Verse 2. Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: wrapping the light about him as a monarch puts on his robe. The conception is sublime: but it makes us feel how altogether inconceivable the personal glory of the Lord must be; if light itself is but his garment and veil, what must be the blazing splendour of his own essential being! We are lost in astonishment, and dare not pry into the mystery lest we be blinded by its insufferable glory.
Who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain -- within which he might dwell. Light was created on the first day and the firmament upon the second, so that they fitly follow each other in this verse. Oriental princes put on their glorious apparel and then sit in state within curtains, and the Lord is spoken of under that image: but how far above all comprehension the figure must be lifted, since the robe is essential light, to which suns and moons owe their brightness, and the curtain is the azure sky studded with stars for gems. This is a substantial argument for the truth with which the psalmist commenced his song, "O Lord my God, thou art very great."
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 2. -- Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment. In comparing the light with which he represents God as arrayed to a garment, he intimates, that although God is invisible, yet his glory is conspicuous enough. In respect of his essence, God undoubtedly dwells in light that is inaccessible; but as he irradiates the whole world by his splendour, this is the garment in which he, who is hidden in himself, appears in a manner visible to us. The knowledge of this truth is of the greatest importance. If men attempt to reach the infinite height to which God is exalted, although they fly above the clouds, they must fail in the midst of their course. Those who seek to see him in his naked majesty are certainly very foolish. That we may enjoy the sight of him, he must come forth to view with his clothing; that is to say, we must cast our eyes upon the very beautiful fabric of the world in which he wishes to be seen by us, and not be too curious and rash in searching into his secret essence. Now, since God presents himself to us clothed with light, those who are seeking pretexts for their living without the knowledge of him, cannot allege in excuse of their slothfulness, that he is hidden in profound darkness. When it is said that the heavens are a curtain, it is not meant that under them God hides himself, but that by them his majesty and glory are displayed, being, as it were, his royal pavilion. --John Calvin.
Verse 2. -- With light. The first creation of God in the works of the days was the light of sense; the last was the light of reason; and his Sabbath work ever since is the illumination of the spirit. --Francis Bacon.
Verse 2. -- Who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain. It is usual in the East, in the summer season, and upon all occasions when a large company is to be received, to have the court of the house sheltered from the heat of the weather by all umbrella or veil, which being expanded upon ropes from one side of the parapet wall to another may be folded or unfolded at pleasure. The Psalmist seems to allude to some covering of this kind in that beautiful expression of stretching out the heavens like a curtain. --Kitto's Pictorial Bible.
Verse 2. -- Like a curtain. With the same case, by his mere word, with which a man spreads out a tent curtain, Psalms 104:2 Isa 40: 22 is parallel, "that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in." Ver. 3 continues the description of the work of the second day. There lie at bottom, in the first clause, the words of Genesis 1:7 "God made the vaulted sky and divided between the waters which are under the vault and the waters which are above the vault." The waters above are the materials with which, or out of which, the structure is reared. To construct out of the movable waters a firm palace, the cloudy heaven, "firm as a molten glass" ( Job 37:18 ), is a magnificent work of divine omnipotence. --E.V. Hengstenberg.
Verse 2. -- Like a curtain. Because the Hebrews conceived of heaven as a temple and palace of God, that sacred azure was at once the floor of his, the roof of our, abode. Yet I think the dwellers in tents ever loved best the figure of the heavenly tent. They represent God as daily spreading it out, and fastening it at the extremity of the horizon to the pillars of heaven, the mountains: it is to them a tent of safety, of rest, of a fatherly hospitality in which God lives with his creatures. --Herder, quoted by Perowne.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 2. (first clause). -- The clearest revelation of God is still a concealment; even light is but a covering to him. God is clothed with light as we see him in his omniscience, his holiness, his revelation, his glory, in heaven and his grace on earth.