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THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 9 - Verse 17

Verse 17. For the Scripture saith. Ex 9:16. That is, God saith to Pharaoh in the Scriptures, Ga 3:8,22. This passage is designed to illustrate the doctrine that God shows mercy according to his sovereign pleasure by a reference to one of the most extraordinary cases of hardness of heart which has ever occurred. The design is to show that God has a right to pass by those to whom he does not choose to show mercy; and to place them in circumstances where they shall develop their true character, and where in fact they shall become more hardened and be destroyed, Ro 9:18.

Unto Pharaoh. The haughty and oppressive king of Egypt: thus showing that the most mighty and wicked monarchs are at his control. Comp. Isa 10:5-7.

For this same purpose, for the design, or with the intent that is immediately specified. This was the leading purpose or design of his sustaining him.

Have I raised thee up. Margin, in Ex 9:16, "made thee stand," i.e. sustained thee. The Greek word used by the apostle (exhgeira) means, properly, I have excited, roused, or stirred thee up; but it may also have the meaning, "I have sustained or supported thee." That is, I have kept thee from death; I have preserved thee from ruin; I have ministered strength to thee, so that thy full character has been developed. It does not mean that God had infused into his mind any positive evil, or that by any direct influence he had excited any evil feelings, but that he had kept him in circumstances which were fitted to develop his true character. The meaning of the word and the truth of the case may be expressed in the following particulars:

(1.) God meant to accomplish some great purposes by his existence and conduct.

(2.) He kept him, or sustained him, with reference to that.

(3.) He had control over the haughty and wicked monarch. He could take his life, or he could continue him on earth. As he had control over all things that could affect the pride, the feelings, and the happiness of the monarch, so he had control over the monarch himself.

(4.) He placed him in circumstances just fitted to develop his character. He kept him amidst those circumstances until his character was fully developed.

(5.) He did not exert a positive influence on the mind of Pharaoh; for,

(6.) in all this the monarch acted freely. He did that which he chose to do. He pursued his own course. He was voluntary in his schemes of oppressing the Israelites. He was voluntary in his opposition to God. He was voluntary when he pursued the Israelites to the Red Sea. In all his doings he acted as he chose to do, and with a determined choice of evil, from which neither warning nor judgment would turn him away. Thus he is said to have hardened his own heart, Ex 8:15.

(7.) Neither Pharaoh nor any sinner can justly blame God for placing them in circumstances where they shall develop their own character, and show what they are. It is not the fault of God, but their own fault. The sinner is not compelled to sin; nor is God under obligation to save him contrary to the prevalent desires and wishes of the sinner himself.

My power in thee. Or, by means of thee, By the judgments exerted in delivering an entire oppressed people from thy grasp. God's most signal acts of power were thus shown in consequence of his disobedience and rebellion.

My name. The name of Jehovah, as the only true God, and the deliverer of his people.

Throughout all the earth. Or throughout all the land of Egypt. See Barnes "Lu 2:1".

We may learn here,

(1.) that a leading design of God in the government of the world is to make his power, and name, and character known.

(2.) That this is often accomplished in a most signal manner by the destruction of the wicked.

(3.) That wicked men should be alarmed, since their arm cannot contend with God, and since his enemies shah be destroyed.

(4.) It is right that the incorrigibly wicked should be cut off. When a man's character is fully developed; when he is fairly tried; when, in all circumstances, he has shown that he will not obey God, neither justice nor mercy hinders the Almighty from cutting him down, and consigning him to death.

{q} "saith unto Pharaoh" Ex 9:16

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