Verse 15. The eyes of all wait upon thee. They have learned to look to thee: it has become their nature to turn to thee for all they want. As children look to a father for all they need, so do the creatures look to God, the all sufficient Provider. It were well if all men had the eye of faith, and if all waited therewith upon the Lord. And thou givest them their meat in due season. They wait, and God gives. The thought of this brings God so near to our poet prophet that he is again speaking with God after the style of thee and thou. Is it to be wondered at when the Lord is feeding the hungry all around us, -- giving food to all creatures, and to ourselves among them? Like a flock of sheep the creatures stand around the Lord as their great Shepherd; all eyes are to his hand expecting to receive their food; nor are they disappointed, for when the hour comes suitable provender is ready for each creature. Observe the punctuality of the Lord in giving food at meal time, -- in the season when it is due. This he does for all, and each living thing has its own season, so that the Lord of heaven is feeding his great flock both by day and by night, during every moment of time.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 15. The eyes of all wait upon thee. God cannot be overmastered by what is great and enormous, so neither can he overlook what is small and insignificant. God is that being to whom the only great thing is himself; and, therefore, when, "the eyes of all wait upon him", the seraph gains not attention by his gaze of fire, and the insect loses it not through the feebleness of vision. Arch angels, and angels, and men, and beasts of the field, and fowls of the air, and fish of the sea, draw equally the regard of him, who, counting nothing great but himself, the Creator, can pass over as small no fraction of the creature. --Henry Melvill.
Verse 15. Doth not nature teach you to pray? Ask the brutes, the ravens, lions, etc. (Job 38:41 Psalms 147:9 104:27 145:15); not as if these unreasonable creatures could know and worship God, but because nature hath taught them so much of this duty as they are capable of and can bear; they have some sense of their burdens and wants, they groan and cry, and desire to be eased; and the Lord hearkeneth to this voice and saith, "Now the poor creature is crying to me, and I will pity it." Ah! shall the beasts in their own way cry to God, and wilt thou be silent? Hath the Lord elevated thee so far above these inferior creatures, and fitted thee for the immediate acts of his worship, and for a higher communion with himself, and wilt thou not serve him accordingly? Hath he given thee a heart and a spiritual soul, as he hath given the brutes a sensitive appetite and natural desires, and shall they cry to God with the one, and not thou with the other? -- Alexander Pitcairne, 1664.
Verse 15. Eyes ... wait upon thee. Many dumb beggars have been relieved at Christ's gate by making signs. --William Seeker.
Verse 15. In agony nature is no atheist, the mind which knows not where to fly, flies to God. --Hannah More, 1745-1833.
Verse 15. The creatures are his, and therefore to be received with thanksgiving; this our Saviour performed with great rigour and zeal; thus teaching us, when "looking up to heaven", that "the eyes of all" ought, in the most literal sense, "to wait" upon that Lord "who gives them their meat in due season." ... A secret sense of God's goodness is by no means enough. Men should make solemn and outward expressions of it, when they receive his creatures for their support; a service and homage not only due to him, but profitable to themselves. --George Stanhope, 1660-1728.
Verse 15. While atheism, in its strict signification, namely, that of total denial of God's existence, is scarcely, if at all, to be found on earth; atheism, as regards the denial of God's providence, is the espoused creed of hundreds amongst us. ... Providence, which is confessed in great things, is rejected in small things; and even if you can work up men to an easy confession that God presides over national concerns, you will find them withdrawing individuals from his scrutiny. We bring against this paring down of God's providence a distinct charge of atheism. If we confess the existence of a God at all, we read it in the workmanship of the tiniest leaf, as well as in the magnificent pinnacles of Andes and Alps: if we believe in the providence of God at all, we must confess that he numbers the hairs of our heads, as well as marshals the stars of the firmament; and that providence is not universal, and therefore cannot be godlike, if a sparrow, any more than a seraph, flit away unregarded.
Now, the words before us set themselves most strenuously against this popular atheism. The whole creation is represented as fastening its gaze on the universal Parent, and as drawing from his fulness the supply of every necessity. "The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou give, them their meat in due season." There is made, you observe, no exception whatever; the exhibition is simply that of every rank and order of beings looking to the Almighty, confessing dependence upon him, and standing environed by his guardianship. So that, in place of anything which approximates to the abandonment of our creation, the Psalmist asserts a ceaseless attention to its wants, the suspension of which for an instant would cause chill and darkness throughout the whole universe. --Henry Melvill.
Verse 15. Thou givest them their meat in due season. The meat which endures to everlasting life; the flesh of Christ, which is meat indeed; the doctrines of the gospel, which, as some of them are milk for babes, others are meat for strong men, or strong meat for experienced believers; and these are given forth under Christ's direction, by his ministering servants, who are his wise and faithful stewards, that give to every one of the family their portion of meat in due season, which is the word fitly spoken; and, when it is so, how good it is! Luke 12:42 Proverbs 15:23 . This is food convenient for them, given out in his time, as in the original; either in the Lord's time, when he sees best, or in their time, as the Syriac version, when they most need it, and it will do them most good. --John Gill.
Verse 15. (second clause.) It is said that God gives them "their food", and, "in its season", for the very variety of it serves more to illustrate the providence of God. Each has its own way of feeding, and the different kinds of aliment are designed and adapted for different uses. David therefore speaks of the food which is particular to them. The pronoun is not in the plural, and we are not to read in their season, as if it applied to the animals. The food he notices as given in its season; for here also we are to notice the admirable arrangements of divine providence, that there is a certain time appointed for harvest, vintage, and hay crop, and that the year is so divided into intervals, that the cattle are fed at one time on grass, at another on hay, or straw, or acorns, or other products of the earth. Were the whole supply poured forth at one and the same moment, it could not be gathered together so conveniently; and we have no small reason to admire the seasonableness with which the different kinds of fruit and aliment are yearly produced. --John Calvin.
Verse 15. Mr. Robertson told of a poor child who was accustomed to see unexpected provision for his mother's wants arrive in answer to prayer. The meal barrel in Scotland is everything to a hungry boy: so he said, "Mother, I think God aye hears when we're scraping the bottom o' the barrel." --"The Christian."
Verse 15-17. Who can fear that, because God's ways are unsearchable, they may not be all tending to the final good of his creatures, when he knows that with the tenderness of a most affectionate parent this Creator and Governor ministers to the meanest living thing? Who can be disquieted by the mysteriousness of the Divine dealings when he remembers that they are those of one who never ceases for a solitary moment to consult the happiness of whatsoever he hath formed? Who, in short, can distrust God because clouds and darkness are round about him, when there is light enough to show that he is the vigilant guardian of every tenant of this earth, that his hand upholds, and his breath animates, and his bounty nourishes, the teeming hordes of the city, and the desert, and the ocean? It seems that there is thus a beautiful, though tacit process of reasoning in our text, and that the seventeenth verse is set in its proper connection. It is as though David had said, "Come, let us muse on the righteousness of God. He would not be God if he were not righteous in all his ways and holy in all his works; and therefore we may be sure that whatsoever he does is the best that could be done, whether or not we can discover its excellence."
Yes, this may be true, but when we look on the divine dealings what an abyss of dark waters there is! How unsearchable, how unfathomable are God's judgments! We admit it; but being previously convinced of God's righteousness, we ought not to be staggered by what is dark in his dispensations.
"True", you reply, "but the mind does not seem satisfied by this reasoning; it may be convincing to the intellect, but it does not address itself to the feelings." Well, then, pass from what is dark in God's dealing to what is clear. He is about your path and about your bed; he "preserveth man and beast"; "his tender mercies are over all his works." Is this a God of whom to be suspicious? Is this a God to mistrust? Oh! surely if you will fortify yourselves by such facts as these -- "Thou, O Lord, satisfiest the desire of every living thing", "The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season" -- if, I say, you will fortify your minds by such facts as these, you will be able at all times and in all circumstances to join heartily in the acknowledgment of the Psalmist -- "The Lord is righteous in all his ways and holy in all his works." --Henry Melvill.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 15-16. Universal dependence and divine support. The Psalmist here teaches --
Divine Communications: "And satisfiest the desire of every living thing." "God giveth to all liberally." Our subject urges all men to,