Verse 4. His lightnings enlightened the world. In times of tempest the whole of nature is lighted up with a lurid glare, even the light of the sun itself seems dim compared with the blaze of lightning. If such are the common lights of nature what must be the glories of the Godhead itself? When God draws aside the curtain for a moment how astonished are the nations, the light compels them to cover their eyes and bow their heads in solemn awe. Jesus in the gospel lights up the earth with such a blaze of truth and grace as was never seen or even imagined before. In apostolic times the word flashed from one end of the heavens to the other, no part of the civilised globe was left unilluminated.
The earth saw, and trembled. In God's presence the solid earth quakes, astonished by his glory it is convulsed with fear. To the advent of our Lord and the setting up of his kingdom among men these words are also most applicable; nothing ever caused such a shaking and commotion as the proclamation of the gospel, nothing was more majestic than its course, it turned the world upside down, levelled the mountains, and filled up the valleys. Jesus came, he saw, he conquered. When the Holy Ghost rested upon his servants their course was like that of a mighty storm, the truth flashed with the force and speed of a thunderbolt, and philosophers and priests, princes and people were utterly confounded, and altogether powerless to withstand it. It shall be so again. Faith even now sets the world on fire and rocks the nations to and fro.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 4. His lightnings enlightened the world. This passage is applied by Munster to the rapid increase of the kingdom of Christ: for the sound of the Gospel sped through all the world like lightning. There is a prediction almost to this effect in Zechariah 9:14 : "His arrow shall go forth as the lightning, and the Lord God shall blow the trumpet." --Martin Geier.
Verse 4. The earth saw and trembled. The bare sight of thee caused the earth to tremble ( Psalms 77:16 ). --A.R. Faussett.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
- The terrors which accompanied the giving of the law: "his lightnings", etc.
- The reasons for those terrors.
- To show the guilt of man.
- His inability to keep the law.
- To show his need of a law fulfiller on his behalf.
Verse 4-6. A description of the giving of the law.
- The lawgiver's heralds, or, conviction, Psalms 97:4 .
- The effect of his presence, or, contrition, Psalms 97:5 .
- The proclamation of the law, or, instruction (as by a voice from heaven, Psalms 97:6 ).
- The effect of the lawgiving, or, divine manifestation (Ps 97:6, latter clause).