Verse 12. Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein. Let the cultivated plains praise the Lord. Peace enables their owners to plough and sow and reap, without fear of the rapine of invaders, and therefore in glad notes they applaud him whose empire is peace. Both men, and creatures that graze the plain, and the crops themselves are represented as swelling the praises of Jehovah, and the figure is both bold and warranted, for the day shall come when every inhabited rood of ground shall yield its song, and every farmstead shall contain a church.
Then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice. He does not say, let them rejoice, but they shall do so. The faith of the psalmist turns itself from the expression of desire to the fully assured prediction of the event. Groves have in old times stood shuddering at the horrid orgies which have been performed within their shade, the time shall come when they shall sing for joy because of the holy worship, the sounds of which they shall hear. The bush is the stronghold of savage men and robbers, but it shall be sanctified to retirement and devotion. Perhaps the psalmist was thinking of the birds; so Keble must have supposed, for he versifies the passage thus --
"Field exults and meadow fair,
With each bud and blossom there,
In the lonely woodlands now
Chants aloud each rusting bough."
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 12. Let the fields be joyful, etc. Let the husbandmen, and the shepherds, and all that dwell in the fields leap for joy; and the woodmen and foresters shout for joy, to see the happy day approaching; when all the idols that are worshipped there shall be thrown down together with their groves. Symon Patrick.
Verse 12. Rejoice. The verb wgr expresses the vibratory motion, either of a dancer's feet, or of a singer's lip. Samuel Horsley.
Verse 12. The trees of the wood.
His praise, ye winds, that from four quarters blow,
Breathe soft or loud; and wave your tops, ye Pines,
With every plant, in sign of worship wave. John Milton.
Verse 12-13. He cometh, etc.
It chanced upon the merry, merry Christmas eve,
I went sighing past the church across the moorland dreary --
"Oh! never sin and want and woe this earth will leave,
And the bells but mock the wailing round, they sing so
How long O Lord! how long before thou come again?
Still in cellar, and in garret, and on moorland dreary
The orphans moan, and widows weep, and poor men toil in
Till earth is sick of hope deferred, though Christmas bells
Then arose a joyous clamour from the wild fowl on the mere,
Beneath the stars, across the snow, like clear bells
And a voice within cried. "Listen! Christmas carols even
Though thou be dumb, yet over their work the stars and
snows are singing.
Blind! I live, I love, I reign: and all the nations
With the thunder of my judgments even now are ringing;
Do thou fulfil thy work but as yon wild fowl do,
Thou wilt heed no less the wailing, yet hear through it
angels singing." Charles Kingsley, 1858.