on Psalms 8 :3
When I Consider thy heavens - כי אראה ki ereh; Because I will see. He had often seen the heavens with astonishment, and he purposes to make them frequent subjects of contemplation; and he could not behold them without being affected with the skill, contrivance, and power, manifested in their formation.
The work of thy fingers - What a view does this give of the majesty of God! The earth is nearly eight thousand English miles in diameter: but to form an adequate conception of its magnitude, we must consider it in its superficial and solid contents. Upon the supposition that the earth's polar diameter is seven thousand nine hundred and forty miles, and its equatorial, seven thousand nine hundred and seventy-seven, (estimates considered to very near approximations to the truth), the whole superficies of the terraqueous globe will amount to about one hundred and ninety-eight millions, nine hundred and eighty thousand, seven hundred square miles; and its solid contents, in cubic miles will be expressed by the following figures: 264,544,857,944, i.e., two hundred and sixty-four thousand five hundred and forty-four millions, eight hundred and fifty-seven thousand, nine hundred and forty-four. Great as we have shown the bulk of the earth to be, from the most accurate estimates of its diameter it is but small when compared with the bulks of some of the other bodies in the solar system. The planet Herschel, or Georgium Sidus, known on the continent of Europe by the name of Uranus, is eighty times and a half greater than the earth; Saturn, nine hundred and ninety-five times greater; Jupiter, one thousand two hundred and eighty-one times greater; and the sun, the most prodigious body in the system, one million three hundred and eightyfour thousand, four hundred and sixty-two times greater. The circumference of the sun contains not fewer than two millions seven hundred and seventy-seven thousand English miles; and a degree of latitude, which on the earth amounts only to sixty-nine miles and a half, will on the sun (the circle being supposed in both instances to be divided into three hundred and sixty degrees) contain not less than about seven thousand seven hundred and forty miles, a quantity almost equal to the terrestrial axis. But the immense volume (in cubic miles) which the solar surface includes amounts to the following most inconceivable quantity: 366,252,303,118,866,128, i.e., three hundred and sixty six thousand two hundred and fifty-two billions, three hundred and three thousand one hundred and eighteen millions, eight hundred and sixty-six thousand, one hundred and twenty-eight. Notwithstanding the amazing magnitude of the sun, we have abundant reason to believe that some of the fixed stars are much larger; and yet we are told they are the work of God's Fingers! What a hand, to move, form, and launch these globes! This expression is much more sublime than even that of the prophet: "Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out the heavens with a span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure; and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance!" Isaiah 40:12. This is grand; but the heavens being the work Of God's Fingers is yet more sublime.
The moon and the stars - The sun is not mentioned, because the heavens - the moon, planets, and stars - could not have appeared, had he been present. Those he wished to introduce because of their immense variety, and astonishing splendor; and, therefore, he skilfully leaves out the sun, which would have afforded him but one object, and one idea. To have mentioned him with the others would have been as ridiculous in astronomy, as the exhibition of the top and bottom of a vessel would be in perspective. Various critics have endeavored to restore the Sun to this place: and even Bishop Horsley says, "It is certainly strange that the sun should be omitted, when the moon and the stars are so particularly mentioned." But with great deference to him, and to Dr. Kennicott, who both show how the text may be mended I say, it would be most strange had the psalmist introduced the sun, for the reasons already assigned. The Spirit of God is always right; our head is sometimes, our hearts seldom so.
Which thou hast ordained - כוננתה conantah, which thou hast prepared and established. Made their respective spheres, and fitted them for their places. Space to matter, and matter to space; all adjusted in number, weight, and measure.
Psalm 8:3Quoniam videbo celos tuos, et opera digitorum tuorum, lunam et stellas quas tu fundasti.
Trans. For I sal se thi hevens werkes of thi fyngers the mone and the Sternys the quilk thow groundid.
Par. Thow destrues al that es contrariand til the; bot i in al thying confourom me to do thi wil, for thi i sal se in lyf withouten end. "Thi hevens", that es Aungels and Apostels the qwilk er werkes of thi fingers: that es, that er mode perfyte thurgh the Haly Gost, of qwam es seven gyftes. Of he be bot a Spirit, als mani fyngers er in a hand. And i sal see the "Mone", that es haly Kyrk: and the sternes that es ilk a ryghtwise man by hym selfe, the qwilk thu groundid in charite.
on Psalms 8 :3
Psalm 8:3When I consider thy heavens - When I contemplate or look upon. They are called his heavens because he made them - because he is the proprietor of them - perhaps because they are his abode.
The work of thy fingers - Which thy fingers have made. The fingers are the instruments by which we construct a piece of work - perhaps indicating skill rather than strength; and hence so used in respect to God, as it is by his skill that the heavens have been made.
The moon and the stars - Showing, as remarked above, that probably this psalm, was composed at night, or that the train of thought was suggested by the contemplation of the starry worlds. It is not improbable that the thoughts occurred to the psalmist when meditating on the signal honor which God had conferred on him, a feeble man (see the notes at Psalm 8:2), and when his thoughts were at the same time directed to the goodness of God as the heavens were contemplated in their silent grandeur.
on Psalms 8 :3
8:3 The moon - Either the sun is included under this general title: or he omitted it, because he made this psalm by night. Ordained - Placed in that excellent and unalterable order, and directed to their several motions.