Psalm 104:16

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 16. The watering of the hills not only produces the grass and the cultivated herbs, but also the nobler species of vegetation, which come not within the range of human culture: --

"Their veins with genial moisture fed,
Jehovah's forests lift the head:
Nor other than his fostering hand
Thy cedars, Lebanon, demand."

The trees of the Lord -- the greatest, noblest, and most royal of trees; those too which are unowned of man, and untouched by his hand.

Are full of sap, or are full, well supplied, richly watered, so that they become, as the cedars, full of resin, flowing with life, and verdant all the year round.

The cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted. They grow where none ever thought of planting them, where for ages they were unobserved, and where at this moment they are too gigantic for man to prune them. What would our psalmist have said to some of the trees in the Yosemite valley? Truly these are worthy to be called the trees of the Lord, for towering stature and enormous girth. Thus is the care of God seen to be effectual and all sufficient. If trees uncared for by man are yet so full of sap, we may rest assured that the people of God who by faith live upon the Lord alone shall be equally well sustained. Planted by grace, and owing all to our heavenly Father's care, we may defy the hurricane, and laugh at the fear of drought, for none that trust in him shall ever be left unwatered.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 16. -- The trees of the Lord. The transition which the prophet makes from men to trees is as if he had said, It is not to be wondered at, if God so bountifully nourishes men who are created after his own image, since he does not grudge to extend his care even to trees. By "the trees of the Lord", is meant those which are high and of surpassing beauty; for God's blessing is more conspicuous in them. It seems scarcely possible for any juice of the earth to reach so great a height, and yet they renew their foliage every year. --John Calving.

Verse 16. -- The trees of the Lord may be so named from their size and stature -- this name being used as a superlative in the Hebrew, or to denote aught which is great and extraordinary. --Thomas Chalmers.

Verse 16. -- The trees of the Lord, etc. The cedars are indeed the trees of the Lord. They are especially his planting. There is a sense in which, above all other trees, they belong to him, and shadow forth in a higher degree his glory. The peculiar expression of the text, however, must not be limited to one particular species of cedar... Encouraged by this Scripture usage, I shall use the word in a somewhat wider sense than the conventional one, to denote three remarkable examples which may be selected from the coniferae to show the power and wisdom of God as displayed in the trees of the forest. These are, the cedar of Lebanon, the cedar of the Himalayas, and the cedar of the Sierra Nevada. The epithet which the psalmist applies to one, may most appropriately be applied to all of them; and there are various reasons why the Lord may be said to have a special interest and property in each of them, to a few of which our attention may now be profitably directed.

  1. They are "trees of the Lord" on account of the peculiarities of their structure. In common with all the pine tribe, they are exceptional in their organization. They reveal a new idea of the creative mind.
  2. The cedars are "the trees of the Lord" on account of the antiquity of their type it was of this class of trees that the pre Adamite forests were principally composed.
  3. The cedars are the "trees of the Lord," on account of the majesty of their appearance. It is the tree, par excellence, of the Bible -- the type of all forest vegetation.

--Condensed from Hugh Macmillan's "Bible Teachings in Nature," 1868.

Verse 16. -- Full of sap. The cedar has a store of resin. It flows from wounds made in the bark, and from the scales of the cones, and is abundant in the seeds. Both the resin and the wood were much valued by the ancients. The Romans believed that the gum which exuded from the cedar had the power of rendering whatever was steeped in it incorruptible; and we are told that the books of Numa, the early king of Rome, which were found uninjured in his tomb, five hundred years after his death, had been steeped in oil of cedar. The Egyptians also used the oil in embalming their dead. --Mary and Elizabeth Kirby, in "Chapters on Trees", 1873.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 16. -- "The Cedars of Lebanon." (See "Spurgeon's Sermons," No. 529.)

  1. The absence of all human culture. These trees are peculiarly the Lord's trees, because,

    1. They owe their planting entirely to him: "He hath planted."

(b) They are not dependent upon man for their watering.

(c) No mortal might protects them.

(d) As to their inspection -- they preserve a sublime indifference to human gaze.

(e) Their exultation is all for God.

(f) There is not a cedar upon Lebanon which is not independent of man in its expectations.

  1. The glorious display of divine care.

    1. In the abundance of their supply.

(b) They are always green.

(c) Observe the grandeur and size of these trees.

(d) Their fragrance.

(e) Their perpetuity.

(f) They are very venerable.

  1. The fulness of living principle: "The trees of the Lord are full of sap."

    1. This is vitally necessary.

(b) It is essentially mysterious.

(c) It is radically secret.

(d) It is permanently active.

(e) It is externally operative.

(f) It is abundantly to be desired.