Psalm 72:6

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 6. He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass. Blessings upon his gentle sway! Those great conquerors who have been the scourges of mankind have fallen like the fiery hail of Sodom, transforming fruitful lands into deserts; but he with mild, benignant influence softly refreshes the weary and wounded among men, and makes them spring up into newness of life. Pastures mown with the scythe, or shorn by the teeth of cattle, present, as it were, so many bleeding stems of grass, but when the rain falls it is balm to all these wounds, and it renews the verdure and beauty of the field; fit image of the visits and benedictions of "the consolation of Israel." My soul, how well it is for thee to be brought low, and to be even as the meadows eaten bare and trodden down by cattle, for then to thee shall the Lord have respect; he shall remember thy misery, and with his own most precious love restore thee to more than thy former glory. Welcome Jesus, thou true Bien-aime, the Well beloved, thou art far more than Titus ever was -- the Delight of Mankind.

As showers that water the earth. Each crystal drop of rain tells of heavenly mercy, which forgets not the parched plains: Jesus is all grace, all that he does is love, and his presence among men is joy. We need to preach him more, for no shower can so refresh the nations. Philosophic preaching mocks men as with a dust shower, but the gospel meets the case of fallen humanity, and happiness flourishes beneath its genial power. Come down, O Lord, upon my soul, and my heart shall blossom with thy praise: --

"He shall come down as still and light
As scattered drops on genial field;
And in his time who loves the right,
Freely shall bloom, sweet peace her harvest yield."

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 6. He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass, etc. This is spoken and promised of Christ, and serves to teach us that Christ coming to his church and people, by the gracious influences of his Holy Spirit, is most useful and refreshing to their souls, like showers of rain to the dry ground, or a meadow newly cut to make it spring again. Christless souls are like the dry ground; without the moisture of saving grace their hearts are hard; neither rods, mercies, nor sermons, make impression upon them. Why? They are without Christ, the fountain of grace and spiritual influences. Before the fall man's soul was like a well watered garden, beautiful, green, and fragrant; but by his apostasy from God, in Adam our first head, the springs of grace and holiness are quite dried up in his soul; and there is no curing of this drought but by the soul's union with a new head; to wit, Christ our second Adam, who has the Spirit given him without measure for the use of all his members. Now, when we are united by faith to Christ, our Head of influences, the dry land is turned into water springs; Christ "comes down as the rain" by his Spirit of regeneration, and brings the springs of grace into the soul. He is the first and immediate receptacle of the Holy Spirit, and all regenerating and sanctifying influences, and out of his fulness we must by faith receive them. And when at any time the springs of grace are interrupted in the soul by sin or unbelief, so as the ground turns dry, the plants wither, and the things which remain are ready to die, the soul hath need to look up to Jesus Christ to come down with new showers upon the thirsty ground and decayed plants.

  1. As the rain is the free gift of God to the dry ground, it comes free and cheap to poor and rich, small and great, and cost them nothing: so Christ with his blessings is God's free gift to a dry and perishing world; for which we should be continually thankful.
  2. As nothing can stop the falling of the rain; so nothing can hinder Christ's gracious influences, when he designs to awake, convince, or soften a hard heart. When those showers do fall on sinners, the most obstinate will must yield, and cry, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?
  3. As the rain is most necessary and suitable to the dry ground, and to the various plants it produces, and also to the different parts of every plant or tree -- such as the root, trunk, branches, leaves, flowers, and fruit; so Christ is absolutely necessary, and his influence most suitable to all his people's souls, and to every faculty of them -- the understanding, will, memory, and affections; and to all their different graces, faith, love, repentance, etc.; to root and establish them, strengthen and confirm them, quicken and increase them, cherish and preserve them.
  4. As the rain comes in diverse ways and manners to the earth, sometimes with cold winds and tempests, thunders and lightnings, and at other times with calmness and warmth; so Christ comes to sinners, sometimes with sharp convictions and legal terrors, and sometimes with alluring invitations and promises.
  5. O how pleasant are the effects of rain to languishing plants, to make them green and beautiful, lively and strong, fragrant and beautiful! So the effects of Christ's influences are most desirable to drooping souls, for enlightening and enlivening them, for confirming and strengthening them, for comforting and enlarging them, for appetizing and satisfying them, transforming and beautifying them. A shower from Christ would soon make the church, though withered, turn green and beautiful, and to send forth a smell as of a field that the Lord hath blessed; and likewise some drops of this shower, falling down upon the languishing graces of communicants, would soon make them vigorous and lively in showing forth their Saviour's death at his table. John Willison.

Verse 6. There cannot be a more lively image of a flourishing condition than what is conveyed to us in these words. The grass which is forced by the heat of the sun, before the ground is well prepared by rains, is weak and languid, and of a faint complexion; but when clear shining succeeds the gentle showers of spring, the field puts forth its best strength, and is more beautifully arrayed than ever Solomon in all his glory. Thomas Sherlock. 1678.

Verse 6. He shall come down, dry There is a fourfold descending of Christ which the Scripture mentions.

  1. His incarnation, the manifestation of himself in the

    flesh.
  2. The abasing himself in condition; he did not only

    assume human flesh, but all the natural infirmities

    of our flesh.
  3. The subjecting of himself to death.
  4. The distillations of his grace and spiritual

    blessings upon his church. Ralph Robinson.

Verse 6. (first clause). Some render this "like dew on the fleece." The mysterious fleece of Gideon, which on being exposed to the air, is first of all filled with the dew of heaven, while all the ground around it is quite dry, and which afterwards becomes dry while the earth is watered, pictures to us, according to the old divines, that the dew of Heaven's grace was poured out upon Judaea at the time when all the rest of the world remained in barrenness and ignorance of God; but that now, by a strange alteration, this same Judaea lies in dryness and forgetfulness of God, while on the contrary, all the other nations of the earth are inundated with the dew of heavenly grace. Pasquier Quesnel.

Verse 6. Upon the mown grass. The Hebrew word used here hath a double signification. It signifies a shorn fleece of wool, and it signifies a meadow newly mown. This hath occasioned divers readings. Some read it, He shall come down like the rain into a fleece of wool: so the Septuagint. They that follow this reading make it an allusion unto the dew that fell upon Gideon's fleece ( Judges 6:37-39 ), when all the land beside was dry, and, again, upon the rest of the land when the fleece was dry. Others read it according to our translation: He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass. This seems to me more agreeable to the meaning of the Holy Ghost; especially because of the clause following, which is added by way of explication: As showers that water the earth. As the showers, ~ybybr Rain and showers differ only as less and more; rain signifies smaller showers, and showers signify greater rain. Deuteronomy 32:2 . Rain falling in multitude of drops is called a shower. That water the earth. The word @yzrz zarziph, which is here translated water, is only used in this place in all the Bible. It signifies to water by dispersion, to water by drops. The showers are dispersed in drops all over the face of the earth, in a very regular and artificial way. "God hath divided," saith Job, "a watercourse for the overflowings of water." Job 38:25 . The rain is from the cloud spouted out by drops after such a manner that every part hath its share. Ralph Robinson.

Verse 6. The mown grass; literally, that which is shorn, whether fleece or meadow. In the former sense it occurs Judges 6:37 , and so the older translators all take it, (Aq epi kouran, LXX and others epi plokon, Jerome and Vulgate, in vellus,) probably with the idea that the reign of the monarch would be accompanied by signal tokens of the divine favour and blessing, like the dew upon Gideon's fleece; in the latter sense, the word is found Amos 7:1 ; and this is indisputably its meaning here, as the parallel shows. The mown meadow is particularly mentioned, because the roots of the grass would be most exposed to the summer heat after the crop has been gathered in, and the effect would be most striking in the shooting of the young green blade after the shower. J. J. Stewart Perowne.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 6. The field, the shower, the result. This verse is easily enough handled in a variety of ways.