Verse 156. This verse is exceedingly like verse one hundred and forty nine, and yet it is no vain repetition. There is such a difference in the main idea that the one verse stands out distinct from the other. In the first case he mentions his prayer, but leaves the method of its accomplishment with the wisdom or judgment of God; while here he pleads no prayer of his own, but simply the mercies of the Lord, and begs to be quickened by judgments rather than to be left to spiritual lethargy. We may take it for granted that an inspired author is never so short of thought as to be obliged to repeat himself: where we think we have the same idea in this psalm we are misled by our neglect of careful study. Each verse is a distinct pearl. Each blade of grass in this field has its own drop of heavenly dew.
Great are thy tender mercies, O LORD. Here the Psalmist pleads the largeness of God's mercy, the immensity of his tender love; yea, he speaks of mercies -- mercies many, mercies tender, mercies great; and with the glorious Jehovah he makes this a plea for his one leading prayer, the prayer for quickening. Quickening is a great and tender mercy; and it is many mercies in one. Shall one so really good permit his servant to die? Will not one so tender breathe new life into him? "Quicken me according to thy judgments." A measure of awakening comes with the judgments of God; they are startling and arousing; and hence the believer's quickening thereby. David would have every severe stroke sanctified to his benefit, as well as every tender mercy. The first clause of this verse may run, "Many," or, "manifold are thy compassions, O Jehovah." This he remembers in connection with the "many persecutors" of whom he will speak in the next verse. By all these many mercies he pleads for enlivening grace, and thus he has many strings to his bow. We shall never be short of arguments if We draw them from God himself, and urge both his mercies and his judgments as reasons for our quickening.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 156. -- Great are thy tender mercies, O LORD. Two epithets he ascribes to God's mercies; first, he calls them "great," and then he calls them "tender" mercies. They are great in many respects: for continuance, they endure for ever; for largeness, they reach unto the heavens, and are higher than they; yea, they are above all the works of God. And this is for the comfort of poor sinners, whose sins are many and great: let them not despair; his mercies are greater and more; for since they are greater than all his works, how much more greater than thou and all thy sinful works!...The other epithet he gives them is, that they ale "tender" mercies; because the Lord is easy to be entreated; for he is slow unto wrath, but ready to show mercy: S. James saith that the wisdom which is from above is "gentle, peaceable, easy to be entreated." If his grace in his children make them gentle and easy to be entreated, what shall we think of himself? Since he will have such pity in us poor creatures, that seventy times seven times in the day he will have us to forgive the offences of our brethren; Oh, what pity and compassion abound in himself! Thus we see our comfort is increased; that as his mercies are great, so are they tender; easily obtained, where they are earnestly craved. --William Cowper.
Verse 156. -- The Psalmist, when speaking of the wretched condition of "the wicked," is naturally led to adore the mercies of the Lord which had "made him to differ." For indeed to this source alone must we trace the distinction between us and them. -- Charles Bridges.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 156. --
- A great need.
- Laid before a great Lord.
- Great favours pleaded.
- A great mercy sought: "quicken me."
Verse 156. -- Just, and the Quickener.
- Spiritual life is the gift of God's mercy.
- Its continuance depends on the exercise of God's power.
- We may therefore plead for quickening on the ground of God's justice. -- C.A.D.
Verse 156. -- The saint,
- Lost in admiration.
(a) Of God's tender mercies.
(b) He cries out at their greatness. They are numerous.
Greatly tender. Great and tender; (exquisite combination!).
- Filled with animation. The child of his admiration.
(a) The arrow like prayer: "Quicken me:" To be like, to be
true to, such a God.
(b) The bow in the hand: "according to thy judgments." --W.B.H.
Verse 156. --
- The tenderness of God's greatness.
- The greatness of God's tenderness.
- The stimulus to life found in his great and tender presence.