The highest ardency of holy desire is no ground of satisfaction before God. Nor does the believer in his most elevated moments forget his proper character—always a sinner—needing mercy every moment—in every duty. His prayer for mercy therefore suitably follows his exalted expression of love—Look upon me, and be merciful unto me. Mercy is indeed secured to him beyond the power of earth and hell to despoil him of it; but the comfortable sense of this mercy is given only according to the earnestness of his desires, and the simplicity of his faith. And this is indeed a blessing, with which no earthly source of satisfaction can compare. What are all the riches of the world without it, but splendid poverty, as little able to supply the place of Jesus in the soul, as the magnificent array of the starry skies is to compensate for the absence of the sun? It is night with the child of God—Egyptian night, "darkness which may be felt," until his Sun appear to chase away his gloom—until his Lord hear his cry—Look upon me, and be merciful unto me!
To have this portion of those that love the name of God, is, then, the grand object. To have our offering, as Abel's was, accepted with God—to walk as Enoch walked, with God—to commune with Him as Abraham and Moses were privileged to do—to be conformed with the holy Apostle to the death of Christ—in a word, to be interested in all the purchase of a Savior's blood, "this is the heritage of the Lord's servants"—this is the "one thing that we have desired of the Lord, and are seeking after," "this," with the dying Psalmist, "is all our salvation, and all our desire." "Remember me then, O Lord, with the favor that You bear to Your people; O visit me with Your salvation; that I may see the good of Your chosen: that I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nation; that I may glory with Your inheritance."
And yet, alas! how often has the power and deceitfulness of sin cast us into so lifeless a state, that we are not only living without the enjoyment of this portion, but at rest without it; scarcely knowing or caring whether the Lord look on us or not? Can we wonder, that our holy, jealous God, should "hide Himself," and "go and return to His place?" His next manifestations will probably be in the way of sharp conviction, making us to feel our distance, our coldness, our barrenness: awakening us to search into the cause; and, in the contrast of our sad condition with those who are walking in His favor, again bringing forth the cry—Look upon me, and be merciful unto me, as You do unto those that love Your name. The prayer of humility, earnestness, and perseverance, though it may be tried awhile, will surely never be forgotten. If therefore we cannot yet "sing in the ways of the Lord," yet let us not cease to mourn after Him, until He look upon us, and "satisfy us with His mercy." And oh! let us remember that there is but one way through which one gracious look, or one expression of tender mercy, can visit our souls. Let our eyes and heart then be ever fixed on Jesus. It is only in this His "beloved" Son that the Lord can look upon us, so as not to "behold iniquity in us." But we "are complete in Him." Here then let us wait; and when this our prayer has received its answer in the Lord's best time—whether it be in "the goings of our God in the sanctuary," or in the more secret manifestation of His love—Christians, "arise, and shine." Let it be known, that you have been on the mount with God, by the luster of your face, the adorning of your profession, before the world.
Lord! since our looks to You are often so slight, so cold, so distant, that no impression is made upon our hearts; do condescend continually to look upon us with mercy and with power. Give us such a look, as may touch us with tenderness and contrition, in the remembrance of that sin, unbelief, and disobedience, which pierced the hands, the feet, the heart of our dearest Lord and Savior. Oh! for that contrite spirit, in which we shall enjoy the look of Your special favor! Oh! for a glimpse of Your love, that will put our spiritual enemies to shame! Oh! for that sunshine of Your countenance, which brings present salvation to our souls!
"Look upon me." A godly man cannot long be without prayer. During the previous verses he had been expressing his love to God's word, but here he is upon his knees again. This prayer is specially short, but exceedingly sententious: "Look upon me." While he stood with open mouth panting for the commandments, he besought the Lord to look upon him, and let his condition and his unexpressed longings plead for him. He desires to be known of God, and daily observed by him. He wishes also to be favored with the divine smile which is included in the word "look." If a look from us to God has saving efficacy in it, what may we not expect by means of a look from God to us?
"And be merciful unto me." Christ's look at Peter was a look of mercy, and all the looks of the heavenly Father are of the same kind. If he looked in stern justice, his eyes would not endure us; but looking in mercy, he spares and blesses us. If God looks and sees us panting, he will not fail to be merciful to us.
"As you use to do unto those that love your name." Look on me as you look on those who love you; be merciful to me as you are accustomed to be towards those who truly serve you. There is a use and accustomed which God observes towards them that love him, and David craved that he might experience it He would not have the Lord deal either better or worse with him than he was accustomed to deal with his saints—worse would not save him, better could not be. In effect he prays, "I am your servant; treat me as you treat your servants. I am your child; deal with me as with the rest of your children." Especially is it clear from the context that he desired such an entering in of the word, and such a clear understanding of it, as God usually gives to his own, according to the promise, "All your children shall be taught of the Lord."
Reader, do you love the name of the Lord? Is his character most honorable in your sight? most dear to your heart? This is a sure mark of grace; for no soul ever loved the Lord except as the result of love received from the Lord himself.