Verse 64. The earth, O LORD, is full of thy mercy. David had been exiled, but he had never been driven beyond the range of mercy, for he found the world to be everywhere filled with it. He had wandered in deserts and hidden in caves, and there he had seen and felt the lovingkindness of the Lord. He had learned that far beyond the bounds of the land of promise and She race of Israel the love of Jehovah extended, and in this verse he expressed that large hearted idea of God which is so seldom seen in the modern Jew. How sweet it is to us to know that not only is there mercy all over the world, but there is such an abundance of it that the earth is "full" of it. It is little wonder that the Psalmist, since he knew the Lord to be his portion, hoped to obtain a measure of this mercy for himself, and so was encouraged to pray, teach me thy statutes. It was to him the beau ideal of mercy to be taught of God, and taught in God's own law. He could not think of a greater mercy than this. Surely he who fills the universe with his grace will grant such a request as this to his own child. Let us breathe the desire to the All merciful Jehovah, and we may be assured of its fulfilment.
The first verse of this eight is fragrant with full assurance and strong resolve, and this last verse overflows with a sense of the divine fulness, and of the Psalmist's personal dependence. This is an illustration of the fact that full assurance neither damps prayer nor hinders humility. It would be no error if we said that it creates lowliness and suggests supplication. "Thou art my portion, O Lord," is well followed by "teach me"; for the heir of a great estate should be thoroughly educated, that his behaviour may comport with his fortune. What manner of disciples ought we to be whose inheritance is the Lord of hosts? Those who have God for their Portion long to have him for their Teacher. Moreover, those who have resolved to obey are the most eager to be taught. "I have said that I would keep thy words" is beautifully succeeded by "teach me thy statutes." Those who wish to keep a law are anxious to know all its clauses and provisions lest they should offend through inadvertence. He who does not care to be instructed of the Lord has never honestly resolved to be holy.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 64. -- The earth, O LORD, is full of thy mercy. The humble and devoted servant of God does not look with a jaundiced eye upon that scene through which he is passing to his eternal home. Amidst many sorrows and privations, the necessary fruits of sin, he beholds all nature and providence shining forth in the rich expression of God's paternal benignity and mercy to the children of men. --John Morison.
Verse 64. -- The earth, O LORD, is full of thy mercy. The molten sea, the shewbread, the sweet incense, the smoke of the sacrifices, Aaron's breastplate, the preaching of the cross, the keys of the kingdom of heaven: do not all these proclaim mercy? Who could enter a sanctuary, search conscience, look up to heaven, pray or sacrifice, call upon God, or think of the tree of life in the midst of the paradise of God, if there were no mercy? Do not all visions, covenants, promises, messages, mysteries, legal purifications, evangelical pacification, confirm this? Yes, mercy is in the air which we breathe, the daily light which shines upon us, the gracious rain of God's inheritance; it is the public spring for all the thirsty, the common hospital for all the needy; all the streets of the church are paved with these stones. What would become of the children if there were not these breasts of consolation? How should the bride, the Lamb's wife, be trimmed, if her bridegroom did not deck her with these habiliments? How should Eden appear like the Garden of God, if it were not watered by these rivers? It is mercy that takes us out of the womb, feeds us in the days of our pilgrimage, furnishes us with spiritual provisions, closes our eyes in peace, and translates us to a secure restingplace. It is the first petitioner's suit, and the first believer's article, the contemplation of Enoch, the confidence of Abraham, the burden of the Prophetic Songs, the glory of all the apostles, the plea of the penitent, the ecstasies of the reconciled, the believer's hosannah, the angel's hallelujah Ordinances, oracles, altars, pulpits, the gates of the grave, and the gates of heaven, do all depend upon mercy. It is the load star of the wandering, the ransom of the captive, the antidote of the tempted, the prophet of the living, and the effectual comfort of the dying: -- there would not be one regenerate saint upon earth, nor one glorified saint in heaven, if it were not for mercy. -- From G. S. Bowes's "Illustrative Gatherings," 1869.
Verse 64. The earth, O LORD, is full of thy mercy.
"Why bursts such melody from tree and bush,
The overflowing of each songster's heart,
So filling mine that it can scarcely hush
Awhile to listen, but would take its part?
It is but one song I hear where ever I rove,
Though countless be the notes, that God is Love.
"Why leaps the streamlet down the mountainside?
Hasting so swiftly to the vale beneath,
To cheer the shepherd's thirsty flock, or glide
Where the hot sun has left a faded wreath,
Or, rippling, aid the music of a grove?
Its own glad voice replies, that God is Love!"
"Is it a fallen world on which I gaze?
Am I as deeply fallen as the rest,
Yet joys partaking, past my utmost praise,
Instead of wandering forlorn, unblessed?
It is as if an unseen spirit strove
To grave upon my heart, that God is Love!" Thomas Davis, 1864.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 64. -- The sum and substance of this verse will be comprised in these five propositions: --
- That saving knowledge is a benefit that must be asked of God.
- That this benefit cannot be too often or sufficiently enough asked: it is his continual request.
- In asking, we are encouraged by the bounty or mercy of God.
- That God is merciful all his creatures declare.
- That his goodness to all his creatures should confirm us in: hoping for saving grace or spiritual good things. --T. Manton
Verse 64. --
- Observations in the school of nature.
- Supplications enter the school of grace.
Verse 64. -- The mercy of God in nature and his mercy as revealed in word.
- The one excellent; the other super excellent.
- The one easily given; the other coming through a great sacrifice.
- The one may enjoyed, and even increase condemnation; the other, if enjoyed, is salvation.
- The one should lead to repentance; the other is s adapted for the penitent's restoration to holiness. --J.F.