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The Lord is gracious and merciful,

slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

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8. Jehovah is gracious, etc. He opens up the goodness of which he spoke by using several expressions, as that God is inclined to mercy, (for such is the proper meaning of the word חנון, channun,) and that he helps us willingly, as one sympathizing with our miseries. It is to be noticed that David has borrowed the terms which he here applies to God from that celebrated passage in Exodus 34:6; and as the inspired writers drew their doctrine from the fountain of the law, we need not wonder that they set a high value upon the vision which is there recorded, and in which as clear and satisfactory a description of the nature of God is given us as can anywhere be found. David, therefore, in giving us a brief statement of what it was most important we should know in reference to God, makes use of the same terms employed there. Indeed no small part of the grace of God is to be seen in his alluring us to himself by such attractive titles. Were he to bring his power prominently into view before us, we would be cast down by the terror of it rather than encouraged, as the Papists represent him a dreadful God, from whose presence all must fly, whereas the proper view of him is that which invites us to seek after him. Accordingly, the more nearly that a person feels himself drawn to God, the more has he advanced in the knowledge of him. If it be true that God is not only willing to befriend us, but is spoken of as touched with sympathy for our miseries, so as to be all the kinder to us the more that we are miserable, what folly were it not to fly to him without delay? But as we drive God’s goodness away from us by our sins, and block up the way of access, unless his goodness overcome this obstacle, it would be in vain that the Prophets spoke of his grace and mercy. 280280     “Si la bonte de Dieu ne surmonte cest empeschement, c’est en vain que les Prophetes traitteroyent de sa grace et misericorde.” — Fr. It was necessary, therefore, to add what follows, that great is his mercy, that he pardons sins, and bears with the wickedness of men, so as to show favor to the unworthy. As regards the ungodly, although God shows them his long-suffering patience, they are incapable of perceiving pardon, so that the doctrine on which we insist has a special application to believers only, who apprehend God’s goodness by a living faith. To the wicked it is said —

“To what end is the day of the Lord for you? the day of the Lord is darkness and not light, affliction and not joy.”
(Amos 5:18.)

We see in what severe terms Nahum threatens them at the very beginning of his prophecy. Having referred to the language used in the passage from Moses, he adds immediately, on the other hand, to prevent them being emboldened by it, that God is a rigid and severe, a terrible and an inexorable judge. (Nahum 1:3.) They therefore who have provoked God to anger by their sins, must see to secure his favor by believing.