John Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

4 (Psalms 147:4)

Verse 4

4.Numbering the multitude, etc. As the gathering together of the people of whom the Psalmist spoke might appear to be an impossibility, there seems some ground for the opinion of those who think that he confirms it in this verse. The connection they give to the Psalmist’s words is this — that as it is at least not more difficult to gather men together who are outcast and scattered, than to number the stars, there was no reason why the wandering exile Israelites should despair of their return, provided they should resort with one consent to God as their only head. There is some probability, too, in the conjecture that the Psalmist may allude to that promise —

“Look now towards the stars of heaven, if thou canst tell them,
so shall thy seed be.” (
Genesis 15:5.)

But as the Psalmist immediately afterwards treats of the order of things in nature generally, the simplest rendering, I think, is to understand this verse with reference to the admirable work of God to be seen in the heavens, where we behold his matchless wisdom, in regulating, without one degree of aberration, the manifold, complex, winding courses of the stars. To each of them he assigns its fixed and distinct office, and in all the multitude there is no confusion. He therefore exclaims immediately — Great is God, and boundless, both in power and understanding. We learn from this that there cannot be greater folly than to make our judgment the measure of God’s works, displaying in these, as he often does, his incomprehensible power and wisdom.

- John Calvin's Commentary on the Bible