Verse 76. Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant. Having confessed the righteousness of the Lord, he now appeals to his mercy, and while he does not ask that the rod may be removed, he earnestly begs for comfort under it. Righteousness and faithfulness afford us no consolation if we cannot also taste of mercy, and, blessed be God, this is promised us in the word, and therefore we may expect it. The words "merciful kindness," are a happy combination, and express exactly what we need in affliction: mercy to forgive the sin, and kindness to sustain under the sorrow. With these we can be comfortable in the cloudy and dark day, and without them we are wretched indeed; for these, therefore, let us pray unto the Lord, whom we have grieved by our sin, and let us plead the word of his grace as our sole reason for expecting his favour. Blessed be his name, notwithstanding our faults we are still his servants, and we serve a compassionate Master. Some read the last clause, "according to thy saying unto thy servant"; some special saying of the Lord was remembered and pleaded: can we not remember some such "faithful saying," and make it the groundwork of our petitioning? That phrase, "according to thy word," is a very favourite one; it shows the motive for mercy and the manner of mercy. Our prayers are according to the mind of God when they are according to the word of God.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 76. -- Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort. In the former verse he acknowledged that the Lord had afflicted him; now in this he prayeth the Lord to comfort him. This is strange that a man should seek comfort at the same hand that strikes him: it is the work of faith; nature will never teach us to do it. "Come, and let us return unto the Lord; for he hath spoiled, and he will heal us: he hath wounded, and he will bind us up." Again, we see that the crosses which God lays on his children, are not to confound, not to consume them; only to prepare them for greater consolations. With this David sustained himself against Shimei's cursing; "The Lord will look on my affliction, and do me good for this evil": with this our Saviour comforts his disciples; "Your mourning shall be turned into joy." As the last estate of Job was better than his first; so shall the Lord render more to his children at the last than now at the first he takes from them: let us therefore bear his cross, as a preparative to comfort. --William Cowper.
Verse 76. -- Let thy merciful kindness be for my comfort. Several of the preceding verses have spoken of affliction ( Psalms 119:67 Psalms 119:71 Psalms 119:75 ). The Psalmist now presents his petition for alleviation under it. But of what kind? He does not ask to have it removed. He does not "beseech the Lord, that it might depart from him" 2 Corinthians 12:8 . No. His repeated acknowledgments of the supports vouchsafed under it, and the benefits he had derived from it, had reconciled him to commit its measures and continuance to the Lord. All that he needs, and all that he asks for, is a sense of his "merciful kindness" upon his soul. Thus he submits to his justice in his accumulated trials, and expects consolation under them solely upon the ground of his free favour. --Charles Bridges.
Verse 76. -- Let thy merciful kindness, etc. Let me derive my comfort and happiness from a diffusion of thy love and mercy, kdmh chasdecha, thy exuberant goodness through my soul. --Adam Clarke.
Verse 76. -- According to thy word unto thy servant. If his promise did not please him, why did he make it? If our reliance on the promise did not please him, why did his goodness work it? It would be inconsistent with his goodness to mock his creature, and it would be the highest mockery to publish his word, and create a temper in the heart of his supplicant suited to his promise, which he never intended to satisfy. He can as little wrong his creature as wrong himself, and therefore he can never disappoint that faith which after his own methods casts itself into the arms of his kindness, and is his own workmanship, and calls him author. That goodness which imparted itself so freely to the irrational creation will not neglect those nobler creatures that put their trust in him. This renders God a fit object for trust and confidence. --Stephen Charnock.
Verse 76. -- According to thy word. David had a particular promise of a particular benefit; to wit, the kingdom of Israel. And this promise God performed unto him; but his comfort stood not in it; for Saul before him had the kingdom, but the promises of mercy belonged not to him, and therefore, when God forsook him, his kingdom could not sustain him. But David here depends upon the general promises of God's mercy made to his children; wherein he acknowledgeth a particular promise of mercy made to him. For the general promises of mercy and grace made in the gospel are by faith made particular to every believer. --William Cowper.
Verse 76. -- Thy word unto thy servant. Here we may use the eunuch's question: "Of whom speaketh the prophet this, of himself or of some other man?" Of himself questionless, under the denomination of God's servant. But then the question returneth, -- Is it a word of promise made to himself in particular, or to God's servants in the general? Some say the former, the promises brought to him by Nathan. I incline to the latter, and it teacheth us these three truths: --
First. That God's servants only are capable of the sweet effects of his mercy and the comforts of his promises. Who are God's servants?
- Such as own his right and are sensible of his interest in them: "God, whose I am, and whom I serve" ( Acts 28:23 ).
- Such as give up themselves to him, renouncing all other masters. Renounce we must, for we were once under another master ( Romans 6:17 Matthew 6:24 Romans 6:13 1 Chronicles 30:8 ).
- Such as accordingly frame themselves to do his work sincerely: "serve with my spirit" ( Romans 1:9 ); and, "in newness of spirit" ( Romans 7:6 ), even as becomes those who are renewed by the Spirit: diligently ( Acts 26:7 ), and universally ( Luke 1:74-75 ), and wait upon him for grace to do so ( Hebrews 7:28 ). These are capable of comfort. The book of God speaketh no comfort to persons that live in sin, but to God's servants, such as do not live as if they were at their own disposal, but at God's beck. If he say go, they go. They give up themselves to be and do what God will have them to be and do.
Secondly. If we have the benefit of the promise, we must thrust in ourselves under one title or other among those to whom the promise is made; if not as God's children, yet as God's servants. Then the promise is as sure to us as if our name were in it.
Thirdly. All God's servants have common grounds of comfort: every one of God's servants may plead with God as David doth. The comforts of the word are the common portion of God's people. --Thomas Manton.
Verse 76. -- Thy word unto thy servant. Our Master has passed his word to all his servants that he will be kind to them and they may plead it with him. --Matthew Henry.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 76. -- Comfort.
- May be a matter of prayer.
- Is provided for in the Lord.
- Is promised in the word.
- Is of great value to the believer.
Verse 76. --
- The need of comfort.
- The source of comfort: "Thy merciful kindness."
- The rule of comfort: "According to thy word." --G.R.