He spread a cloud for a covering; and fire to give light in the night.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Cloud.—As in Isaiah 4:5. The reason assigned for the cloud in the historical books is lost sight of. Instead of a pillar marking the line of march, or as a protection against the pursuing foe, it is a canopy for protection from the sun. Sir Walter Scott expresses the same idea in Rebecca’s hymn.Psalm 78:14. In Numbers 10:34; it is said that "the cloud of the Lord was upon them by day," and from this seems to have been derived the idea of its "covering" them, as if it were a protection from the heat in the desert.
40 The people asked, and he brought quails, and satisfied them with the of heaven.
41 He opened the rock, and the waters gushed out; they ran in the dry like a river.
42 For he remembered his holy promise, and Abraham his servant.
43 And he brought forth his people with joy, and his chosen with gladness:
44 And gave them the lands of the heathen and they inherited the labour of the people;
45 That they might observe his statutes, and keep his laws. Praise ye the Lord.
"He spread a cloud for a covering." Never people Were so favoured. What would not travellers in the desert now give for such a canopy? The sun could not scorch them with its burning ray; their whole camp was screened like a king in his pavilion. Nothing seemed to be too good for God to give his chosen nation, their comfort was studied in every way. "And fire to give light in the night." While cities were swathed in darkness, their town of tents enjoyed a light which modern art with all its appliances cannot equal. God himself was their sun and shield, their glory and their defence. Could they be unbelieving while so graciously shaded, or rebellious while they walked at midnight in such a light? Alas, the tale of their sin is as extraordinary as this story of his love; but this Psalm selects the happier theme and dwells only upon covenant love and faithfulness. O give thanks unto the Lord for he is good. We, too, have found the Lord all this to us, for he has been our sun and shield, and has preserved us alike from the perils of ivys and the evils of grief;
"He hath been my joy in woe,
Cheered my heart when it was low;
And with warnings softly sad
Calm'd my heart when it was glad."
So has the promise been fulfilled to us, "the sun shall not hurt thee by day, nor the moon by night."
continued...For a covering, to protect them from the heat of the sun, which in that hot and open country had otherwise been intolerable to them, especially in so long a journey. Exodus 13:20, though that seems to have been in an erect posture, and to go before the children of Israel to direct them in their journey, and not a covering to them. Kimchi says it was a covering to them when they rested, but not when they journeyed: but when they rested it only covered the tabernacle, not the people, for anything we read of it, Numbers 9:21, it looks as if there were more clouds than one, and indeed the Jews speak of many, and particularly make mention (e) of one that was over the heads of the Israelites, that the heat of the sun, and the hail and rain, might not have power over them; and of such use this cloud was, at least at certain times, if not always; a type of Christ, who is the covering and shelter of his people from the heat of the fiery law, of the flaming sword of justice, of the wrath of God, of the fiery darts of Satan, and of the fury of wicked men.
And fire, to give light in the night: this respects the pillar of fire which gave them light by night; an emblem of Christ, who is the light of his people, when it is a night season with them, as it sometimes is; a night of affliction and distress, of darkness and desertion, of temptation, of carnal security and sleepiness; when Christ arises as a light in darkness, and enlightens by his presence, by his Spirit, and by his word; as well as is as fire to warm, refresh, quicken, and comfort them when chill and cold, in such seasons.He spread a cloud for a covering; and fire to give light in the night.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)39. Exodus 13:21-22; Exodus 14:19-20. But here the cloud is regarded as a canopy to shelter them from the burning rays of the sun in the desert, rather than as a protection from the Egyptians. Cp. Isaiah 4:5-6.Verse 39. - He spread a cloud for a covering. The "pillar of the cloud" is intended. It was a "covering" to the Israelites on the night of the passage of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:19, 20), and perhaps also to some extent in the wilderness, when it may have sheltered them from the sun's rays (Hengstenberg); but its main purpose was to direct them on their way (Exodus 14:21), to tell them when to move and when to step, and how long to stop (Exodus 40:36-38). And fire to give light in the night. By night the "pillar of the cloud" became a "pillar of fire," shedding a certain radiance around, and giving the people under all circumstances sufficient light (Exodus 13:21; Exodus 40:38). Psalm 105:25 tells how the Egyptians became their "oppressors." It was indirectly God's work, inasmuch as He gave increasing might to His people, which excited their jealousy. The craft reached its highest pitch in the weakening of the Israelites that was aimed at by killing all the male children that were born. דּברי signifies facts, instances, as in Psalm 65:4; Psalm 145:5. Here, too, as in Psalm 78, the miraculous judgments of the ten plagues to not stand in exactly historical order. The poet begins with the ninth, which was the most distinct self-representation of divine wrath, viz., the darkness (Exodus 10:21-29): shā'lach chō'shech. The former word (שׁלח) has an orthophonic Gaja by the final syllable, which warns the reader audibly to utter the guttural of the toneless final syllable, which might here be easily slurred over. The Hiph. החשׁיך has its causative signification here, as also in Jeremiah 13:16; the contracted mode of writing with i instead of ı̂ may be occasioned by the Waw convers. Psalm 105:28 cannot be referred to the Egyptians; for the expression would be a mistaken one for the final compliance, which was wrung from them, and the interrogative way of taking it: nonne rebellarunt, is forced: the cancelling of the לא, however (lxx and Syriac), makes the thought halting. Hitzig proposes ולא שׁמרו: they observed not His words; but this, too, sounds flat and awkward when said of the Egyptians. The subject will therefore be the same as the subject of שׂמוּ; and of Moses and Aaron, in contrast to the behaviour at Mê-Merı̂bah (Numbers 20:24; Numbers 27:14; cf. 1 Kings 13:21, 1 Kings 13:26), it is said that this time they rebelled not against the words (Ker, without any ground: the word) of God, but executed the terrible commands accurately and willingly. From the ninth plague the poet in Psalm 105:29 passes over to the first (Exodus 7:14-25), viz., the red blood is appended to the black darkness. The second plague follows, viz., the frogs (Exodus 8:1-15); Psalm 105:20 looks as though it were stunted, but neither has the lxx read any ויבאו (ויעלו), Exodus 7:28. In Psalm 105:31 he next briefly touches upon the fourth plague, viz., the gad-fly, ערב, lxx κυνόμυια (Exodus 8:20-32, vid., on Psalm 78:45), and the third (Exodus 8:16-19), viz., the gnats, which are passed over in Psalm 78. From the third plague the poet in Psalm 105:32, Psalm 105:33 takes a leap over to the seventh, viz., the hail (Exodus 9:13-35). In Psalm 105:32 he has Exodus 9:24 before his mind, according to which masses of fire descended with the hail; and in Psalm 105:33 (as in Psalm 78:47) he fills in the details of Exodus 9:25. The seventh plague is followed by the eighth in Psalm 105:34, Psalm 105:35, viz., the locust (Exodus 10:1-20), to which ילק (the grasshopper) is the parallel word here, just as חסיל (the cricket) is in Psalm 78:46. The expression of innumerableness is the same as in Psalm 104:25. The fifth plague, viz., the pestilence, murrain (Exodus 9:1-7), and the sixth, viz., שׁחין, boils (Exodus 9:8-12), are left unmentioned; and the tenth plague closes, viz., the smiting of the first-born (Exodus 11:1.), which Psalm 105:36 expresses in the Asaphic language of Psalm 78:51. Without any mention of the institution of the Passover, the tenth plague is followed by the departure with the vessels of silver and gold asked for from the Egyptians (Exodus 12:35; Exodus 11:2; Exodus 3:22). The Egyptians were glad to get rid of the people whose detention threatened them with total destruction (Exodus 12:33). The poet here draws from Isaiah 5:27; Isaiah 14:31; Isaiah 63:13, and Exodus 15:16. The suffix of שׁבטיו refers to the chief subject of the assertion, viz., to God, according to Psalm 122:4, although manifestly enough the reference to Israel is also possible (Numbers 24:2).
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