Verse 11. God hath spoken once. So immutable is God that he need not speak twice, as though he had changed; so infallible, that one utterance suffices, for he cannot err; so omnipotent, that his solitary word achieves all his designs. We speak often and say nothing; God speaks once and utters eternal verities. All our speaking may yet end in sound; but he speaks, and it is done; he commands, and it stands fast.
Twice have I heard this. Our meditative soul should hear the echo of God's voice again and again. What he speaks once in revelation, we should be always hearing. Creation and providence are evermore echoing the voice of God; "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." We have two ears, that we may hear attentively, and the spiritual have inner ears with which they hear indeed. He hears twice in the best sense who hears with his heart as well as his ears.
That power belongeth unto God. He is the source of it, and in him it actually abides. This one voice of God we ought always to hear, so as to be preserved from putting our trust in creatures in whom there can be no power, since all power is in God. What reason for faith is here! It can never be unwise to rest upon the almighty arm. Out of all troubles he can release us, under all burdens sustain us, while men must fail us at the last, and may deceive us even now. May our souls hear the thunder of Jehovah's voice as he claims all power, and henceforth may we wait only upon God!
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 10-12. See Psalms on "Psalms 62:10" for further information.
Verse 11. God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this. Nothing is able to settle our confidence in God, but the powerful impression of his own word. Twice have I heard this; that power, etc. How did he hear this twice? Once from the voice of creation, and again from the voice of government. Mercy was heard in government after man had sinned, not in creation: but we have heard of the power of God twice; once we heard of it in creation, and again more gloriously in the work of redemption, wherein his power and mercy were linked together. Or, Twice have I heard this; that power, etc.; that is, it is a more certain and undoubted truth, that power is essential to the divine nature. The repetition of a thing confirms the certainty of it. Mercy us also essential; but power is more apparently so, because no act of mercy can be exercised without power. Or, though God spake this but once, yet David heard it twice, or often: that is, he thoroughly weighed and considered it as God's once speaking. In this sense a gracious person hears that twice that God speaks but once. Or, twice, that is, frequently; because what God had once spoken, had been often repeated and inculcated, and often cleared and confirmed to him by repeated experimental evidence of the certainty thereof; and he had thereupon received the same more and more heartily, and had taken deeper impressions of it by repeated and inculcated thoughts. William Wisheart (1657- 1727), in "Theologia; or Discourses of God."
Verse 11. God hath spoken once, etc. He made it known irrevocably and with great solemnity, so that it was not necessary to repeat it. With the Romans anything is said to be done once, which there is either no need to repeat, or which has no return. With the Hebrews also, and Orientals, txa is at one turn, as in 1 Samuel 26:8 : "Now therefore let me smite him, I pray thee, with the spear even to the earth AT ONE TURN, and I will not smite him the second time." See Schultens. So also Psalms 89:35 . "ONCE have I sworn in my holiness, I will not lie unto David." But what is the force of to hear twice? It may be taken in various ways. To hear twice can be regarded in the general sense of frequently or often. This will give the meaning: -- God has but once spoken, yet I have often observed in my experience that his declaration is true. Hermann Venema.
Verse 11. Once; yea twice. This is answerable to the phrase of the Latins, Semel atque iterum; and it is usual in all writers to use a certain number for an uncertain, and particularly among poets: Felice ter et amplius. Horace. John Tillotson, 1630-1694.
Verse 11. Twice have I heard, etc. There are several renderings and interpretations, of these words; but that which to me seems most intended by our rendering is, I heard what was once spoken of twice at once; that is, I heard it speedily, and I heard it believingly: as soon as ever the word came to me I received it, and I received it not only with my ear, but with my heart. That is a blessed way of hearing; and they who hear so, at first speaking, may well be said to hear that twice which God speaketh once. Joseph Caryl.
Verse 11. Power belongeth unto God. Believe the mighty power of God. Consider (1). It is difficult to believe his power. But how can that be? Is not this a piece of natural divinity, that God is almighty? What need is there, then, to press people to believe it? Great need; because this is the great thing we are apt to question in cases of difficulty. Else, why do we pray with cheerfulness when we see great probability of a thing, but faint in prayer when it is otherwise? And why do we cry out in sad times, "Oh, we shall never see good days again?"
(2). The firm belief of God's power is of great concern and moment in religion. Faith is never quite laid by till the soul questions the power of God. "Oh, he cannot pardon, he cannot save!" When it cometh to this, the soul is no longer able to hold out. So that the life and vigour of faith is very much concerned in the belief of God's power. It is, indeed, one of the first steps to all religion. Therefore it is put in the front of our creed: "I believe in God, the Father ALMIGHTY;" and he that believes that first article will the more easily believe all the rest.
(3). God is much displeased, even with his own children, when his power is questioned by them. For this God takes up Moses short: "Is the Lord's hand waxen short?" ( Numbers 11:23 ); as if he had said: "What, Moses, dost thou think that my power is exhausted or weakened? What an unworthy conceit is this!" For this also Christ rebuked Martha very sharply: "Said I not unto thee, that if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" John 11:40 . Yea, God is so tender of the glory of his power, that he hath sharply chastened his dear children when their faith staggered at this matter; as we see in Zacharias, who, for questioning the power of God, was immediately stricken dumb upon the place. Well, then, let it be your great care to have your faith confirmed in the belief of God's almighty power. For this end, ponder the verbal declarations made of it in the Holy Scriptures; consider and improve the manifestations he hath given of it, both in your own and former times; and pray much that God would strengthen and increase your faith. William Wisheart.
Verse 11-12. Except some of the ancient versions, almost every version, translation, and commentary, says, Dr. A. Clarke, have missed the sense and meaning of this verse. Of the former verse the Doctor offers the following translation: "Once hath God spoken; these two things have I heard." But what are the two things the Psalmist had heard?
- ~yhlal z[ yk, That strength is the Lord's; that is, he is the origin of power.
- Dsx ygdadlw, and to thee, Lord, is mercy; that is, he is the fountain of mercy. These, then, are the two grand truths that the law, yes, the whole revelation of God, declares through every page. He is the Almighty -- he is the Most Merciful; and hence the inference, the powerful, just, and holy God, the most merciful and compassionate Lord, will by and by judge the world, and will render to man according to his works. How this beautiful meaning, adds the Doctor, should have been unseen by almost every interpreter is hard to say; but these verses contain one of the most instructive truths in the Bible.
William Carpenter in "An Explanation of Scripture Difficulties," 1828.
Verse 11-12. I confess I wonder to find so constantly in Scripture that the inspired writers put "merciful" and "mighty," "terrible," and "great," all together: you shall find it so. Ne 1:5. "O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy," etc. You have it also in Daniel 9:4 , in his solemn prayer. "O Lord," says he, "the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy," etc. Thus mercy, and great and terrible are constantly joined together. Thomas Goodwin.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
- How God speaks. "Once," plainly, powerfully,
- How we should hear. Twice, continually, in
heart as well as ear, observantly in practice, in
spirit as well as in letter.
Verse 11-12. The constant union of power and mercy in the language of Scripture.