Psalms 115:16

16 The heavens are the Lord's heavens, but the earth he has given to human beings.

Psalms 115:16 Meaning and Commentary

Psalms 115:16

The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord's
Not only the visible heavens, the airy and starry regions, which are within our sight; but the heaven of heavens, the third heaven, into which the Apostle Paul was caught, and heard and saw things not to be uttered; and which is, as the Targum expresses it,

``for the majesty of the glory of the Lord:''

he is the maker, owner, proprietor, and possessor of them all: but the third heaven is more especially the seat of his majesty; where he has prepared the throne of his glory, where he keeps court; where his ministers, his angels, wait upon him, observe his orders, and execute his will; and which he has prepared for his saints to dwell with him in to all eternity.

But the earth hath he given to the children of men;
to Adam and his posterity, to dwell in it, to till it, and enjoy the fruits of it; yet so as not to leave it entirely to the care of men, and have no concern in it, and the affairs of it, as some licentious persons would from hence conclude; as if God had took the heavens to himself, and only minded the persons and things in that, and never concerned himself about the earth, and persons and things there; having disposed of it to the children of men, and left it to their conduct: for though he has given it to them for their use, yet he has still a claim upon it, and can and does dispose of it, and order all things in it, according to his pleasure; and men, from the highest to the lowest, are accountable to him, being but stewards, and at most but deputies and viceroys, under him: besides the words may be rendered, "and the earth which he hath given to the children of men" F1; that is his also, as well as the heavens. This the Lord gives to the children of men as their portion; and sad is the case of such, when this is their all; but to his own children he gives heaven, the kingdom of heaven, eternal glory and happiness. Maimonides F2 gives the sense of the whole passage thus;

``God only perfectly knows the truth, nature, substance, form, motion, and causes of the heavens: and to man he has given, that he may understand what are under the heavens; because they are the world, and as it were his house, in which he dwells, and of which he is a part.''


F1 So Junius & Tremellius.
F2 Moreh Nevochim, par. 2. c. 24. p. 256.

Psalms 115:16 In-Context

14 May the Lord give you increase, both you and your children.
15 May you be blessed by the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
16 The heavens are the Lord's heavens, but the earth he has given to human beings.
17 The dead do not praise the Lord, nor do any that go down into silence.
18 But we will bless the Lord from this time on and forevermore. Praise the Lord!
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.