Give ear, O you heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.…
The true poet is God's messenger. He that sings not of truth and goodness is not a genuine poet; he is but a rhymester. As the swan is said to sing sweetly only in the act of dying, so, on the eve of his departure, Moses sings his noblest strains.
I. OBSERVE THE POET'S AUDITORY. He summons heaven and earth to hear. We read in ancient story that when Orpheus made music with his lyre, the wild beasts listened, and the trees and rocks of Olympus followed him about. This may serve as a just reproof to some men, who, having ears, act as if they had them not.
1. Heaven and earth may denote both angels and men. For even "the principalities of heaven learn from the Church the manifold wisdom of God."
2. Heaven and earth may denote all classes of the people, high and low. Frequently in Scripture great men are represented as the stars of heaven. The man of ambition is said to lift his head to the stars. The righteous are to shine as the brightness of the firmament.
3. Heaven and earth may denote the intelligent and the material creation. On account of man's sin, "the whole creation groaneth;" and the effect of man's obedience will be felt beneficially on the material globe. It will increase its fertility, its beauty, its fragrance, its music. "Truth" shall spring out of the earth, and righteousness shall look "down from heaven." "Then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice."
II. THE POET'S BENEFICENT INFLUENCE. "My doctrine shall drop as the rain," etc. (ver. 2). This imagery teaches us:
1. The silent, unobtrusive power of truth. It finds it way, quietly and unobserved, to the roots of human judgment and feeling.
2. It is refreshing. What a draught of clear water is to a thirsty man, truth is to a healthy, active soul.
3. It is fertilizing. It nourishes all good affections, and strengthens every virtue.
4. It is most suitable. No fitness can be more manifest than dew for tender grass. Poetic truth is suited to every grade of human understanding.
III. THE POET'S LOFTY THEME. His theme is God; but God is only known as he reveals himself in his Name.
1. He descants upon his majesty, his supreme power, and the splendors of his state.
2. He touches upon his eternal stability. What the unchanging rock is amid the shifting sands, God is - unalterably the same.
3. He dwells upon the perfections of his character ("just and right is he"); upon the perfection of his works, which are incapable of any improvement; upon the perfection of his government ("all his ways are judgment"); and upon the perfection of his speech. He is "a God of truth." He alters nothing, retracts nothing.
IV. THE POET'S MORAL PURPOSE. To restore harmony between man and God.
1. He proclaims man's fallen state: "they have corrupted themselves." Human nature is not as it was when it came from the hands of God. Man holds this tremendous power of ruining his own nature.
2. The mark of sonship has disappeared. "Their spot is not the spot of his children." Childlike docility and submissiveness form the family lineament.
3. This depravity has spread like the virus of disease. The whole race is infected. "They are a perverse and crooked generation."
4. Such conduct is suicidal folly. It is most antagonistic to self-interest. No madman could have acted worse.
5. Such conduct is the basest ingratitude. "Do ye thus requite the Lord?" Consider his claims. Did he not create thee? Has he not been a Father to thee? Has he not redeemed thee? Tender expostulation with the conscience is the poet's mission. For this vocation he has been specially inspired by God. A heavenly spirit breathes through his every word. No higher honor can man attain on earth. - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.