Psalm 104:22
The sun rises, they gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(22) Lay them down.—With sunrise all is changed. The Wild animals, with their savage instincts, give way to man with his orderly habits and arranged duties. The curse of labour, on which the account in Genesis dwells, is here entirely out of sight, and instead there appears the “poetry of labour.” And if all sense of the primal curse has disappeared, the later curse, which lies so heavy on the modern generations of overworked men,

“Who make perpetual moan,

Still from one labour to another thrown,”

has not appeared. The day brings only healthy toil, and the evening happy rest.

Psalm 104:22-23. The sun ariseth — For as he knows the time of his going down, so, thanks be to God, he knows the proper time of his rising, and then the wild beasts gather themselves together — Or, rather, withdraw themselves, or retire, as יאספו, jeaseephu, may be rendered; and lay them down in their dens — Which is a great mercy to mankind, who can now go forth with security and confidence, and perform unmolested the task assigned them by their Maker. Thus, “when the light of truth and righteousness shineth, error and iniquity fly away before it, and the roaring lion himself departeth for a time. Then the Christian goeth forth to the work of his salvation, and to his labour of love, until the evening of old age warns him to prepare for his last repose, in faith of a joyful resurrection.” — Horne.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.The sun ariseth - A new scene in this endless variety of incidents in a world full of life and beauty. The psalmist sees the light break in the east, and the sun appear above the horizon - and the whole scene is changed. The animals that had gone forth at night are seen to return again to their hiding-places, and man in his turn Psalm 104:23 is seen to go forth to his daily toil.

They gather themselves together - Though scattered in the night, when light returns, they all bend their steps to the places where they are accustomed to repose in the daytime. The scene is most beautiful. At night they sally forth for their prey; when the morning light returns, they all retrace their steps to the places in dens and caverns where they pass the day, and there they repose in silence until night returns again.

20-23. He provides and adapts to man's wants the appointed times and seasons. Or rather, they retire or betake themselves; for the lions do not commonly go in companies to one place, but severally, each to his own den. The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together,.... Having gone some one way, some another, seeking their prey; but upon the sun's rising gather together in order to return from whence they came, abhorring the light of the sun, as some creatures do, and fearing being hunted and taken by men, the fear of whom is still in some measure upon the beasts of the field, Genesis 9:2. So wicked men do not care for the light of the day, nor do false teachers choose to come to the light of the word; these owls and bats, these, as Tertullian calls them; and Satan himself chooses to set upon persons when they are in darkness, and in melancholy and disconsolate frames; and is afraid of believers, when they put on the armour of light, especially the shield of faith, and resist him with it, then he flees from them.

And lay them down in their dens; for rest and safety, and to feed themselves and young ones with the ravin they bring with them; see Sol 4:8.

The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
22. they gather themselves together] Better as R.V., they get them away.Verses 22, 23. - The sun ariseth. Bright beams of light flame up the eastern sky; and earth basks in the sun's smile. But it is a signal to the lions and the other wild beasts to withdraw. They gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens. Hiding themselves from the eye of day, and retreating into places where they are safe. Then it is the turn of humanity to reappear. Humanity wakes up; and man goeth forth auto his work and to his labour uutil the evening; i.e. man proceeds to his appointed task, which is "work" - once a curse (Genesis 3:17-19), now a blessing (Ephesians 4:28). In the fourth decastich the poet goes further among the creatures of the field and of the forest. The subject to להוציא is מצמיח. The clause expressing the purpose, which twice begins with an infinitive, is continued in both instances, as in 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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