A string, rope or cord used for measuring. (1 Ki. 7:15, 23; Amos 7:17; Zech. 2:1, 2) Some measuring lines were apparently divided into cubits. (2 Chron. 4:2) The extent of a particular land area was determined by stretching or casting a measuring line upon its surface. (Compare Job 38:4, 5; Psalm 78:55; Micah 2:4, 5.) Builders used it, as when laying out a city (Jer. 31:38, 39; Zech. 1:16), and a wood carver might use it to set the dimensions of an object. (Isa. 44:13) On one occasion King David appears to have measured off the vanquished Moabites that were to be put to death from those to be preserved alive.—2 Sam. 8:2.
In a figurative sense “measuring line” denotes a rule or standard of action. (Isa. 28:10, 13) For example, Jehovah made “justice the measuring line” when dealing with his unfaithful people. (Isa. 28:17) His applying the same measuring line to Jerusalem as he had to Samaria pointed to a similar desolation for Jerusalem. (2 Ki. 21:13; Lam. 2:8) His stretching out the “measuring line of emptiness” on Edom likewise betokened destruction, and the use of this measuring line meant apportioning the land to the animals that would begin to dwell in the desolated areas of Edom.—Isa. 34:5-17.
David regarded his relationship with Jehovah as his portion in life. This was a most satisfying inheritance, prompting him to say: “The measuring lines themselves have fallen for me in pleasant places.”—Ps. 16:5, 6; compare Numbers 18:20.
The heavenly bodies testify to God’s creative activity and, since their silent testimony fills the earth, the psalmist could say respecting them: “Into all the earth their measuring line has gone out.”—Ps. 19:1-4; Rom. 1:20.