He stood, and measured the earth - ארץ erets, the land; he divided the promised land among the twelve tribes. This is the allusion; and this the prophet had in his eye. God not only made a general assignment of the land to the Hebrews; but he even divided it into such portions as the different families required. Here were both power and condescension. When a conqueror had subdued a country, he divided it among his soldiers. Among the Romans, those among whom the conquered lands were divided were termed beneficiary; and the lands beneficia, as being held on the beneficence of the sovereign.
He beheld, and drove asunder the nations - The nations of Canaan, the Hittites, Hivites, Jebusites, etc., and all who opposed his people. Even his look dispersed them.
The everlasting mountains were scattered - Or, broken asunder. This may refer to the convulsions on Mount Sinai; and to the earth quake which announced the descent of the Most High. See Exodus 19:18. "God occupied the summit of the eternal Mount Sinai; and led his people over the eternal mountains of Arabia Petraea; and this sense is preferable to the figurative one, that his ways or doings are predetermined front everlasting." - Newcome.
The epithets עד ad, and עולם olam, eternal, and everlasting, are applied to mountains and immense rocks, because no other parts of nature are less subject to decay or change, than these immense masses of earth and stone, and that almost indestructible stone, granite, out of which Sinai appears to be formed. A piece of the beautiful granite of this mountain now lies before me. This is a figurative description of the passage of the Israelites through the deserts of Arabia, over mountains, rocks, and through the trackless wilderness; over and through which God, by his power and providence, gave them a safe passage.
The following beautiful piece from the Fragments of Aeschylus will illustrate the preceding description, and please the learned reader.
Χωριζε θνητων τον Θεον, και μη δοκειπ
Ομοιον αυτῳ σαρκινον καθεσταναι·π
Ουκ οισθα δ ' αυτον· ποτε μεν ὡς πυρ φαινεταιπ
Απλαστον ὁρμῃ ποτε δ ' ὑδωρ, ποτε δε γνοφος.π
Και θηρσιν αυτος γινεται παρεμφερης,π
Ανεμῳ, νεφει τε, κᾳστραπῃ, βροντῃ, βροχῃ.π
Ὑπηρετει δ ' αυτῳ θαλασσα, και πετραι,π
Και πασα πηγη, χ ' ὑδατος συστηματα·π
Τρεμει δ ' ορη και γαια και πελωριοςπ
Βυθος θαλασσης, κωρεων ὑψος μεγα,π
Οταν επιβλεψῃ γοργον ομμα δεσποτου.
Confound not God with man; nor madly deem
His form is mortal, and of flesh like thine.
Thou know'st him not. Sometimes like fire he glows
In wrath severe; sometimes as water flows;
In brooding darkness now his power conceals
And then in brutes that mighty power reveals.
In clouds tempestuous we the Godhead find;
He mounts the storm, and rides the winged wind;
In vivid lightnings flashes from on high;
In rattling thunders rends the lowering sky;
Fountains and rivers, seas and floods obey,
And ocean's deep abyss yields to his sway;
The mountains tremble, and the hills sink down,
Crumbled to dust by the Almighty's frown.
When God unfolds the terrors of his eye,
All things with horror quake, and in confusion lie.
J. B. B. Clarke.
He stood - It is “a metaphor of his giving victory to Israel” Tanchum.
And measured - So Kimchi, A. E., Rashi, Tanchum, Vulgate. It is borne out by Hithpolel. “extended himself,” 1 Kings 17:21. By an interchange of dentals; מוד might be = מוט, and so the Aramaic and the Septuagint but in no other case do the two forms co-exist in Hebrew.
The earth - Joshua, after he had conquered the land, meted it out and divided it among the people. He who should come, should measure out the earth in its length and breadth, that earth which His glory filleth. “He stood,” as Stephen saw Him, Acts 7:56, “standing at the right hand of God.” Isaiah saith, Isaiah 3:13: “The Lord standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people.” He had not need to go forth, but, in the abode of His glory, “He stood” and beheld and with His eye “measured the earth,” as His own, whereas, before the cross, it lay under 1 Corinthians 2:5, “the Prince of this world,” and he had said, Luke 4:6, “it is delivered unto me, and unto whomsoever I will, I give it.” “He measureth it,” and gave it to His apostles. Matthew 28:18; Mark 16:15: “all power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,” and, Psalm 19:4, “their sound is gone out into all lands, and their words into the ends of the world.” He measureth it also, surveying and weighing all who dwell therein, their persons, qualities, deeds, good or bad, to requite them, as “Judge of quick and dead;” as David cast down Moab and measured them with a line, 2 Samuel 8:2, “to put to death and to keep alive.”
He beheld, and drove asunder the nations - or, “made the nations to tremble.” When Israel came out of Egypt and God divided the Red Sea before them, they sang: Exodus 15:15-16 “The people shall hear and be afraid; terror shall take hold of the inhabitants of Palestine; the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold of them; all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away; fear and dread shall fall on them; by the greatness of Thy power they shall be still as a stone.” Fear and awe were to be renewed. All nearness of God brings terror to sinful man. When the news came through the wise men, that they had, Matthew 2:1-3, “seen in the East the star of Him who was born, King of the Jews,” not only was Herod the King troubled, but “all Jerusalem with him.” Pilate John 19:8 “was afraid” when he condemned Jesus; the high priests wondered “whereunto this should grow,” and expostulated, Acts 5:24, Acts 5:28, “ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man‘s blood upon us.” Pagandom was as a beleaguered city, mastered by an ubiquitous Presence, which they knew not how to meet. “The state is beset: the Christians are in their fields. in their forts, in their islands. Every sex, age, condition, and now even rank is going over to this sect.” The fierceness of the persecutions was the measure of their fear. They put forth all human might to stamp out the spark, lest their gods, and the greatness of the empire which they ascribed to their gods, should fall before this unknown Power.
And the everlasting mountains were scattered; the perpetual hills did bow - all power, great or small, gave way before Him. All which withstood was scattered asunder, all which in pride lifted itself up was brought low, although before the coming of the Saviour it had ever gone with neck erect, and none could humble its pride. There is something so marvelous about those ancient mountains. There they stood before man was on the earth; they are so solid, man so slight; they have survived so many generations of man; they will long survive us; they seem as if they would stand forever; nothing could stand before the might of God. What symbol could be more apt? To the greater pride the heavier lot is assigned; the mountains lifted on high above the earth and, as it were, looking down upon it, are scattered or dispersed, as when a stone flieth in pieces under the stroke of the hammer. The “hills” are bowed down only; and this may be the pride of man humbled under the yoke of Christ.
His ways are everlasting - “Everlasting” is set over against “everlasting.” The “everlasting” of the creature, that which had been as long as creation had been, co-existing with its whole duration, its most enduring parts, are as things past and gone; “the everlasting mountains, the hills of eternity,” have been scattered in pieces and bowed, and are no more. Over against these stands the everpresent eternity of God. “His ways are everlasting,” ordered everlastingly, existing everlastingly in the Divine Mind, and, when in act among us, without change in Him. The prophet blends in these great words, things seemingly contrary, ways which imply progress, eternity which is unchangeable “God ever worketh, and ever resteth; unchangeable, yet changing all; He changeth His works, His purpose unchanged”. “For Thou art Most High, and art not changed, neither in Thee doth today come to a close; yet in Thee it doth come to a close; because all such things also are in Thee. For they had no way to pass away, unless Thou heldest them together. ‹And since Thy years fail not,‘ Thy years are one Today. How many of our‘s and our fathers‘ years have flowed away through Thy today; and from it received the measure and the mould of such being as they had; and still others shall flow away, and so receive the mould of their degree of being. But Thou art still the Same; and all things of tomorrow, and all beyond, and all of yesterday, and all behind it, Thou wilt do in this today, Thou hast done in this today”
To these His goings, a highway is made by the breaking down of all which exalted itself, as Isaiah had said, “The loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low and the Lord Alone shall be exalted in that day” Isaiah 2:17; and “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low” Isaiah 40:3.
Bernard in Ps. Qui habitat. Serra. xi. 8: “The Everlasting ways of the Everlasting God are Mercy and Truth, by these Ways are the hills of the world and the proud demons, the princes of the darkness of this world, bowed down, who knew not the way of mercy and truth nor remembered its paths. What hath he to do with truth, who is a liar and the father of it, and of whom it is written, ‹he abode not in the Truth?‘ But how far he is from Mercy, our misery witnesseth, inflicted on us by him. When was he ever merciful, ‹who was a murderer from the beginning?‘ So then those swelling hills were bowed down from the Everlasting Ways, when through their own crookedness they sunk away from the straight ways of the Lord, and became not so much ways as precipices. How much more prudently and wisely are other hills bowed down and humbled by these ways to salvation! For they were not bowed from them, as parting from their straightness, but the Everlasting Ways themselves bowed down. May we not now see the hills of the world bowed down, when those who are high and mighty with devoted submission bow themselves before the Lord. and worship at His Feet? Are they not bowed down, when from their own destructive loftiness of vanity and cruelty, they are turned to the humble way of mercy and truth?”
“God is love.” 1 John 4:16. His nature, His law, is love. It ever has been; it ever will be. “The high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity,” whose “ways are everlasting,” changeth not. With Him “is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” Isaiah 57:15; Habakkuk 3:6; James 1:17. PP 33.1
Every manifestation of creative power is an expression of infinite love. The sovereignty of God involves fullness of blessing to all created beings. The psalmist says: PP 33.2Read in context »
The coming of Christ to usher in the reign of righteousness has inspired the most sublime and impassioned utterances of the sacred writers. The poets and prophets of the Bible have dwelt upon it in words glowing with celestial fire. The psalmist sang of the power and majesty of Israel's King: “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined. Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence.... He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that He may judge His people.” Psalm 50:2-4. “Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad ... before the Lord: for He cometh, for He cometh to judge the earth: He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with His truth.” Psalm 96:11-13. GC 300.1
Said the prophet Isaiah: “Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.” “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise.” “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of His people shall He take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it. And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.” Isaiah 26:19; 25:8, 9. GC 300.2
And Habakkuk, rapt in holy vision, beheld His appearing. “God came from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of His praise. And His brightness was as the light.” “He stood, and measured the earth: He beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hill did bow: His ways are everlasting.” “Thou didst ride upon Thine horses and Thy chariots of salvation.” “The mountains saw Thee, and they trembled: ... the deep uttered his voice, and lifted up his hands on high. The sun and moon stood still in their habitation: at the light of Thine arrows they went, and at the shining of Thy glittering spear.” “Thou wentest forth for the salvation of Thy people, even for salvation with Thine anointed.” Habakkuk 3:3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13. GC 300.3Read in context »
“O Lord, revive Thy work in the midst of the years,
In the midst of the years make known;
In wrath remember mercy. PK 388.1
“God came from Teman,
And the Holy One from Mount Paran.
His glory covered the heavens,
And the earth was full of His praise.
And His brightness was as the light;
He had bright beams out of His side:
And there was the hiding of His power.
Before Him went the pestilence,
And burning coals went forth at His feet.
He stood, and measured the earth:
He beheld, and drove asunder the nations;
And the everlasting mountains were scattered,
The perpetual hills did bow:
His ways are everlasting.” PK 388.2
“Thou wentest forth for the salvation of Thy people,
Even for salvation with Thine anointed.” PK 388.3