Verse 3. The floods have lifted up, 0 LORD. Men have raged like angry waves of the sea, but vain has been their tumult. Observe that the psalmist turns to the Lord when he sees the billows foam, and hears the breakers roar; he does not waste his breath by talking to the waves, or to violent men; but like Hezekiah he spreads the blasphemies of the wicked before the Lord.
The floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their waves. These repetitions are needed for the sake both of the poetry and the music, but they also suggest the frequency and the violence of wicked assaults upon the government of God, and the repeated defeats which they sustain. Sometimes men are furious in words -- they lift up their voice, and at other times they rise to acts of violence -- they lift up their waves; but the Lord has control over them in either case. The ungodly are all foam and fury, noise and bluster, during their little hour, and then the tide turns or the storm is hushed, and we hear no more of them; while the kingdom of the Eternal abides in the grandeur of its power.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 3. The floods have lifted up, etc. Advisedly in this place does he make mention of floods, in order better to depict the effects of war. For when rivers are raised and swollen with inundations, they burst the restraining banks, and sweep far and wide over the neighbouring plains, carrying everything in their course. Such is the manner of war; when armies are despatched into countries, they lay waste and fill all places with slaughter. Whence Virgil employs this simile (Aeneid 2) in describing the violence of the Grecian army breaking into the citadel of Priam, -- rendered by Dryden thus --
"In rush the Greeks, and all the apartments fill;
Those few defendants whom they find, they kill.
Not with so fierce a rage the foaming flood
Roars, when he finds his rapid course withstood;
Bears down the dittos with unresisted sway,
And sweeps the cattle and the cots away." Mollerus.
Verse 3. Their waves. The word k signifies a wave; because the water being dashed against a rock, or the shore, or another wave, is broken into spray. For the central idea of the word is breaking. And this aptly serves to picture the issue of those commotions and wars which are undertaken for the overthrow of empires and the church. For as mighty waves fill the beholders with horror, so great and powerful armies fill all things with fear and terror. But as the waves striking, in a moment are broken, and disappear, so the mighty power of kings and princes is often dissolved at one glance of God. The Church dwells in this life, as a rock in the waves, beaten by the waves of every tempest; but yet remains immutable, because the Son of God confirms and sustains her. Mollerus.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 3. The voice of the floods.
- The voice of Nature is the voice of God.
- It is a voice from God.
- It is a voice for God.
"God hath a voice that ever is heard, In the peal of the thunder, the chirp of the bird: It comes in the torrent, all rapid and strong, In the streamlet's soft gush, as it ripples along; In the waves of the ocean, the furrows of land, In the mountain of granite, the atom of sand; Turn where ye may, from the sky to the sod, Where can ye gaze that ye see not a God?" G. R. Poetry by Eliza Cook.