Verse 4. For thou, Lord, hast made me glad through thy work. It was natural for the psalmist to sing, because he was glad, and to sing unto the Lord, because his gladness was caused by a contemplation of the divine work. If we consider either creation or providence, we shall find overflowing reasons for joy; but when we come to review the work of redemption, gladness knows no bounds, but feels that she must praise the Lord with all her might. There are times when in the contemplation of redeeming love we feel that if we did not sing we must die; silence would be as horrible to us as if we were gagged by inquisitors, or stifled by murderers.
I will triumph in the works of thy hands. I cannot help it, I must and I will rejoice in the Lord, even as one who has won the victory and has divided great spoil. In the first sentence of this verse he expresses the unity of God's work, and in the second the variety of his works; in both there is reason for gladness and triumph. When God reveals his work to a man, and performs a work in his soul, he makes his heart glad most effectually, and then the natural consequence is continual praise.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 4. Thou LORD hast made me glad through thy work. One of the parts of the well spending of the Sabbath, is the looking upon, and consideration of the works of creation. The consideration of the Lord's works will afford us much sweet refreshment and joy when God blesses the meditation; and when it is so we ought to acknowledge our gladness most thankfully and lift up our heart in his ways. --David Dickson.
Verse 4. Thy work. The "work of God" here is one no less marvellous than that of creation, which was the original ground of hallowing the Sabbath (see title of this Psalm) -- namely, the final redemption of his people. --A.R. Fausset.
Verse 4. Made me glad through thy work, etc. Surely there is nothing in the world, short of the most undivided reciprocal attachment, that has such power over the workings of the human heart as the mild sweetness of Nature. The most ruffled temper, when emerging from the town, will subside into a calm at the sight of an extended landscape reposing in the twilight of a fine evening. It is then that the spirit of peace settles upon the heart, unfetters the thoughts, and elevates the soul to the Creator. It is then that we behold the Parent of the universe in his works; we see his grandeur in earth, sea, sky; we feel his affection in the emotions which they raise, and half mortal, half etherealized, forgot where we are in the anticipation of what that world must be, of which this lovely earth is merely the shadow. --Miss Porter.
Verse 4. I will triumph in the works of thy hands. Here it will be most fitting to remind the reader of those three great bursts of adoring song, which in different centuries have gushed forth from souls enraptured with the sight of nature. They are each of them clear instances of triumphing in the works of God's hands. How majestically Milton sang when he said of our unfallen parents, --
"Nor holy rapture wanted they to praise
Their Maker, in fit strains pronounced or sung
Unmeditated; such prompt eloquence
Flowed from their lips in prose or numerous verse,
More tunable than needed lute or harp
To add more sweetness."
Then he gives us that noble hymn, too well known for us to quote, the reader will find it in the fifth book of the Paradise Lost, commencing --
"These are thy glorious works, Parent of good, Almighty!"
Thomson also, in his Seasons, rises to a wonderful height, as he closes his poem with a hymn --
"These as they change, Almighty Father, these
Are but the varied God."
Coleridge in his "Hymn before Sunrise, in the Vale of Chamouni", equally well treads the high places of triumphant devotion, as he cries --
"Awake my soul! not only passive praise
Thou owest! not alone these swelling tears,
Mute thanks and secret ecstasy! Awake,
Voice of sweet song! Awake, my heart, awake!
Green vales and icy cliffs, all join my hymn."
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 4. (first sentence).
- My state -- "glad."
- How I arrived at it -- "thou hast made me glad."
- What is the ground of it? -- "through thy work."
- What, then, shall I do? -- ascribe it all to God, and bless him for it.
- The most divine gladness -- of God's creation, having God's work for its argument.
- The most divine triumph -- caused by the varied works of God in creation, providence, redemption, & c. The first is for our own hearts, the second is for the convincing of those around us.