and embrace it. We may even fancy that they now bear that load of fruit which would otherwise be demanded of the feeble parent. Thus do good and affectionate children gather round the table of the righteous. Each contributes something to the common wealth and welfare of the whole-a beautiful sight, with which may God refresh the eyes of every friend of mine."

Egypt, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome, each in its turn, hated Zion and persecuted her. The church speaks, in Psalm cxxix., of her many afflictions, and appeals to God to undertake for her.

“Let them all be confounded and turned back that hate Zion: Let them be as the grass upon the house-tops, which withereth afore it groweth up." “Groweth up”—more correctly, "is plucked up.” To the flat roofs of eastern dwellings, when the dust is permitted to collect, the breezes carry the seeds of grass. These spring up under the clouded sky and amidst the abounding moisture of the rainy season.

But so frail and insecure are their roots, that a few days of a bright sunshine destroys them. “They are withered before they are plucked up."

Psalm cxxxiii.—The goodness and beauty of brotherly love and forbearance form the theme of this psalm. “Dwelling together in unity" is said to be

" As the dew of Hermon, that descended on the mountains of Zion." Our translators have inserted "and as the dew,” with the view of dissociating Hermon and Zion. But this spoils much of the beauty of the figure. “Hermon"—the modern Jebel-esh-Sheikhis the name given to the high southern outliers of Anti-Libanus. Its highest point is Hermon proper, or " The lofty peak." "From the moment that the traveller reaches the plain of Shechem in the interior, nay, even from the depths of the Jordan-valley of the Dead Sea, the snowy heights of Hermon are visible.

The 'dews' of the mists that rose from its watery ravines, or of the clouds that rested on its summit were perpetual witnesses of freshness and coolness, the sources, as it seemed, of all the moisture which was to the land of Palestine what the fragrant oil was to the garments of the High Priest; what the refreshing influence of brotherly love was to the whole community.”(Stanley.)

Psalm cxxxvii.—Memories of the captivity at Babylon, and of the treatment of the people in their bondage, crowd in upon one of the captives, and he strikes his harp to this plaintive strain :

“By the rivers of Babylon there we sat down;
Yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof."

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"The beautiful house where their fathers had worshipped” was laid waste. Their position in Babylon told them that they had been unfaithful to God. Present sorrow was the fruit of sin—they wept and hanged their harps on the willows.

“Willow,” Heb. ērev, is no doubt the weeping willow (Selix Babylonica) still abundant in the region pointed to, the banks of Euphrates and Tigris, drooping over pools which tell of the famous canals of Babylon (Isa. xliv. 4). The plant has ever been a favourite in song, lending beauty to places

“ Where the willow keeps
A patient watch over the stream that creeps

Wanderingly." What were the rivers of Babylon, by which the captives sat down? The answer has generally been, “The canals between the Euphrates and the Tigris.” But they were more likely these great rivers themselves. The word rendered "rivers" is that associated with the waters of Eden (Gen. ii). It denotes a much larger flow of water than a canal. It is used one hundred and fourteen times in the Old Testament, and always in the modern sense of a river, as distinguished from a stream, or the artificial gathering of water. Both kinds are pointed out by Mr. Layard as characteristic of Babylon :—“Long before Babylon had overcome her rival, Nineveh, she was famous for the extent and importance of her commerce. No position could have then been more favourable than hers for carrying on a trade with all the regions of the known world. She stood upon a navigable stream that brought to her


produce of the temperate highlands of Armenia, approached in one part of its course within almost one hundred miles of the Mediterranean Sea, and emptied its waters into a gulf of the Indian Ocean. Parallel with this great river was one scarcely inferior in size and importance. The Tigris, too, came from the Armenian hills, flowed through the fertile districts of Assyria, and carried their varied produce to the Babylonian cities. Moderate skill and enterprise could scarcely fail to make Babylon, not only the emporium of the Eastern world, but the main link of commercial intercourse between the East and the West. The inhabitants did not neglect the advantages bestowed upon them by nature. A system of navigable canals that may excite the admiration of even the modern engineer, connected together the Euphrates and Tigris, those great arteries of commerce. With a skill showing no common knowledge of the art of surveying, and of the principles of hydraulics, the Babylonians took advantage of the different levels in the plains,

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and of the periodical rises in the two rivers, to complete the water communication between all parts of the province, and to fertilize by artificial irrigation an otherwise barren and unproductive soil. Alexander, after he had transferred the seat of his empire to the East, so fully understood the importance of these great works, that he ordered them to be cleansed and repaired, and superintended the work in person, steering his boat with his own hand through the channels.” ("Nineveh and Babylon,” p. 534.)

Psalm cxxxv.—“God has chosen Israel for his peculiar treasure. This gracious and blessed fact was to become a motive for the hallelujahs of priests and people. He by whom Israel is chosen is the Great God. One evidence of his greatness is stated in verse 7:—

“He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth;
He maketh lightnings for the rain;

He bringeth the wind out of his treasures." The illustration is taken from the almost constantly accompanying phenomena of a thunderstorm. There is first the depressing lull, then the lightning flash, followed by the peal of thunder, and to this succeeds the storm of wind and rain. All these are under God's sovereign control :

“Fire and hail; snow, and vapours;

Stormy wind fulfilling his word” (cxlviii. 8). God's ministry in the kingdoms of Grace and of Nature is celebrated in Psalm cxlvii. The varied phenomena of nature referred to here have already been noticed in other parts of this work.

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