Psalm 115:16
The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD's: but the earth has he given to the children of men.
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Psalm 115:16. The heavens are the Lord’s — Namely, in a peculiar manner, where he dwelleth in that light and glory to which no man can approach, and whence he beholdeth and disposeth of all persons and things upon earth. But the earth — Or, and the earth; he hath given to the children of men — For their habitation, possession, and use. Thus, as the foregoing verse declared that God was the Creator of heaven and earth, so this asserts that he is also their Lord and Governor, and can dispose of them, and of all men and things, as he pleases.115:9-18 It is folly to trust in dead images, but it is wisdom to trust in the living God, for he is a help and a shield to those that trust in him. Wherever there is right fear of God, there may be cheerful faith in him; those who reverence his word, may rely upon it. He is ever found faithful. The greatest need his blessing, and it shall not be denied to the meanest that fear him. God's blessing gives an increase, especially in spiritual blessings. And the Lord is to be praised: his goodness is large, for he has given the earth to the children of men for their use. The souls of the faithful, after they are delivered from the burdens of the flesh, are still praising him; but the dead body cannot praise God: death puts an end to our glorifying him in this world of trial and conflict. Others are dead, and an end is thereby put to their service, therefore we will seek to do the more for God. We will not only do it ourselves, but will engage others to do it; to praise him when we are gone. Lord, thou art the only object for faith and love. Help us to praise thee while living and when dying, that thy name may be the first and last upon our lips: and let the sweet savour of thy name refresh our souls for ever.The heaven - Hebrew, "The heavens."

Even the heavens are the Lord's - A more literal and correct rendering of this would be, "The heavens are heavens for Jehovah." That is, he has reserved the heavens as a home for himself, or as his special possession and home. Compare Isaiah 66:1; Matthew 5:34; Acts 7:49.

But the earth ... - He propared earth for the abode of man; he has placed man upon it to cultivate it; he has given its fruits and productions to man, to be held and enjoyed by man; he has made all on earth subject to man - the dwellers in the air, the land, and the waters. All this he has given to man; not to the angels. Earth is the home of man, the birth-place of man; the place where he lives, where he shows the result of his toil, his skill, and his ingenuity; the place where he builds houses, bridges, monuments, works of art; the place where he prepares for another state of existence; the place where he dies, and is buried. It is, as formed by the Creator, a beautiful home outfitted for mankind; how much more beautiful would it be, if man never defiled or desolated it by sin! how happy an abode would it have been if sin had never entered it!

15-17. They were not only God's peculiar people, but as living inhabitants of earth, assigned the work of His praise as monuments of divine power, wisdom, and goodness.16 The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord's: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.

"The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord's." There he specially reigns, and manifests his greatness and his glory: "but the earth hath he given to the children of men." He hath left the world during the present dispensation in a great measure under the power and will of men, so that things are not here below in the same perfect order as the things which are above. It is true the Lord rules over all things by his providence, but yet he allows and permits men to break his laws and persecute his people for the time being, and to set up their dumb idols in opposition to him. The free agency which he gave to his creatures necessitated that in some degree he should restrain his power and suffer the children of men to follow their own devices; yet nevertheless, since he has not vacated heaven, he is still master of earth, and can at any time gather up all the reins into his own hands. Perhaps however, the passage is meant to have another meaning, viz., that God will increase his people, because he has given the earth to them, and intends that they shall fill it. Man was constituted originally God's vicegerent over the world, and though so yet we see not all things put under him, we see Jesus exalted on high, and in him the children of men shall receive a loftier dominion even. on earth than as yet they have known. "The meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace": and our Lord Jesus shall reign amongst his ancients gloriously. All this will reflect the exceeding glory of him who reveals himself personally in heaven, and in the mystical body of Christ below. The earth belongs, to the sons of God, and we are bound to subdue it for our Lord Jesus, for he must reign. The Lord hath given him the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession.

Are the Lord’s, to wit, in a peculiar manner, where he dwelleth in that light and glory to which no man can approach, and whence he beholdeth and disposeth all persons and things upon earth.

But the earth hath he given to the children of men, for their habitation, possession, and use. But these words may be and are thus rendered by others, and the earth which (which particle is very oft understood) he hath given, &c. And then as the foregoing verse declared that God was the Creator of heaven and earth, Psalm 115:15, so this asserts that he is also their Lord and Governor, to dispose of all men and things as he pleaseth. The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord's,.... Not only the visible heavens, the airy and starry regions, which are within our sight; but the heaven of heavens, the third heaven, into which the Apostle Paul was caught, and heard and saw things not to be uttered; and which is, as the Targum expresses it,

"for the majesty of the glory of the Lord:''

he is the maker, owner, proprietor, and possessor of them all: but the third heaven is more especially the seat of his majesty; where he has prepared the throne of his glory, where he keeps court; where his ministers, his angels, wait upon him, observe his orders, and execute his will; and which he has prepared for his saints to dwell with him in to all eternity.

But the earth hath he given to the children of men; to Adam and his posterity, to dwell in it, to till it, and enjoy the fruits of it; yet so as not to leave it entirely to the care of men, and have no concern in it, and the affairs of it, as some licentious persons would from hence conclude; as if God had took the heavens to himself, and only minded the persons and things in that, and never concerned himself about the earth, and persons and things there; having disposed of it to the children of men, and left it to their conduct: for though he has given it to them for their use, yet he has still a claim upon it, and can and does dispose of it, and order all things in it, according to his pleasure; and men, from the highest to the lowest, are accountable to him, being but stewards, and at most but deputies and viceroys, under him: besides the words may be rendered, "and the earth which he hath given to the children of men" (a); that is his also, as well as the heavens. This the Lord gives to the children of men as their portion; and sad is the case of such, when this is their all; but to his own children he gives heaven, the kingdom of heaven, eternal glory and happiness. Maimonides (b) gives the sense of the whole passage thus;

"God only perfectly knows the truth, nature, substance, form, motion, and causes of the heavens: and to man he has given, that he may understand what are under the heavens; because they are the world, and as it were his house, in which he dwells, and of which he is a part.''

(a) So Junius & Tremellius. (b) Moreh Nevochim, par. 2. c. 24. p. 256.

The {k} heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD'S: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.

(k) And they declare enough his sufficiency so that the world serves him nothing, but to show his fatherly care toward men.

16. The closing words of Psalm 115:15 are developed. The heaven is Jehovah’s heaven; He has made it for His own dwelling-place (Psalm 115:3; Psalm 2:4); He is “the God of heaven” (Psalm 136:26; and often in the Aramaic of Ezra and Daniel). The LXX renders ungrammatically, ‘the heaven of heaven’ (Vulg. caelum caeli); hence P.B.V. ‘all the whole heavens.’

the earth &c.] Cp. Isaiah 45:18.Verse 16. - The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord's; literally, the heavens are heavens of Jehovah. They belong to him - he dwells there; but it is otherwise with the earth. But the earth hath he given to the children of men. For man God framed this fair world; to man's use he adapted it with minutest care; and certainly not least for his own people, who are "the salt of the earth" - the human race by representation. After this confession of Israel there now arises a voice that addresses itself to Israel. The threefold division into Israel, the house of Aaron, and those who fear Jahve is the same as in Psalm 118:2-4. In Psalm 135 the "house of Levi" is further added to the house of Aaron. Those who fear Jahve, who also stand in the last passage, are probably the proselytes (in the Acts of the Apostles σεβόμενοι τὸν Θεόν, or merely σεβόμενοι)

(Note: The appellation φοβούμενοι does not however occur, if we do not bring Acts 10:2 in here; but in Latin inscriptions in Orelli-Hentzen No. 2523, and in Auer in the Zeitschrift fr katholische Theologie 1852, S. 80, the proselyte (religionis Judaicae) is called metuens.))

at any rate these are included even if Israel in Psalm 115:9 is meant to signify the laity, for the notion of "those who fear Jahve" extends beyond Israel. The fact that the threefold refrain of the summons does not run, as in Psalm 33:20, our help and shield is He, is to be explained from its being an antiphonal song. In so far, however, as the Psalm supplicates God's protection and help in a campaign the declaration of confident hope, their help and shield is He, may, with Hitzig, be referred to the army that is gone or is going forth. It is the same voice which bids Israel to be of good courage and announces to the people the well-pleased acceptance of the sacrifice with the words "Jahve hath been mindful of us" (זכרנוּ ה, cf. עתּה ידעתּי, Psalm 20:7), perhaps simultaneously with the presentation of the memorial portion (אזכרה) of the meat-offering (Psalm 38:1). The יברך placed at the head is particularized threefold, corresponding to the threefold summons. The special promise of blessing which is added in Psalm 115:14 is an echo of Deuteronomy 1:11, as in 2 Samuel 24:3. The contracted future יסף we take in a consolatory sense; for as an optative it would be too isolated here. In spite of all oppression on the part of the heathen, God will make His people ever more numerous, more capable of offering resistance, and more awe-inspiring.

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