I will praise you; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are your works; and that my soul knows right well.
1. The expression imports the dignity of man in comparison with other creatures in this lower world. Man is so made that the sight of him impresses a terror on the beasts of the earth. Many of these are superior to man in strength and activity; and, were it not for this dread of man which is impressed on them, our life would be a state of anxiety and terror. Now, if God has given us dominion over the beasts of the earth, we ought to exercise it with justice and humanity. And if man is made superior to the beasts, he should conduct himself in a manner becoming his natural superiority. Reason is the dignity of man. Then only we maintain our dignity when we act as reasonable beings. If passion and appetite triumph over reason, we lose our superiority to the beast, and become as the horse or mule, which has no understanding.
2. We are fearfully made, as our frame demonstrates the power, wisdom, and presence of God. Such a wonderful composition as man could not be the effect of chance. It must be the work of an infinite, independent, all-wise Creator. And God demands, "will ye not tremble at My presence? Ye have a revolting and a rebellious heart." But we need not go out of ourselves. Shall we not tremble at His presence, when we see Him around us, and feel Him within us? He is not far from every one of us. Shall not His excellency make us afraid? Let us fear, love, and obey Him. This is our whole duty.
3. We are fearfully made, as the Creator has impressed upon us evident marks of our immortality and accountableness. In the present state we find ourselves capable of progress and improvement: but we never rise to the perfection to which, in a longer space, we might attain. Must there not, then, be another state in which we may reach the perfection of which our nature is capable, but which is unattainable here?
4. In respect of our frailty. Such is the tenderness of our frame, that in this rough and dangerous world in which we live, we are always exposed to casualties and wounds, diseases and death. It may, therefore, with much propriety be said, "we are fearfully made." Let religion possess our hearts, and peace will attend our path, and hope will brighten our prospect. We may take pleasure in infirmities, for the power of Christ will rest upon us. For us to live will be Christ, and to die will be gain.
(J. Lathrop, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.