Excerpt from The Expositor's Bible
What God has been to successive generations results from What He is in Himself before all generations. So ver. 2 soars to the contemplation of His absolute eternity, stretching boundless on either side of this bank and shoal of time From everlasting to ever lasting Thou art God and in that name is proclaimed His self-derived strength, which, being eternal, is neither derived from nor diminished by time, that first gives to, and then withdraws from, all creatures their feeble power. The remarkable expressions for the coming forth of the material world from the abyss of Deity regard creation as a birth. The Hebrew text reads in ver. 2 b as above, Thou gavest birth to; but a very small change in a single vowel gives the possibly preferable reading which preserves the parallelism of a passive verb in both clauses, Or the earth and the world were brought forth.
The poet turns now to the other member of his antithesis. Over against God's eternal Being is set the succession of man's generations, which has been already referred to in ver. 1. This thought of successiveness is lost unless ver. 3 6 is understood as the creative fiat which replaces by a new generation those who have been turned back to dust. Death and life, decay and ever-springing growth, are in continual alternation. The leaves, which are men, drop the buds swell and open. The ever-knitted web is being ever run down and woven together again. It is a dreary sight, unless one can say with our psalm, Thou turnest Thou sayest, Return. Then one understands that it is notaimless or futile. If a living Person is behind the transiencies of human life, these are still pathetic and awe-kindling, but not bewildering. In ver. 3 a there is clear allusion to Gen. Iii. 19. The word rendered dust may be an adjective taken as neuter that which is crushed, tie. Dust; or, as others suppose, a substantive crushing; but is probably best understood in the former sense. The psalm significantly uses the word for man which connotes frailty, and in b the expression sons of man which suggests birth.
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