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Commentary On Psalms Volume 2 by Jean Calvin

Psalm 65:9-13

9. Thou hast visited the earth, and watered it; thou hast greatly enriched it; the river of God is full of waters: thou wilt prepare their corn, for so thou hast provided for it.10. Thou dost saturate its furrows, thou makest the rain to fall into them; thou moistenest it with showers; thou blessest the buddings forth of it.11. Thou crownest the year with thy goodness, and thy paths will drop fatness.12. They drop upon the dwellings of the wilderness, and the hills shall be girt about with gladness; 13. The pastures are clothed with flocks, the valleys are covered with corn; they shout for joy, they also sing.

9. Thou hast visited the earth, and watered it This and the verbs which follow denote action continually going forward, and may therefore be rendered in the present tense. The exact meaning of the second verb in the sentence has been disputed. Some derive it from the verb svq, shuk, signifying to desire; and giving this meaning, that God visits the earth after it has been made dry and thirsty by long drought. Others derive it from the verb sqh, shakah, signifying to give drink. This seems the most natural interpretation -- Thou visitest the earth by watering it. It suits the connection better, for it follows, thou plentifully enrichest it, an expression obviously added by way of amplification. Whether the Psalmist speaks of Judea only, or of the world at large, is a point as to which different opinions may be held. I am disposed myself to think, that although what he says applies to the earth generally, he refers more particularly to Judea, as the former part of the psalm has been occupied with recounting the kindness of God to his own Church and people more especially. This view is confirmed by what is added, the stream or river of God is full of water Some take the river of God to mean a great or mighty river, but such a rendering is harsh and overstrained, and on that supposition, rivers, in the plural number, would have been the form of expression used. I consider that he singles out the small rivulet of Siloah, and sets it in opposition to the natural rivers which enrich other countries, intending an allusion to the word of Moses, (Deuteronomy 11:10,) that the land which the Lord their God should give unto his people would not be as the land of Egypt, fertilized by the overflowings of the Nile, but a land drinking water of the rain of heaven. Or we may suppose that he calls the rain itself metaphorically the river of God The words must, at any rate, be restricted to Judea, as by the pastures or dwellings of the wilderness, we are also to understand the more dry and uncultivated districts, called in Scripture |the hill country.| But while it is the kindness of God to his own people which is here more particularly celebrated as being better known, we are bound, in whatever part of the world we live, to acknowledge the riches of the Divine goodness seen in the earth's fertility and increase. It is not of itself that it brings forth such an inexhaustible variety of fruits, but only in so far as it has been fitted by God for producing the food of man. Accordingly, there is a propriety and force in the form of expression used by the Psalmist when he adds, that corn is provided for man, because the earth has been so prepared by God; which means, that the reason of that abundance with which the earth teems, is its having been expressly formed by God in his fatherly care of the great household of mankind, to supply the wants of his children.

10. Thou dost saturate its furrows Some take the verbs as being in the optative mood, and construe the words as a prayer. But there can be little doubt that David still continues the strain of thanksgiving, and praises God for moistening and saturating the earth with rains that it may be fitted for producing fruit. By this he would signify to us, that the whole order of things in nature shows the fatherly love of God, in condescending to care for our daily sustenance. He multiplies his expressions when speaking of a part of the divine goodness, which many have wickedly and impiously disparaged. It would seem as if the more perspicacity men have in observing second causes in nature, they will rest in them the more determinedly, instead of ascending by them to God. Philosophy ought to lead us upwards to him, the more that it penetrates into the mystery of his works; but this is prevented by the corruption and ingratitude of our hearts; and as those who pride themselves in their acuteness, avert their eye from God to find the origin of rain in the air and the elements, it was the more necessary to awaken us out of such a spirit.

11 Thou crownest the year with thy goodness Some read -- Thou crownest the year of thy goodness; as if the Psalmist meant that the fertile year had a peculiar glory attached to it, and were crowned, so to speak, by God. Thus, if there was a more abundant crop or vintage than usual, this would be the crown of the year. And it must be granted that God does not bless every year alike. Still there is none but what is crowned with some measure of excellency; and for that reason it would seem best to retain the simpler rendering of the words, and view them as meaning that the Divine goodness is apparent in the annual returns of the season. The Psalmist further explains what he intended, when he adds, that the paths of God dropped fatness, -- using this as a metaphorical term for the clouds, upon which God rideth, as upon chariots, as we read in Psalm 104:3 The earth derives its fruitfulness from the sap or moisture; this comes from the rain, and the rain from the clouds. With a singular gracefulness of expression, these are therefore represented as dropping fatness, and this because they are the paths or vehicles of God; as if he had said, that, wherever the Deity walked there flowed down from his feet fruits in endless variety and abundance. He amplifies this goodness of God, by adding, that his fatness drops even upon the wilder and more uncultivated districts. The wilderness is not to be taken here for the absolute waste where nothing grows, but for such places as are not so well cultivated, where there are few inhabitants, and where, notwithstanding, the Divine goodness is even more illustrated than elsewhere in dropping down fatness upon the tops of the mountains. Notice is next taken of the valleys and level grounds, to show that there is no part of the earth overlooked by God, and that the riches of his liberality extend over all the world. The variety of its manifestation is commended when it is added, that the valleys and lower grounds are clothed with flocks, as well as with corn. He represents inanimate things as rejoicing, which may be said of them in a certain sense, as when we speak of the fields smiling, when they refresh our eye with their beauty. It may seem strange, that he should first tell us, that they shout for joy, and then add the feebler expression, that they sing; interposing, too, the intensative particle, 'ph, aph, they shout for joy, yea, they also sing The verb, however, admits of being taken in the future tense, they shall sing, and this denotes a continuation of joy, that they would rejoice, not only one year, but through the endless succession of the seasons. I may add, what is well known, that in Hebrew the order of expression is frequently inverted in this way.

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