Thy righteousness is like the great mountains - אל כהררי keharerey El, like the mountains of God; exceeding high mountains; what, in the present language of geology, would be called primitive mountains, those that were formed at the beginning; and are not the effects of earthquakes or inundations, as secondary and alluvial mountains are supposed to be.
Thy judgments are a great deep - רבה תהום tehom rabbah, the great abyss; as incomprehensible as the great chaos, or first matter of all things which God created in the beginning, and which is mentioned Genesis 1:2, and darkness was on the face, תהום tehom, of the deep, the vast profound, or what is below all conjecturable profundity. How astonishing are the thoughts in these two verses! What an idea do they give us of the mercy, truth, righteousness, and judgments of God!
The old Psalter, in paraphrasing mountains of God, says, Thi ryghtwisnes, that es, ryghtwis men, er gastly hilles of God; for that er hee in contemplacioun, and soner resayves the lyght of Crist. Here is a metaphor taken from the tops of mountains and high hills first catching the rays of the rising sun. "Righteous men are spiritual hills of God; for they are high in contemplation, and sooner receive the light of Christ." It is really a very fine thought; and much beyond the rudeness of the times in which this Psalter was written.
Man and beast - Doth God take care of cattle? Yes, he appoints the lions their food, and hears the cry of the young ravens; and will he not provide for the poor, especially the poor of his people? He will. So infinitely and intensely good is the nature of God, that it is his delight to make all his creatures happy. He preserves the man, and he preserves the beast; and it is his providence which supplies the man, when his propensities and actions level him with the beasts that perish.
Thy righteousness - Thy justice; that is, the justice of God considered as residing in his own nature; his justice in his laws; his justice in his providential dealings; his justice in his plan of delivering man from sin; his justice to the universe in administering the rewards and penalties of the law.
Is like the great mountains - Margin, as in Hebrew: “the mountains of God.” The name “God” is thus, in the Scriptures, often given to that which is great or exalted, as God is the greatest Being that the mind can form any conception of. So in Psalm 80:10: “The boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars,” in the Hebrew, “cedars of God.” Connecting his name with “mountains” or “cedars,” we have the idea of “strength” or “greatness,” as being especially the work of the Almighty. The idea here is, that as the mountains are the most stable of all the objects with which we are acquainted, so it is with the justice of God. It is as fixed as the everlasting hills.
Thy judgments - The acts and records which are expressive of thy judgment in regard to what is right and best; that judgment as it is expressed in thy law, and in thy dealings with mankind. The “judgment” of God in any matter may be expressed either by a declaration or by his acts. The latter is the idea now most commonly attached to the word, and it has come to be used almost exclusively to denote “afflictive” dispensations of His Providence, or expressions of His displeasure against sin. The word is not used in that exclusive sense in the Scriptures. It refers to any divine adjudication as to what is right, whether expressed by declaration or by act, and would include his adjudications in favor of that which is right as well as those against that which is wrong.
Are a great deep - The word rendered “deep” here means properly wave, billow, surge; then, a mass of waters, a flood, a deep; and the phrase “great deep” would properly refer to the ocean, its “depth” being one of the most remarkable things in regard to it. The “idea” here is, that as we cannot fathom the ocean or penetrate to its bottom, so it is with the judgments of God. They are beyond our comprehension, and after all our efforts to understand them, we are constrained, as in measuring the depths of the ocean, to confess that we cannot reach to the bottom of them. This is true in regard to his law, in regard to the principles of his government as he has declared them, and in regard to his actual dealings with mankind. It could not be otherwise than that in the administration of an infinite God there must be much that man, in his present state, could not comprehend. Compare Job 11:7-9; Isaiah 55:8-9.
O Lord, “thou preservest man and beast - literally, thou wilt “save;” that is, thou savest them from destruction. The idea is, that he keeps them alive; or that life, where it is continued, is always continued by his agency. The psalmist evidently sees in the fact here stated an illustration of what he had just said about the “greatness” of God in His providential agency and his general government. He was struck with His greatness, and with the incomprehensible nature of His power and agency, in the fact that he kept alive continually so many myriads of creatures upon the earth - so many hundred millions of human beings - so many thousand millions of wild beasts, reptiles, fish, birds, and insects - all dependent upon Him; that He provided for their needs, and that He protected them in the dangers to which they were exposed. And who can comprehend the extent of His law, and the wonderfulness of His Providence, in thus watching over and providing for the multitudes of animated beings that swarm in the waters, in the air, and on the earth?
God had provided for His people a sanctuary of awful grandeur, befitting the mighty truths committed to their trust. To those faithful exiles the mountains were an emblem of the immutable righteousness of Jehovah. They pointed their children to the heights towering above them in unchanging majesty, and spoke to them of Him with whom there is no variableness nor shadow of turning, whose word is as enduring as the everlasting hills. God had set fast the mountains and girded them with strength; no arm but that of Infinite Power could move them out of their place. In like manner He had established His law, the foundation of His government in heaven and upon earth. The arm of man might reach his fellow men and destroy their lives; but that arm could as readily uproot the mountains from their foundations, and hurl them into the sea, as it could change one precept of the law of Jehovah, or blot out one of His promises to those who do His will. In their fidelity to His law, God's servants should be as firm as the unchanging hills. GC 66.1
The mountains that girded their lowly valleys were a constant witness to God's creative power, and a never-failing assurance of His protecting care. Those pilgrims learned to love the silent symbols of Jehovah's presence. They indulged no repining because of the hardships of their lot; they were never lonely amid the mountain solitudes. They thanked God that He had provided for them an asylum from the wrath and cruelty of men. They rejoiced in their freedom to worship before Him. Often when pursued by their enemies, the strength of the hills proved a sure defense. From many a lofty cliff they chanted the praise of God, and the armies of Rome could not silence their songs of thanksgiving. GC 66.2
Pure, simple, and fervent was the piety of these followers of Christ. The principles of truth they valued above houses and lands, friends, kindred, even life itself. These principles they earnestly sought to impress upon the hearts of the young. From earliest childhood the youth were instructed in the Scriptures and taught to regard sacredly the claims of the law of God. Copies of the Bible were rare; therefore its precious words were committed to memory. Many were able to repeat large portions of both the Old and the New Testament. Thoughts of God were associated alike with the sublime scenery of nature and with the humble blessings of daily life. Little children learned to look with gratitude to God as the giver of every favor and every comfort. GC 67.1Read in context »
Because the law of the Lord is perfect, and therefore changeless, it is impossible for sinful men, in themselves, to meet the standard of its requirement. This was why Jesus came as our Redeemer. It was His mission, by making men partakers of the divine nature, to bring them into harmony with the principles of the law of heaven. When we forsake our sins and receive Christ as our Saviour, the law is exalted. The apostle Paul asks, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” Romans 3:31. MB 50.1
The new-covenant promise is, “I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them.” Hebrews 10:16. While the system of types which pointed to Christ as the Lamb of God that should take away the sin of the world was to pass away at His death, the principles of righteousness embodied in the Decalogue are as immutable as the eternal throne. Not one command has been annulled, not a jot or tittle has been changed. Those principles that were made known to man in Paradise as the great law of life will exist unchanged in Paradise restored. When Eden shall bloom on earth again, God's law of love will be obeyed by all beneath the sun. MB 50.2
“Forever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven.” “All His commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness.” “Concerning Thy testimonies, I have known of old that Thou hast founded them forever.” Psalm 119:89; 111:7, 8; Psalm 119:152. MB 51.1Read in context »
He who has a knowledge of God and His word through personal experience has a settled faith in the divinity of the Holy Scriptures. He has proved that God's word is truth, and he knows that truth can never contradict itself. He does not test the Bible by men's ideas of science; he brings these ideas to the test of the unerring standard. He knows that in true science there can be nothing contrary to the teaching of the word; since both have the same Author, a correct understanding of both will prove them to be in harmony. Whatever in so-called scientific teaching contradicts the testimony of God's word is mere human guesswork. MH 462.1
To such a student, scientific research will open vast fields of thought and information. As he contemplates the things of nature, a new perception of truth comes to him. The book of nature and the written word shed light upon each other. Both make him better acquainted with God by teaching him of His character and of the laws through which He works. MH 462.2
The experience of the psalmist is the experience that all may gain by receiving God's word through nature and through revelation. He says: MH 462.3Read in context »
I have been shown that the false shepherds were drunk, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. The truth of God is sealed up to them; they cannot read it. When they are interrogated as to what the seventh-day Sabbath is, whether or not it is the true Sabbath of the Bible, they lead the mind to fables. I saw that these prophets were like the foxes of the desert. They have not gone up into the gaps, they have not made up the hedge that the people of God may stand in the battle in the day of the Lord. When the minds of any get stirred up, and they begin to inquire of these false shepherds about the truth, they take the easiest and best manner to effect their object and quiet the minds of the inquiring ones, even changing their own position to do it. Light has shone on many of these shepherds, but they would not acknowledge it and have changed their position a number of times to evade the truth and get away from the conclusions that they must come to if they continued in their former position. The power of truth tore up their foundation, but instead of yielding to it they would get up another platform that they were not satisfied with themselves. EW 123.1
I saw that many of these shepherds had denied the past teachings of God; they had denied and rejected the glorious truths which they once zealously advocated and had covered themselves with mesmerism and all kinds of delusions. I saw that they were drunken with error and were leading on their flock to death. Many of the opposers of God's truth devise mischief in their heads upon their beds, and in the day they carry out their wicked devices to put down the truth and to get something new to interest the people and divert their minds from the precious, all-important truth. EW 123.2Read in context »