Psalm 36:6
Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O LORD, thou preservest man and beast.
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(6) Great mountains.—See margin, and compare Psalm 80:10, “cedars of God.” So too the rain is called “God’s brook.” The epithet not only implies greatness and dignity, but also has reference to God as Creator.

A great deep.—The reference, as usual, with the words deep, depth, is to the great abyss of waters, of which the seas were regarded as the surface.

The twofold comparison in this verse recalls Wordsworth’s lines—

“Two voices are there: one is of the sea.

One of the mountains—each a mighty voice.”

but while to the modern poet the voice is Liberty, to the ancient Hebrew it is Righteousness. The majesty of the hills has often suggested the supremacy of right over wrong—

“Thou hast a voice, great mountain, to repeal

Large codes of fraud and woe.”

The calm of the infinite sea has often soothed agitated souls. Hebrew poetry connected both immediately with God. the uplifted strength of the hills became an emblem of His eternal truth; the depth and expanse of the infinite sea of His outspread goodness and inexhaustible justice.

36:5-12 Men may shut up their compassion, yet, with God we shall find mercy. This is great comfort to all believers, plainly to be seen, and not to be taken away. God does all wisely and well; but what he does we know not now, it is time enough to know hereafter. God's loving-kindness is precious to the saints. They put themselves under his protection, and then are safe and easy. Gracious souls, though still desiring more of God, never desire more than God. The gifts of Providence so far satisfy them, that they are content with such things as they have. The benefit of holy ordinances is sweet to a sanctified soul, and strengthening to the spiritual and Divine life. But full satisfaction is reserved for the future state. Their joys shall be constant. God not only works in them a gracious desire for these pleasures, but by his Spirit fills their souls with joy and peace in believing. He quickens whom he will; and whoever will, may come, and take from him of the waters of life freely. May we know, and love, and uprightly serve the Lord; then no proud enemy, on earth or from hell, shall separate us from his love. Faith calleth things that are not, as though they were. It carries us forward to the end of time; it shows us the Lord, on his throne of judgment; the empire of sin fallen to rise no more.Thy righteousness - Thy justice; that is, the justice of God considered as residing in his own nature; his justice in his laws; his justice in his providential dealings; his justice in his plan of delivering man from sin; his justice to the universe in administering the rewards and penalties of the law.

Is like the great mountains - Margin, as in Hebrew: "the mountains of God." The name "God" is thus, in the Scriptures, often given to that which is great or exalted, as God is the greatest Being that the mind can form any conception of. So in Psalm 80:10 : "The boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars," in the Hebrew, "cedars of God." Connecting his name with "mountains" or "cedars," we have the idea of "strength" or "greatness," as being especially the work of the Almighty. The idea here is, that as the mountains are the most stable of all the objects with which we are acquainted, so it is with the justice of God. It is as fixed as the everlasting hills.

Thy judgments - The acts and records which are expressive of thy judgment in regard to what is right and best; that judgment as it is expressed in thy law, and in thy dealings with mankind. The "judgment" of God in any matter may be expressed either by a declaration or by his acts. The latter is the idea now most commonly attached to the word, and it has come to be used almost exclusively to denote "afflictive" dispensations of His Providence, or expressions of His displeasure against sin. The word is not used in that exclusive sense in the Scriptures. It refers to any divine adjudication as to what is right, whether expressed by declaration or by act, and would include his adjudications in favor of that which is right as well as those against that which is wrong.

Are a great deep - The word rendered "deep" here means properly wave, billow, surge; then, a mass of waters, a flood, a deep; and the phrase "great deep" would properly refer to the ocean, its "depth" being one of the most remarkable things in regard to it. The "idea" here is, that as we cannot fathom the ocean or penetrate to its bottom, so it is with the judgments of God. They are beyond our comprehension, and after all our efforts to understand them, we are constrained, as in measuring the depths of the ocean, to confess that we cannot reach to the bottom of them. This is true in regard to his law, in regard to the principles of his government as he has declared them, and in regard to his actual dealings with mankind. It could not be otherwise than that in the administration of an infinite God there must be much that man, in his present state, could not comprehend. Compare Job 11:7-9; Isaiah 55:8-9.

O Lord, "thou preservest man and beast - literally, thou wilt "save;" that is, thou savest them from destruction. The idea is, that he keeps them alive; or that life, where it is continued, is always continued by his agency. The psalmist evidently sees in the fact here stated an illustration of what he had just said about the "greatness" of God in His providential agency and his general government. He was struck with His greatness, and with the incomprehensible nature of His power and agency, in the fact that he kept alive continually so many myriads of creatures upon the earth - so many hundred millions of human beings - so many thousand millions of wild beasts, reptiles, fish, birds, and insects - all dependent upon Him; that He provided for their needs, and that He protected them in the dangers to which they were exposed. And who can comprehend the extent of His law, and the wonderfulness of His Providence, in thus watching over and providing for the multitudes of animated beings that swarm in the waters, in the air, and on the earth?

6. righteousness [and] judgments—qualities of a good government (Ps 5:8; 31:1). These all are set forth, by the figures used, as unbounded. Thy righteousness, in all thy counsels and ways in the government of the world, is like the great mountains; either,

1. Stedfast and unmovable. Or,

2. Eminent and conspicuous to all men. Or rather,

3. Very high and out of our reach; for so it agrees best with the foregoing and following expressions.

Thy judgments, i.e. thy executions of thy counsels, or thy administrations of the affairs of the world, and of thy church,

are a great deep, i.e. unsearchable. as the ocean is in some parts. The worst of men, yea, lad the brute beasts, have experience of thy care and kindness, and therefore I have no reason to doubt of it.

Thy righteousness is like the great mountains,.... Or, "the mountains of God"; so called for their excellency, as the cedars of God, Psalm 80:10; or, as Gussetius (e) observes, the greatest and highest mountains, which are here meant, reaching above the clouds and the region of the air, are the pillars of the palace of God, and a part of it; and therefore called his mountains with great propriety, to which his righteousness is compared: that is, either the righteousness of God in the government of the world, which is sometimes like the high mountains, not to be reached and accounted for in the present state of things, though always is, and is immovable as they are; or the righteousness of God, by which he justifies sinners, which may be said to be as the mountains of God, because of the dignity of his person, who has wrought it out; and because of the clear manifestation of it, the Gospel, and so visible, as high mountains; and because of the immovableness and duration of it;

thy judgments are a great deep; both in a way of providence, many of them being at present not to be traced, though before long they will be made manifest; and in a way of grace, such as the choice of some, and the leaving of others, the rejection of the Jews, and the call of the Gentiles; see Romans 11:33;

O Lord, thou preservest man and beast; in a providential way, upholding each in their being, and supplying them with the necessaries of life: some understand this figuratively, of God's saving Jews and Gentiles, wise and unwise, and particularly those who, through humility and modesty, as Jarchi says, compare themselves to beasts, because of their ignorance and stupidity, Proverbs 30:2.

(e) Ebr. Comment. p. 66.

Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great {f} deep: O LORD, thou preservest man and beast.

(f) The depth of your providence governs all things, and disposes them, even though the wicked seem to overwhelm the world.

6. Jehovah’s righteousness—His faithfulness to His character and covenant (Psalm 5:8), manifested alike in mercy and in judgement—is like the mountains of God (El), immovably firm (Psalm 111:3), eternally unchanged, majestically conspicuous. God’s works proclaim their Author, and reflect His attributes. Cp. Psalm 104:16; Psalm 65:9; Psalm 80:10. The great mountains is a paraphrase which obscures the meaning.

a great deep] Mysterious, unfathomable, inexhaustible, as the vast subterranean abyss of waters (Psalm 33:7; Genesis 7:11; Job 28:14; Job 38:16). Cp. Romans 11:33.

preservest] Or, savest. The lower animals are the objects of God’s care as well as man. See Psalm 104:14; Psalm 104:27-28; Psalm 147:9; Jonah 4:11; Matthew 6:26 ff; Matthew 10:29 ff.

Verse 6. - Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; literally, like the mountains of God; and so Luther, Rosenmuller, Hengstenberg, Kay, Cheyne, and the Revised Version. According to the Hebrew idiom, this means "the very greatest mountains" - those which seem to stand the strongest and the firmest. Thy judgments are a great deep; i.e. such as man cannot fathom - unsearchable - past finding out. O Lord, thou preservest man and beast. The providential care of God for his creatures is another of his leading characteristics, and one especially deserving man's attention and gratitude. It is a form of his loving-kindness. Psalm 36:6(Heb.: 36:6-10) The poet now turns from this repulsive prospect to one that is more pleasing. He contemplates, and praises, the infinite, ever sure mercy of God, and the salvation, happiness, and light which spring from it. Instead of בּשּׁמים, the expression is בּהשּׁמים, the syncope of the article not taking place. בּ alternating with עד, cf. Psalm 57:11, has here, as in Psalm 19:5; Psalm 72:16, the sense of touching or reaching to the spot that is denoted in connection with it. The poet describes the exaltation and super-eminence of divine mercy and faithfulness figuratively, after earthly standards. They reveal themselves on earth in a height that reaches to the heavens and extends to שׁחקים, i.e., the thin veil of vapour which spreads itself like a veil over the depths of the heavens; they transcend all human thought, desire, and comprehension (Psalm 103:11, and cf. Ephesians 3:18). The צדקה (righteousness) is distinguished from the אמונה (faithfulness) thus: the latter is governed by the promises of God, the former by His holiness; and further, the latter has its being in the love of God, the former, on the other hand, manifests itself partly as justifying in mercies, and partly as avenging in wrath. Concerning the righteousness, the poet says that it is like the mountains of God, i.e., (cf. cedars of God, Psalm 80:11) unchangeably firm (Psalm 111:3), like the giant primeval mountains which bear witness to the greatness and glory of God; concerning God's judgments, that they are "a great deep," incomprehensible and unsearchable (ἀνεξερεύνηται, Romans 11:33) as the great, deep-surging mass of waters in the lower parts of the earth, which becomes visible in the seas and in the rivers. God's punitive righteousness, as at length becomes evident, has His compassion for its reverse side; and this, as in the case of the Flood (cf. Jonah 4:11), embraces the animal world, which is most closely involved, whether for weal or for woe, with man, as well as mankind.

Lost in this depth, which is so worthy of adoration, the Psalmist exclaims: How precious (cf. Psalm 139:17) is Thy mercy, Elohim! i.e., how valuable beyond all treasures, and how precious to him who knows how to prize it! The Waw of וּבני is the explicative Waw equals et hoc ipsum quod. The energetic form of the future, יחסיוּן, has the pre-tonic Kametz, here in pause, as in Psalm 36:8; Psalm 39:7; Psalm 78:44. The shadow of God's wings is the protection of His love, which hides against temptation and persecution. To be thus hidden in God is the most unspeakable blessedness, Psalm 36:9 : they satiate themselves, they drink full draughts of "the fatness of Thy house." The house of God is His sanctuary, and in general the domain of His mercy and grace. דּשׁן (cf. טוּב, Psalm 65:5) is the expression for the abundant, pleasant, and powerful gifts and goods and recreations with which God entertains those who are His; and רוה (whence ירוין, as in Deuteronomy 8:13; Isaiah 40:18) is the spiritual joy of the soul that experiences God's mercy to overflowing. The abundant fare of the priests from Jahve's table (vid., Jeremiah 31:14), and the festive joy of the guests at the shelamim-offering, i.e., the communion-offering, - these outward rites are here treated according to their spiritual significance, receive the depth of meaning which radically belongs to them, and are ideally generalized. It is a stream of pleasures (עדנים) with which He irrigates and fertilizes them, a paradisaic river of delights. This, as the four arms of the river of Paradise had one common source (Genesis 2:10), has its spring in God, yea, God is the fountain itself. He is "the fountain of life" (Jeremiah 2:13); all life flows forth from Him, who is the absolutely existing and happy One. The more inwardly, therefore, one is joined to Him, the fuller are the draughts of life which he drinks from this first fountain of all life. And as God is the fountain of life, so also is He the fountain of light: "In Thy light do we see light;" out of God, seeing we see only darkness, whereas immersed in God's sea of light we are illumined by divine knowledge, and lighted up with spiritual joy. The poet, after having taken a few glimpses into the chaos of evil, here moves in the blessed depths of holy mysticism [Mystik, i.e., mysticism in the good sense - true religion, vital godliness], and in proportion as in the former case his language is obscure. So here it is clear as crystal.

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