Psalm 104:29
Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.
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(29) Thou hidest Thy face.—Elsewhere an image of displeasure, here only of withdrawal of providential care. (See Psalm 30:7, where the expression “troubled” also occurs.)

Thou takest away their breath.—Not only is the food which sustains animal life dependent on the ceaseless providence of God, but even the very breath of life is His, to be sent forth or withdrawn at His will. But to this thought, derived of course from Genesis (comp. Psalm 90:3, Note), the poet adds another. The existence of death is not a sorrow to him any more than it is a mystery. To the psalmist it is only the individual that dies; the race lives. One generation fades as God’s breath is withdrawn, but another succeeds as it is sent forth.

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.Thou hidest thy face - As if God turned away from them; as if he was displeased with them; as if he withdrew from them the tokens of his friendship and favor.

They are troubled - They are confounded; they are overwhelmed with terror and amazement. The word "troubled" by no means conveys the sense of the original word - בהל bâhal - which means properly to tremble; to be in trepidation; to be filled with terror; to be amazed; to be confounded. It is that kind of consternation which one has when all support and protection are withdrawn, and when inevitable ruin stares one in the face. So when God turns away, all their support is gone; all their resources "fail, and they must die." They are represented as conscious of this; or, this is what would occur if they were conscious.

Thou takest away their breath - Withdrawing that which thou gavest to them.

They die, and return to their dust - Life ends when thou dost leave them, and they return again to earth. So it is also with man. When God withdraws from him, nothing remains for him "but to die."

27-30. The entire dependence of this immense family on God is set forth. With Him, to kill or make alive is equally easy. To hide His face is to withdraw favor (Ps 13:1). By His spirit, or breath, or mere word, He gives life. It is His constant providence which repairs the wastes of time and disease. Thou hidest thy face, when thou withdrawest or suspendest the favour and care of thy providence.

Troubled; dejected and distressed.

Takest away; so this word is used, Hosea 4:3 Zephaniah 1:2, and elsewhere.

To their dust; to the earth, from whence they had their first original.

Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled,.... God may be said to hide his face from the creatures when he withholds their food from them, when there is a scarcity of provisions, a famine in the land; when there is no pasture for them to feed on, nor brooks of water to drink of; then are they troubled or perplexed, as in Joel 1:18 and know not what to do, nor where to go for help, but faint, and sink, and die. So in a spiritual sense when God hides his face from his people, removes his Shechinah, or divine Majesty and Presence, as the Targum here; and withdraws the influences of his grace and Spirit; or when they have no food for their souls, or what they have is not blessed, then are they troubled, Psalm 30:7.

Thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust; their original dust, from whence they sprung, as man himself does; the breath of all is from the Lord; he gives it to his creatures, and when he pleases he takes it away; and when he does, they die and become dust again.

Thou {p} hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.

(p) As by your presence all things have life; so if you withdraw your blessings they all perish.

29. All creatures depend upon God for life as well as food. The breath or spirit of God is the source of the life-breath of His creatures. The Psalmist probably had Job 34:14-15 in his mind. Cp. Acts 17:25; Colossians 1:17. The ‘hiding’ of God’s face is usually the symbol of His wrath; but here it denotes rather the withdrawal of His sustaining power. Cp. Psalm 30:7.

thou takest away their breath] Or, thou gatherest in, withdrawing the spirit lent for a time (Ecclesiastes 12:7), so that they expire, and their bodies return to the dust whence they were taken (Genesis 3:19).

Verse 29. - Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled. If God withdraws the light of his countenance from any living thing, instantly it feels the loss. It is "troubled," cast down, confounded (comp. Psalm 30:7). Thou takest away their breath, they die. As the living things have life from God, so they have death from him. Not one of them perishes but he knows it, and causes it or allows it (see Matthew 10:29). And return to their dust. Return, i.e., to the dead matter out of which they were created. Psalm 104:29Fixing his eye upon the sea with its small and great creatures, and the care of God for all self-living beings, the poet passes over to the fifth and sixth days of creation. The rich contents of this sixth group flow over and exceed the decastich. With מה־רבּוּ (not מה־גּדלוּ, Psalm 92:6) the poet expresses his wonder at the great number of God's works, each one at the same time having its adjustment in accordance with its design, and all, mutually serving one another, co-operating one with another. קנין, which signifies both bringing forth and acquiring, has the former meaning here according to the predicate: full of creatures, which bear in themselves the traces of the Name of their Creator (קנה). Beside קיניך, however, we also find the reading קנינך, which is adopted by Norzi, Heidenheim, and Baer, represented by the versions (lxx, Vulgate, and Jerome), by expositors (Rashi: קנין שׁלּך), by the majority of the MSS (according to Norzi) and old printed copies, which would signify τῆς κτίσεώς σου, or according to the Latin versions κτήσεώς σου (possessione tua, Luther "they possessions"), but is inferior to the plural ktisma'toon σου, as an accusative of the object to מלאה. The sea more particularly is a world of moving creatures innumerable (Psalm 69:35). זה היּם does not properly signify this sea, but that sea, yonder sea (cf. Psalm 68:9, Isaiah 23:13; Joshua 9:13). The attributes follow in an appositional relation, the looseness of which admits of the non-determination (cf. Psalm 68:28; Jeremiah 2:21; Genesis 43:14, and the reverse case above in Psalm 104:18). אניּה .) in relation to אני is a nomen unitatis (the single ship). It is an old word, which is also Egyptian in the form hani and ana.

(Note: Vide Chabas, Le papyrus magique Harris, p. 246, No. 826: HANI (אני), vaisseau, navire, and the Book of the Dead 1. 10, where hani occurs with the determinative picture of a ship. As to the form ana, vid., Chabas loc. cit. p. 33.)

Leviathan, in the Book of Job, the crocodile, is in this passage the name of the whale (vid., Lewysohn, Zoologie des Talmuds, 178-180, 505). Ewald and Hitzig, with the Jewish tradition, understand בּו in Psalm 104:26 according to Job 41:5 : in order to play with him, which, however, gives no idea that is worthy of God. It may be taken as an alternative word for שׁם (cf. בּו in Psalm 104:20, Job 40:20): to play therein, viz., in the sea (Saadia). In כּלּם, Psalm 104:27, the range of vision is widened from the creatures of the sea to all the living things of the earth; cf. the borrowed passages Psalm 145:15., Psalm 147:9. כּלּם, by an obliteration of the suffix, signifies directly "altogether," and בּעתּו (cf. Job 38:32): when it is time for it. With reference to the change of the subject in the principal and in the infinitival clause, vid., Ew. 338, a. The existence, passing away, and origin of all beings is conditioned by God. His hand provides everything; the turning of His countenance towards them upholds everything; and His breath, the creative breath, animates and renews all things. The spirit of life of every creature is the disposing of the divine Spirit, which hovered over the primordial waters and transformed the chaos into the cosmos. תּסף in Psalm 104:29 is equivalent to תּאסף, as in 1 Samuel 15:6, and frequently. The full future forms accented on the ultima, from Psalm 104:27 onwards, give emphasis to the statements. Job 34:14. may be compared with Psalm 104:29.

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