Psalm 19:4
Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them has he set a tabernacle for the sun,
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(4) Their line.—Heb., kav, a cord, used of a plummet line (Zechariah 1:16); a measuring cord (Jeremiah 31:39, where also same verb, gone forth). In Isaiah 28:10, the word is used ethically for a definition or law. But neither of these seems very appropriate here. The verse wants sound or voice, and words of this intention actually appear in the LXX., Vulg., Symmachus, Jerome, and the Syriac.

The use which St. Paul makes of these words (Romans 10:18) is as natural as striking. The march of truth has always been compared to the spread of light. But the allegorical interpretation based on the quotation, making the heavens a figure of the Church and the sun of the Gospel, loses the force and beauty of the Apostle’s application.

In them hath . . .—This clause is not only rightly joined to Psalm 19:4, but concludes a stanza: the relative in the next verse of the Authorised Version mars the true construction.

A tabernacle.—The tent-chamber into which the sun retired after his day’s journey, and from which he started in the morn, Aurora, or dawn (according to Grecian mythology) drawing back the curtains for his departure, was naturally a conception common to all nations. That the phenomena of sunset should engage the poet’s attention before those of sunrise was inevitable in a race who reckoned “the evening and the morning were the first day.” The LXX. and Vulg. completely spoil the picture by rendering “he hath pitched his tent in the sun.”

Psalm 19:4-5. Their line — Their admirable structure, made with great exactness, and, as it were, by rule or line, as the word קו, kav, here used, generally signifies. Or, their lines, the singular number being put for the plural, that is, their writing, made up of several lines. In this sense, the very same word is taken, Isaiah 28:10. And thus understood here, the expression is peculiarly proper, because, as has just been intimated, the heavens and other works of God do not teach men with an audible voice, or by speaking to their ears, but visibly, by exhibiting things to their eyes, which is done in lines, or writing, or by draughts or delineations, as the Hebrew word may also be rendered. Their line, in this sense, is gone out — Is spread abroad, through all the earth — So as to be seen and read by all the inhabitants of it; and their words — Their magnificent appearance, their exquisite order, their regular course, and their significant actions and operations, by which they declare their Author no less intelligibly than men make known their minds by their words; to the end of the world — To the remotest parts of the globe. “The instruction which they disperse abroad is as universal as their substance, which extends itself over all the earth. And hereby they proclaim to all nations the power and wisdom, the mercy and loving-kindness, of the Lord. The apostle’s commission was the same with that of the heavens; and St. Paul has applied the natural images of this verse to the manifestation of the light of life by the preaching of those who were sent forth for that purpose.” — Horne. In them — In the heavens, hath he set a tabernacle for the sun — Which, being the most illustrious and useful of all the heavenly bodies, is here particularly mentioned. By the Creator’s setting a tabernacle, or fixing a tent, for it, he seems to intend his collecting together, and condensing into one body, the solar light, which, it seems, from Genesis 1:3; Genesis 1:14-18, was at first diffused abroad, in equal portions, over and around the new-made world. Which is as a bridegroom — Gloriously adorned with light, as with a beautiful garment, and smiling upon the world with a pleasant countenance; coming out of his chamber — In which he is poetically supposed to have rested all night, and thence to break forth, as it were, on a sudden. And rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race — Who, conscious of, and confiding in, his own strength, and promising himself victory, and the glory that attends it, starts for the prize with great vigour and alacrity. Dr. Dodd thinks the comparison is taken from the vehemence and force wherewith a warrior runs toward his enemy.19:1-6 The heavens so declare the glory of God, and proclaim his wisdom, power, and goodness, that all ungodly men are left without excuse. They speak themselves to be works of God's hands; for they must have a Creator who is eternal, infinitely wise, powerful, and good. The counter-changing of day and night is a great proof of the power of God, and calls us to observe, that, as in the kingdom of nature, so in that of providence, he forms the light, and creates the darkness, Isa 45:7, and sets the one against the other. The sun in the firmament is an emblem of the Sun of righteousness, the Bridegroom of the church, and the Light of the world, diffusing Divine light and salvation by his gospel to the nations of the earth. He delights to bless his church, which he has espoused to himself; and his course will be unwearied as that of the sun, till the whole earth is filled with his light and salvation. Let us pray for the time when he shall enlighten, cheer, and make fruitful every nation on earth, with the blessed salvation. They have no speech or language, so some read it, and yet their voice is heard. All people may hear these preachers speak in their own tongue the wonderful works of God. Let us give God the glory of all the comfort and benefit we have by the lights of heaven, still looking above and beyond them to the Sun of righteousness.Their line - That is, of the heavens. The word used here - קו qav - means properly a cord, or line:

(a) a measuring line, Ezekiel 47:3; Job 38:5; Isaiah 44:13; and then

(b) a cord or string as of a lyre or other instrument of music; and hence, a sound.

So it is rendered here by the Septuagint, φθόγγος phthongos. By Symmachus, ἦχος ēchos. By the Vulgate, sonus. DeWette renders it Klang, sound. Prof. Alexander dogmatically says that this is "entirely at variance with the Hebrew usage." That this sense, however, is demanded in the passage seems to be plain, not only from the sense given to it by the ancient versions, but by the parallelism, where the term "words" corresponds to it:

"Their line is gone out through all the earth;

Their words to the end of the world."

Besides, what could be the sense of saying that their line, in the sense of a measuring line, or cord, had gone through all the earth? The plain meaning is, that sounds conveying instruction, and here connected with the idea of sweet or musical sounds, had gone out from the heavens to all parts of the world, conveying the knowledge of God. There is no allusion to the notion of the "music of the spheres," for this conception was not known to the Hebrews; but the idea is that of sweet or musical sounds, not harsh or grating, as proceeding from the movements of the heavens, and conveying these lessons to man.

And their words - The lessons or truths which they convey.

To the end of the world - To the uttermost parts of the earth. The language here is derived from the idea that the earth was a plane, and had limits. But even with our correct knowledge of the figure of the earth, we use similar language when we speak of the "uttermost parts of the earth."

In them - That is, in the heavens, Psalm 19:1. The meaning is, that the sun has his abode or dwelling-place, as it were, in the heavens. The sun is particularly mentioned, doubtless, as being the most prominent object among the heavenly bodies, as illustrating in an eminent manner the glory of God. The sense of the whole passage is, that the heavens in general proclaim the glory of God, and that this is shown in a particular and special manner by the light, the splendor, and the journeyings of the sun.

Hath he set a tabernacle for the sun - A tent; that is, a dwelling-place. He has made a dwelling-place there for the sun. Compare Habakkuk 3:11, "The sun and moon stood still in their habitation."

4. Their line—or, "instruction"—the influence exerted by their tacit display of God's perfections. Paul (Ro 10:8), quoting from the Septuagint, uses "sound," which gives the same sense. Their line; either,

1. Their admirable structure made exactly, and as it were by line: see Job 38:5 Zechariah 1:16. Or,

2. Their lines, the singular number being put for the plural, for the line answereth to the words in the next clause. And by line or lines he may understand their writing, as this very word is taken, Isaiah 28:10, which is made up of several lines. And this expression may seem to be very fit and proper, because the heavens do not teach men audibly, or by speaking to their ears, but visibly, by propounding things to their eyes, which is done in lines or writongs.

Is gone out, i.e. is spread abroad or drawn forth.

Through all the earth; so as to be seen and read by all the inhabitants of the earth.

Their words, i.e. their magnificent structure, and their exquisite order, and most regular course, by which they declare their author, no less than if they used many words or long discourses to that purpose, or no less than men discover their minds by their words. See more concerning this verse upon Romans 10:18, where it is applied to the preaching of the gospel by the apostles in the several parts of the world.

A tabernacle; which is a movable habitation, and therefore fitly applied to the sun, which is here described to be in constant and perpetual motion, Psalm 19:5,6.

For the sun; which being the most illustrious and useful of all the heavenly bodies, is here particularly mentioned. Their line is gone out through all the earth,.... Not the line or writings in the book of the creatures, the heavens, and the earth, which lie open, and are legible, and to be seen and read of all men; nor the line and writings in the book of the Scriptures, called line upon line, and precept upon precept, Isaiah 28:13, which, though first given to the Jews, were written for the instruction of others, and have been communicated to them; but the line of the apostles: everyone had his line or measure; or the course he was to steer was measured out and directed to him; the line of one, where he was to go and preach the Gospel, reached so far one way, and the line of another reached so far another way; and what with one and another, their line reached throughout all the earth; see 2 Corinthians 10:13; the apostle citing these words in Romans 10:18; renders them, "their sound went", &c. the sound of the Gospel, as published by them; which agrees with the next clause;

and their words to the end of the world; to the isles afar off, even to these northern and distant ones of England, Scotland, and Ireland, which were reached and visited with the Gospel, either by the apostles, or at least by some of the first ministers of the word;

in them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun; that is, in the heavens and firmament, where the natural sun is placed; and its habitation is fitly called a tabernacle, because it is always in motion and never stops: or this may have some respect to its setting, when, according to the common appearance, and to common understandings, it seems to be hid as in a tent or tabernacle; to be as it were gone to bed, and at rest; when in the morning it rises gay and cheerful, and comes forth like a bridegroom out of his chamber, as is said in Psalm 19:5, but this is all to be understood, spiritually and mystically, of Christ the sun of righteousness, who has his tabernacle among his people, his churches; and particularly has a place, and the chief place, in the ministry of the Gospel, being the sum and substance of it; and this is of God's putting there, who committed to his apostles the word of reconciliation, the sum of which is Christ; and this is what makes the Gospel so glorious a light, so clear a revelation as it is: the nature, continuance, and extent of this revelation, are described in the foregoing verses; the perspicuity and clearness of it is set forth in this clause, and in what follows.

Their {d} line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,

(d) The heavens are as a line of great capital letters to show God's glory to us.

4. This proclamation is universal. The phrase Their line is gone out &c., is to be explained by Jeremiah 31:39; Zechariah 1:16. The measuring line marks the limits of possession. The whole earth is the sphere throughout which the heavens have to proclaim their message. The rendering of P.B.V. their sound follows LXX, Vulg., Symm., Jer., Syr., but it is not justifiable as a rendering of the present text, though it may be got by an easy emendation.

A wider application is given to these words by St Paul in Romans 10:18. But his use of them is not merely the adoption of a convenient phrase. It implies a comparison of the universality of the proclamation of the Gospel with the universality of the proclamation of God’s glory in Nature.

In them &c.] How naturally the poet singles out the Sun as the chief witness to God’s glory, and personifies it as though it were a king or hero, for whose abode the Creator has fixed a tent in the heavens.Verse 4. - Their line is gone out through all the earth. It is much disputed what "their line" means. The word used, qav (קַו), means, ordinarily, a "measuring-line" (Ezekiel 47:3: Zechariah 1:16, etc.), whence it comes to have the further sense of a terminus or boundary; that which the measuring-line marks out. It is also thought to have signified an architect's rule; and, hence, anything regulative, as a decree, precept, or law (see Isaiah 28:10). The LXX. translated it in this place by φθόγγος, "a musical sound;" and Dr. Kay supposes "the regulative chord," or "key-note." to be intended. Perhaps "decree" would be in this place the best rendering, since it would suit the "words" (minim) of the second clause. The "decree" of the heavens is one proclaiming the glory of God, and the duty of all men to worship him. And their words to the end of the world. Though they have neither speech nor language, nor any articulate words, yet they have "words" in a certain sense. Millim is said to be used of thoughts just shaping themselves into language, but not yet uttered (Kay). In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun. God has made the heavens the sun's dwelling-place, the place where he passes the day. There is, perhaps, a tacit allusion to the Shechinah, which dwelt in the tabernacle of the congregation: (Heb.: 18:47-49) The hymn now draws towards the end with praise and thanksgiving for the multitude of God's mighty deeds, which have just been displayed. Like the (צוּרי) בּרוּך which is always doxological, חי ה (vivus Jahve) is meant as a predicate clause, but is read with the accent of an exclamation just as in the formula of an oath, which is the same expression; and in the present instance it has a doxological meaning. Accordingly וירוּם also signifies "exalted be," in which sense it is written וירם (וירם equals וירם) in the other text. There are three doxological utterances drawn from the events which have just been celebrated in song. That which follows, from האל onwards, describes Jahve once more as the living, blessed (εὐλογητόν), and exalted One, which He has shown Himself to be. From ויּדבּר we see that הנּותן is to be resolved as an imperfect. The proofs of vengeance, נקמות, are called God's gift, insofar as He has rendered it possible to him to punish the attacks upon his own dignity and the dignity of his people, or to witness the punishment of such insults (e.g., in the case of Nabal); for divine vengeance is a securing by punishment (vindicatio) of the inviolability of the right. It is questionable whether הדבּיר (synonym רדד, Psalm 144:2) here and in Psalm 47:4 means "to bring to reason" as an intensive of דּבר, to drive (Ges.); the more natural meaning is "to turn the back" according to the Arabic adbara (Hitzig), cf. dabar, dabre, flight, retreat; debira to be wounded behind; medbûr, wounded in the back. The idea from which הדביר gains the meaning "to subdue" is that of flight, in which hostile nations, overtaken from behind, sank down under him (Psalm 45:6); but the idea that is fully worked out in Psalm 129:3, Isaiah 51:23, is by no means remote. With מפלטי the assertion takes the form of an address. מן רומם does not differ from Psalm 9:14 : Thou liftest me up away from mine enemies, so that I hover above them and triumph over them. The climactic אף, of which poetry is fond, here unites two thoughts of a like import to give intensity of expression to the one idea. The participle is followed by futures: his manifold experience is concentrated in one general ideal expression.
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