A prayer of deep anxiety—large desire—simple faith! It is a sinner—feeling his need of mercy—yes, mercies—abundant mercy—mercies for every moment—looking for them only in the Lord's salvation—to be dispensed according to His word. Out of Christ we know only a God, of justice and holiness. In Christ we behold "a just God, and yet a Savior;" and in "His salvation mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other." Therefore general notions of mercy without a distinct apprehension of salvation have their origin in presumption, not in warranted faith. For can there be any communication of mercy from an unknown God? Can there be any communion with an angry God? "Acquaint now yourself with Him, and be at peace; thereby good shall come to you" "The Lord's mercies, even His salvation."
Can we conceive the moment, when this prayer is not suited to us? How can we be at any moment safe or happy without the spirit of it? To walk as a saved sinner, "accepted in the Beloved," conformed to His image, devoted to His service, sealed for His kingdom—this is, or should be, the sunshine of every day. Let this prayer live in the heart. Carry continually to the Lord the cry for all His mercies—specially for that, which is the seal and crown of them all—His salvation.
This prayer, however, is peculiarly suitable to the believer, longing to realize that which sometimes is clouded to his view—his personal interest in the Lord's salvation! It must come to me; or I shall never come to it. I want not a general apprehension—I am not satisfied with the description of it. Let it come to me—Let Your mercies be applied, so that I can claim them, and rejoice in them! I see Your salvation come to others. Who needs it more than I? Let it come also to me. "Look upon me, and be merciful to me, as You do to those that love Your name. Remember me, O Lord, with the favor that You bear to Your people; O visit me with Your salvation; that I may see the felicity of Your chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nation, that I may glory with Your inheritance."
Now, are we seeking the assurance of this salvation? Are we waiting to realize its present power, saving us from sin—Satan—the world—ourselves—and "blessing us with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus?" Should a trial of faith and patience be ordained for us, yet in the end we shall find an enriching store of experience from His wise dispensations. That He has kept us from turning our backs upon His ways, when we had no comfort in them; that He has upheld us with His secret supplies of strength—is not this the work of His own Spirit within, and the pledge of the completion of the work? That He has enabled us, against all discouragements, to "continue instant in prayer," is surely an answer to that prayer, which in our apprehensions of it, had been cast out. That in waiting upon Him, we have found no rest in worldly consolation, is an assurance, that the Lord Himself will be our soul-satisfying and eternal portion. And who is there now in the sensible enjoyment of His love, who does not bless that Divine wisdom, which took the same course with them that has been taken with us, to bring them to these joys? When did a weeping seed-time fail of bringing a joyful harvest?
But let not the ground of faith be forgotten—According to Your word—that it shall come fully—freely—eternally—to him who waits for it. "You meet him that rejoices and works righteousness; those that remember You in Your ways." Many, indeed, are satisfied with far too low a standard of spiritual enjoyments. It is comfortless to live at a distance from our Father's house, when we might be dwelling in the secret of His presence, and rejoicing in the smiles of His love. But let us not charge this dishonorable state upon the sovereignty of the Divine dispensations. Let us rather trace it to its true source—lack of desire—lack of faith—lack of prayer—lack of diligence. What infinite need have we of heavenly influence! What gracious encouragement to seek it! The way was blocked up—mercy has cleared the path, opened our access, "The golden scepter is always held out." Earnest prayer will bring a sure answer. The blessing is unspeakable. Let Your mercies—Your salvation, come to me, O Lord.
"Let your mercies come also unto me, O LORD." He desired mercy as well as teaching, for he was guilty as well as ignorant. He needed much mercy and varied mercy, hence the request is in the plural. He needed mercies from God rather than from man, and so he asks for "your mercies." The way of grace appeared to be blocked, and therefore he begs that the mercies may have their way cleared by God, and may "come" to him. He who said, "Let there be light," can also say, "Let there be mercy." It may be that under a sense of unworthiness the writer feared lest mercy should be given to others, and not to himself; he therefore cries, "Let them come unto me"; "Bless me, even me also, O my Father." The words are tantamount to our well-known verse—
"Lord, I hear of showers of blessing
You are scattering, full and free;
Showers, the thirsty land refreshing;
Let some droppings fall on me,
Lord, your enemies come to me to reproach me, let your mercies come to me to defend me; trials and troubles abound, and labors and sufferings not a few approach me; Lord, let your mercies in great number enter by the same gate, and at the same hour; for are you not "the God of my mercy"?
"Even your salvation." This is the sum and crown of all mercies—deliverance from all evil, both now and forever. Here is the first mention of salvation in the psalm, and it is joined with mercy: "By grace are you saved." Salvation is styled "your salvation," thus ascribing it wholly to the Lord: "He who is our God is the God of salvation." What a mass of mercies are heaped together in the one salvation of our Lord Jesus! It includes the mercy which spares us until our conversion, and leads to that conversion. We have calling mercy, regenerating mercy, converting mercy, justifying mercy, pardoning mercy. Nor can we exclude from complete salvation any of those many mercies which conduct the believer safely to glory. Salvation is an aggregate of mercies, incalculable in number, priceless in value, incessant in application, eternal in endurance. To the God of our mercies be glory, world without end.
"According to your word." The way of salvation is described in the word; salvation itself is promised in the word; and its inward manifestation is wrought by the word; so that in all respects the salvation which is in Christ Jesus is in accordance with God's word. David loved the Scriptures, but he longed experimentally to know the salvation contained in them: he was not satisfied to read the word, he longed to experience its inner sense. He valued the field of Scripture for the sake of the treasure which he had discovered in it. He was not contented with having chapter and verse, he wanted mercies and salvation.
Note that in the first verse of the section which bears the letter HE (33) the Psalmist prayed to keep God's word, and here he begs the Lord to keep his word. In the first case he longed to come to the God of mercies, and here he would have the Lord's mercies come to him: there he sought grace to persevere in faith, and here he seeks the end of his faith, even the salvation of his soul.