Verse 5. Gracious is the Lord, and righteous. In hearing prayer the grace and righteousness of Jehovah are both conspicuous. It is a great favour to hear a sinner's prayer, and yet since the Lord has promised to do so, he is not unrighteous to forget his promise and disregard the cries of his people. The combination of grace and righteousness in the dealings of God with his servants can only be explained by remembering the atoning sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. At the cross we see how gracious is the Lord and righteous.
Yea, our God is merciful, or compassionate, tender, pitiful, full of mercy. We who have accepted him as ours have no doubt as to his mercy, for he would never have been our God if he had not been merciful. See how the attribute of righteousness seems to stand between two guards of love: -- gracious, righteous, merciful. The sword of justice is scabarded in a jewelled sheath of grace.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 5. Gracious is the Lord, etc. He is gracious in hearing, he is "righteous" in judging, he is "merciful" in pardoning, and how, then, can I doubt of his will to help me? He is righteous to reward according to deserts; he is gracious to reward above deserts; yea, he is merciful to reward without deserts; and how, then, can I doubt of his will to help me? He is gracious, and this shows his bounty; he is righteous, and this shows his justice; yea, he is merciful, and this shows his love; and how, then, can I doubt of his will to help me? If he were not gracious I could not hope he would hear me; if he were not righteous, I could not depend upon his promise; if he were not merciful, I could not expect his pardon; but now that he is gracious and righteous and merciful too, how can I doubt of his will to help me? Sir Richard Baker.
Verse 5. The first attribute, "gracious," (!wgx) hath especial respect to that goodness which is in God himself. The root (!gx) whence it cometh signifieth to do a thing gratis, freely, of one's own mind and goodwill. This is that word which is used to set out the free grace and mere goodwill of God, thus (!xa ddfa ta ytgxw) "I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious," Exodus 33:19 . There is also an adverb (~gh) derived thence, which signifieth gratis, freely, as where Laban thus speaketh to Jacob, "Shouldest thou serve me for nought?" Thus is the word opposed to merit. And hereby the prophet acknowledged that the deliverance which God gave was for the Lord's own sake, upon no desert of him that was delivered.
The second attribute, "righteous" or just, (qydc), hath particular relation to the promise of God. God's righteousness largely taken is the integrity or equity of all his counsels, words, and actions... Particularly is God's righteousness manifested in giving reward and taking vengeance. Thus it is said to be "a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled rest," 2Th 1:6-7... But the occasion of mentioning God's righteousness here in this place being to show the ground of his calling on God, and of God's delivering him, it must needs have respect to God's word and promise, and to God's truth in performing what he hath promised. William Gouge.
Verse 5. The Lord; our God. The first title, "Lord," sets out the excellency of God. Fit mention is here made thereof, to shew the blessed concurrence of greatness and goodness in God. Though he be Jehovah the Lord, yet is he gracious, and righteous, and merciful. The second title, "our God," manifests a peculiar relation betwixt him and the faithful that believe in him, and depend on him, as this prophet did. And to them in an especial manner the Lord is gracious, which moved him thus to change the person; for where he had said in the third person "the Lord is gracious," here, in the first person, he says, "our God," yet so that he appropriates not this privilege to himself, but acknowledgeth it to be common to all of like character by using the plural number, "our." William Gouge.
Verse 5. The "Berlenburger Bibelwerk" says, "The righteousness is very significantly placed between the grace and the mercy: for it is still necessary, that the evil should be mortified and driven out. Grace lays, as it were, the foundation for salvation, and mercy perfects the work; but not till righteousness has finished its intermediary work." Rudolph Stier.
Verse 5. Our God is merciful. Mercy is God's darling attribute; and by his infinite wisdom he has enabled mercy to triumph over justice without in any degree violating his honour or his truth. The character of merciful is that by which our God seems to delight in being known. When he proclaimed himself amid terrific grandeur to the children of Israel, it was as "the Lord, the Lord God merciful and gracious, pardoning iniquity, transgression, and sin." And such was the impression of this his character on the mind of Jonah that he says to him, "I knew that thou wert a merciful God." These, however, are not mere assertions - - claims made to the character by God on the one hand, and extorted without evidence from man on the other; for in whatever way we look upon God, and examine into his conduct towards his creatures, we perceive it to bear the impression of mercy. Nor can we more exalt the Lord our God than by speaking of his mercy and confiding in it; for our "Lord's delight is in them that fear him, and put their trust in his mercy." John Gwyther, 1833.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
- Eternal grace, or the purpose of love.
- Infinite justice, or the difficulty of holiness.
- Boundless mercy, or the outcome of atonement.