Psalm 105:39
He spread a cloud for a covering; and fire to give light in the night.
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(39) Cloud.—As in Isaiah 4:5. The reason assigned for the cloud in the historical books is lost sight of. Instead of a pillar marking the line of march, or as a protection against the pursuing foe, it is a canopy for protection from the sun. Sir Walter Scott expresses the same idea in Rebecca’s hymn.

105:24-45 As the believer commonly thrives best in his soul when under the cross; so the church also flourishes most in true holiness, and increases in number, while under persecution. Yet instruments shall be raised up for their deliverance, and plagues may be expected by persecutors. And see the special care God took of his people in the wilderness. All the benefits bestowed on Israel as a nation, were shadows of spiritual blessings with which we are blessed in Christ Jesus. Having redeemed us with his blood, restored our souls to holiness, and set us at liberty from Satan's bondage, he guides and guards us all the way. He satisfies our souls with the bread of heaven, and the water of life from the Rock of salvation, and will bring us safely to heaven. He redeems his servants from all iniquity, and purifies them unto himself, to be a peculiar people, zealous of good works.He spread a cloud for a covering - See the notes at Psalm 78:14. In Numbers 10:34; it is said that "the cloud of the Lord was upon them by day," and from this seems to have been derived the idea of its "covering" them, as if it were a protection from the heat in the desert. 39. covering—in sense of protection (compare Ex 13:21; Nu 10:34). In the burning sands of the desert the cloud protected the congregation from the heat of the sun; an emblem of God's protecting favor of His people, as interpreted by Isaiah (Isa 4:5, 6; compare Nu 9:16).39 He spread a cloud for a covering; and fire to give light in the night.

40 The people asked, and he brought quails, and satisfied them with the of heaven.

41 He opened the rock, and the waters gushed out; they ran in the dry like a river.

42 For he remembered his holy promise, and Abraham his servant.

43 And he brought forth his people with joy, and his chosen with gladness:

44 And gave them the lands of the heathen and they inherited the labour of the people;

45 That they might observe his statutes, and keep his laws. Praise ye the Lord.

Psalm 105:39

"He spread a cloud for a covering." Never people Were so favoured. What would not travellers in the desert now give for such a canopy? The sun could not scorch them with its burning ray; their whole camp was screened like a king in his pavilion. Nothing seemed to be too good for God to give his chosen nation, their comfort was studied in every way. "And fire to give light in the night." While cities were swathed in darkness, their town of tents enjoyed a light which modern art with all its appliances cannot equal. God himself was their sun and shield, their glory and their defence. Could they be unbelieving while so graciously shaded, or rebellious while they walked at midnight in such a light? Alas, the tale of their sin is as extraordinary as this story of his love; but this Psalm selects the happier theme and dwells only upon covenant love and faithfulness. O give thanks unto the Lord for he is good. We, too, have found the Lord all this to us, for he has been our sun and shield, and has preserved us alike from the perils of ivys and the evils of grief;

"He hath been my joy in woe,

Cheered my heart when it was low;

And with warnings softly sad

Calm'd my heart when it was glad."

So has the promise been fulfilled to us, "the sun shall not hurt thee by day, nor the moon by night."


For a covering, to protect them from the heat of the sun, which in that hot and open country had otherwise been intolerable to them, especially in so long a journey.

He spread a cloud for a covering,.... That is, the Lord spread one over their heads as an "umbrella", to protect them from the heat of the sun; this refers to the pillar of cloud, Exodus 13:20, though that seems to have been in an erect posture, and to go before the children of Israel to direct them in their journey, and not a covering to them. Kimchi says it was a covering to them when they rested, but not when they journeyed: but when they rested it only covered the tabernacle, not the people, for anything we read of it, Numbers 9:21, it looks as if there were more clouds than one, and indeed the Jews speak of many, and particularly make mention (e) of one that was over the heads of the Israelites, that the heat of the sun, and the hail and rain, might not have power over them; and of such use this cloud was, at least at certain times, if not always; a type of Christ, who is the covering and shelter of his people from the heat of the fiery law, of the flaming sword of justice, of the wrath of God, of the fiery darts of Satan, and of the fury of wicked men.

And fire, to give light in the night: this respects the pillar of fire which gave them light by night; an emblem of Christ, who is the light of his people, when it is a night season with them, as it sometimes is; a night of affliction and distress, of darkness and desertion, of temptation, of carnal security and sleepiness; when Christ arises as a light in darkness, and enlightens by his presence, by his Spirit, and by his word; as well as is as fire to warm, refresh, quicken, and comfort them when chill and cold, in such seasons.

(e) Vid. Targum in Cant. ii. 6.

He spread a cloud for a covering; and fire to give light in the night.
39. Exodus 13:21-22; Exodus 14:19-20. But here the cloud is regarded as a canopy to shelter them from the burning rays of the sun in the desert, rather than as a protection from the Egyptians. Cp. Isaiah 4:5-6.

Verse 39. - He spread a cloud for a covering. The "pillar of the cloud" is intended. It was a "covering" to the Israelites on the night of the passage of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:19, 20), and perhaps also to some extent in the wilderness, when it may have sheltered them from the sun's rays (Hengstenberg); but its main purpose was to direct them on their way (Exodus 14:21), to tell them when to move and when to step, and how long to stop (Exodus 40:36-38). And fire to give light in the night. By night the "pillar of the cloud" became a "pillar of fire," shedding a certain radiance around, and giving the people under all circumstances sufficient light (Exodus 13:21; Exodus 40:38). Psalm 105:39Now follows the miraculous guidance through the desert to the taking possession of Canaan. The fact that the cloud (ענן, root ען, to meet, to present itself to view, whence the Arabic ‛ănăn, the visible outward side of the vault of heaven) by day, and becoming like fire by night, was their guide (Exodus 13:21), is left out of consideration in Psalm 105:39. With למסך we are not to associate the idea of a covering against foes, Exodus 14:19., but of a covering from the smiting sun, for פּרשׁ (Exodus 40:19), as in Isaiah 4:5., points to the idea of a canopy. In connection with the sending of the quails the tempting character of the desire is only momentarily dwelt upon, the greater emphasis is laid on the omnipotence of the divine goodness which responded to it. שׁאלוּ is to be read instead of שׁאל, the w before w having been overlooked; and the Kerמ writes and points שׂליו (like סתיו, עניו) in order to secure the correct pronunciation, after the analogy of the plural termination יו-. The bread of heaven (Psalm 78:24.) is the manna. In Psalm 105:41 the giving of water out of the rock at Rephidim and at Kadesh are brought together; the expression corresponds better to the former instance (Exodus 17:6, cf. Numbers 20:11). הלכוּ refers to the waters, and נהר for כּנּהרות, Psalm 78:16, is, as in Psalm 22:14, an equation instead of a comparison. In this miraculous escort the patriarchal promise moves on towards its fulfilment; the holy word of promise, and the stedfast, proved faith of Abraham - these were the two motives. The second את is, like the first, a sign of the object, not a preposition (lxx, Targum), in connection with which Psalm 105:42 would be a continuation of Psalm 105:42, dragging on without any parallelism. Joy and exulting are mentioned as the mood of the redeemed ones with reference to the festive joy displayed at the Red Sea and at Sinai. By Psalm 105:43 one is reminded of the same descriptions of the antitype in Isaiah, Isaiah 35:10; Isaiah 51:11; Isaiah 55:12, just as Psalm 105:41 recalls Isaiah 48:21. "The lands of the heathen" are the territories of the tribes of Canaan. עמל is equivalent to יגיע in Isaiah 45:14 : the cultivated ground, the habitable cities, and the accumulated treasures. Israel entered upon the inheritance of these peoples in every direction. As an independent people upon ground that is theirs by inheritance, keeping the revealed law of their God, was Israel to exhibit the pattern of a holy nation moulded after the divine will; and, as the beginning of the Psalm shows, to unite the peoples to themselves and their God, the God of redemption, by the proclamation of the redemption which has fallen to their own lot.
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