Genesis 1:14-19

14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; 

15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. 

16 Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. 

17 God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, 

18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 

19 So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

The sun and the moon are … timekeepers. The moon orbits the earth once every 28 days. … It’s 28-day orbit is seen from the earth in the form of phases, from new moon, through quarters (crescents and half-moons) to full moon and back again.

The sun also gives us time scales. The orbit of the earth around the sun takes about 365.3 days. This is the length of our year. The earth’s orbit is elliptical, rather than circular. If the earth’s orbit were circular, and the earth’s axis not tilted away from the perpendicular, then we would notice no seasons. The ancient time scales, plotting the year’s course by the seasons, is entirely astronomical in nature. The earth’s rotation about its own axis takes about 24 hours. This is the length of the day.

This brings us to the second reason that these lights are in the sky. They are there to give life to the earth. — Taylor, page 52. 

The words “created” and “made” … should be distinguished when it is being read. … For example, [God] “created” the sun, moon, and stars at some unknown period of time “in the beginning” (v.1), and afterwards, when preparing the earth for man, He “made,” i.e., appointed them in relation to the earth as light-holders, as measurers of time, and as vehicles of revelation (Psalm 19). — Williams, page 9.

The lights were set in “the firmament of heaven,” but this was not the same firmament as formed on the second day. The latter is the “open firmament of heaven” where birds were to fly (v.20). As noted above, the term “firmament” may apply to any particular region of space, as determined by context. In verse 8, we were told that “God called the firmament Heaven.” Evidently “firmament” is the common term and “heaven” is the formal name for any firmament (or space) which has been designated as a particular sphere of God’s creative or purposive activity. — Morris, page 67.

Since the heavenly bodies were to be used to denote the “seasons” (as well as “days and years”), it is obvious that there were to be distinct seasons through the year, and this implies that the earth’s axis was inclined as it is at present. —Morris, page 67

In addition to marking the passage of days and years, God indicates that [the stars] are foremost intended for signs and for seasons (not, as some read, “as signs for marking seasons, etc.”), both of which terms underscore God’s omniscience and preemptive redemptive focus in Creation itself. This is evident from the fact that the Hebrew word translated signs is commonly employed in Scripture to denote a miracle—i.e., a testimony to God’s active involvement in human history, usually in connection with a redemptive purpose (as in Exodus 4:8ff. & Deuteronomy 34:11); and the word translated seasons is typically employed to denote the “appointed times,” or “holy days,” of Israel (as in Leviticus 23), which are likewise intended to serve as testimonies to God’s redemptive activity in human history—specifically, in fact, to God’s plan of messianic redemption, as Paul writes in Colossians 2:16-17, that the festivals of Israel (i.e., each of the yearly festivals, the monthly new moon festival, and the weekly Sabbath) are fundamentally “a shadow of what is to come, the substance of which belongs to Christ.” In other words, knowing full well that man would sin and thus stand in need of redemption, God graciously and lovingly wove into the fabric of Creation itself—even before man was created—those elements that would serve as post-fall “signposts” of redemption, intended to help point man’s way back into “relationship” with his Creator-Father through the specific redemptive work of His Son, Jesus Christ. — Wechsler, page 68. 

I’ve only copied out a tiny bit of what my commentaries had to say on this passage. All of them believe with complete conviction that God created the universe and everything in it, as do I. But none of them agree with each other as to exactly how He did it. In this passage, the issues are 1) whether or not the sun, moon, and stars that we can see were created earlier in Genesis 1:1 (before the “gap”), and 2) if the stars were created during the six days, how can their light possibly have reached the earth by this time.

I have my own theories that are nothing more than speculation. But I wonder if the universe at large was created in Genesis 1:1, before the gap. If there was a gap between Genesis 1:1 and the six days, we have no idea how long that might have been. It may even have been before time, as we know it, began. If so, the apparent age of the universe offers no problems. (Because there is so much disagreement on this point, let me rush to state, once again, that I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT THE PROCESS OF EVOLUTION TOOK PLACE DURING THE GAP. I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT THIS PLANET WAS CREATED MILLIONS OF YEARS AGO. I DO NOT BELIEVE IN THE EXISTENCE OF PRE-ADAMIC MEN WITHOUT SOULS.

Wechsler’s point of view, that the creation account is specifically focusing on the aspects of God’s creation that were for the benefit of humans, makes sense to me. In that light, perhaps the “making” (the word “creation” isn’t used here) of the sun, moon, and stars is referring only to those heavenly bodies that factor as signs. I have no problem with the concept that distance stars and galaxies were created before time as we know it and that the closer stars and planets were created on day four for us.

But that’s just pondering.

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Genesis 1:9-13

Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. 

10 And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

11 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. 

12 And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 

13 So the evening and the morning were the third day.

We note that God gathers the waters into one place. This would seem to suggest that there was only one ocean and one continent. — Tayor, page 44.

In Genesis 1:10, we read for the first time, “And God saw that it was good.

On the creation of plants:

One. The description of grass, herbs, and trees would appear to be an all-encompassing phrase referring to all types of plant life. so all of it came into existence at this point.

Two. The plants were created with all their organ systems already in place and working. We are told that the plants were created ready to bear seeds and fruit, even before insects were created to cause pollination. This is not to imply that insect-pollinated plants could produce seed in any other way — after all, they only had a couple of days to wait. It does, however, imply that all systems were in place at the beginning, and did not have to evolve.

Three. We are introduced to the word kind. All the plants were created able to reproduce “according to its kind.” This is the first appearance of the word kind, and we need to understand its significance. The Hebrew word is min and it is being used in a specific way in Genesis. It is to be understood scientifically in a specific way. the biblical kind is not the same as the man-made classification word species. Species is an observable study that is in constant flux—a species being a type of plant or animal, isolated from others, incapable of interbreeding (usually) with members of others species…. Species are clearly observed to develop. — Taylor, page 45.

It is significant that these plants were made, not as seeds, but as full-grown plants whose seed was in themselves. They thus had an “appearance of age.” The concept of creation of apparent age does not, of course, suggest a divine deception, but is a necessary accompaniment of genuine creation. The processes operating in Creation Week were not the processes of the present era, but were processes of “creating and making” … Adam was created as a full-grown man, the trees were created as full-grown trees, and the whole universe was made as a functioning entity, complete and fully developed, right from the beginning.

Implanted in each created organism was a “seed,” programmed to enable the continuing replication of that type of organism. The modern understanding of the extreme complexities of the so-called DNA molecule and the genetic code contained in it has reinforced the biblical teaching of the stability of kinds. Each type of organism has its own unique structure of the DNA and can only specify the reproduction of that same kind. There is a tremendous amount of variational potential within each kind, facilitating the generation of distinct individuals and even of many varieties within the kind, but nevertheless precluding the evolution of new kinds! A great deal of “horizontal” variation is easily possible, but no “vertical” changes.

It is significant that the phrase “after his kind” occurs ten times in the first chapter of Genesis,. Whatever precisely is meant by the term “kind” (Hebrew min), it does indicate the limitations of variation. — Morris, page 63.

The terms “evening” (Hebrew ereb) and “morning” (Hebrew boqer) each occur more than one hundred times in the Old Testament, and always have the literal meaning—that is, the termination of the daily period of light and the termination of the daily period of darkness. — Morris, page 64.

It should be noted that the dry land here is not called into being, but rather called out from under the worldwide ocean, thus affirming what we have said about this chapter picking up at that point in the creative process where the raw materials of space and our planet, with its waters and submerged land mass, are already in place, the stage therefore being set for God to begin working with and within this “raw setting” to prepare a home specifically designed for the “good” of man. Indeed, the specifically anthropocentric (i.e., human-focused) perspective of the creation account is especially evident in the way that the second creative act on this day is described: after describing the creation of flora generally, reference is made to two specific groups included therein—namely, plants yielding seed (i.e., cultivatable plants consumable by man) and fruit trees, which are precisely the same two groups of flora that are reiterated by God in verse 29 as being for the food of man; yet in verse 30 reference is made to a third group of flora, the “green plant,” which was intended for the food of animals. This third group, it must be concluded, is not mentioned in this description of the third-day events, not because that group were not created, but rather because they are not relevant to the “good” of man, and they are only therefore mentioned in connection with man’s charge to husband (i.e., rule over) the animals once they have been created. — Wechsler, pages 66-67. 

Not too much to add here. I have no problem with the idea of there being only one continent originally, which was divided at the time of the flood. Wechsler’s premise that God wrote to man from a man-focused perspective also makes sense.

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Genesis 1:6-8

Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.”

Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so.

And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day.

The word “firmament” is the Hebrew raqia, meaning “expanse,” or “spread-out-thinness.” It may well be synonymous with our modern technical term “space,” practically the same as “heaven.” In fact, this passage specifically says that “God called the firmament Heaven….” The firmament referred to in this particular passage is obviously the atmosphere. 

Separated by this firmament, or atmosphere, the two bodies of water henceforth were ready for their essential functions in sustaining future life on the earth. The “waters above the firmament” probably constituted a vast blanket of water vapor above the troposphere and possibly above the stratosphere as well, in the high-temperature region we now know as the ionosphere, and extending far into space. The could not have been the clouds of water droplets which now float in the atmosphere, because the Scripture says they were “above the firmament.” Furthermore, there was no “rain upon the earth” in those days (Genesis 2:5), or any “bow in the cloud” (Genesis 9:13), both of which must have been present if these upper waters represented merely the regime of clouds which functions in the present hydrologic economy. — Morris, pages 58-59.

Later, when needed, these upper waters would provide the reservoir from which God would send the great Flood … They will apparently be restored in the millennial earth and in the new earth which God will create. Psalm 148:4, 6 speaks of the “waters that be above the heavens” which, like the stars, will be established “for ever and ever.” — Morris, page 61.

made (v.7) = This is the first record of God “making” something.

The expanse that God here creates and calls heaven, employing the same word used in verse 1, is clearly the sky, seeing that it divides the waters which were below (i.e., the worldwide ocean) from the waters which were above (i.e., the clouds and water vapor of the troposphere). Whether this expanse, or firmament, is just the peplosphere (the lowest layer of the atmosphere) or more (perhaps, including all the layers of the atmosphere) is unclear—though in the end an unnecessary distinction. The creation of the expanse is being concisely represented from a human (i.e., earthbound) perspective, and is no more indicative of a “primitive” or “inacurate”understanding of the natural world than the statement of a modern climatologist who refers to the “sunrise” or “sunset.” Quite to the contrary, in fact: the Hebrew word translated expanse is elsewhere used to describe a thin layer of gold which completely encompasses an idol (Isaiah 40:19), the implication here being that the expanse completely encompasses the planet, which must reasonably therefore be conceptualized as a sphere. And indeed, when one looks at satellite images of the earth, the atmosphere clearly presents itself as a circular/spherical “layer” encompassing what is at this point a water-covered planet is also expressly indicated in the later inner-biblical exposition of the creation account in Proverbs 8:22-31, specifically in verse 27. — Wechsler, pages 64-65.

When He prepared the heavens, I was there, when He drew a circle on the face of the deep, when He established the clouds above, when He strengthened the fountains of the deep, when He assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters would not transgress His command, when He marked out the foundations of the earth (Proverbs 8:27-29).

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Genesis 1:3-5

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.

God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.

God said, “Let there be light.”  (v.1) — the first record of God speaking in the Bible…. “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). Jesus Christ, the living Word of God (John 1:1, 14) is the “light of the world” (John 8:12), and “in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).

The light that God created and here “separates” from the darkness is not the light of the sun, as claimed by some interpreters, but simply light, created by God and employed by Him to enforce the distinction between night and day until that “task” is relegated to the sun (i.e., “the greater light”) that He clearly creates on the fourth day. it should also be noted that, not only is the existence of light (i.e., photons) as distinct from the solar source that produces it (such as the sun) a well-recognized fact, but in fact the existence of light in the absence of the sun is here theologically consistent with the description of Creation restored to its ideal at the end of the Bible, in Revelation 22:5, where John tells us that perfected humanity “shall not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God shall illumine them.” — Wechsler, page 62.

The important word “and” occurs 102 times, and is designed to fasten attention upon the 102 separate actions of God. — Williams, page 9.

The statement “and God saw that it was good” is extremely significant in underscoring the human focus of all that God does in this chapter. The verbal root “to see” that is here used may also convey the meaning “to provide” (similar to the English idiom “to see to it”), as vividly illustrated by the use of this same verb in Genesis 16:13-14, where Hagar describes God as the One “who sees” because He provided for her need, and in Genesis 22:8, 14, where it is this verb that is typically translated by the key phrase “will provide.” Likewise, the reference to God’s “seeing” throughout this first chapter should be understood, not as an assessment of the creative act for its own sake—as if to say here, “And God saw that the light He made was very beautiful”—but rather as a specific assessment of the good—that is to say, the benefit—of that creative act for man. Indeed, this bears out the more general, albeit equally important point that throughout the Bible, whenever God is described as “seeing,” it is always with a keen interest in the affairs of men (never a disinterested observation of a “passive” God) and always in connection with undertaking that which is necessary for man’s best—even if this should mean punishment for sin. — Wechsler, page 63.

Having separated the day and night, God had completed His first day’s work. “the evening and the morning were the first day.” this same formula is used at the conclusion of each of the six days: so it is obvious that the duration of each of  the days, including the first, was the same. Furthermore, the “day” was the “light” time, when God did His work; the darkness was the “night” time when God did no work—nothing new took place between the “evening” and “morning” of each day. The formula may be rendered literally, “and there was evening, then morning—day one,” and so on. It is clear that, beginning with the first day and continuing thereafter, there was established a cyclical succession of days and nights—periods of light and periods of darkness. — Morris, page 55.

All I’m going to say about the “day-age” theory is that, if God didn’t mean His words to convey the idea of 24-hour days, then His intent was to deceive, and I refuse to believe that was His intent.

I’ve mentioned in my first couple posts that I lean toward a particular “gap theory” between verses 1 and 2 because I have to fit angelic creation in somewhere. Morris attempts to explain it. I think his explanation is far from satisfactory and actually points out the problems with those who think there was no creation of anything prior to the six days.

Although not mentioned in Genesis 1, it is probably that another act of creation took place on this first day. Sometime prior to the third day of creation, a multitude of angels had been created, since they were present when the “foundations of the earth” were laid—probably a reference to the establishment of solid land surfaces on the earth (Job 38:4-7). It is impossible that they could have existed before the creation of the physical universe itself, since their sphere of operation is in this universe and their very purpose is to minister to the “heirs of salvation” (Hebrews 1:14). Angels are called the “host of heaven,” and so they could not have been created before the existence of heaven. — Morris, page 57.

But if Genesis 1:1 refers to the original creation of the universe, an angelic creation that was mostly destroyed because of the fall of Satan and the angels that followed him, then, again, you don’t have to cram their creation and fall into the first week or so.

Referring to the preadamite world, Pember writes:

Of its main features there is a graphic portrayal in a grand passage of Job, in which the folly of contending with God is enforced by an obvious reference to Satan’s rebellion and its consequences. God is wise in heart and mighty in strength. Who has hardened himself against Him and prospered? He removes the mountains, and they do not know when He overturns them in His anger; He shakes the earth out of its place, and its pillars tremble; He commands the sun, and it does not rise; He seals off the stars” (Job 9:4-7). — Pember, page 82.

God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night (v.5) — Here we have the two great symbols so largely employed throughout the Word. The presence of light makes the day; the absence thereof makes the night. Thus it is in the history of souls. There are “the sons of light” and “the sons of darkness.” This is a most marked and solemn distinction. All upon whom the light of Life has shone—all who have been effectually visited by “the dayspring from on high”—all who have received the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ—all such, whoever and wherever they  may be, belong to the first class, are “the sons of light, and the sons of the day.”

On the other hand, all who are still in nature’s darkness, nature’s blindness, nature’s unbelief—all who have not yet received into their hearts, by faith, the cheering beams of the Sun of Righteousness,—all such are still wrapped in the shades of spiritual night, are “the sons of darkness,” “the sons of the night.” — Mackintosh, page 6.

God’s naming the light day and the darkness night underscores His dominion over these fundamental “parts” of Creation. This idea of “dominion” conveyed by the act of naming is consistent with all the following acts of naming, both in this chapter as well as throughout the Bible. — Wechsler, page 63.

With respect to the day: it is because of the order presented here in verse 5, in which evening is reckoned first—no doubt because the darkness was created before the light—that days throughout the Bible and in Jewish tradition generally are reckoned from evening to evening (specifically, from sunset to sunset). — Wechsler, page 64. 

first day (v.5) — I often wondered why God didn’t just create the universe instantly. As omnipotent God, He would have had no difficulty. The answer is found in the Ten Commandments. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God” (Exodus 20:8-10). 

God set the pattern of creation in a week, for our benefit. The week is the only one of our time scales that has no astronomical basis. The day is due to the rotation of the earth. The year is the period of the earth’s orbit. The month approximates to the orbit of the moon. But the week has no astronomical basis. It is God’s time period, and it is man’s time period, created for us, because it is ideally suited to our needs.

Having decided that the week is a non-astronomical unit, we can say that the day most definitely is an astronomical unit. The day is caused by the rotation of the earth on its axis. It thus requires periods of light and darkness, and a rotation of the planet. It follows that in Genesis 1:3-5, we are witnessing God setting the earth spinning. In order to define day and night, we require light. So we read that God made light. Night occurs currently on the hemisphere of the earth pointing away from the sun. It follows that on day 1, there must have been a point source of light. Yet the sun itself was not made until day 4. 

There is nothing strange in all this. It is only because we have been evolutionized that we feel we cannot talk about light and day and night without reference to the sun. — Taylor, page 33-34.

He goes on at some length to propose that the Holy Spirit was the source of light until the creation of the sun. Maybe. I like Wechsler’s point about Revelation 22:5, where it says that God provides the light though eternity.

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Genesis 1:2

The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Before I read anything the commentaries have to say about this verse, I looked up the definitions of three of the words on Bible Hub.

without form = waste, formlessness, confusion, unreality, emptiness, desolation

void = emptiness, an undistinguishable ruin

waters = almost always translated “water.” The word is also sometimes used to mean waste, primeval deep, or, figuratively, that which is violent or overwhelming

Two main interpretations have been advanced to explain the expression “without form and void.” The first, which may be called the Original Chaos interpretation, regards these words as a description of an original formless matter in the first state of the creation of the universe. The second, which may be called the Divine Judgment interpretation, sees in these words a description of the earth only, and that in a condition subsequent to its creation, not as it was originally. — Scofield, page 1)

For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens, who is God, who formed the earth and made it, who has established it, who did not create it in vain, who formed it to be inhabited: “I am the Lord, and there is no other (Isaiah 45:18).

This (Isaiah 45:18) is one of the Scripture passages that suggest the Divine Judgment interpretation of Genesis 1:1-2. This interpretation views the earth as having been created perfect. After an indefinite period of time, possibly in connection with Satan’s sin of rebellion against the Most High (see Isaiah 14:12 and Ezekiel 28:12), judgment fell upon the earth and “it was [became] without form and void.” Another indefinite interval elapsed after which “the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” in a re-creation of the earth. some of the arguments for this viewpoint are: (1) Only the earth, not the universe, is said to have been “without form and void.” (2) The word rendered “was” may also be translated “became,” as indicated above. (3) The Hebrew expression for “without form and void” is used to describe a condition produced by divine judgment in the only other two texts where the two words appear in conjunction (Isaiah 34:11; Jeremiah 4:23). (4) Such a prehistoric divine judgment would throw some light on Satan’s fall and the peculiar relation he seems to sustain to the earth. — Scofield, page 752.

Morris takes the opposite view. He sees verses 1 and 2 as part of the description of Day 1.

In initial creation was not perfect in the sense that it was complete, but it was perfect for that first stage of God’s six-day plan of creation. … When initially created, the earth had no inhabitants; it was “void.” The essential meaning, therefore, is: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth [or space and matter], and the matter so created was at first unformed and uninhabited.

The physical universe, though created, was as yet neither formed nor energized, and light is a form of energy. the absence of physical light means darkness, just as the absence of form and inhabitants means a universe in elemental form, not yet completed. No evil is implied in either case, merely incompleteness…. The picture presented is one of all the basic material elements sustained in a pervasive watery matrix throughout the darkness of space.

The term “face of the waters” is synonymous with “the face of the deep.” Again the word “face” means presence,” and the thought is that the formless waters, like the formless earth, were essentially a “presence” rather than a cohesive body. — Morris, page 50.

the Spirit of God = The Hebrew word for Spirit is also the word for “wind” and “breath.”

The “and,” according to Hebrew usage—as well as that of most other languages—proves that the first verse is not a compendium of what follows, but a statement of the first event in the record. For if it were a mere summary, the second verse would be the actual commencement of the history, and certainly would not begin with a copulative [ word connecting words or clauses linked in sense]…. We have, therefore, in the second verse of Genesis no first detail of a general statement in the preceding sentence, but the record of an altogether distinct and subsequent event, which did not affect the sidereal heaven, but only the earth and its immediate surroundings. — Pember, page 25.

Pember does believe that the gap probably contains, not only the fall of Satan, but the laying down of the earth’s strata, and possibly some pre-adamite beings. Again, I think the first, Satan’s fall, may have occurred then, but I do not believe the latter two.

The creation account picks up in 1:1 not with the very first act of creatio ex nihilo (“creation out of nothing,” for which one can refer to any number of other passages, such as Isaiah 44:24a; John 1:3; Hebrews 11:3), but rather at that point when, with the “raw materials” of creation already in place—i.e., darkness (space/black matter[?]), the sphere of the planet with its land and overlaying waters—and the angelic host standing ready to sin God’s praise (Job 38:4-7), He undertakes the first creative act that bears specifically on the good of man (hence the recurring assessment, “and He saw … that it was good”). It is precisely this reading of the first three verses, in fact, that has long been recognized by Jewish interpreters, following simply and naturally from the syntax of the Hebrew text, according to which verses 1-3 constitute one complex sentence, the first two verses being comprised of dependent clauses (i.e., setting up the “background” of the event) and verse 3 comprising the main or independent clause (i.e., describing the “event” itself). Precisely rendered, these three verses thus read: In the beginning of God’s creating the sky and the (dry) land—while the land was (still) uninhabitable and unproductive, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters—God said, “Let there be light.” and there was light. — Wechsler, pages 59-60.

As you can see, Bible scholars land in several very different places regarding these opening verses. All of them are very convinced that they are right. Morris, Taylor, and to some extent, Wechsler disregard the Gap Theory mainly to refute those who cram evolution into it. But that’s biased interpretation. I have long disagreed with those who try to hold hands with modern “science,” but I’ve suspected there was a gap.

Wechsler’s view that the Bible gives us the account of creation from the sole viewpoint of what God did for humanity is interesting, and one I haven’t heard before.

I am not convinced that that my surmise, recorded in the previous post, is right. But I still need to account for the fall of Satan, and I’m still reluctant to believe that it happened between the six days of creation and the fall of man. I could be wrong.

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Genesis 1:1

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

The book of God makes no attempt to prove that God exists. The opening verse of Genesis simply takes this fact for granted, as though it were so obvious that only a fool could say, “there is no God” (Psalm 14:1). — Morris, page 38.

There is no elaborate argument in proof of the existence of God…. God reveals Himself. He makes Himself known by His works. The heavens The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork (Psalm 19:1)…. Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things…by the greatness of His might and the strength of  His power (Isaiah 40:26) In the book of Job (38:41) we have an appeal of the very grandest description, on the part of Jehovah Himself, to the work of creation, as an unanswerable argument in proof of His infinite superiority. — Mackintosh, pages 2-3.

beginning = the beginning of time. The universe is actually a continuum of space, matter, and time, no one of which can have a meaningful existence without the other two.— Morris, page 41. 

God = This first occurrence of the divine name is the Hebrew Elohim, the name of God which stresses His majesty and omnipotence. This is the name used throughout the first chapter of Genesis. The im ending is the Hebrew plural ending, so that Elohim can actually mean “gods,” and is so translated in various passages referring to the gods of the heathen (e.g., Psalm 96:5).

However, it is clearly used here in the singular, as the mighty name of God the Creator, the first of over two thousand times where it is used in this way. Thus Elohim is a plural name with a singular meaning, a “uni-plural” noun, thereby suggesting the uni-plurality of the Godhead. God is one, yet more than one. — Morris, page 39.

The word selected by the Holy Spirit (bara) to express creation may have previously signified the forming out of material. But its use is sufficiently defined in this and other similar passages. For we are told that in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth; but the Scripture never affirm that He did this in the six days. The work of those days was quite a different thing from original creation: they were times of restoration, and the word asah is generally used in connection with them.

Now asah signifies to make, fashion, or prepare out of existing materials; as for instance, to build a ship, erect a house, or prepare a meal. 

There are, however two acts of creation mentioned in the history of the six days. First; God is said to have created the inhabitants of the waters and the fowls of heaven: because these do not consist merely of the material mould of their bodies, but have a life principle within which could  be conferred only by a direct act of creation. Hence the change of word in this place is quite intelligible. Just in the same way man is said to have been created, though in the second chapter we are expressly told that his body was formed from the dust. For the real man is the soul and spirit: the body, which is naturally changed every seven years, and must ultimately moulder in the grave, is regarded merely as the outward casing which gives him the power of dealing with his present surroundings, and the materials of which were appropriately taken from that earth in contact with which he was destined to live. 

In the detailed account of man’s origin, a third word is used to signify the forming of his body. This is yatzar, which means to shape, or mould, as  a potter does the clay. — Pember, pages 22-23.

The heaven mentioned in the first verse is the starry heaven, not the firmament immediately surrounding our earth: and since its history is not further unfolded, it may, for aught we know, have remained, developing, perhaps, but without violent change from the time of its creation until now. Not so, however, the earth, as the next verse goes on to show. — Pember, page 25.

heaven = The word is the Hebrew shamayim which, like Elohim, is a plural noun, and can be translated either “heaven” or “heavens,” depending on the context and on whether it is associated with a singular or plural verb. It does not mean the stars of heaven, which were make only on the fourth day of creation week (Genesis 1:16), and which constitute the “host” of heaven, not heaven itself (Genesis 2:1)…. In Genesis 1:1, the term refers to the component of space in the basic space-mass-time universe.—Morris, pages 40-41.

earth = the component of matter in the universe….this verse must speak essentially of the creation of the basic elements of matter, which thereafter were to be organized into the structured earth and later into other material bodies. 

This one verse refutes all of mans’ false philosophies concerning the origin and meaning of the world:

  1. It refutes atheism, because the universe was created by God.
  2. It refutes pantheism, for God is transcendent to that which He created.
  3. It refutes polytheism, for one God created all things.
  4. It refutes materialism, for matter had a beginning.
  5. It refutes dualism, because God was alone when He created.
  6. It refutes humanism, because God, not man, is the ultimate reality.
  7. It refutes evolutionism, because God created all things. — Morris, page 38.

The use of the word “create” here in Genesis 1:1 informs us that, at this point, the physical universe was spoken into existence by God. It had no existence prior to this primeval creative act of God. God alone is infinite and eternal. He also is omnipotent, so that it was possible for Him to call the universe into being. Although it is impossible for us to comprehend fully this concept of an eternal, transcendent God, the only alternative is the concept of an eternal, self-existing universe; and this concept is also incomprehensible. Eternal God or eternal matter—that is the choice. The latter is an impossibility if the present scientific law of cause and effect is valid, since random particles of matter could not, by themselves, generate a complex, orderly, intelligible universe, not to mention living persons capable of applying intelligence to the understanding of the complex order of the universe. A person God is the only adequate Cause to produce such effects.—Morris, page 40.

What follows is simply speculation on my part. It is a theory that cannot be proven (or disproven). It’s my attempt to make sense of some things that don’t otherwise make sense to me.

It is normal to think of God as existing through eternity past as if He was sitting around for untold billions of years until, one day, He decided to start creating stuff. But if God is outside of time—if He created time—then before “the beginning” in Genesis 1:1, there wasn’t any time. There was just God. To speak of God in terms of “time” is to limit the Creator by His creation. So, in Genesis 1:1, we read of the moment when God began the progression of events. Any attempt to define what existed before that moment—other than just God—is impossible. God didn’t see fit to tell us, and we probably couldn’t comprehend it if He did, bound as we are by the concept of time.

As to what God created in verse 1, I have my own theories there too. Commentaries written before about 1970 all speak of an earlier heaven and earth that were created and then destroyed, probably as a result of Satan’s fall. This creates a gap between verse 1 and verse 2. Then, so this theory goes, God began in verse 3 to create the heavens and earth as we now know them.

This theory has fallen out of favor, and most commentaries written recently attempt to debunk it. Their opposition is due to the fact that many people attempt to cram geologic ages of the earth, and even evolution into the gap.

I think there probably was a gap (although if I get to heaven and find out I’m wrong, it won’t shake my faith). But you need to understand that I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT THE GEOLOGIC AGES OR EVOLUTION OCCURRED IN THE GAP.

Some of my commentaries, written by learned Hebrew scholars reason, based on the grammar of these verses, that there was a gap. Others, also written by learned Hebrew scholars, reason that there isn’t. I’m not a learned Hebrew scholar. I think most of these scholars are capable of finding what they’re looking for.

My reason for believing in a gap is this: Adam and Eve were certainly created by God to be fertile. But if they had had a child before the fall, that child would be sinless, and we know that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). So, the fall must have taken place very soon after the creation. Maybe just a day or two. But before that happened, Satan had to have had his fall. To cram all that into a very short period of time doesn’t make sense to me. I also don’t think it’s necessary.

Rather, I think God created the heavens and the earth in Genesis 1:1 as an angelic creation. I think that earth was destroyed when Satan sinned. I have no idea how much “time” elapsed between its creation and its destruction. But again, I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT THE GEOLOGIC AGES OR EVOLUTION OCCURRED HERE. The destruction may have been down to the molecular level. That’s the “without form and void” in verse 2. No physical evidence of this earlier period exists on earth. Then, in the six literal days of creation, God took that matter and created our world.

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Genesis Introduction

I believe the Bible is the infallible word of God which should be taken literally. That’s the position from which I intend to do this study. That means that I’m not going to attempt to disprove evolutionary theory. Genesis already does that. I’m not going to attempt to prove that the flood was worldwide. Genesis already does that. Those topics may crop up (or may not), but that isn’t my focus. I want to study to find out what God actually has to say in Scripture as opposed to how people have interpreted it.

So why am I using commentaries? For one thing, I don’t know Hebrew so I have to refer to those who do. For another, I can learn from those who have gone before. I just don’t intend to take them at their word without checking it against the actual text. Many people have tackled Genesis by explaining things away. I just want to try to explain them.

If you tell me I don’t understand Scripture, that gives me incentive to keep trying. If you tell me I can’t understand Scripture, then there’s no reason to look at it at all. The latter view has become very popular, even among Christians, with the inevitable result. I’m just doing my best, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I hope, to find the truth.

I began by reading through the introductions of the commentaries listed below and marking anything I found interesting and informative.

We surely need not accuse the Bible of vagueness or inconsistency in order to explain the diversities of its interpretation. For, if we be observant and honest, we must often ourselves feel the difficulty of approaching the sacred writings without bias, seeing that we bring with us a number of stereotyped ideas, which we have received as absolutely certain, and never think of testing, but only seek to confirm. And yet, could we but fearlessly and impartially investigate, we might find that some of these ideas are not in the Bible at all, while others are plainly contradicted by it. For the tracks of many a popular doctrine may be followed through the long range of Church history, till at length we start with affright at the discovery that we have traced them back to the very entrance of the enemy’s camp. — Pember, pages 8-9.

Must the first chapters of Genesis be taken as history or as symbol and poetry? 

As history, because:

  1. it is related as history.
  2. It is understood by the Bible itself as history.
  3. Christ authenticated it as history.
  4. The apostles understood it as history (Romans 5:11-19).
  5. Revelation 20-22 form the counterpart of it to show that God made re-creation and full restoration of the fallen creation.
  6. Only unbelief in its many forms has a desire to depart from the historical idea.
  7. The whole plan of salvation is based upon the historical reality of these chapters. — Bultema, page 4.

If Genesis were not historically trustworthy, then simple logic showed that neither was the rest of the Bible, including its testimony about Christ. — Morris, page xii.

Genesis, by virtue not only of its place in the canon, but also in the timeline of biblical and revelatory history, is filled with events and concepts that, in the context of their first appearance, are intended both logically and theologically to be viewed as patterns, or paradigms, by which to understand those same or similar events and concepts whenever they appear later on, both in Scripture as well as in history generally. it is in this vein, for example, that Paul writes concerning all that befell Israel in their first national appearance, as recorded in the Pentateuch, that “these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction” (1 Corinthians 10:11). By studying the details of the biblical record, in other words, we can better understand that details and patterns of behavior, both positive and negative, divine and human, as we see them played out time and again in both biblical and post-biblical history, within Israel as well as within the Body of Christ, the Church. — Wechsler, page 21.

The Book of Genesis gives vital information concerning the origin of all things—and therefore the meaning of all things—which would otherwise be forever inaccessible to man. 

Origin of:

  • the universe.
  • order and complexity.
  • the solar system.
  • the atmosphere and hydrosphere.
  • life.
  • man.
  • marriage.
  • evil.
  • language.
  • government.
  • culture.
  • nations.
  • religion.
  • the chosen people.

The Book of Genesis thus is in reality the foundation of all true history, as well as true science and true philosophy. It is above all else the foundation of God’s revelation, as given in the Bible. No other book of the Bible is quotes as copiously or referred to so frequently, in other books of the Bible, as is Genesis.

The New Testament is, if anything, even more dependent on Genesis than the Old. There are at least 165 passages in Genesis that are either directly quoted or clearly referred to in the new Testament. Many of these are alluded to more than once, so that there are at least two hundred quotations or allusions to Genesis in the New Testament.

Furthermore, everyone of [the first] eleven chapters is alluded to somewhere in the New Testament, and every one of the New Testament authors refers somewhere in his writings to Genesis 1-11. On at least six occasions, Jesus Christ Himself quoted from or referred to something or someone in one of these chapters, including specific reference to each of the first seven chapters. 

It is quite impossible, therefore, for one to reject the historicity and divine authority of the Book of Genesis without undermining, and in effect, repudiating, the authority of the entire Bible. If the first Adam is only an allegory, then by all logic, so is the second Adam. If man did not really fall into sin from his state of created innocency, there is no reason for him to need a Savior. If all thigns can be accounted for by natural processes of evolution, there is no reason to look forward to a future supernatural consummation of all things. if Genesis is not true, then neither are the testimonies of those prophets and apostles who believed it was true. Jesus Christ Himself becomes a false witness, either a deceiver or one who was deceived, and His testimony concerning His own omniscience and omnipotence becomes blasphemy. Faith in the gospel of Christ for one’s eternal salvation is an empty mockery. — Morris, pages 17-22.

That Moses did write the entire Pentateuch (and thus Genesis) is nonetheless clearly indicated elsewhere in the Bible, in light of which there can be no doubt on this issue for those who affirm the full inspiration of “all Scripture” (see 2 Timothy 3:16). Indeed, Moses is identified—either explicitly or implicitly—as the writer of the Pentateuch more often than any other writer is identified with any other biblical book(s). — Wechsler, page 1.

Morris has a view of the writing of Genesis that runs counter to that of the other commentaries I’m using. I haven’t come to my own conclusion on this, in part because, even if Morris is correct, it doesn’t alter my view of the divine inspiration of Scripture. In short, he believes that many of the people who show up in Genesis were keeping a record of what happened during their lifetimes. These were then all passed down to Moses who compiled them into Genesis.

While Moses actually wrote the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, he served mainly as a compiler and editor of the material in the book of Genesis. This in no way  minimizes the work of the Holy Spirit, who infallibly guided him in this process of compilation and editing. Just as He later did the unknown compiler of the book of Kings and Chronicles. it would still be appropriate to include Genesis as one of the books of Moses since he is the human writer responsible for its present form. In fact, this explanation gives further testimony to the authenticity of the events recorded in Genesis, since we can now recognize them all as firsthand testimony. 

It is probable that these original documents can still be recognized by the key phrase: “These are the generations of …” The word “generation” is a translation of the Hebre toledoth, and it means essentially “origins,” or, by extension, “records of the origins.” There are eleven of these divisions marked off in Genesis:

  1. “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth” (Genesis 2:4).
  2. “This is the book of the generations of Adam” (Genesis 5:1).
  3. “These are the generations of Noah” (Genesis 6:9).
  4. “Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth” (Genesis 10:1).
  5. “These are the generations of Shem” (Genesis 11:10).
  6. “Now these are the generations of Terah” (Genesis 11:27).
  7. “Now these are the generations of Ishmael” (Genesis 25:12).
  8. “And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son” (Genesis 25:19).
  9. “Now these are the generations of Esau, who is Edom” (Genesis 36:1).
  10. “And these are the generations of Esau, the father of the Edomites in Mount Seir” (Genesis 36:9).
  11. “These are the generations of Jacob” (Genesis 37:2).

The weight of evidence suggests that the respective names attached to the toledoth represent subscripts or closing signatures. The events recorded in each division all took place before, not after, the death of the individuals so named, and so could in each case have been accessible to them.  — Morris, pages 26-27.

There is no question, of course, that some portions of Genesis are treated as types in the New Testament. The first Adam is taken as a contrasting type of the second Adam (Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22, 45-47). Eve is taken as a type of the church (Ephesians 5:29-33). Abraham and Isaac are discussed as a type of the Father offering up His only-begotten Son (Hebrews 11:17-19).

It should never be forgotten, however, that types must be considered only as illustrations or applications, not as doctrinal interpretation, except to the extent that the inspired New Testament writers themselves make such applications a part of their own doctrinal systems. — Morris, pages 31-32.

Genesis is important not only as a history of man’s origin, but also as a prophecy of man’s future. 

The first chapters of Genesis describe a perfect world, made for man and placed under his dominion. Had man not sinned, he would have continued to rule and develop that perfect world, for man’s good and God’s glory. Since God cannot be defeated in His purpose, even though sin and the curse have come in as intruders for a time, we can be sure that all God intended in the beginning will ultimately be consummated. The earth, therefore, will be restored to its original perfection, and will continue eternally. Sin and the curse will be removed, and death will be no more. — Morris, page 32. 

Here are the commentaries I’m using. When I quote from one of these books in my blog, I will just use the author’s last name and the page number.

Brief Notes on Genesis, by Harry Bultema (Grace Publications)

Notes on the Book of Genesis, by C. H. Mackintosh (1879)

The Genesis Record, by Henry M. Morris (Baker Book House, 1976)

Earth’s Earliest Ages, by G. H. Pember (Fleming H. Revell Company)

Gleanings in Genesis, by Arthur W. Pink (Moody Press, 1922)

The New Scofield Reference Bible KJV, notes by C. I. Scofield (Oxford University Press, 1967)

The Six Days of Genesis, by Paul F. Taylor (Master Books, 2007)

Commentary on Genesis, by Michael G. Wechsler (written by a professor of Old Testament at Moody Bible Institute, as study notes for a class he teaches)

Complete Bible Commentary, by George Williams (Kregel Publications, 1994)

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Psalm 67:1-7

To the Chief Musician. On stringed instruments. A Psalm. A Song.

God be merciful to us and bless us,
And cause His face to shine upon us, Selah

That Your way may be known on earth,
Your salvation among all nations.

Let the peoples praise You, O God;
Let all the peoples praise You.

Oh, let the nations be glad and sing for joy!
For You shall judge the people righteously,
And govern the nations on earth. Selah

Let the peoples praise You, O God;
Let all the peoples praise You.

Then the earth shall yield her increase;
God, our own God, shall bless us.

God shall bless us,
And all the ends of the earth shall fear Him.

Commentators do not list the 67th Psalm as among the Messianic Psalms, but without a doubt it will have its fulfillment at the time He reigns, and cannot be fulfilled until then. The sinful, selfish nature of fallen man is such that he does not want God to rule the earth. The portrait painted by the inspired writer is that of a universal kingdom of God, in which the nations will be glad and sing for joy. For the first time in the history of the world, the the nations and the people will be judged righteously. For the first time, since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, will the earth yield her increase of fruit, as it did before sin entered the world. — Phillips, page 139.

Structurally and thematically this psalm is organized in a beautifully symmetrical-chiastic fashion, with the first and third section focusing on God’s solicitude for Israel as the basis for worldwide praise, culminating in the center section (in which verses 3 and 5 mirror each other exactly) with a focus on God’s ideal and ultimate sovereignty over all nations, including Israel. Notably, the number of verses in this psalm, reflecting its symmetrical-chiastic structure, is seven, which number in the Bible is indicative of perfection and completion—hence underscoring even at the structural level that this is not only a picture of what the nations should ideally do, but also what they will one day really do when God establishes His kingdom on earth. — Wechsler, page 173.

Wechsler believes Psalm 67 was written by David.

This Psalm was probably composed, like Psalm 65, to be used at one of the great annual festivals, probably the Feast of Tabernacles. — Meyer, page 83.

The psalmist begins by adopting the phraseology of the priestly (or “Aaronic”) benediction in Numbers 4:24-26, in which the key expressions “be gracious,” “bless,” and “cause His fact to shine upon” all specifically signify spiritual provision (regardless of outer circumstances), “rest” (in the salvific sense” and intimacy with God. — Wechsler, page 173.

Regardless of what may happen throughout the course of human history, it will ultimately, inevitably culminate in all the peoples of the earth offering their praise to God when, in the person of His Son, He establishes His kingdom permanently on earth, judging the peoples with uprightness and guiding the nations on earth. — Wechsler, page 174.

Williams’ take:

According to the Scriptures God chose Israel as His agent to lead all nations to Him; and to this end He gave her a sufficient revelation of Himself and of His salvation. Israel refused this honor; but the Divine purpose has not thereby been defeated. She will be restore; she will yet publish peace to the nations, and win all peoples to the knowledge and service of God.

Here appears a deep principle of the Word of God, true in all dispensations, that the spiritual welfare of those far from God is dependent upon revival and restoration of soul among the people of God … The prophetic doctrine that the salvation of the world depends upon the restoration of Israel (Romans 11:12, 15) is repeated in the last two verses, as it was affirmed in the first two. — Williams, pages 351-352

This one seems pretty straightforward. Almost all my commentaries (except Guthrie) agree that this psalm points forward to the Millennial Kingdom. I see no reason to think otherwise.

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Psalm 66:1-20

To the Chief Musician. A Song. A Psalm.

Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth!

Sing out the honor of His name;
Make His praise glorious.

Say to God,
“How awesome are Your works!
Through the greatness of Your power
Your enemies shall submit themselves to You.

All the earth shall worship You
And sing praises to You;
They shall sing praises to Your name.” Selah

Come and see the works of God;
He is awesome in His doing toward the sons of men.

He turned the sea into dry land;
They went through the river on foot.
There we will rejoice in Him.

He rules by His power forever;
His eyes observe the nations;
Do not let the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah

Oh, bless our God, you peoples!
And make the voice of His praise to be heard,

Who keeps our soul among the living,
And does not allow our feet to be moved.

10 For You, O God, have tested us;
You have refined us as silver is refined.

11 You brought us into the net;
You laid affliction on our backs.

12 You have caused men to ride over our heads;
We went through fire and through water;
But You brought us out to rich fulfillment.

13 I will go into Your house with burnt offerings;
I will pay You my vows,

14 Which my lips have uttered
And my mouth has spoken when I was in trouble.

15 I will offer You burnt sacrifices of fat animals,
With the sweet aroma of rams;
I will offer bulls with goats. Selah

16 Come and hear, all you who fear God,
And I will declare what He has done for my soul.

17 I cried to Him with my mouth,
And He was extolled with my tongue.

18 If I regard iniquity in my heart,
The Lord will not hear.

19 But certainly God has heard me;
He has attended to the voice of my prayer.

20 Blessed be God,
Who has not turned away my prayer,
Nor His mercy from me!

The first 12 verses use plural pronouns, the last last 8 verses use singular pronouns.

enemies shall submit (v.3) — The psalmist specifies God’s awe-inspiring miracle of turning the sea into dry land (v.6)—a miracle performed on such a grand scale that it set fear and trembling into the heart of the peoples all around (Exodus 15:14). yet though these people—the enemies of God and Israel—then feigned obedience to God out of fear of His great power (v.3), the psalmist affirms that one day all the earth will worship God—a goal which no force of history can preempt (cf. Isaiah 11:10; Zechariah 14:9, 16; Revelation 22:3-4). — Wechsler, page 172.

sea into dry land (v.6) — a reference to Israel’s crossing of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21)

through the river on foot (v.6) — a reference to Israel’s crossing of the Jordan River (Joshua 3:14-16)

peoples (v.8) — According to Williams, this is a reference to the Gentiles who will be invited to worship Israel’s God.

fulfillment (v.12) — signifies “satisfaction” and “rest.”

The psalmist next praises God for having tried and refined His people (v.10), yet those who have been trained by it come into a place of abundance (v.12). all of these points are reiterated in Hebrews 12:4-13, which explicitly adds, citing Proverbs 3:11-12, that divine chastisement is, in the end, a cause for rejoicing, for it is evidence of God’s undiminished paternal love. — Wechsler, page 172.

In the first part [vs.1-12] appeal is made to all the earth to worship God because of what He has shown Himself to be on behalf of His people. This is a recognition of the true function of the people of God, that of revealing God to the outside nations in such a way as to constrain them to worship. — Morgan, page 116.

extolled (v.17) = praised

In regarding the wickedness in his heart (i.e., the depravity that affects us all; see Genesis 6:5; Jeremiah 17:9) he correctly determined that the Lord will not hear (v.18, to which compare Isaiah 59:2). Yet for the one who has … submitted in faith to God’s Word (and now that Word made flesh in Jesus; John 1:14), God will give heed to the voice of their prayer (v.19) and not turn away His lovingkindness (the expression of God’s covenant love) from them. — Wechsler, page 172.

Williams’ take:

The Psalm praises God for smiting the nations in judgment and Israel in chastisement. It will be sung by Israel and the Messiah at the opening of the millennium. She will recite His past action with her enemies (vs.3-7) and with herself (vs.9-12); she will offer the sacrifices of praise promised when in trouble (vs.13-15); and she will invite all who fear God to listen to her testimony as to His faithfulness and love in the fulfillment to her of His promises of deliverance (vs.16-20). — Williams, page 351.

Guthrie explains the Psalm as praise from Israel for some past deliverance. He suggests the overthrow of the Assyrian forces under Sennacherib. Perhaps that was the immediate context, but I think Williams’ explanation of the Psalm as prophecy makes the most sense. Morgan’s explanation (above) makes sense only in the prophetic context because in no sense has what God did for Israel in the past forced the nations to worship Him.

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Psalm 65:1-13

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. A Song.

1 Praise is awaiting You, O God, in Zion;
And to You the vow shall be performed.

O You who hear prayer,
To You all flesh will come.

Iniquities prevail against me;
As for our transgressions,
You will provide atonement for them.

4 Blessed is the man You choose,
And cause to approach You,
That he may dwell in Your courts.
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house,
Of Your holy temple.

By awesome deeds in righteousness You will answer us,
O God of our salvation,
You who are the confidence of all the ends of the earth,
And of the far-off seas;

Who established the mountains by His strength,
Being clothed with power;

You who still the noise of the seas,
The noise of their waves,
And the tumult of the peoples.

They also who dwell in the farthest parts are afraid of Your signs;
You make the outgoings of the morning and evening rejoice.

You visit the earth and water it,
You greatly enrich it;
The river of God is full of water;
You provide their grain,
For so You have prepared it.

10 You water its ridges abundantly,
You settle its furrows;
You make it soft with showers,
You bless its growth.

11 You crown the year with Your goodness,
And Your paths drip with abundance.

12 They drop on the pastures of the wilderness,
And the little hills rejoice on every side.

13 The pastures are clothed with flocks;
The valleys also are covered with grain;
They shout for joy, they also sing.

This joyous hymn was probably composed for use in the sanctuary on the occasion of one of the great annual festivals. It expressly dwells on the Divine bounty in the fertility of the earth (Leviticus 23:9-14). — Meyer, page 80.

Each of the three sections of this psalm deal with an expression of God’s grace towards man, beginning with that which is the greatest of all: His forgiveness of sin. He will hear the prayer and forgive the sin of all men (lit., “all flesh,” meaning any human being, whether Jew or Gentile who come to Him—the phraseology of which parallels Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the Temple (see 1 Kings 8:41-43). “How blessed” is the one whom God thus chooses (v.4)—i.e., chooses to forgive (per v.3). And if such forgiveness comes about by God’s choice, then it cannot come about through the striving or merit of man; it is, simply put, a gift of God.

God’s grace is expressed in His awesome deeds (v.5)—i.e., the awe-inspiring miracles that He performed to deliver His people Israel. So too, just as Israel affirms in their “song” of response that God “has become my salvation (Exodus 15:2), so too does David affirm in this “song” (as the psalm is called in its heading) that the Lord is the “God of our salvation.”

In the last section David focuses on God’s grace as expressed in His ongoing (not necessarily miraculous, as in the previous section) provision for His people—as for mankind in general—by upholding the natural order. — Wechsler, pages 171-172.

Williams’ take:

The remnant according to the election of grace (Romans 11:5) here sings of the day of the establishment in Zion, and over the happy earth, of the Kingdom of God and the power of His Messiah (Revelation 12:10); of the new moral birth necessary to entrance into that Kingdom (v.4); of the sufferings of its subjects (v.3); and of the judgment of its foes (v.5). Israel will then perform her vow of praise (v.1), and the converted nations will unite with her in the worship of Messiah (vs. 2 and 8). — Williams, page 350.

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