Verse 5. Bow thy heavens, O LORD, and come down. The heavens are the Lord's own, and he who exalted them can bow them. His servant is struggling against bitter foes, and he finds no help in men, therefore he entreats Jehovah to come down to his rescue. It is, indeed, a coming down for Jehovah to interfere in the conflicts of his tried people. Earth cries to heaven to stoop; nay, the cry is to the Lord of heaven to bow the heaven, and appear among the sons of earth. The Lord has often done this, and never more fully than when in Bethlehem the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us: now doth he know the way, and he never refuses to come down to defend his beloved ones. David would have the real presence of God to counterbalance the mocking appearance of boastful man: eternal verity could alone relieve him of human vanity.
Touch the mountains, and they shall smoke. It was so when the Lord appeared on Sinai; the strongest pillars of earth cannot bear the weight of the finger of God. He is a consuming fire, and his touch kindles the peaks of the Alps, and makes them smoke. If Jehovah would appear, nothing could stand before him; if the mighty mountains smoke at his touch, then all mortal power which is opposed to the Lord must end in smoke. How long suffering he is to his adversaries, whom he could so readily consume. A touch would do it; God's finger of flame would set the hills on fire, and consume opposition of every kind.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 5. Bow thy heavens. This expression is derived from the appearance of the clouds during a tempest: they hang low, so as to obscure the hills and mountains, and seem to mingle earth and heaven together. Such an appearance is figuratively used to depict the coming of God, to execute vengeance upon the enemies of his people. See Psalms 18:10 , and other instances. --William Walford.
Verse 5. Bow thy heavens, O LORD, and come down, etc. This was never so remarkably fulfilled as in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, when heaven and earth were, as it were, brought together. Heaven itself was, as it were, made to bow that it might be united to the earth. God did, as it were, come down and bring heaven with him. He not only came down to the earth, but he brought heaven down with him to men and for men. It was a most strange and wonderful thing. But this will be more remarkably fulfilled still by Christ's second coming, when he will indeed bring all heaven down with him -- viz., all the inhabitants of heaven. Heaven shall be left empty of its inhabitants to come down to the earth; and then the mountains shall smoke, and shall indeed flow down at his presence, as in Isaiah 64:1 . --Jonathan Edwards.
Verse 5. Touch the mountains, and they shall smoke. The meaning is, when God doth but lay his hand upon great men, upon the mightiest of the world, he makes them smoke or fume, which some understand of their anger; they are presently in a passion, if God do but touch them. Or we may understand it of their consumption. A smoking mountain will soon be a burnt mountain. In our language, to make a man smoke is a proverbial expression for destroying or subduing. --Joseph Caryl.
Bow thy heavens, Jehovah,
Come down in thy might;
Let the rays of thy glory
The mountaintops light.
With the bolts of thy thunder
Discomfit my foe,
With the flash of thine arrows
Their force overthrow. --William Digby Seymour.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 5. Condescension, visitation, contact, and conflagration.