Verse 17. The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works. His ways and works are both worthy to be praised. Jehovah cannot be unjust or impure. Let his doings be what they may, they are in every case righteous and holy. This is the confession of the godly who follow his ways, and of the gracious who study his works. Whatever God is or does must be right. In the salvation of his people he is as righteous and holy as in any other of his ways and works: he has not manifested mercy at the expense of justice, but the rather he has magnified his righteousness by the death of his Son.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 17. The LORD is righteous in all his ways, etc. The ground upon which praise is here ascribed to God may seem a common one, being in every one's mouth; but in nothing is wisdom shown more than in holding fast the truth, that God is just in all his ways, so as to retain in our hearts an unabated sense of it amidst all troubles and confusions. Though all acknowledge God to be just, most men are no sooner overtaken by affliction than they quarrel with his severity: unless their wishes are immediately complied with, they are impatient, and nothing is more common than to hear his justice impeached. As it is everywhere abused by the wicked imputations men cast upon it, here it is very properly vindicated from such ungrateful treatment, and asserted to be constant and unfailing, however loudly the world may disparage it. It is expressly added, "in all his ways and works"; for we fail to give God due honour unless we recognise a constant tenor of righteousness in the whole progress of his operation. Nothing is more difficult in the time of trouble, when God has apparently forsaken us, or afflicts us without cause, than to restrain our corrupt feelings from breaking out against his judgments; as we are told of the Emperor Mauricius in a memorable passage of history, that seeing his sons murdered by the wicked and perfidious traitor Phocas, and being about to be carried out himself to death, he cried out -- "Thou art righteous, O God, and just are thy judgments." --John Calvin.
Verse 17. Holy in all his works. God is good, the absolute and perfect; and from good nothing can come but good: and therefore all which God has made is good, as he is; and therefore if anything in the world seems to be bad, one of two things must be true of it.
Either it is not bad, though it seems so to us; and God will bring good out of it in his good time, and justify himself to men, and show us that he is holy in all his works, and righteous in all his ways. Or else --
If the thing be really bad, then God did not make it. It must be a disease, a mistake, a failure, of man's making, or some person's making, but not of God's making. For all that he has made he sees eternally; and behold, it is very good. --Charles Kingsky, in "The Good News of God", 1878.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
- What God declares himself to be.
- What his people find him to be.
- What all creatures will ultimately acknowledge him to be. --G. R.