He binds up the waters in his thick clouds; and the cloud is not rent under them.
As we proceed through the poem we cannot but be struck with the wonderful wealth of its nature-imagery, which continues to open out with ever-increasing luxuriance till it reaches its fulness in the burst of splendour that accompanies the final theophany. Each aspect of nature touched by the poet has its special lessons. Now he calls us to look at the gorgeous pageantry of the clouds. Here truths of Divine order and government are displayed before our eyes.
I. CLOUDS ARE OF DIVINE ORIGIN. God bindeth up the waters; the thick clouds are his. Whenever we touch nature we should move with reverence, for we are in the temple of God. Whether we understand the clouds, whether we can see the wisdom by which they are shaped and led out over the heavens or not, at least we must discuss them with the humility that becomes a consideration of the works of the infinitely Wise and the perfectly Good.
II. CLOUDS ARE BENEFICIAL TO THE WORLD. In Southern countries they are greatly valued both for their shade and for the much-needed showers they bring to the parched land. The arrangement by which they float overhead, and then descend on broad areas in finely distributed drops of water, makes man's most advanced system of irrigation look childish and clumsy. Great masses of water are stored aloft and driven through the air, and made to descend so that every minute plant is watered, and not a blade of grass is crushed. Here is the perfection of the art of distribution.
III. CLOUDS ILLUSTRATE THE MUTUAL MINISTRIES OF NATURE. Drawn up from the sea in invisible vapour, driven over the land by strong winds, condensed against the mountains or in cool currents of the upper air, descending in gentle rain over fields and gardens, over woods and hills and plains, trickling through the soil, breaking out in little springs, streaming down the slopes in minute rills, gathering supplies from all directions in the valleys, and flowing back to the sea in full-fed rivers, the water of the clouds moves through a circuit, every stage of which is of use in the economy of nature, while the whole is completed by the help of many forces and circumstances.
IV. CLOUDS COME AS MERCIES IN DISGUISE. Thick clouds are black and ugly, hiding the blue sky, and casting gloom on the earth. They do not always have a silver lining. They may be heavy and lowering, sombre and threatening. Yet they burst in refreshing showers. When shall we believe that it is the same with those apprehensions of trouble which are really the chariots in which God's love rides?
V. CLOUDS ARE BEAUTIFUL IN THE SUNLIGHT. It is only a difference of light, and their gloom is turned into splendour. When the sun touches the clouds it sets them on fire. Morning and evening unroll leagues of rose and gold curtains on the distant horizon. When God's love touches our clouds, by a magic alchemy they pass into heavenly beauty.
VI. CLOUDS ARE FLEETING AND TRANSIENT. Moulded out of invisible vapours, they melt while we gaze at them. Their high bastions and clustered domes, their silvery lakes and purple mountains, are in rapid dissolution. For they must serve their purpose. They must vanish to fulfil their mission. Earthly joys like palaces of cloudland, earthly terrors like its gloomy shadows, both melt away, and must do so to serve their purpose of blessing and discipline. But beyond the clouds is the blue sky. We are thankful for the clouds. But we must neither cling to them, nor shrink from them. Standing on the solid earth, our lasting hope is in the eternal heavens. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds; and the cloud is not rent under them.