TITLE.–“_To the Chief Musician upon Gittith, a Psalm of David_.” We are not clear upon the meaning of the word Gittith. Some think it refers to Gath, and may refer to a tune commonly sung there, or an instrument of music there invented, or a song of Obededom the Gittite, in whose house the ark rested, or, better still, a song sung over Goliath of Gath. Others, tracing the Hebrew to its root, conceive it to mean a song for the winepress, a joyful hymn for the treaders of grapes. The term Gittith is applied to two other Psalms (#Ps 81; 84|), both of which, being of a joyous character, it may be concluded, that where we find that word in the title, we may look for a hymn of delight.
We may style this Psalm the song of the Astronomer: let us go abroad and sing it beneath the starry heavens at eventide, for it is very probable that in such a position, it first occurred to the poet’s mind. Dr. Chalmars say’s, “There is much in the scenery of a nocturnal sky, to lift the soul to pious contemplation. That moon, and these stars, what are they? They are detached from the world, and they lift us above it. We feel withdrawn from the earth, and rise in lofty abstraction from this little theatre of human passions and human anxieties. The mind abandons itself to reverie, and is transferred in the ecstasy of its thought to distant and unexplored regions. It sees nature in the simplicity of her great elements, and it sees the God of nature invested with the high attributes of wisdom and majesty.”
DIVISION.–The first and last verses (#1,8|) are a sweet song of admiration, in which the excellence of the name of God is extolled. The intermediate verses are made up of holy wonder at the Lord’s greatness in creation, and at his condescension towards man. Poole, in his annotation, has well said, “It is a great question among interpreters, whether this Psalm speaks of man in general, and of the honour which God puts upon him in his creation; or only of the man Christ Jesus. Possibly both may be reconciled and put together, and the controversy, if rightly stated, may be ended, for the scope and business of this Psalm seems plainly to be this: to display and celebrate the great love and kindness of God to mankind, not only in his creation, but especially in his redemption by Jesus Christ, whom, as he was man, he advanced to the honour and dominion here mentioned, that he might carry on his great and glorious work. So Christ is the principal subject of this Psalm, and it is interpreted of him, both by our Lord himself (#Mt 21:16|), and by his holy apostle (#1Co 15:27; Heb 2:6,7|).
Unable to express the glory of God, the Psalmist utters a note of exclamation. O Jehovah our Lord! We need not wonder at this, for no heart can measure, no tongue can utter, the half of the greatness of Jehovah. The whole creation is full of his glory and radiant with the excellency of his power; his goodness and his wisdom are manifested on every hand. The countless myriads of terrestrial beings, from man the head, to the creeping worm at the foot, are all supported and nourished by the Divine bounty. The solid fabric of the universe leans upon his eternal arm. Universally is he present, and everywhere is his name excellent. God worketh ever and everywhere. There is no _place_ where God is not. The miracles of his power await us on all sides. Traverse the silent valleys where the rocks enclose you on either side, rising like the battlements of heaven till you can see but a strip of the blue sky far overhead; you may be the only traveller who has passed through that glen; the bird may start up affrighted, and the moss may tremble beneath the first tread of human foot; but God is there in a thousand wonders, upholding yon rocky barriers, filling the flowercups with their perfume, and refreshing the lonely pines with the breath of his mouth. Descend, if you will, into the lowest depths of the ocean, where undisturbed the water sleeps, and the very sand is motionless in unbroken quiet, but the glory of the Lord is there, revealing its excellence in the silent palace of the sea. Borrow the wings of the morning and fly to the uttermost parts of the sea, but God is there. Mount to the highest heaven, or dive into the deepest hell, and God is in both hymned in everlasting song, or justified in terrible vengeance. Everywhere, and in every place, God dwells and is manifestly at work. Nor on earth alone is Jehovah extolled, for his brightness shines forth in the firmament above the earth. His glory exceeds the glory of the starry heavens; above the region of the stars he hath set fast his everlasting throne, and there he dwells in light ineffable. Let us adore him “who alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea; who maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south.” (#Job 9:8,9|.) We can scarcely find more fitting words than those of Nehemiah, “Thou even thou, art Lord alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their hosts, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.” Returning to the text we are led to observe that this Psalm is addressed to God, because none but the Lord himself can fully know his own glory. The believing heart is ravished with what it sees, but God only knows the glory of God. What a sweetness lies in the little word _our_, how much is God’s glory endeared to us when we consider our interest in him as our Lord. _How excellent is thy name_! no words can express that excellency; and therefore it is left as a note of exclamation. The very name of Jehovah is excellent, what must his person be. Note the fact that even the heavens cannot contain his glory, it is set _above the heavens_, since it is and ever must be too great for the creature to express. When wandering amid the alps, we felt that the Lord was infinitely greater than all his grandest works, and under that feeling we roughly wrote these few lines:– Yet in all these how great soe’er they be, We see not Him. The glass is all too dense And dark, or else our earthborn eyes too dim. Yon Alps, that lift their heads above the clouds And hold familiar converse with the stars, Are dust, at which the balance trembleth not, Compared with His divine immensity. The snow-crown’d summits fail to set Him forth, Who dwelleth in Eternity, and bears Alone, the name of High and Lofty One. Depths unfathomed are too shallow to express The wisdom and the knowledge of the Lord, The mirror of the creatures has no space To bear the image of the Infinite. ‘Tis true the Lord hath fairly writ His name, And set His seal upon creation’s brow. But as the skilful potter much excels The vessel which he fashions on the wheel, E’en so, but in proportion greater far, Jehovah’s self transcends His noblest works. Earth’s ponderous wheels would break, her axles snap, If freighted with the load of Deity. Space is too narrow for the Eternal’s rest, And time too short a footstool for His throne. E’en avalanche and thunder lack a voice, To utter the full volume of His praise. How then can I declare Him! Where are words With which my glowing tongue may speak His name! Silent I bow, and humbly I adore. EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS. Title.–“_Gittith_,” was probably a musical instrument
used at their rejoicings after the vintage. The vintage closed the civil year of the Jews, and this Psalm directs us to the latter-day glory, when the Lord shall be King over all the earth, having subdued all his enemies. It is very evident that the vintage was adopted as a figurative representation of the final destruction of all God’s enemies. Isa 63:1-6; Re 19:18-20|. The ancient Jewish interpreters so understood this Psalm, and apply it to the mystic vintage. We may then consider this interesting composition as a prophetic anticipation of the kingdom of Christ, to be established in glory and honour in the “world to come,” the habitable world. #Heb 2:5|. We see not yet all things put under his feet, but we are sure that the word of God shall be fulfilled, and every enemy, Satan, death, and hell, shall be for ever subdued and destroyed, and creation itself delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. #Ro 8:17-23|. In the use of this Psalm, then, we anticipate that victory, and in the praise we thus celebrate, we go on from strength to strength till, with him who is our glorious head, we appear in Zion before God.–^W. Wilson, D.D., in loc.
Whole Psalm.–Now, consider but the scope of the Psalm, as the apostle quoteth it to prove the world to come. #Heb 2|. Any one that reads the Psalm would think that the Psalmist doth but set forth old Adam in his kingdom, in his paradise, made a little lower than the angels–for we have spirits wrapped up in flesh and blood, whereas they are spirits simply–a degree lower, as if they were dukes, and we marquises; one would think, I say, that this were all his meaning, and that it is applied to Christ but by way of allusion. But the truth is, the apostle bringeth it in to prove and to convince these Hebrews, to whom he wrote, that that Psalm was meant of Christ, of that man whom they expected to be the Messiah, the man Christ Jesus. And that he doth it, I prove by the sixth verse (#Heb 2:6|) –it is the observation that Beza hath—“One in a certain place,” quoting David, _diamartur