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Monday, January 16, 2017

PSALM 147

verses 15-20


"He sends forth His command to the earth;
His word runs very swiftly.
He gives snow like wool;
He scatters the frost like ashes.
He casts forth His ice as fragments;
Who can stand before His cold?
He sends forth His word and melts them;
He causes His wind to blow and the waters to flow.
He declares His words to Jacob,
His statutes and His ordinance to Israel.
He has not dealt thus with any nation;
And as for His ordinances, they have not known them.
Praise the Lord!"



"Have you entered the storehouses of the snow,
Or have you seen the storehouses of the hail...
From whose womb has come the ice?
And the frost of heaven, who has given it birth?
Water becomes (hides itself) hard like stone,
And the surface of the deep is imprisoned...
Who can tip the water jars of the heavens."
(Job 38:22, 29, 30, 37)



Matthew Henry says, "With him are the treasures of the snow and the hail, and out of these treasures He withdraws as He pleases.  It falls silently, and makes no more noise than the lock of wool; it covers the earth, and keeps it warm like a fleece of wool, and so promotes its fruitfulness...He sends out His word and melts them; the frost, the snow, the ice, are all dissolved quickly, in order to which he causes the wind, the south wind, to blow, and the waters, which were frozen, flow again as they did before.  This thawing word may represent the gospel  of Christ, and this thawing wind the Spirit of Christ (for the Spirit is compared to the wind, John 3:8); both are sent for the melting of frozen souls.  Converting grace, like the thaw, softens the heart that was hard, moistens it, and melts it into tears of repentance; it warms good affections, and makes them to flow, which before, were chilled and stopped up.  It is very evident, and yet how it is done is unaccountable: such is the change wrought in the conversion of a soul, when God's word and Spirit are sent to melt it and restore it to itself."


Some would scoff at the idea that the celebrations of Christmas are so tied to the idea of cold and snow. Yet, as Adam Clarke writes concerning "Who can stand before His cold?" "At particular times the cold in the east is so very intense as to kill man and best.  Jacobus de Vitriaco, one of the writers in the Gesta Dei per Francos, says, that in an expedition in which he was engaged against Mount Tabor, on the 24th of December, the cold was so intense that many of the poor people, and the beasts of burden, died by it.  And Albertus Aquensis, another of these writers, speaking of the cold in Judea, says that thirty of the people who attended Baldwin I in the mountainous districts near the Dead sea were killed by it: and that in the expedition they had to contend with horrible hail and ice; with unheard of snow and rain.  From this we find that the winters are often very severe in Judea."  



We who dwell in the valley below the mountains understand well what happens when He sends forth His word to melt the snow and the wind doth blow and the waters flow.  When it rains it pours, and when the snow melts it floods.  So underneath in what is a seemingly hard heart, it can be thawed as God's word melts it and the refreshing wind of the Spirit blows and the baptizing water flows. 

"So it was on the day of Pentecost.  The winter of spiritual captivity was thawed, dissolved by the soft breath of the Holy Ghost, and the earth laughed and bloomed with the spring of flowers of faith, love, and joy." (Christopher Wordsworth)


"He giveth snow like wool 1.  the whiteness of it.  Whiteness of a soul cleansed by pardoning grace, in the blood, (Isaiah 1:18)."



"The ancients used to call snow 'wooly water (Eustathius) or a thick fleece of waters (Martial)."






As for His chosen people Israel, "We who dwell in the centre of the Lord's dominions may exceedingly rejoice.  That to the utmost extremity of the realm the divine commandment speeds with sure result, and is not hindered by distance or time."  (Joseph Caryl)


Matthew Henry says, "Jacob and Israel had God's statutes and judgements among them.  They were under His peculiar government; ...their constitution was a theocracy.  They had the benefit of divine revelation...God speaks and it is done" just like at Creation.  Nature only illustrates what the speaking of the Word straight from God's mouth to Israel's ear was all about.  So this chapter ends with the flooding of His people with the life-giving water of the Word that flows down, that is at His command.  Thus, praise should bubble to the surface.


If all else is stripped away and condensed, these verses are really about the power of God's word being sent forth, running swiftly, His commands sent forth, His words declared.  Just as even the wind and the waves obeyed Him, so does the cold, hail, and snow, even more so, should we.  His word is creative, life-giving, all powerful.  He will have the final say.








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