Verse 21. But do thou for me, O God the Lord, for thy name's sake. How eagerly he turns from his enemies to his God! He sets the great THOU in opposition to all his adversaries, and you see at once that his heart is at rest. The words are very indistinct and though our version may not precisely translate them, yet it in a remarkable manner hits upon the sense and upon the obscurity which hangs over it. "Do thou for me" -- what shall he do? Why, do whatever he thinks fit. He leaves himself in the Lord's hands, dictating nothing, but quite content so long as his God will but undertake for him. His plea is not his own merit, but the name. The saints have always felt this to be their most mighty plea. God himself has performed his grandest deeds of grace for the honour of his name, and his people know that this is the most potent argument with him. What the Lord himself has guarded with sacred jealousy we should reverence with our whole hearts and rely upon without distrust. "Because thy mercy is good, deliver thou me." Not because I am good, but because thy mercy is good: see how the saints fetch their pleadings in prayer from the Lord himself. God's mercy is the star to which the Lord's people turn their eye when they are tossed with tempest and not comforted, for the peculiar bounty and goodness of that mercy have a charm for weary hearts. When man has no mercy we shall still find it in God. When man would devour we may look to God to deliver. His name and his mercy are two firm grounds for hope, and happy are those who know how to rest upon them.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 21. For thy name's sake. My enemies would soon become my friends and my protectors, if I would but renounce my allegiance to thee; my refusal to disobey thee constitutes all my crime in their eyes. My cause, therefore, becomes thine, it will be to thy glory to declare thyself on my side, lest the impious should take occasion from my sufferings to blaspheme thy holy name, as if thou hadst not the power to deliver, or wert utterly indifferent to those who, renouncing all human help, have put their confidence in thee. --Jean Baptiste Massillion.
Verse 21. For thy name's sake. It does not say, For my name, that it may be vindicated from, reproach and shame: but for Thy name; as if he would say, whatever I may be, O Lord, and whatever may befall me, have respect to Thy name, have regard to it only. I am not worthy, that I should seek Thy help, but Thy name is worthy which thou mayest vindicate from contempt. We learn here with what passion for the glory of the divine name they ought to be animated, who are peculiarly consecrated to the name of God.
He does not say, "Because my case is good", but because thy mercy is good. Note this also, he does not simply say, Because thou art good, or because thou art merciful; but because thy mercy is good. He had experienced a certain special goodness in the Divine mercy; i.e., such timeliness, kind readiness in all afflictions, and help for every kind of affliction prepared and provided. On this he rests hope and confidence, in this takes refuge. All those are truly happy who have had experience of this mercy, and can depend on it with firm hope and confidence. --Wolfgang Musculus.
Verse 21. Unto a truly broken, humbled sinner, the mercies that are in God, out of which he pardons, should have infinitely more of goodness and sweetness in them than the pardon itself, or all things else that are in the promises. This a soul that hath tasted how good the Lord is will instantly acknowledge. A promise of life to a condemned man is sweet, for life is sweet, as we say; but "thy lovingkindness", said David, who had tasted how good the Lord is, "is better than life", and infinitely sweeter, Psalms 63:3 . And again says David, Because thy mercy is good, deliver thou me. Deliverance was good; yea, but the mercy of God apprehended therewith was infinitely more good to him, which was the greatest inducement to him to seek deliverance. And indeed God's mercy doth eminently bear the style of goodness. --Thomas Goodwin.
Verse 21-25. The thunder and lightning are now as it were followed by a shower of tears of deep sorrowful complaint. --Franz Delitzsch.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 21. The plea of a believer must be drawn from his God, his "name" and "mercy." The opposite habit of searching for arguments in self very common and very disappointing.
Verse 21. The peculiar goodness of divine mercy.