Subject. It would be idle to enquire into the particular period when this delightful poem was composed, for their is nothing in its title or subject to assist us in the enquiry. The heading, “To the Chief Musician, a Psalm of David, “informs us that David wrote it, and that it was committed to the Master of the service of song in the sanctuary for the use of the assembled worshippers. In his earliest days the psalmist, while keeping his father’s flock, had devoted himself to the study of God’s two great books—nature and Scripture; and he had so thoroughly entered into the spirit of these two only volumes in his library that he was able with a devout criticism to compare and contrast them, magnifying the excellency of the Author as seen in both. How foolish and wicked are those who instead of accepting the two sacred tomes, and delighting to behold the same divine hand in each, spend all their wits in endeavouring to find discrepancies and contradictions. We may rest assured that the true “Vestiges of Creation” will never contradict Genesis, nor will a correct “Cosmos” be found at variance with the narrative of Moses. He is wisest who reads both the world book, and the Word book as two volumes of the same work, and feels concerning them, “My Father wrote them both.”
Division. This song very distinctly divides itself into three parts, very well described by the translators in the ordinary heading of our version. The creatures show God’s glory, Psalms 19:1-6. The word showeth his grace, Psalms 19:7-11. David prayeth for grace, Psalms 19:12-14. Thus praise and prayer are mingled, and he who here sings the work of God in the world without, pleads for a work of grace in himself within.
The Treasury of David.
Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. As if one day took up the story where the other left it, and each night passed over the wondrous tale to the next. The original has in it the thought of pouring out or welling over, with speech; as though days and nights were but as a fountain flowing evermore with Jehovah’s praise. Oh to drink often at the celestial well, and learn to utter the glory of God! The witnesses above cannot be slain or silenced; from their elevated seats they constantly preach the knowledge of God, unawed and unbiased by the judgment of men. Even the changes of alternating night and day are mutely eloquent, and light and shade equally reveal the Invisible One; let the vicissitudes of our circumstances do the same, and while we bless the God of our days of joy, let us also extol him who giveth “songs in the night.”
The lesson of day and night is one which it were well if all men learned. It should be among our day thoughts and night thoughts, to remember the flight of time, the changeful character of earthly things, the brevity both of joy and sorrow, the preciousness of life, our utter powerlessness to recall the hours once flown, and the irresistible approach of eternity. Day bids us labour, night reminds us to prepare for our last time; day bids us work for God, and night invites us to rest in him; day bids us look for endless day, and night warns us to escape from everlasting night.
Ver. 1-4. Like as the sun with his light beneficially comforteth all the world, so Christ, the Son of God, reacheth his benefits unto all men, so that they will receive them thankfully, and not refuse them disobediently. Robert Cawdray.
Day unto day, etc. But what is the meaning of the next word—One day tells another, and one night certifies another? Literally, dies diem dicit, is nothing else but dies diem docet. One day tells another, is one day teaches another. The day past is instructed by the day present: every new day doth afford new doctrine. The day is a most apt time to learn by reading and conference; the night a most fit time for invention and meditation. Now that which thou canst not understand this day thou mayest haply learn the next, and that which is not found out in one night may be gotten in another. Mystically (saith Hierem), Christ is this “day,” who saith of himself, “I am the light of the world, “and his twelve apostles are the twelve hours of the day; for Christ’s Spirit revealed by the mouths of his apostles the mysteries of our salvation, in other ages not so fully known unto the sons of men. One day tells another, that is, the spiritual utter this unto the spiritual; and one night certifies another, that is, Judas insinuates as much unto the Jews in the night of ignorance, saying, “Whomsoever I shall kiss, that is he, lay hold on him.” Matthew 26:28. Or, the Old Testament only shadowing Christ is the night, and the New Testament plainly showing Christ is the day. John Boys.
Day unto day, or day after day; the vicissitude or continual succession of day and night speaketh much divine knowledge. The assiduity and constancy without any intermission by the heavens preaching is hereby expressed. John Richardson.
Uttereth, poureth forth abundantly; sheweth demonstrates clearly and effectively, without ambiguity. Job 36:2. Many in the full light of gospel day, hear not that speech, who yet in the night of affliction and trouble, or in the conviction of their natural darkness, have that knowledge communicated to them which enables them to realise the joy that cometh in the morning. W. Wilson.
Sheweth knowledge. We may illustrate the differing measures in which natural objects convey knowledge to men of differing mental and spiritual capacity by the story of our great English artist. He is said to have been engaged upon one of his immortal works, and a lady of rank looking on remarked, “But Mr. Turner, I do not see in nature all that you describe there.” “Ah, Madam, “answered the painter, “do you not wish you could?” C.H.S.
Ver. 1-5. Parallel between the heavens and the revelation of Scripture, dwelling upon Christ as the central Sun of Scripture.
Voices of the day and of the night. Day and night thoughts.
The Treasury of David.
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