Fear you not me? said the LORD: will you not tremble at my presence…
I. WE OBSERVE GOD FIXING LIMITS WITHIN WHICH HIS CREATURES EXERCISE THEIR POWER. Jehovah speaks here of the sea in particular, but just because it happens to be an excellent representative, for the purpose in view, of the rest of his creation. We may notice God's boundaries in many places and at different seasons, and surely it must often strike thoughtful minds, as they walk by the mighty deep, that there is, in the arrangement of sea and land, an exquisite illustration of the unfailing wisdom of God. Here is this vast mass of water, covering the surface of the globe, ever in motion and yet ever keeping its place. The true state of the case is even more wonderful than that which was presented to Jeremiah. To him the earth was a flat expanse, and the beach would have the aspect of an embankment which really kept the water back. We, aided by the discoveries of science, know that the real limiting forces of the sea work in a much more mysterious manner. But, of course, the fundamental truth is the same. There must be a great and loving intelligence at work, keeping the waters within their appointed bounds.
II. OBSERVE THE COMPARISON WHICH IS MADE BETWEEN DISOBEDIENT MAN AND THE SEA IN A STATE OF STORM. The sea easily gets a kind of personality, and the sea in a storm is very like a proud man chafing against the barriers, which confine him, and trying to break them down. More than that, when God looks down into human society, underneath the (to us) often calm surface, he must see little else than stormy agitation, one human billow dashing against another, each individual in his self-assertion contributing to make a general disturbance, and a disturbance which apparently will not soon have an end. And yet the sea, with all its fury and roar and threatening, with all the destruction it may work out in its own sphere, is powerless to overwhelm the solid land. In the strength of their confidence, men would build large cities close to the ocean-brink and inhabit them without fear. They will go down and look at the tempest in its utmost fury, sure that they are safe. A few yards make all the difference between the agony of deadly peril and perfect ease of mind. The more furious the storm is, the grander it makes the sight without in any wise diminishing the feeling of safety.
III. HENCE THERE IS INDICATED THE FOLLY OF ALL HUMAN OPPOSITION TO GOD. The storm rises; it may destroy many ships and lives; but in due time the calm returns and the great features of the scene appear the same. The land is still there. And so men may chafe against the commandments and purposes of God, and may go on without intervals of calm, even exceeding the sea in the continuity of their violence. But what does all the strife avail? The boundaries are fixed. If in that which is natural God has taken so much care in the line between sea and land, is it not certain that he will take equal care in that which is spiritual? God's work continues on the solid land, away from all disturbance of his foes. Nay, more, looking at the figure here from the Christian point of view, we see that even within what seems its own sphere, the raging of the sea can soon be stopped. Let us think of Jesus quelling the waves, and we shall feel that the greatest storms of opposition and persecution are entirely in the hands of God. How long these storms may rage and what they may do entirely depend on the purpose which he wishes them to subserve. -Y.
Parallel VersesKJV: Fear ye not me? saith the LORD: will ye not tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it?
WEB: Don't you fear me?' says Yahweh 'Won't you tremble at my presence, who have placed the sand for the bound of the sea, by a perpetual decree, that it can't pass it? and though its waves toss themselves, yet they can't prevail; though they roar, yet they can't pass over it.'