Verse 3. The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad. They did not deny the statement which reflected so much glory upon Jehovah: with exultation they admitted and repeated the statement of Jehovah's notable dealings with them. To themselves they appropriated the joyful assertion; they said "The Lord hath done great things for us", and they declared their gladness at the fact. It is a poor modesty which is ashamed to own its joys in the Lord. Call it rather a robbery of God. There is so little of happiness abroad that if we possess a full share of it we ought not to hide our light under a bushel, but let it shine on all that are in the house. Let us avow our joy, and the reason of it, stating the "whereof" as well as the fact. None are so happy as those who arc newly turned and returned from captivity; none can more promptly and satisfactorily give a reason for the gladness that is in them, the Lord himself has blessed us, blessed us greatly, blessed us individually, blessed assuredly; and because of this we sing unto his name. I heard one say the other day in prayer "whereof we desire to be glad." Strange dilution and defilement of Scriptural language! Surely if God has done great things for us we are glad, and cannot be otherwise. No doubt such language is meant to be lowly, but in truth it is loathsome.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 3. The Lord hath done great things for us, etc. This verse is the marrow of the whole psalm, occasioned by the return of God's people out of Babel's captivity into their own country. Their deliverance was so great and incredible that when God brought it to pass they were as men in a dream, thinking it rather a dream, and a vain imagination, than a real truth.
- Because it was so great a deliverance from so great and lasting a bondage, it seemed too good to be true.
- It was sudden and unexpected, when they little thought or hoped for it ...
- All things seemed desperate, nothing more unlikely, or impossible rather.
- The manner was so admirable (without the counsel, help, or strength of man: nay, it was beyond and against all human means); that they doubt whether these things be not the dreams of men that are awake. --Thomas Taylor (1576-1632), in "A Mappe of Pwme."
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 3. For us. What were we, might Sion say (who were glad to lick the dust of the feet of our enemies), that the Lord of heaven and earth should look so graciously upon us? The meanness of the receiver argues the magnificence of the giver. "Who am I, that the mother of my Lord should visit me?" this was a true and religious compliment of devout Elizabeth. The best of men are but the children of dust, and grandchildren of nothing. And yet for the Lord to do great things for us! this yet greatens those "great things". Was it because we were his church? It was his super abounding grace to select us out of others, as it was our greater gracelessness, above all others, so to provoke him, as to force him to throw us into captivity. Or was it because our humiliation, in that disconsolate condition, did move him to so great compassion? Alas! there was a choice of nations whom he might have taken in our room, that might have proved far more faithful than we have been for the one half of those favours we have enjoyed.
Or was it for his covenant's sake with our forefathers? Alas! we had forfeited that long since, again and again, we know not how often. Wherefore, when we remember ourselves, we cannot but make this an aggravation of God's "great things", that he should do them for us, FOR US, so very, very unworthy. --Malachiah or Matthew Harris, in a Sermon entitled "Brittaines Hallelujah", 1639.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 3. The LORD hath done great things for us. In this acknowledgment and confession there are three noteworthy points of thankfulness.
- That they were "great things" which were done.
- Who it was who did them: "the Lord."
- That they are done: not against us, but "for us."
--Alexander Henderson, 1583-1646.