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Commentary on Psalms - Volume 2
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Psalm 42:7-8

7. Depth calleth unto depth 121121     “Un abysme crie a l’autre abysme.” — Fr. “One depth crieth to another depth.” at the noise of thy waterspouts: 122122     “A waterspout is a large tube or cylinder formed of clouds, by means of the electric fluid, the base being uppermost, and the point let down perpendicularly from the clouds. It has a particular kind of circular motion at the point; and being hollow within attracts vast quantities of water; which it frequently pours down in torrents on the earth or the sea. So great is the quantity of water, and so sudden and precipitate the fall, that if it happen to break on a vessel, it shatters it to pieces, and sinks it in an instant. Those waterspouts which Dr Shaw saw in the Mediterranean, he informs us, “seemed to be so many cylinders of water falling down from the clouds;” and he states, that they “are more frequent near the capes of Latikea, Greego, and Carmel, than in any other part of the Mediterranean.” — (Travels, p. 333.) “These are all places,” as Harmer observes, “on the coast of Syria, and the last of them every body knows in Judea, it being a place rendered famous by the prayers of the prophet Elijah. The Jews then could not be ignorant of what happened on their coasts; and David must have known of these dangers of the sea, if he had not actually seen some of them.” — (Observations, volume 3, p. 222.) In the description of a violent and dangerous storm at sea, by which he here portrays his great distress, he would, therefore, naturally draw his imagery from these awful phenomena, which were of frequent occurrence on the Jewish coasts. all thy waves and thy floods have passed over me. 8. Jehovah will command his loving-kindness by day: and by night his song shall be with me; and prayer to the God of my life.

 

7. Depth calleth unto depth These words express the grievousness, as well as the number and long continuance, of the miseries which he suffered; as if he had said, I am oppressed not only with one kind of misery, but various kinds of distress return one after another, so that there seems to be neither end nor measure to them. In the first place, by the term depth, he shows that the temptations by which he was assailed were such, that they might well be compared to gulfs in the sea; then he complains of their long continuance, which he describes by the very appropriate figure, that his temptations cry out from a distance, and call to one another. In the second part of the verse, he continues the same metaphor, when he says, that all the waves and floods of God have passed over his head By this he means that he had been overwhelmed, and as it were swallowed up by the accumulation of afflictions. It ought, however, to be observed, that he designates the cruelty of Saul, and his other enemies, floods of God, that in all our adversities we may always remember to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God which afflicts us. But it is of importance to go beyond this, and to consider, that if it should please God to rain with violence upon us, as soon as he shall have opened his sluices or waterspouts, there will be no termination to our miseries till he is appeased; for he has in his power means marvellous and unknown for executing his vengeance against us. Thus, when once his anger is kindled against us, there will be not only one depth to swallow us up, but depth will call unto depth. And as the insensibility of men is such, that they do not stand in awe of the threatenings of God, to the degree in which they ought, whenever mention is made of his vengeance, let us recall this verse to our recollection.

8. Jehovah will command his loving-kindness by day The verb here used is of the future tense; but I do not deny that, according to the Hebrew idiom, it might be rendered in the past tense, as some do who think that David here enumerates the benefits which he had formerly received from God, in order by contrast to add greater force to the complaint which he makes of his present sad and miserable condition; as if he had said, How comes it to pass that God, who formerly manifested so much kindness towards me, having as it were changed his mind, now deals towards me with great severity? But as there is no sufficient reason for changing the tense of the verb, and as the other interpretation seems more in accordance with the scope of the text, let us adhere to it. I do not, indeed, positively deny, that for the strengthening of his faith, David calls to memory the benefits which he had already experienced from God; but I think that he here promises himself deliverance in future, though it be as yet hidden from him. I have, therefore, no desire to raise any discussion regarding the verb, whether it should be taken in the future or in the past tense, provided only it be fully admitted that the argument of David is to this effect: Why should I not expect that God will be merciful to me, so that in the day-time his loving-kindness may be manifested towards me, and by night upon my bed a song of joy be with me? He, no doubt, places this ground of comfort in opposition to the sorrow which he might well apprehend from the dreadful tokens of the divine displeasure, which he has enumerated in the preceding verse. The prayer of which he speaks in the end of the verse is not to be understood as the prayer of an afflicted or sorrowful man; but it comprehends an expression of the delight which is experienced when God, by manifesting his favor to us, gives us free access into his presence. And, therefore, he also calls him the God of his life, because from the knowledge of this arises cheerfulness of heart.


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