Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span…
I. HIS POWER OVER NATURE. The boldest imagery to express this thought: the "hollow of his hand;" his "span;" his "tierce," a small measure; his scales, with which he weighs the volumes of sea and laud, and measures the vast extent of heaven without an effort, - as we use the hand to weigh or to span! Far from taking offence at such figures, we feel them to be truthful, appropriate, sublime. The Creator is infinitely superior to his world. Vastness of space may overwhelm our imagination, but not his. His thought holds with ease the universe as a whole and in all its parts. "Thou hast ordered all things by measure and number and weight" (Wisd. 11:20). Vain the "materialistic" dreams of students occupied too much with the physical and the phenomenal. The physical is the expression of the intellectual; the phenomenal but the "appearance' of the real; the creation, the "garb we see God by." How much truer to what a spiritual religion teaches us is this view than that which would direct our wonder and our worship to the mere splendours of the material world, rather than to the great creative and informing spirit of the world! Isaiah, contemptuously speaking of the sea as held in God's hand, as one might hold a drop of water, is a better poet than Byron, who apostrophizes the sea as a living being.
II. THE ORIGINALITY OF HIS MIND. A theological difficulty is supposed to be alluded to. "Who hath regulated the mind of Jehovah? Was he himself absolutely free? May not Omnipotence itself be subject to conditions? May there not be an equal or superior power to whose counsels he must defer?" (Cheyne). Distinctly the prophet, without arguing the question, denies the truth of such an hypothesis. By the Spirit of God we mean the mind of God, which is
"The life and light of all this wondrous world we see." The world is not "dead matter," but the creation of that intelligence, the vast poem, inspired by Divine thoughts that breathe and burn. Love is the last ground of all things, and conscience and intelligence are its ministers. God's Being is simple, unique, absolutely original. In a like sense to that which we say the works of a great poet are his unassisted productions, does the prophet say the world is the work of God. "Contrast the Babylonian myth of a joint action of Bel and the gods in the creation of man; and the Iranian of co-creatorship of Ormuzd and the Amshaspands;" or the crude cosmogonic notions of the Greeks. All parts of the world, all habitable lands and nations, are dependent on him, derived from his will, subject to his power. How, then, can earth's noblest products add anything to his riches, or further illustrate the glory of One to whom they already belong? The poverty of Judah in wood may be contrasted with the rich forests of Lebanon; but even Lebanon could not yield enough for his honour, if that honour is to be measured by the extent of the offerings. The nations, and all that is great and imposing in their life, are nought in his eyes; chaos may designate them in this contemptuous view. In short, he is incomparable. No illustration, analogy, similitude, ever thrown forth from the poet-soul and imagination in mankind, as no picture of painter, image of sculptor, will here avail. Nay, there must be moments when the very forms of thought into which everything must be thrown that we may see it at all, and even last of all, the richest and purest musical harmonies, must be set aside as inadequate.
"All are too mean to speak his worth,
Too mean to set our Maker forth." Nothing can surpass the simplicity and the sublimity of this view of God. Nothing less lofty will satisfy our intelligence or meet the yearnings of our heart. The idolatry we are so ready to lavish upon the finite object is the poor caricature of that immense delight which God demands we should enjoy in the thought of him, and which we cannot be satisfied until we have attained. - J.
Parallel VersesKJV: Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?
WEB: Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and marked off the sky with his span, and calculated the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?