19. O how great is thy goodness which thou hast hidden1 for them that fear thee! which thou hast performed for them that trust in thee before the sons of men! 20. Thou shalt hide them in the secret [or, in the hiding-place] of thy countenance from the pride of man; thou shalt hide them as in a tent from the strife of tongues. 21. Blessed be Jehovah! for he hath made wonderful his goodness towards me, as in a fortified city.
"maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good,"
and shows himself bountiful even to the irrational creation; but he declares himself a Father, in the true and full sense of the term, to those only who are his servants. It is not without reason, therefore, that the goodness of God is said to be hidden for the faithful, whom alone he accounts worthy of enjoying his favor most intimately and tenderly. Some give a more subtle interpretation of the phrase, the goodness of God is hidden, explaining it as meaning that God, by often exercising his children with crosses and afflictions, hides his favor from them, although, at the same time, he does not forget them. It is more probable, however, that it should be understood of a treasure which God has set apart and laid up in store for them, unless perhaps we choose to refer it to the experience of the saints, because they alone, as I have said, experience in their souls the fruit of divine goodness; whereas brutish stupidity hinders the wicked from acknowledging God as a beneficent Father, even while they are devouring greedily his good things. And thus it comes to pass, that while the goodness of God fills and overspreads all parts of the world, it is notwithstanding generally unknown. But the mind of the sacred writer will be more clearly perceived from the contrast which exists between the faithful and those who are strangers to God's love. As a provident man will regulate his liberality towards all men in such a manner as not to defraud his children or family, nor impoverish his own house, by spending his substance prodigally on others; so God, in like manner, in exercising his beneficence to aliens from his family, knows well how to reserve for his own children that which belongs to them as it were by hereditary right; that is to say, because of their adoption.2 The attempt of Augustine to prove from these words that those who unbelievingly dread God's judgment have no experience of his goodness, is most inappropriate. To perceive his mistaken view of the passage, it is only necessary to look to the following clause, in which David says that God makes the world to perceive that he exercises inestimable goodness towards those who serve him, both in protecting them and in providing for their welfare. Whence we learn, that it is not of the everlasting blessedness which is reserved for the godly in heaven that the Psalmist here speaks, but of the protection and other blessings which belong to the preservation of the present life; which he declares to be so manifest that even the ungodly themselves are forced to become eye-witnesses of them. The world, I admit, passes over all the works of God with its eyes shut, and is especially ignorant of his fatherly care of the saints; still it is certain that there shine forth such daily proofs of it, that even the reprobate cannot but see them, except in so far as they willingly shut their eyes against the light. David, therefore, speaks according to truth, when he declares that God gives evidences of his goodness to his people before the sons of men, that it may be clearly seen that they do not serve him unadvisedly or in vain.3
1 "C'est, reservee." -- Fr. marg. "That is, laid up."
2 "C'est a dire, a cause de leur adoption." -- Fr.
4 "Et que quand elle luit sur les fideles, ses rayons sont pour esblouir les yeux de tous les iniques, et affoiblir leur mains.". -- Fr.
5 This is the reading adopted by Walford. "
6 "The particle of similitude is wanting in Hebrew, as is not uncommon. The intention of the Psalmist is evidently to describe by a metaphor his signal deliverance, as if he had been guarded by invincible fortifications." -- Walford.