Verse 13. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. To those who truly reverence his holy name, the Lord is a father and acts as such. These he pities, for in the very best of men the Lord sees much to pity, and when they are at their best state they still need his compassion. This should check every propensity to pride, though at the same time it should yield us the richest comfort. Fathers feel for their children, especially when they are in pain, they would like to suffer in their stead, their sighs and groans cut them to the quick: thus sensitive towards us is our heavenly Father. We do not adore a god of stone, but the living God, who is tenderness itself. He is at this moment compassionating us, for the word is in the present tense; his pity never fails to flow, and we never cease to need it.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 13. Like as a father pitieth his children, etc. A chaplain to seamen, at an American port, visited a sailor who appeared to be near death. He spoke kindly to the man upon the state of his soul, and directed him to cast himself on Jesus. With an oath, the sick man bade him begone. The chaplain then told him that he must be faithful to him, for if he died impenitent he would be lost for ever. The man was sullen and silent, and pretentted to fall asleep. The visit was repeated more than once, with similar ill success. At length the chaplain, suspecting that the sailor was a Scotchman, repeated a verse of the old version of the Psalms:
"Such pity as a father hath
Unto his children dear.
Like pity shows the Lord to such
As worship him in fear."
Tears started into the sailor's eyes as he listened to these words. The chaplain asked him if he had not had a pious mother. The man broke into tears. Yes, his mother had, in years gone by, taught him these words, and had also prayed to God for him. Since then he had been a wanderer by sea and land; but the memory of her faith and love moved his heart. The appeals made to him were blessed by the Spirit of God. His life was spared, and proved the reality of his conversion.
Verse 13. Like as a father. It is to be observed in this verse, what kind of mercy the prophet attributes to God. He says not, As man pities man, as the rich the poor man, as the strong the feeble, as the freeman the captive, but he makes mention of that pity which a father shows to his son, which is the greatest of all. The word ~xr itself supports this view, as it properly signifies viscarum commotis. An example of this we have in 1 Kings 3:23-27 in the case of the woman who could not bear the slaughter of her child... And afterwards in the case of the father of the prodigal. Luke 15:11-32 . Musculus.
Verse 13. As a father pitieth his children. The father pitieth his children that are weak in knowledge, and instructs them; pities them when they are froward, and bears with them; pities them when they are sick, and comforts them; when they are fallen, and helps them up again; when they have offended, and upon their submission, forgives them; when they are wronged, and rights them. Thus "the Lord pitieth them that fear him." Matthew Henry.
Verse 13. So the Lord pitieth, &c. So and ten thousand times more than so. For he is the "Father of all mercies," and the Father of all the fatherhoods in heaven and earth. Eph 3:15. John Trapp.
Verse 13. The Load pitieth. Though it be commonly said, "It is better to be envied, than pitied;" yet here it is not so: but it is a far happier thing to be pitied of God, than to be envied of men. Sir R. Baker.
Verse 13. Them that fear him. The fear of God is that deference to God which leads you to subordinate your will to his; makes you intent on pleasing him; penitent in view of past wilfulness; happy in his present smile; transported by his love; hopeful of his glory. George Bowen.
Verse 13. Them that fear him. It may be understood of those who have not yet "received the spirit of adoption," but are yet "trembling at his word," those he "pities." Matthew Henry.
Verse 13-14. The good father doth not turn off the child for being weak and sickly; but is so much the more indulgent as his necessity requires succour. If his stomach refuse meat, or cannot answer it with digestion, will he put him out of doors? No; when the Shunamite's son complains of his head, she lays him in her bosom. A mother is good to all the fruit of her womb, most kind to the sick infant: when it lies with its eyes fixed on her, not able to declare its grief, or to call for what it desires, this doubles her compassion: "So the Lord doth pity us, remembering our frame, considering that we are but dust"; that our soul works by a lame instrument; and therefore he requires not that of an elemental composition, which he doth of angelical spirits. The son is commanded to write out such a copy fairly; he doth his best, far short of the original; yet the father doth not chide, but encourage him. Or he gives him a bow and arrows, bids him shoot to such a mark; he draws his utmost strength, lets go cheerfully: the arrow drops far short, yet the son is praised, the father pleased. Temptation assaults us, lust buffets us, secular business diverts us, manifold is our weakness, but not beyond our Father's forgiveness: "He will spare us, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him," Malachi 3:17 . Thomas Adams.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 13-14. "The Tender Pity of the Lord." See "Spurgeon's Sermons," No. 941.
- Whom God pities; "them that fear him."
- How he pities "as a father pitieth his children."
- Why he pities; "for he knoweth our frame." He hath reason to know out frame, for he framed us, and having himself made man of the dust, "he remembers that we are dust." Matthew Henry.