Verse 11. Thou crownest the year with thy goodness. The harvest is the plainest display of the divine bounty, and the crown of the year. The Lord himself conducts the coronation, and sets the golden coronal upon the brow of the year. Or we may understand the expression to mean that God's love encircles the year as with a crown; each month has its gems, each day its pearl. Unceasing kindness girdles all time with a belt of love. The providence of God in its visitations makes a complete circuit, and surrounds the year.
And thy paths drop fatness. The footsteps of God, when he visits the land with rain, create fertility. It was said of the Tartar hordes, that grass grew no more where their horses' feet had trodden; so, on the contrary, it may be said that the march of Jehovah, the Fertiliser, may be traced by the abundance which he creates. For spiritual harvests we must look to him, for he alone can give "times of refreshing" and feasts of Pentecost.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 11. Thou crownest the year with thy goodness. Dr. William Whewell, in his Bridgewater Treatise, notes the evidence of design in the length of the year, and although it may not perhaps be considered to be a direct comment on the text, I beg to quote it here, as it may awaken a train of thought, and make more conspicuous the goodness of God, in the revolution of the seasons. "If any change in the length of the year were to take place, the working of the botanical world would be thrown into utter disorder, the functions of plants would be entirely deranged, and the whole vegetable kingdom involved in instant decay and rapid extinction." That this would be the case, may be collected from innumerable indications. Most of our fruit trees, for example, require the year to be of its present length. If the summer and the autumn were much shorter, the fruit could not ripen; if these seasons were much longer, the tree would put forth a fresh suit of blossoms, to be cut down by the winter. Or, if the year were twice its present length, a second crop of fruit would probably not be matured, for want, among other things, of an intermediate season of rest and consolidation, such as the winter is. Our forest trees, in like manner, appear to need all the seasons of our present year for their perfection; the spring, summer, and autumn, for the development of their leaves and consequent formation of their proper juice, and of wood from this; and the winter for the hardening and solidifying the substance thus formed... The processes of the rising of the sap, of the formation of proper juices, of the unfolding of leaves, the opening of flowers, the fecundation of the fruit, the ripening of the seed, its proper deposition in order for the reproduction of a new plant; all these operations require a certain portion of time, and could not be compressed into a space less than a year, or at least could not be abbreviated in any very great degree. And, on the other hand, if the winter were greatly longer than it now is, many seeds would not germinate at the return of spring. Seeds which have been kept too long, require stimulants to make them fertile. If, therefore, the duration of the seasons were much to change the processes of vegetable life would be interrupted, deranged, distempered. What, for instance, would become of our calender of Flora, if the year were lengthened or shortened by six months? Some of the dates would never arrive in the one case, and the vegetable processes which mark them would be superseded; some seasons would be without dates in the other case, and these periods would be employed in a way hurtful to the plants, and no doubt speedily destructive. We should have, not only a year of confusion, but if it were repeated and continued, a year of death... The same kind of argument might be applied to the animal creation. The pairings, nesting, hatching, fledgling, and flight of birds, for instance, occupy each its peculiar time of the year; and, together with a proper period of rest, fill up the twelve months; the transformations of most insects have similar reference to the seasons, their progress and duration. `In every species' (except man's), says a writer (Flemming) on animals, `there is a particular period of the year in which the reproductive system exercises its energies. And the season of love and the period of gestation are so arranged that the young ones are produced at the time wherein the conditions of temperature are most suited to the commencement of life.' It is not our business here to consider the details of such provisions, beautiful and striking as they are. But the prevalence of the great law of periodicity in the vital functions of organised beings will be allowed to have a claim to be considered in its reference to astronomy, when it is seen that their periodical constitution derives its use from the periodical nature of the motions of the planets round the sun; and that the duration of such cycles in the existence of plants and animals has a reference to the arbitrary elements of the solar system, a reference which we maintain is inexplicable and unintelligible, except by admitting into our conceptions an intelligent Author, alike of the organic and inorganic universe.
Verse 11. Thou crownest the year with thy goodness. God has surrounded this year with his goodness, "compassed and enclosed it" on every side. So we translate the same word, ( Psalms 5:12 ), "With favour wilt thou compass (or crown) him as with a shield." He has given us instances of his goodness in every thing that concerns us; so that turn which way we will, we meet with the tokens of his favour; every part of the year has been enriched with the blessings of heaven, and no gap has been left open for any desolating judgment to enter by. Matthew Henry.
Verse 11. Thou crownest the year. A full and plentiful harvest is the crown of the year; and this springs from the unmerited goodness of God. This is the diadem of the earth. Trj[ ittarta. "You encircle," as with a diadem. A most elegant expression, to show the progress of the sun through the twelve signs of the zodiac, producing the seasons, and giving a sufficiency of light and heat alternately, to all places on the surface of the globe, by its north and south declination (amounting to 23 28" at the solstices) on each side of the equator. A more beautiful image could not have been chosen; and the very appearance of the space, termed the zodiac on a celestial globe, shows with what propriety the idea of a circle or diadem was conceived by this inimitable poet. Adam Clarke.
Verse 11. Thou crownest. The herbs, fruits, and flowers, produced by the earth, are here finely represented as a beautiful variegated crown, set upon her head, by the hands of the great Creator. Samuel Burder.
Verse 11. To crown the year of goodness, is to raise it to the highest degree and summit of prosperity, happiness, and glory. To crown, to fill up, to make glorious and joyful: the year of the goodness of God is the time in which he unfolds his own highest goodness; one is crowned, when the effects of this goodness are displayed on the grandest scale, and bring great glory and joy. Such was the time when he shone forth, and the clouds dropped fatness, and all parts of the earth were filled with fertility... The paths of God are the clouds, before called the river of God (see Psalms 104:3 ), now the paths in which God himself seems to move, and whence, from the place of rain, from the river of God, flows fatness itself, or the copious abundance of all that is sweetest and best. Hermann Venema.
Verse 11. Thy paths drop fatness. When the conqueror journeys through the nations, his paths drop blood; fire and vapour of smoke are in his track, and tears, and groans, and sighs attend him. But where the Lord journeys, his paths drop fatness. When the kings of old made a progress through their dominions, they caused a famine wherever they tarried; for the greedy courtiers who swarmed in their camp devoured all things like locusts, and were as greedily ravenous as palmer worms and caterpillars. But where the great King of kings journeys, he enriches the land; his paths drop fatness. By a bold Hebrew metaphor the clouds are represented as the chariots of God: "He maketh the clouds his chariot;" and as the Lord Jehovah rides upon the heavens in the greatness of his strength, and in his excellency on the sky, the rains drop down upon the lands, and so the wheel tracks of Jehovah are marked by the fatness which makes glad the earth. Happy, happy are the people who worship such a God, whose coming is ever a coming of goodness and of grace to his creatures. C. H. S.
Verse 11. Paths here are properly such tracks as are made by chariot wheels. Henry Ainsworth.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 9-13. A Harvest Sermon.
- The general goodness of God, Visiting the earth
in rotation of seasons: "Seed time and harvest," etc.
- The greatness of his resources: The river of
God, which is full of water; not like Elijah's
brook, which dried up.
- The variety of his benefactions: Corn; Water;
Blessest the springing thereof, etc.
- The perpetuity of his blessings; Crownest the
year. E. G. G.
Verse 11. See "Spurgeon's Sermons," No. 532: "Thanksgiving and Prayer."