Imágenes de páginas

4. For a thousand years in thy | night. sight are but as yesterday when 5 Thou carriest them away as 1 it is past, and as a watch in the

3 Or, he hath passed them.

ye children of men.
Return to your

And as a watch in the night. This dust; go back to the earth from refers to a portion of the night,—the which

came. Return, all of you original idea having been derived without exception ;-kings, princes, from the practice of dividing the nobles, warriors, conquerors; mighty night into portions, during which a men, captains, and counsellors; ye watch was placed in a camp. These learned and great, ye honoured and watches were, of course, relieved at flattered, ye beautiful and gay, ye intervals, and the night came to be youthful and vigorous, and ye aged divided, in accordance with this and venerable; whatever is your rank, arrangement, into parts correspondwhatever are your possessions, what- ing with these changes. Among the ever are your honours, whatever you ancient Hebrews there were only have to make you lovely, to charm, three night-watches; the first, mento please, to be admired; or whatever tioned in Lam. ii. 19; the middle, there is to make you loathsome and mentioned in Judges vii. 19; and the detestable; ye vicious, ye profane, third, mentioned in Ex. xiv. 24; 1 low, grovelling, sensual, debased; go Sam. xi. 11. In later times the all of you alike to dust! Oh, how times referred to in the New Testaaffecting the thought that this is the ment—there were four such watches, lot of man; how much should it do after the manner of the Romans, to abase the pride of the race; how Mark xiii. 35. The idea here is not much should it do to make any man that such a watch in the night would sober and humble, that he himself is seem to pass quickly, or that it would soon to turn back to dust-unhonoured, seem short when it was gone, but undistinguished, and undistinguish that a thousand years seemed to God able dust!

not only short as a day when it was 4. For a thousand years in thy past, but even as the parts of a day,

or the divisions of a night when it sight. Heb., “In thy eyes ;" that is,

was gone. It so appears to thee,–or, a thousand

5. Thou carriest them away as with years so seem to thee, however long they may appear to man. The ut.

a flood. The original here is a single most length to which the life of man

verb with the suffix-omnay. The has reached--in the case of Methuse- verb--075, zaram-means, to flow, to lah-was nearly a thousand years pour; then, to pour upon, to over(Gen. v. 27); and the idea here is, whelm, to wash away. The idea is, that the longest human life, even if that they were swept off as if a torit should be lengthened out to a thou- rent bore tliem from the earth, carrysand years, would be in the sight of ing them away without regard to God, or in comparison with his years, order, rank, age, or condition. So but as a single day. T Are but as death makes no discrimination. Every yesterday when it is past. Marg., "he day that passes, multitudes of every hath passed them.” The translation age, sex, condition, rank, are swept in the text, however, best expresses away and consigned to the grave,--the sense. The reference is to a single as they would be if a raging flood day, when we call it to remembrance. should sweep over a land. They However long it may have appeared are as a sleep. The original here is, to us when it was passing, yet when a sleep they are. The whole sentence it is gone, and we look back to it, it is exceedingly graphic and abrupt: seems short.

So the longest period “ Thou sweepest them away ;-a sleep, of human existence appears to God. | they are,--in the morning, -like grass

with a flood; they are as a sleep: evening it is cut down, and in the morning they are like grass withereth. e which 1 groweth up.

7 For we are consumed by 6 In f the morning it flourish- thine anger, and by thy wrath eth, and groweth up; in the are we troubled.

8 Thou 9 hast set our iniquities i is changed.

f Job xiv. 2. g Jer. ii. 22.

e Isa. xl. 6.

-So soon

-it passes away." The idea is that

day. What was so green and flourish. human life resembles a sleep, because ing in the morning, is, at the close it seems to pass so swiftly; to accom- of the day, dried up. Life has been plish so little; to be so filled with arrested, and death, with its condreams and visions, none of which sequences, has ensued. So with man. remain or become permanent. 9 In How often is this literally true, that the morning they are like grass, which those who are strong, healthy, vigorgroweth up. A better translation of

ous, hopeful, in the morning, are at this would be to attach the words night pale, cold, and speechless in “in the morning” to the previous death! How striking is this as an member of the sentence, “ They are emblem of man in general :like sleep in the morning;" that is, cut down; so soon numbered with They are as sleep appears to us in the the dead. Comp. Notes on Isa. xl. morning, when we wake from it-16-8; 1 Pet. i. 24, 25. rapid, unreal, full of empty dreams.

7. For we are consumed by thine The other part of the sentence then

anger. That is, Death-the cutting would be, “ Like grass, it passeth | off of the race of man-may be reaway.” The word rendered groweth garded as an expression of thy disup, is in the margin translated is pleasure against mankind as a race changed. The Hebrew word-5277, of sinners. The death of man would hhalaph--means to pass, to pass along, not have occurred but for sin (Gen. to pass by; to pass on, to come on; iii. 3, 19; Rom. v. 12); and all the also, to revive or flourish as a plant; circumstances connected with it, and then, to change. It may be ren- the fact of death, the dread of death, dered here, pass away; and the idea the pain that precedes death, the then would be that they are like grass paleness and coldness and rigidity of in the fields, or like flowers, which the dead, and the slow and offensive soon change by passing away. There returning to dust in the grave, is nothing more permanent in man all are adapted to be, and seem dethan there is in the grass or in the signed to be, illustrations of the anger flowers of the field.

of God against sin. We cannot, in6. In the morning it flourisheth. | deed, always say that death in a speThis does not mean that it grows cific case is proof of the direct and with any special vigour or rapidity special anger of God in that case ; in the morning, as if that were illus- but we can say that death always, trative of the rapid growth of the and death in its general features, young; but merely that, in fact, in may and should be regarded as an the morning it is green and vigorous, ( evidence of the Divine displeasure and is cut down in the short course against the sins of men. T And by of a day, or before evening. The re- thy wrath As expressed in death. ference here is to grass as an emblem 4 Are we troubled. Are our plans of man. And groweth up.

The confounded and broken up; our minds same word in the Hebrew which is made sad and sorrowful; our habitaused in the close of the previous verse. tions made abodes of grief. T In the evening it is cut down, and 8. Thou hast set our iniquities withereth. In the short period of a

before thee.

Thou hast arrayed before thee, our secret sins in the our years as a

2 tale that is told. light of thy countenance.

10 3 The days of our years are 9 For all our days are 1 passed threescore years and ten; and if away in thy wrath; we spend

3 As for the days of our years, in them are 1 turned.

seventy years. 2 Oi, meditation.

them, or brought them forth to were unwilling that our days should view, as a reason in thy mind for attend us any longer. Or, it is as if cutting us down. Death may be re- he took away our days, or caused garded as proof that God has brought them to turn away, because he was before his mind the evidence of man's angry and was unwilling that we guilt, and has passed sentence accord- should any longer enjoy them. The ingly. The fact of death at all; the cutting off of life in any manner is a fact that any one of the race dies; proof of the Divine displeasure; and the fact that human life has been in every instance death should be remade so brief, is to be explained on garded as a new illustration of the the supposition that God has arrayed fact that the race is guilty. T. We before his own mind the reality of spend our years as a tale that is told. human depravity, and has adopted Marg., meditation. The Hebrew word this as an illustration of his sense of -1797, hegeh—means properly (a) a the evil of guilt. Our secret sins. muttering, or growling, as of thunder; Literally, “our secret;" or, that which

(6) a sighing or moaning; (c) a mediwas concealed or unknown. This may tation, thought. It means here, evirefer to the secret or hidden things of dently, thought; that is, life passes our lives, or to what has been con

away as rapidly as thought. It has cealed in our own bosoms; and the

no permanency.

It makes no immeaning may be, that God has judged pression. Thought is no sooner come in the case not by external appear- than it is gone. So rapid, so fleeting, ances, or by what is seen by the so unsubstantial is life. The Septuaworld, but by what he has seen in

gint and the Latin Vulgate in some the heart, and that he deals with us

unaccountable way render this “ according to our real character. The

spider.The translation in our comreference is, indeed, to sin, but sin

mon version, “as a tale that is told," as concealed, hidden, forgotten; the

is equally unauthorized, as there is sin of the heart; the sin which we

nothing corresponding to this in the have endeavoured to hide from the

Hebrew. The image in the original world; the sin which has passed

is very striking and beautiful. Life away from our own recollection, .

passes with the rapidity of thought ! T In the light of thy countenance. 10. The days of our years. Marg., Directly before thee; in full view; “ As for the days of our years, in so that thou canst see them all. In

them are seventy years.Perhaps accordance with these, thou judgest the language would better be transman,--and hence his death.

lated: “The days of our years! In 9. For all our days are passed them are seventy years;” or, they away in thy wrath. Marg., turned.

amount to seventy years. Thus the The Hebrew word-729, panah-- | psalmist is represented as reflecting means to turn; then, to turn to or on human life-on the days that make from any one; and hence, to turn up the years of life ;-as fixing his away as if to flee or depart. Here thought on those days and years, and it means that our days seem to turn taking the sum of them. The days from us; to give the back to us; to of our years—what are they? T Are be unwilling to remain with us; to threescore years and ten. Not as life leave us.

This seems to be the fruit originally was, but as it has been or result of the anger of God, as if he narrowed down to about that period;

As a

by reason of strength they be h it is soon cut off, and we fly fourscore years, yet is their away. strength labour and sorrow : for

h James iv. 14.

or, this is the ordinary limit of life. might be disposed to boast-as if it This passage proves that the psalm were owing to himself. There is, at was written when the life of man

that time of life, as well as at other had been shortened, and had been times, great danger lest that which reduced to about what it is at pre

we have received from God, and which sent; for this description will apply is in no manner to be traced to ourto man now. It is probable that selves, may be an occasion of pride, human life was gradually diminished

as if it were our own, or as if it were until it became fixed at the limit secured by our own prudence, wisdom, which now bounds it, and which is or merit. May it not, also, be implied to remain as the great law in regard here that a man who has reached that to its duration upon the earth. All period of life,- who has survived so animals, as the horse, the mule, the

many others, --who has seen so many elephant, the eagle, the raven, the

fall by imprudence, or vice, or intem. bee, the butterfly, have each a fixed perance,-—will be in special danger of limit of life, wisely adapted un

being proud, as if it were by some doubtedly to the design for which special virtue of his own that his they were made, and to the highest life had been thus lengthened out ? happiness of the whole. So of man.

Perhaps in no circumstances will the

danger of pride be more imminent There can be here good reasons-some of which could

than when one has thus passed safely be easily suggested—why his term through dangers where others have of life is no longer. But, at any fallen, and practised temperance while rate, it is no longer; and in that others have yielded to habits of inbrief period he must accomplish all temperance, and taken care of his own that he is to do in reference to this

health while others have neglected world, and all that is to be done to

theirs. The tendency to pride in prepare him for the world to come.

man does not die out because a man It is obvious to remark that man has grows old. T Labour and sorrow. enough to do to fill up the time of

The word rendered labour —qay, his life; that life to man is too pre- amálmeans properly toil; that is, cious to be wasted. And if by wearisome labour. The idea here is, reason of strength, etc. If there be that toil then becomes burdensome; unusual strength or vigour of natural that the body is oppressed with it, constitution; or if the constitution and soon grows weary and exhausted ; has not been impaired or broken by that life itself is like labour or weari. toil, affliction, or vicious indulgence; some toil. The old man is constantly or if the great laws of health have in the condition of one who is weary; been understood and observed. Any whose powers are exhausted; and of these causes may contribute to

who feels the need of repose. The lengthen out life,-or they may all word rendered sorrow

2—7.??, avenbe combined; and under these, sepa- means properly nothingness, vanity; rately or combined, life is sometimes Isa. xli. 29; Zech. x. 2; then, nothingextended beyond its ordinary limits.

to worth, unworthiness, Yet the period of seventy is the ordi- iniquity—which is its usual meannary limit beyond which few can go ; ing; Num. xxiii. 21; Job xxxvi. 21; the great mass fall long before they Isa. i. 13; and then, evil, adversity, reach that. Yet is their strength. calamity; Prov. xxii. 8; Gen. xxxv. Heb., " Their pride.That of which 18. This latter seems to be the meana man who has reached that period | ing here. It is, that happiness cannot



11 Who knoweth the power of thy fear, so is thy wrath. thine anger ? even according to

thine anger

ordinarily be found at that period of driven forward by the east wind. life; that to lengthen out life does This word means, to pass through, not add materially to its enjoyment; to pass over, to pass away; and then, that to do it, is but adding trouble to cause to pass over, as the quails and sorrow. The ordinary hopes and were (Num. xi. 31) by the east wind. plans of life ended; the companions | So it means here, that life is soon of other years departed; the offices passed over, and that we flee away, and honours of the world in other as if driven by the wind; as if imhands; a new generation on the stage pelled or urged forward as chaff or that cares little for the old one now any light substance is by a gale. departing; a family scattered or in

11. Who knoweth the power of the grave; the infirmities of advanced

go ? Who can measure it, years on him; his faculties decayed;

or take a correct estimate of it, as it the buoyancy of life gone; and now in his second childhood dependent on

is manifest in cutting down the race

of men ? If the removal of men by others as he was in his first;-how death is to be traced to thine anger, little of happiness is there in such a

-or is, in any proper sense, an excondition! How appropriate is it to speak of it as a time of " sorrow!” pression of thy wrath,—who can

measure it, or understand it? The How little desirable is it for a man

cutting down of whole generations to reach extreme old age! And how

of inen-of nations of hundreds of kind and merciful the arrangement millions of human beings--of the by which man is ordinarily removed from the world before the time of well as the weak and the feeble, is an

great, the powerful, the mighty, as " trouble and sorrow thus comes !

amazing exhibition of the power-of There are commonly just enough men

the might—of God; and who is of extremne old age upon the earth to

there that can fully understand this ? show us impressively that it is not

Who can estimate fully the wrath of desirable to live to be very old; just God, if this is to be regarded as an enough to keep this lesson with salu

expression of it? Who can compretary force before the minds of those

hend what this is? Who can tell, in earlier life; just enough, if we saw

after such an exhibition, what may it aright, to make us willing to die

be in reserye, or what further and before that period comes ! For it

more fearful displays of wrath there is soon cut off, etc. Prof. Alexander

may yet be ? Even according to renders this, " For he drives us fast;"

thy fear, so is thy wrath. Literally, that is, God drives us,or, one seems

“And according to thy fear, thy to drive, or to urge us on. The word

wrath.” The word rendered "fear here used—19, gaz——is commonly sup- would here seem to refer to the posed to be derived from 77?, gazam, reverence due to God, or to what to cut, as to cut grass, or to mow;

there is in his character to inspire and then, to shear, sc. a flock, which awe :--to wit, his power, his majesty, is its usual meaning. Thus it would his greatness; and the sense seems signify, as in our translation, to be to be that his wrath or anger as cut off. This is the Jewish interpre- manifested in cutting down the race tation. The word, however, may be seems to be commensurate with all more. properly regarded as derived in God that is vast, wonderful, infrom gia, gūž, which occurs in but comprehensible. As no one can underone other place, Num. xi. 31, where stand or take in the one, so no one it is rendered brought, as applied to

can understand or take in the other. the quails which were brought or

God is great in all things; great in

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