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8

The Lord is gracious and merciful,

slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

9

The Lord is good to all,

and his compassion is over all that he has made.

 

10

All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,

and all your faithful shall bless you.

11

They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom,

and tell of your power,

12

to make known to all people your mighty deeds,

and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

13

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,

and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

 

The Lord is faithful in all his words,

and gracious in all his deeds.

14

The Lord upholds all who are falling,

and raises up all who are bowed down.

15

The eyes of all look to you,

and you give them their food in due season.

16

You open your hand,

satisfying the desire of every living thing.

17

The Lord is just in all his ways,

and kind in all his doings.

18

The Lord is near to all who call on him,

to all who call on him in truth.


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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.

9. Jehovah is good to all, etc. The truth here stated is of wider application than the former, for the declaration of David is to the effect, that not only does God, with fatherly indulgence and clemency, forgive sin, but is good to all without discrimination, as he makes his sun to rise upon the good and upon the wicked. (Matthew 5:45.) Forgiveness of sin is a treasure from which the wicked are excluded, but their sin and depravity does not prevent God from showering down his goodness upon them, which they appropriate without being at all sensible of it. Meanwhile believers, and they only, know what it is to enjoy a reconciled God, as elsewhere it is said —

“Come ye to him, and be ye enlightened, and your faces shall not be ashamed; taste and see that the Lord is good.”
(Psalm 34:5, 8.)

When it is added that the mercy of God extends to all his works, this ought not to be considered as contrary to reason, or obscure. Our sins having involved the whole world in the curse of God, there is everywhere an opportunity for the exercise of God’s mercy, even in helping the brute creation.

10. All thy works, etc. Though many would suppress God’s praises, observing a wicked silence regarding them, David declares that they shine forth everywhere, appear of themselves, and are sounded, as it were, by the very dumb creatures. He then assigns the special work of declaring them to believers, who have eyes to perceive God’s works, and know that they cannot be employed better than in celebrating his mercies. What is added — they shall speak the glory of thy kingdom — I consider to have reference only to believers. If any incline to think that these words rather apply to God’s creatures universally, I would not object to that view. But the particular kind of speaking or teaching which David here refers to, applies only to saints. Accordingly I have retained the future tense of the verbs, rather than the optative mood, as others have done. In using the term kingdom, David intimates that this is the tendency of the manifestation of God’s works, to reduce the whole world to a state of order, and subject it to his government. He insists upon the excellency of this kingdom, that men may know that things are to be considered as in disorder and confusion, unless God alone be acknowledged supreme. He denies it to be transitory, like all earthly kingdoms, asserting that it will stand fast for ever. And to call our attention more particularly to its everlasting nature, he breaks out into an admiring exclamation, and addresses his discourse to God.

14. Jehovah upholding all the falling. He gives instances of the goodness and mercy of God, such as make it evident that God reigns only for the promotion of the general welfare of mankind. By the falling, and those who are bowed down, he means figuratively those who are overwhelmed by adversity, and would sink at once, were not God to extend his hand for their support. God, in short, has respect to the troubles of men, and helps such as are in distress, so that all ought not only to look upon his divine government with reverence, but willingly and cordially submit themselves to it. Another lesson taught us is, that none will be disappointed who seeks comfort from God in his affliction.

15. The eyes of all hope in thee. David adduces an additional proof of God’s goodness, in giving food to all living creatures, and thus showing himself in the character of the father of a family. Some interpreters, led by the term hope, which is employed, restrict the application to men, as being endued with reason and intelligence, to seek their food from their heavenly father, while the beasts seek it only in a gross manner, by sight or smell. But although not endued with the exercise of reason, leading them to depend upon God’s providence, necessity itself forces even them, by a certain hidden instinct, to seek their food, so that they may very properly be said to hope in God, as elsewhere the young ravens are said to cry unto him. (Psalm 147:9.) Besides, those who would restrict the words to man, still leave them open to the charge of impropriety; for the wicked have no regard to the fatherly care of God, more than the ox or the ass. Since such is the order established in nature that all animals are brought to a dependence upon their Maker, there is no impropriety in supposing the affection of desire or expectation to be here put for the fact of dependence itself. 282282     “Il ne sera point mal connenable que l’affection soit yei mise pour la chose mesme.” — Fr. All ambiguity is taken away by the next verse, where every living thing is said to be satisfied. It is said that he gives them their food, and in its season, for the very variety of it serves more to illustrate the providence of God. Each has its own way of feeding, and the different kinds of aliment are designed and adapted for different uses. David therefore speaks of that food which is particular to them. The pronoun is not in the plural, and we are not to read in their season, as if it applied to the animals. The food he notices as given in its season; for here also we are to notice the admirable arrangements of divine providence, that there is a certain time appointed for harvest, vintage, and hay crop, and that the year is so divided into intervals, that the cattle are fed at one time upon grass, at another on hay, or straw, or acorns, or other products of the earth. Were the whole supply poured forth at one and the same moment, it could not be gathered together so conveniently; and we have no small reason to admire the seasonableness with which the different kinds of fruit and aliment are yearly produced.

16. Thou openest thine hand, etc. The figure is a beautiful one. Most men pass over without observation the singular goodness of God apparent in this admirable ordering of things in nature, and David therefore represents him as stretching out his hand to distribute to the animals their food. We sinfully confine our attention to the earth which yields us our food, or to natural causes. To correct this error David describes God as opening his hands to put the food into our mouths. The word רצון, ratson, some render desire, as though he meant that God supplied each kind of animal with food according to its wish. And a little afterwards we do indeed find it used in that sense. Others, however, refer it rather to God’s feeding them of his mere good pleasure and kindness; it not being enough to say that our food is given us by God, unless we add, as in the second clause of the verse, that his kindness is gratuitous, and that there is no extrinsic cause whatever moving him to provide so liberally for every living creature. In that case the cause is put for the effect; the various kinds of provision being effects of his good pleasure — χαρισματα της χάριτος. If it be found that men and others of his creatures often suffer and die from want, this is to be traced to the change which has come upon nature by sin. The fair order which subsisted in it by God’s original appointment often fails since the fall through our sins, and yet in what remains of it, though marred, we may see the kindness of God referred to by David, for in the severest failures of crop, there is no year so barren and unproductive, that God may not be said to open his hand in it.

17. Jehovah is righteous in all his ways. He does not now speak of God’s goodness merely in providing all his creatures with their daily food, but comprehends other parts of his providence, as in correcting men for their sins, restraining the wicked, trying the patience of his people under the cross, and governing the world by judgments which are often inscrutable to us. The ground upon which praise is here ascribed to God may seem a common one, being in every one’s mouth; but in nothing is wisdom shown more than in holding fast the truth, that God is just in all his ways, so as to retain in our hearts an unabated sense of it amidst all troubles and confusions. Though all acknowledge God to be just, most men are no sooner overtaken by affliction than they quarrel with his severity: unless their wishes are immediately complied with, they are impatient, and nothing is more common than to hear his justice impeached. As it is everywhere abused by the wicked imputations men cast upon it, here it is very properly vindicated from such ungrateful treatment, and asserted to be constant and unfailing, however loudly the word may disparage it. It is expressly added, in all his ways and works, for we fail to give God due honor unless we recognize a consistent tenor of righteousness in the whole progress of his operation. Nothing is more difficult in the time of trouble, when God has apparently forsaken us, or afflicts us without cause, than to restrain our corrupt feelings from breaking out against his judgments; as we are told of the emperor Mauricius in a memorable passage of history, that seeing his sons murdered by the wicked and perfidious traitor Phocas, and being about to be carried out himself to death, he cried out — “Thou art righteous, O God, and just are thy judgments!” As this man of no bad character opposed such a shield to the cruel trials he met with, we must learn to put a check upon our spirits, and always give God’s righteousness the honor due to it. David, however, goes farther still, intimating that God, even when he seems to be most severe, is so far from being cruel as to temper his heaviest judgments with equity and clemency.

18. Jehovah is near to all that call upon him. This truth is principally applicable to believers, whom God in the way of singular privilege invites to draw near him, promising that he will be favorable to their prayers. Faith, there is no doubt, lies idle and even dead without prayer, in which the spirit of adoption shows and exercises itself, and by which we evidence that all his promises are considered by us as stable and sure. The inestimable grace of God, in short, towards believers, appears in this, that he exhibits himself to them as a Father. As many doubts steal upon us when we pray to God, and we either approach him with trembling, or fail by becoming discouraged and lifeless, David declares it to be true without exception, that God hears all who call upon him. At the same time, as most men pervert and profane the method of calling upon God through inventions of their own, the right manner of praying is laid down in the next part of the verse, which is, that we should pray in truth. Although men resort to God in a cold manner, or even in their prayers expostulate with him, while their hearts are swelling with pride or with anger, they yet complain that they are not heard; just as if there were no difference between praying and quarreling, or the exercise of faith and hypocrisy. The greater part of men, involved in infidelity, scarcely believe that there is a God in heaven at all; others would banish him from it if they could; others would tie him down to their views and, wishes, while some seek slight and insufficient ways of reconciling him, so that the common way of praying is but an idle and empty ceremony. 283283     “Les autres voudroyent qu’il fust sujet a eux: les autres comme par maniere d’acquit cerchent cluelque moyen de l’appaiser,” etc. — Fr. And although nearly all men without exception have recourse to God in the time of their need, they are few indeed who bring the smallest measure of faith or repentance. It were better that the name of God should be buried in oblivion than exposed to such insults. There is good reason, therefore, why truth should be said to be necessary in our prayers — that they come from a sincere heart. The falsehood, which is the opposite of this sincerity, is of various kinds; indeed it were difficult to enumerate them — infidelity, wavering, impatience, murmuring, pretended humility, in short there are as many sorts of it as there are sinful dispositions. The truth being one of no small importance, David again confirms and enlarges upon it in the next verse. The repetition is worthy of our particular notice, for such is our tendency to unbelief, that there are few who in calling upon God do not look upon their prayers as fruitless. Hence the perverse manner in which the wandering minds of men are tossed hither and thither, as in the Papacy they invented patrons without number, holding it of no importance almost to embrace with an unwavering faith the promises by which God invites us to himself.




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