There is a time for all things in the believer's experience—for confession, prayer, and praise. This Psalm mostly expresses the confessions and prayers of the man of God—yet mingled with thankful acknowledgments of mercy. He had prayed, "Deal bountifully with Your servant." Perhaps here is the acknowledgment of the answer to his prayer—You have dealt well with Your servant, O Lord, according to Your word. And who among us has not daily reason to make the same acknowledgment? Even in those trials, when we have indulged hard thoughts of God, a clearer view of His judgments, and a more simple dependence upon His faithfulness and love, will rebuke our impatience and unbelief, and encourage our trust. Subsequent experience altered Jacob's hasty view of the Lord's dealings with him. In a moment of peevishness, the recollection of the supposed death of a beloved son, and the threatened bereavement of another, tempted him to say, "All these things are against me." At a brighter period of his day, when clouds were beginning to disperse, we hear that "the spirit of Jacob revived: And Jacob said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive, I will go and see him before I die." And when his evening sun was going down almost without a cloud, in the believing act of "blessing the sons of" his beloved "Joseph," how clearly does he retract the language of his former sinful impatience!, "God, before whom my fathers, Abraham and Isaac, did walk—the God which fed me all my life long to this day—the Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads!" This surely was in the true spirit of the acknowledgment—You have dealt well with Your servant, O Lord, according to Your word.
And how is it that any of us have ever harbored a suspicion of unbelief? Has God in any one instance falsified His promise? Has "the vision" failed to come at the end? Has it ever "lied?" Has He not "confirmed His promise by an oath," "that we might have two immutable things" as the ground of "strong consolation?" Any degree less than the full credit that He deserves, is admitting the false principle, that God is a man, that He should lie, and the son of man, that He should repent. It weakens the whole spiritual frame, shakes our grasp of the promise, destroys our present comfort, and brings foreboding apprehensions of the future. Whereas, if we have faith and patience to wait, "in the mount the Lord shall be seen." "All things" may seem to be "against us," while at the very moment, under the wonder-working hand of God, they are "working together for our good." When therefore we "are in heaviness through manifold temptations," and we discover a "needs-be" for it all; and "the trial of faith is found unto praise and honor and glory"—when we are thus reaping the fruitful discipline of our Father's school, must we not put a fresh seal to our testimony—You have dealt well with Your servant, O Lord? But why should we delay our acknowledgment until we come out of our trial? Ought we not to give it even in the midst of our "heaviness?" Faith has enabled many, and would enable us, to "glorify God in the fires;" to "trust" Him, even when "walking in darkness, and having no light;" and, even while smarting under His chastening rod, to acknowledge, that He has dealt well with us.
But if I doubt the reasonableness of this acknowledgment, then let me, while suffering under trials, endeavor to take up different language. 'Lord, You have dealt ill with Your servant; You have not kept Your word.' If in a moment of unbelief my impatient heart, like Jacob's, could harbor such a dishonorable suspicion, my conscience would soon smite me with conviction—'What! shall I, who am "called out of darkness into marvelous light"—shall I, who am rescued from slavery and death, and brought to a glorious state of liberty and life, complain? Shall I, who have been redeemed at so great a price, and who have a right to "all the promises of God in Christ Jesus," and who am now an "heir of God, and joint heir with Christ," murmur at my Father's will? Alas, that my heart should prove so foolish, so weak, so ungrateful! Lord! I would acknowledge with thankfulness, and yet with humiliation, You have dealt well with Your servant, according to Your word.' But how sinfully do we neglect these honorable and cheering acknowledgments! Were we habitually to mark them for future remembrance, we should be surprised to see how their numbers would multiply. "If we should count them, they are more in number than the sand." And truly such recollections—enhancing every common, as well as every special mercy—would come up as a sweet savor to God "by Christ Jesus.""Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name; and do not forget all His benefits."
This is the summary of his life, and assuredly it is the sum of ours. The Psalmist tells the Lord the verdict of his heart; he cannot be silent, he must speak his gratitude in the presence of Jehovah, his God. From the universal goodness of God in nature, in verse 64, it is an easy and pleasant step to a confession of the Lord's uniform goodness to ourselves personally. It is something that God has dealt at all with such insignificant and undeserving beings as we are; and it is far more that he "has dealt well with us, and so well, so wondrously well. He has done all things well: the rule has no exception. In providence and in grace, in giving prosperity and in sending adversity, in everything Jehovah has dealt well with us. It is dealing well on our part to tell the Lord that we feel that he has dealt well with us; for praise of this kind is specially fitting and lovely. This kindness of the Lord is, however, no chance matter: he promised to do so, and he has done it according to his word. It is very precious to see the word of the Lord fulfilled in our happy experience; it endears the Scripture to us, and makes us love the Lord of the Scripture. The book of providence tallies with the book of promise: what we read in the page of inspiration we meet with again in the leaves of our life-story. We may not have thought that it would be so; but our unbelief is repented of now that we see the mercy of the Lord to us, and his faithfulness to his word; henceforth we are bound to display a firmer faith both in God and in his promise. He has spoken well, and he has dealt well. He is the best of Masters; for it is to very unworthy and incapable servants that he has acted thus graciously: does not this cause us to delight in his service more and more? We cannot say that we have dealt well with our Master; for when we have done all, we are unprofitable servants; but as for our Lord, he has given us light work, large maintenance, loving encouragement, and liberal wages. It is a wonder that he has not long ago discharged us, or at least reduced our allowances, or handled us roughly; yet we have had no hard dealings, all has been ordered with as much consideration as if we had rendered perfect obedience. We have had bread enough and to spare, our livery has been duly supplied, and his service has ennobled us and made us happy as kings. Complaints we have none. We lose ourselves in adoring thanksgiving, and find ourselves again in careful thanks-living.