Psalm 139:9

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 9. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea. If I could fly with all swiftness, and find a habitation where the mariner has not yet ploughed the deep, yet I could not reach the boundaries of the divine presence. Light flies with inconceivable rapidity, and it flashes far afield beyond all human ken; it illuminates the great and wide sea, and sets its waves gleaming afar; but its speed would utterly fail if employed in flying from the Lord. Were we to speed on the wings of the morning breeze, and break into oceans unknown to chart and map, yet there we should find the Lord already present. He who saves to the uttermost would be with us in the uttermost parts of the sea.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 9. The wings of the morning, is an elegant metaphor; and by them we may conjecture is meant the sunbeams, called "wings" because of their swift and speedy motion, making their passage so sudden and instantaneous, as that they do prevent the observation of the eye; called "the wings of the morning" because the dawn of the morning comes flying in upon these wings of the sun, and brings light along with it; and, by beating and fanning of these wings, scatters the darkness before it. "Now", saith the Psalmist, "if I could pluck these wings of the morning", the sunbeams, if I could imp (graft) my own shoulders with them; if I should fly as far and as swift as light, even in an instant, to the uttermost parts of the sea; yea, if in my flight I could spy out some solitary rock, so formidable and dismal as if we might almost call in question whether ever a Providence had been there; if I could pitch there on the top of it, where never anything had made its abode, but coldness, thunders, and tempests; yet there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me." -- Ezekiel Hopkins.

Verse 9. The wings of the morning. This figure to a Western is not a little obscure. For my part, I cannot doubt that we are to understand certain beautiful light clouds as thus poetically described. I have observed invariably, that in the late spring time, in summer, and yet more especially in the autumn, white clouds are to be seen in Palestine. They only occur at the earliest hours of morning, just previous to and at the time of sunrise. It is the total absence of clouds at all other parts of the day, except during the short period of the winter rains, that lends such striking solemnity and force to those descriptions of the Second Advent where our Lord is represented as coming in the clouds. This feature of his majesty loses all its meaning in lands like ours, in which clouds are of such common occurrence that they are rarely absent from the sky. The morning clouds of summer and autumn are always of a brilliant silvery white, save at such times as they are dyed with the delicate opal tints of dawn. They hang low upon the mountains of Judah, and produce effects of undescribable beauty, as they float far down in the valleys, or rise to wrap themselves around the summit of the hills. In almost every instance, by about seven o'clock the heat has dissipated these fleecy clouds, and to the vivid Eastern imagination morn has faded her outstretched wings. --James Neil.

Verse 9. If I take the wings of the morning. The point of comparison appears to be the incalculable velocity of light. --Joseph Addison Alexander.

Verse 9-10. When we think that we fly from God, in running out of one place into another, we do but run from one hand to the other; for there is no place where God is not, and whithersoever a rebellious sinner doth run, the hand of God will meet with him to cross him, and hinder his hoped for good success, although he securely prophesieth never so much good unto himself in his journey. What! had Jonah offended the winds or the waters, that they bear him such enmity? The winds and the waters and all God's creatures are wont to take God's part against Jonah, or any rebellious sinner. For though God in the beginning gave power to man over all creatures to rule them, yet when man sins, God giveth power and strength to his creatures to rule and bridle man. Therefore even he that now was lord over the waters, now the waters are lord over him. --Henry Smith.

Verse 9-10.

Should fate command me to the farthest verge
Of the green earth, to distant barbarous climes,
Rivers unknown to song; where first the sun
Gilds Indian mountains, or his setting beam
Flames on the Atlantic isles; 'tis nought to me:
Since GOD is ever present, ever felt,
In the void waste as in the city full;
And where he vital breathes, there must be joy,
When e'en at last the solemn hour shall come,
And wing my mystic flight to future worlds,
I cheerful will obey; there with new powers,
Will rising wonders sing: I cannot go
Where universal love smiles not around,
Sustaining all yon orbs, and all their sons:
From seeming evil still deducing good,
And better thence again, and better still,
In infinite progression.

--James Thomson, 1700-1748.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 9-10.

  1. The greatest security and encouragement to a sinner supposed.

    1. The place -- the remotest part of the sea; by which you are to understand the most obscure nook in the creation.

b) His swift and speedy flight after the commission of sin, to this supposed refuge and sanctuary: "If I take the wings of the morning."

  1. This supposed security and encouragement is utterly destroyed ( Psalms 139:10 ).

--See Flavel's "Seaman's Preservative in Foreign Countries."