Verse 7. Praise the LORD from the earth. The song descends to our abode, and so comes nearer home to us. We who are "bodies terrestrial", are to pour out our portion of praise from the golden globe of this favoured planet. Jehovah is to be praised not only in the earth but from the earth, as if the adoration ran over from this planet into the general accumulation of worship. In Psalms 148:1 the song was "from the heavens"; here it is "from the earth": songs coming down from heaven are to blend with those going up from earth. The "earth" here meant is our entire globe of land and water: it is to be made vocal everywhere with praise.
Ye dragons, and all deeps. It would be idle to inquire what special sea monsters are here meant; but we believe all of them are intended, and the places where they abide are indicated by "all deeps." Terrible beasts or fishes, whether they roam the earth or swim the seas, are bidden to the feast of praise. Whether they float amid the teeming waves of the tropics, or wend their way among the floes and bergs of polar waters, they are commanded by our sacred poet to yield their tribute to the creating Jehovah. They pay no service to man; let them the more heartily confess their allegiance to the Lord. About "dragons" and "deeps" there is somewhat of dread, but this may the more fitly become the bass of the music of the Psalm. If there be aught grim in mythology, or fantastic in heraldry, let it praise the incomprehensible Lord.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 7. Sea monsters, in Revised Version. Fishes constrain our admiration, as a created wonder, by the perfection of their form, their magnitude, their adaptation to the element they inhabit, and their multitude. Thus their very nature praises the Creator. -- Thomas Le Blanc.
Verse 7-8. He calls to the deeps, dire, hail, snow, mountains, and hills, to bear a part in this work of praise. Not that they are able to do it actively, but to show that man is to call in the whole creation to assist him passively, and should have so much charity to all creatures as to receive what they offer, and so much affection to God as to present to him what he receives from him. Snow and hail cannot bless and praise God, but man ought to bless God for those things, wherein there is a mixture of trouble and inconvenience, something to molest our sense, as well as something that improves the earth for fruit. -- Stephen Charnock.
Verse 7-10. Here be many things easy to be understood, they are clear to every eye; as when David doth exhort "kings" and "princes", "old men" and "babes" to praise God; that is easy to be done, and we know the meaning as soon as we look on it; but here are some things again that are hard to be understood, dark and obscure, and they are two:
First, in that David doth exhort dumb, unreasonable, and senseless creatures to praise God, such as cannot hear, at least cannot understand. Doth the Holy Ghost in the gospel bid us avoid impertinent speeches, and vain repetitions, and shall we think he will use them himself? No, no. But,
Secondly, not only doth he call upon these creatures, but also he calls upon the deeps and the seas to praise God; these two things are hard to be conceived. But to give you some reasons.
The first reason may be this, why David calls upon the unreasonable creatures to perform this duty, -- He doth his duty like a faithful preacher, whether they will hear or no that he preaches to, yet he will discharge his soul: a true preacher, he speaks forth the truth, and calls upon them to hear, though his auditors sleep, are careless, and regard it not. So likewise doth David, in this sense, with these creatures; he doth his duty, and calls upon them to do it, though they understand not, though they comprehend it not. And likewise he doth it to show his vehement desire for all creatures to praise God.
The second reason may be this: he doth it craftily, by way of policy, to incite others to perform this duty, that if such creatures as they ought to do this, then those that are above them in degree have more cause, and may be ashamed to neglect it; as an ill governed master, though he stay himself at home, yet he will send his servants to church: so David, being conscious of his own neglect, yet he calls upon others not to be slack and negligent: though he came infinitely short of that he should do, yet he shows his own desire for all creatures to perform this duty.
But if these reasons will not satisfy you, though they have done many others, a third reason may be this: to set forth the sweet harmony that is among all God's creatures; to show how that all the creatures being God's family, do with one consent speak and preach aloud God's praise; and therefore he calls upon some above him, some below him, on both sides, everywhere, to speak God's praise; for every one in their place, degree, and calling, show forth, though it be in a dumb sense and way, their Creator's praise.
Or, fourthly and lastly, which I think to be a good reason: zeal makes men speak and utter things impossible; the fire of zeal will so transport him that it will make him speak things unreasonable, impossible, as Moses in his zeal desired God, for the safety of Israel, "to blot his name out of his book"; and Paul wished himself "anathema", accursed or separate from Christ, for his brethren's salvation, which was a thing impossible, it could not be. --John Everard, in "Some Gospel Treasures", 1653.
Verse 7-10. The ox and the ass acknowledge their master. The winds and the sea obey him. It should seem that as there is a religion above man, the religion of angels, so there may be a religion beneath man, the religion of dumb creatures. For wheresoever there is a service of God, in effect it is a religion. Thus according to the several degrees and difference of states -- the state of nature, grace, and glory -- religion may likewise admit of degrees. --G.G., in a sermon entitled "The Creatures Praysing God", 1662.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 7. God's praise from dark, deep, and mysterious things.