104:14, as is also the case in other instances where distinction would be superfluous, e.g., in Exodus 9:22. With oil God makes the countenance shining, or bright and cheerful, not by means of anointing-since it was not the face but the head that was anointed (Matthew 6:17), - but by the fact of its increasing the savouriness and nutritiveness of the food. להצהיל is chosen with reference to יצהר. In Psalm 104:15 לבב־אנושׁ does not stand after, as in Psalm 104:15 (where it is לבב־ with Gaja on account of the distinctive), but before the verb, because לבב as that which is inward stands in antithesis to פנים as that which is outside. Since the fertilization of the earth by the rain is the chief subject of the predication in Psalm 104:13, Psalm 104:16 is naturally attached to what precedes without arousing critical suspicion. That which satisfies is here the rain itself, and not, as in Psalm 104:13, that which the rain matures. The "trees of Jahve" are those which before all others proclaim the greatness of their Creator. אשׁר־שׁם refers to these trees, of which the cedars and then the cypresses (ברושׁים, root בר, to cut) are mentioned. They are places where small and large birds build their nests and lodge, more particularly the stork, which is called the חסידה as being πτηνῶν εὐσεβέστατον ζώων (Barbrius, Fab. xiii.), as avis pia (pietaticultrix in Petronius, Leviticus 6), i.e., on account of its love of family life, on account of which it is also regarded as bringing good fortune to a house.
(Note: In the Merg& district, where the stork is not called leklek as it is elsewhere, but charnuk[ on account of its bill like a long horn (Arab. chrn) standing out in front, the women and children call it Arab. 'bû sa‛d, "bringer of good luck." Like the חסידה, the long-legged carrion-vulture (Vultur percnopterus) or mountain-stork, ὀρειπελαργός, is called רחם (Arab. rḥm) on account of its στοργή.)
The care of God for the lodging of His creatures leads the poet from the trees to the heights of the mountains and the hiding-places of the rocks, in a manner that is certainly abrupt and that disturbs the sketch taken from the account of the creation. הגּבהים is an apposition. יעל (Arabic wa‛il) is the steinboc, wild-goat, as being an inhabitant of יעל (wa‛l, wa‛la), i.e., the high places of the rocks, as יען, Lamentations 4:3, according to Wetzstein, is the ostrich as being an inhabitant of the wa‛na, i.e., the sterile desert; and שׁפן is the rock-badger, which dwells in the clefts of the rocks (Proverbs 30:26), and resembles the marmot - South Arabic Arab. tufun, Hyrax Syriacus (distinct from the African). By שׁפן the Jewish tradition understand the coney, after which the Peshto here renders it לחגסא (חגס, cuniculus). Both animals, the coney and the rock-badger, may be meant in Leviticus 11:5; Deuteronomy 14:7; for the sign of the cloven hoof (פּרסה שׁסוּעה) is wanting in both. The coney has four toes, and the hyrax has a peculiar formation of hoof, not cloven, but divided into several parts.
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