Psalm 74:16

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 16. The day is thine, the night also is thine. Thou art not restricted by times and seasons. Our prosperity comes from thee, and our adversity is ordained by thee. Thou rulest in the darkness, and one glance of thine eye kindles it into day. Lord, be not slack to keep thy word, but rise for the help of thy people.

Thou hast prepared the light and the sun. Both light and the light bearer are of thee. Our help, and the instrument of it, are both in thy hand. There is no limit to thy power; be pleased to display it and make thy people glad. Let thy sacred preparations of mercy ripen; say, "Let there be light," and light shall at once dispel our gloom.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 16. The day is thine, the night also is thine.


Ah! do not be sorrowful, darling,

And do not be sorrowful, pray --

Taking the year together, my dear,

There is not more night than day.
And God is God, my darling,

Of night as well as day;

And we feel and know that we can go,

Wherever he leads the way.

A God of the night, my darling,

Of the night of death so grim,

The gate that leads out of life, good wife,

Is the gate that leads to Him.

From "In the Sere and Yellow Leaf," in "The Circling Year."

Verse 16. Day. Night. These changes are according to a fixed law. Day and night are the ordinances of heaven upon earth for the growth of earth's life, and, if we could trace the sunshine and the dark in every follower of God, we should see them arranged with equal wisdom. It is a more complex work, but, be sure of this, there is order in it all, and the hand that rules the world in its orbit, and that makes it fulfil its course through light and shade, is governing our lives for a higher than earthly end. One feature of the law is presented so far for our guidance. It is a law of alternation. It is day and night, and, let us thank God, it is also in due time night and day. Each has its time and use. John Ker. 1869.

Verse 16. Thou hast prepared the light. It is but recently that we have been able to form any conception of the power of light as an agent in the economy of the globe; the discoveries of Actinism are among the most interesting and marvellous of natural science. The discovery that "no substance can be exposed to the sun's rays without undergoing a chemical change," has been described as scarcely less important in its effects than the discovery of the law of gravitation. A sunbeam is one of the most powerful of all the agencies of nature; magical as it is, it breaks up the strongest chemical affinities; it is the author of colour, and it is the creator of a myriad combinations, which all tend to the harmony of the world. Nor ought we to forget the moral influence of light. We are all aware of the sensible difference produced in our moral natures by a fine day or a dark day. Light gives zest and tone to the spirits; light gives buoyancy and joy to the soul; light crowds the chambers of the mind with ideas; Light is Life: the merest insect could not live without light; and even blind natures receive, in those organs which are not the property of vision, the assurance of its benignant operations. Light is Order: and at its wand and command the separation takes place, and dark and light pair off into their separate ranks. Light is Beauty: whether in the refulgence of the moon; the chill sparkle of the stars; the unrivalled play of colours in the attenuated film of the soap bubble, at once the toy of childhood and the tool of the sage; the rich play of tints in the mother of pearl, or the rich gorgeous rays in the plumes of birds. Light is Purity: forms that rankle out of the glance of its clear, steady beam, contract around themselves loathness and disgust, and become the seats of foulness and shame. Light is Growth: where it is, we know that nature pursues her work in life and in vigour; light gives vitality to the sap; light removes obstructions from the pathway of the growing agencies, while, in its absence, forms become stunted, gnarled, and impaired. Light is Health: as it darts its clear and brilliant points to and fro, it brings in its train those blessings of elasticity and energy, which give the fulness of being -- which is perfect health to the expanding forms. There is a fine consistency, when Scripture makes light to contain, as it were, the seeds of all things, and when the prelude of all creation is made to be those words, "God said, Let there be light." This, then, is the part light is made to play in the history of the world; it is used by moral power to become the creator of moral influence. What a long series of creations elapsed before moral causes seemed to operate in the affairs of the globe! But he, whose nature and whose names are Light, had given to light its distinct being and work; and that creative word, "Let there be light," spoke right forwards to the moral energies which were to be superinduced by its creation. Thus light, it is true, went before all things, and became the cause of moral consequences; but then, this arose from the divine hand, whence darted its benevolent beams. It was God who gave it its divine commission, to divine between light and darkness; it was God who made it the fountain of knowledge and of day; it was God who gave to it the faculty to become, in turn, a creator, and to warm into life and beauty a myriad seeds and shape of loveliness. E. Paxton Hood.

Verse 16. The light and the sun. I was considerably affected in my younger days by the long standing objection, that Moses made light to exist before the creation of the sun; as books then usually taught, what some still fancy, that there could not have been light without this luminary. But not choosing, on such important point, to attach my faith to any general assertion, I sought to find out if any investigator of the nature of light had perceived any distinction in its qualities or operation, which made it a fluid or matter independent of the sun. It was not easy, before the year 1791, to meet with the works of any student of nature on such a subject, as it had been little attended to; but I at length saw the fact asserted by Henckel, a German of the old school, of some value in his day, and soon afterwards some experiments were announced in England which confirmed the supposition. It has been a favourite point of attention with me ever since; and no truth in philosophy seems to be now more clearly ascertained than that light has a distinct existence, separate and independent of the sun. This is a striking confirmation of the Mosaic record; for that expressly distinguishes the existence and operation of light from the solar action upon it, and from that radiation of it which is connected with his beams and presence. By Moses, an interval of three days is placed between the luminous creation, and the appearance and position of the sun and moon. Light was, therefore, operating by its own laws and agencies, without the sun, and independently of his peculiar agency, from the first day to the fourth of our terrestrial fabrication. But from the time that the sun was placed in his central position, and his rays were appointed to act on our earth, they have been always performing most beneficial operations, essential to the general course of things. Sharon Turner (1768-1847), in "The Sacred History of the World."

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 16. God present alike in all dispensations of providence.

Verse 16-17.

  1. The God of grace is the God of nature: The day in
    thine, etc.
  2. The God of nature is the God of grace: the wisdom, the
    power, the faithfulness the same. See Psalm 19. G. R.