What full provision is made for man's happiness! The first creation was full of mercy. God knew that He had created a being full of want. Every faculty wanted some suitable object, as the source of enjoyment in the gratification—of suffering in the denial; and now has He charged Himself with making provision for them all—so perfect, that no want is left unprovided for.
But what a picture does the earth now present on every side—a world of rebels! yet a world full of the mercy of the Lord! "O Lord, how manifold are Your works! in wisdom have You made them all. The earth is full of Your riches. The eyes of all wait upon You, and You give them their meat in due season. You open Your hand, and satisfy the desire of every living thing." And how does the contemplation of the Lord's mercy in providence encourage our faith, in the expectancy of spiritual privileges! "O Lord! You preserve man and beast. How excellent is Your loving-kindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings. They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of Your house; and You shall make them drink of the river of Your pleasures." 'As You largely bestow Your blessings upon all creatures according to their nature and condition, so I desire the spiritual blessings of the lively light of Your law and word, which are fitting and convenient for the being and happiness of my soul.' As an ignorant sinner, "what I see not, teach me." Teach me Your statutes; that which You have appointed, as the way of duty, and the path to glory—that path which I am utterly unable to discover, or when discovered, to walk in, without the help of Your grace. And indeed the hearts of His people are the vessels, into which the Lord is continually pouring more and more of Himself, until they shall "be filled with all the fullness of God." Every good, according to its character and degree, is diffusive. And thus the goodness or mercy of God pervades His whole universe—natural—plentiful—free—communicative.
Yet none but a believer will understand how to use the plea which is here employed. The mercy that he sees on every side, is to him a pledge and earnest of that mercy, which his soul needs within. The world indeed in its present fallen state, when seen through the medium of pride and discontent, exhibits a picture of misery, not of mercy; and only ministers occasion for complaint against the Creator. But the believer—feeling the infinite and eternal desert of sin—cannot but know, that the lowest exercise of goodness in God is an act of free undeserved mercy. No wonder then that he sees mercy in everything—in every part of the universe of God—a world full of mercy. The very food we eat, our clothing, our habitations, the contrivances for our comfort, are not mere displays of goodness, but manifestations of mercy. Having forfeited all claim upon the smallest consideration of God, there could have been no just ground of complaint, had all these blessings been made occasions of suffering, instead of comfort and indulgence.
Indeed is it not a marvel, that when man—full of mercy—is lifting up his hand against his God—employing against him all the faculties, which His mercy gave and has preserved—that God should be so seldom provoked to strike by their aggravated provocations? What multitude—what weight—what variety of mercy does He still shower upon us! Even our hair, though seemingly so unimportant, the seat of loathsome, defiling, and even mortal disease—is the object of His special care. All the limbs of the body, all the faculties of the mind, all the affections of the heart, all the powers of the will: keeping us in health, and capable of acting for our own happiness—how does He restrain them from those exercises or movements which might be fatal to our happiness!
And then the question naturally recurs—and to a spiritual mind will never weary by its recurrence—Whence flows all this mercy? Oh! it is delightful indeed to answer such an inquiry—delightful to contemplate Him, "in whom" we are not only "blessed with all spiritual blessings;" but who is also the medium, through which our temporal comforts are conveyed to us. How sweet to eye these mercies, as bought with the most precious blood that ever was known in the world, and to mark the print of the nails of our crucified Friend stamped upon the least of them! We allow it to add a relish to our enjoyments, that we can consider them as provided by some beloved friend; and should not our mercies be doubly sweet in remembrance of that munificent Friend, who purchased them for us so dearly; who bestows them upon us so richly; yes, who gives Himself with them all?
Have we heard of this mercy of God? And do we feel the need of it for ourselves—for every moment? Then let us apply to the throne of grace in the free and open way of acceptance and access. Let us go to the King (as Benhadad's servants to the king of Israel,) in the spirit of self-condemnation and faith. Our acceptance does not depend (as in the case referred to) upon a "perhaps;" but it rests upon the sure word of promise, "Him who comes to Me, I will in no wise cast out."
"The earth, O LORD, is full of your mercy." David had been exiled, but he had never been driven beyond the range of mercy, for he found the world to be everywhere filled with it. He had wandered in deserts and hidden in caves, and there he had seen and felt the loving-kindness of the Lord. He had learned that far beyond the bounds of the land of promise and the race of Israel the love of Jehovah extended, and in this verse he expressed that large-hearted idea of God which is so seldom seen in the modern Jew. How sweet it is to us to know that not only is there mercy all over the world, but there is such an abundance of it that the earth is "full" of it! It is little wonder that the Psalmist, since he knew the Lord to be his portion, hoped to obtain a measure of his mercy for himself. He desired to know more of one so good; and as the Lord has so freely revealed himself in nature, he felt encouraged to pray, "teach me your statutes" It was to him the beau-ideal of mercy to be taught of God, and taught in God's own law. He could not think of a greater mercy than this. Surely, he who fills the universe with his grace will grant such a request as this to his own child. Let us breathe the desire to the All-merciful Jehovah, and we may be assured of its fulfillment.
The first verse of this eight is fragrant with full assurance and strong resolve, and this last verse overflows with a sense of the divine fullness, and of the Psalmist's personal dependence. This is an illustration of the fact that full assurance neither damps prayer nor hinders humility. It would be no error if we said that it creates lowliness and suggests supplication. "You are my portion, O Lord," is well followed by "teach me"; for the heir of a great estate should be thoroughly educated, that his behavior may comport with his fortune. What manner of disciples ought we to be whose inheritance is the Lord of hosts! Those who have God for their Portion long to have him for their Teacher. Moreover, those who have resolved to obey are the most eager to be taught. "I have said that I would keep your words" is beautifully succeeded by "teach me your statutes." Those who wish to keep a law are anxious to know all its clauses and provisions, lest they should offend through inadvertence. He who does not care to be instructed of the Lord has never honestly resolved to be holy.
Exposition of Verses 65 to 72
YOU have dealt well with your servant, O LORD, according unto your word.
Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed your commandments.
Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept your word.
You are good and do good; teach me your statutes.
The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep your precepts with my whole heart.
Their heart is as fat as grease; but I delight in your law.
It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn your statutes.
The law of your mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.
In this ninth section the verses in the Hebrew all begin with the letter Teth. In our own version they all commence with the letter T, except 67 and 71, and these can easily be made to do so by reading, "Until I was afflicted," and, "Tis good for me." These verses are the tributes of experience, testifying to the goodness of God, the graciousness of his dealings, and the preciousness of his word. Especially the Psalmist proclaims the excellent uses of adversity and the goodness of God in afflicting him. The sixty-fifth verse is the text of the entire octave.