EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 18. The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him. Not only near by his omnipresence, but to sympathize and favour. He does not leave praying men, and men who confess his name, to battle with the world alone, but he is ever at their side. This favour is not for a few of those who invoke him; but for each one of the pious company. "All" who place themselves beneath the shield of his glorious name by calling themselves by it, and by calling upon it in supplication, shall find him to be a very present help in trouble. "To all that call upon him in truth": for there are many whose formal prayers and false professions will never bring them into communion with the Lord. To pray in truth, we must have a true heart, and the truth in our heart; and then we must be humble, for pride is a falsehood; and be earnest, or else prayer is a lie. A God of truth cannot be nigh to the spirit of hypocrisy; this he knows and hates; neither can he be far removed from a sincere spirit, since it is his work, and he forsakes not the work of his own hands.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 18. The Lord is nigh. The nearness or remoteness of a friend is very material and considerable in our troubles, distresses, wants, dangers etc. I have such a friend and he would help me, but he lives so far off; and I have another friend that has a great love for me, that is able to counsel me, and to speak a word in season to me, and that in my distress would stand close to me, but he is so remote. I have a special friend, that did he know how things stand with me would make my burdens his, and my wants his, and my sorrows his; but he is in a far country, he is at the Indies, and I may be undone before I can hear from him. But it is not thus with you, O Christians! who have a God so nigh unto you, who have the signal presence of God in the midst of you, yea, who have a God always standing by you, "The Lord stood by me", etc. 2 Timothy 4:17 . --Thomas Brooks.
Verse 18. Them that call upon him. To call upon the name of the Lord implies right faith, to call upon him as he is; right trust in him, leaning upon him, right devotion, calling upon him as he has appointed; right life, ourselves who call upon him being, or becoming by his grace, what he wills. They "call" not "upon the Lord", but upon some idol of their own imagining, who call upon him as other than he has revealed himself, or remaining themselves other than those whom he has declared that he will hear. For such deny the very primary attribute of God, his truth. Their God is not a God of truth. --Edward Bouverie Pusey, 1800-1882.
Verse 18. To all that call upon him in truth. Because there is a counterfeit and false sort of worshipping, and calling upon God, which is debarred from the benefit of this promise, to wit, when the party suppliant is not reconciled, nor seeking reconciliation through Christ the Mediator, or is seeking something not promised, or something for a carnal end, that he may bestow it on his lusts; therefore he who hath right unto this promise must be a worshipper of God in faith, and sincere intention; and to such the Lord will show himself "nigh". --David Dickson.
Verse 18. To call upon God in truth is, first, to repose an implicit confidence in the faithfulness of his promise, and to look for unlimited answers to prayer from the riches of his grace in Christ Jesus. But it is also, in the next place, to feel our own urgent need of the things for which we supplicate, and to realize an earnest and unfeigned concern to obtain them. "What things ye desire when ye pray", said the Lord, "believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them"; and hence we gather, that the hearty desire, arising out of the consciousness of need, is an integral and inseparable part of genuine and effectual prayer. --Thomas Dale, 1853.
Verse 18-19. God's people are a praying people, a generation of seekers, and such commonly are speeders. God never said to the seed of Jacob, Seek ye my face in vain. They seek his face, righteousness and strength, and he is found of them ... The saints alone betake themselves to God and his help, run to him as their sanctuary; others fly from God's presence, run to the rocks, and the tops of the ragged rocks, call to the hills and the mountains; but a child of God goes only and tells his Father, and before him lays open his cause; as good Hezekiah did, when Rabshakeh came out against him; "O Lord, I am oppressed, undertake for me"; or the Church ( Isaiah 33:2 ), "Be thou our arm every morning, and our salvation in time of trouble." They only sensibly need, and so alone crave and implore divine succour; and God will not suffer his people to lose the precious treasure of their prayers. "The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him; he will fulfil their desire, he will hear their cry", etc. That God who prepares his people's heart to pray, prepares also his own ear to hear; and he that promises to hear before we call, will never deny to hearken when we cry unto him. As Calvin saith: "Oppressions and afflictions make man cry, and cries and supplications make God hear." --F. E., in "The Saint's Ebenezer", 1667.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 18-20. Gather from these verses the character of God's people.
- They call upon God.
- They fear God.
- They have desires towards God.
- They have answers from God.
- They love God.
Verse 18. (last clause.) True prayer, in what it differs essentially from mere formalism.
Verse 18. At the palace gates.
- Directions to callers.
- "Call upon him"; let the repetition suggest pertinacity.
b) Call "in truth"; sincerely, with promises, in appointed way.
- Encouragement for callers. Jehovah is nigh, with his ready ear, sympathizing heart, and helpful hand. --W. B. H.
Verse 18-19. The blessedness of prayer.
- Definition of prayer: "calling upon God."
- Variety in prayer: "call, desire, cry."
- Essential characteristic of prayer: "truth."
- God's nearness in prayer.
- Assured success of prayer. "He will fulfil, hear, save." --C. A. D.