Verse 26. There go the ships. So that ocean is not altogether deserted of mankind. It is the highway of nations, and unites, rather than divides, distant lands.
There is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein. Them huge whale turns the sea into his recreation ground, and disports himself as God designed that he should do. The thought of this amazing creature caused the psalmist to adore the mighty Creator who created him, formed him for his place and made him happy in it. Our ancient maps generally depict a ship and whale upon the sea, and so show that it is most natural, as well as poetical, to connect them both with the mention of the ocean.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 26. -- Ships. The original of ships was doubtless Noah's ark, so that they owe their first draught to God himself. --John Gill.
Verse 26. -- There go the ships. Far from separating from each other the nations of the earth (as the ancients, still inexperienced in navigation, supposed), the sea is the great highway of the human race, and unites all its various tribes into one common family by the beneficial bonds of commerce. Countless fleets are constantly furrowing its bosom, to enrich, by perpetual exchanges, all the countries of the globe with the products of every zone, to convey the fruits of the tropical world to the children of the chilly north, or to transport the manufactures of colder climes to the inhabitants of the equatorial regions. With the growth of commerce civilization also spreads athwart the wide cause way of the ocean from shore to shore; it first dawned on the borders of the sea, and its chief seats are still to be found along its confines. --G. Hartwig, in "The Harmonies of Nature," 1866.
Verse 26. -- Leviathan. There is ground for thinking (though this is denied by some) that in several passages the term leviathan is used generically, much as we employ dragon; and that it denotes a great sea monster. --E.P. Barrows, in "Biblical Geography and Antiquities."
Verse 26. -- To play therein. Dreadful and tempestuous as the sea may appear, and uncontrollable in its billows and surges, it is only the field of sport, the playground, the bowling green, to those huge marine monsters. --Adam Clarke.
Verse 26. Leviathan... made to play therein. With such wonderful strength is the tail of the whale endowed, that the largest of these animals, measuring some eighty feet in length, are able by its aid to leap clear out of the water, as if they were little fish leaping after flies. This movement is technically termed "breaching," and the sound which is produced by the huge carcase as it falls upon the water is so powerful as to be heard for a distance of several miles. --J.G. Wood, in "The Illustrated Natural History," 1861.
Verse 26. -- Leviathan...made to play therein. Though these immense mammiferous fish have no legs, they swim with great swiftness, and they gambol in the mountains of water lashed up by the storms. --Moquin Tandon.
Verse 26. -- Leviathan...made to play. He is made to "play in the sea"; he hath nothing to do as man hath, that "goes forth to his work"; he hath nothing to fear as the beasts have, that lie down in their dens; and therefore he plays with the waters: it is pity any of the children of men, that have nobler powers, and were made for nobler purposes, should live as if they were sent into the world like the leviathan into the waters, to play therein, spending all their time in pastime. --Matthew Henry.
Verse 26. -- Therein. Fish, great and small, sport and play in the element, but as soon as they are brought out of it, they languish and die. Mark, O soul! what thy element is, if thou wouldest live joyful and blessed. --Starke, in Lange's Commentary.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 26. -- There go the ships. (See" Spurgeon's Sermons," No. 1,259.)
- We see that the ships go.
- The ships are intended for going.
(b) The ships in going at last disappear from view.
(c) The ships as they go are going upon business.
(d) The ships sail upon a changeful sea.
- How go the ships?
- They must go according to the wind.
(b) But still the mariner does not go by the wind without exertion on his own part.
(c) They have to be guided and steered by the helm.
(d) He who manages the helm seeks direction from charts and lights.
(e) They go according to their build.
- Let us signal them.
- Who is your owner?
(b) What is your cargo?
(c) Where are you going?