Verse 11. Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? Thy tender goodness -- who shall testify concerning it in that cold abode where the worm and corruption hold their riot? The living may indite "meditations among the Tombs", but the dead know nothing, and therefore can declare nothing.
Or thy faithfulness in destruction? If the Lord suffered his servant to die before the divine promise was fulfilled, it would be quite impossible for his faithfulness to be proclaimed. The poet is dealing with this life only, and looking at the matter from the point of view afforded by time and the present race of men; if a believer were deserted and permitted to die in despair, there could come no voice from his grave to inform mankind that the Lord had rectified his wrongs and relieved him of his trials, no songs would leap up from the cold sod to hymn the truth and goodness of the Lord; but as far as men are concerned, a voice which loved to magnify the grace of God would be silenced, and a loving witness for the Lord removed from the sphere of testimony.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 11. In the grave. Here is a striking figure of what a living soul feels under the manifestations of the deep corruptions of his heart. All his good words, once so esteemed; and all his good works, once so prized; and all his prayers, and all his faith, and hope, and love, and all the imaginations of his heart, are not merely paralysed and dead, not merely reduced to a state of utter helplessness, but also in soul feeling turned into rottenness and corruption. When we feel this we are spiritually brought where Heman was, when he said, "Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave?" What! wilt thou manifest thy love to a stinking corpse? What! is thy love to be shed abroad in a heart full of pollution and putrefaction? Is thy lovingkindness to come forth from thy glorious sanctuary, where thou sittest enthroned in majesty, and holiness, and purity, -- is it to leave that eternal abode of ineffable light and glory, and enter into the dark, polluted, and loathsome "grave"? What! is thy lovingkindness to come out of the sanctuary into the charnel house? Shall it be "declared" there -- revealed there -- spoken there -- manifested there -- made known there? For nothing else but the declaration of it there will do. He does not say, "Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the Scriptures?" "Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in Christ?" ... "Shall thy lovingkindness be declared by the mouth of ministers?" "Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in holy and pure hearts?" -- but he says, "Shall thy lovingkindness be declared", uttered, spoken, revealed, manifested, "in the grave?" where everything is contrary to it, where everything is unworthy of it, -- the last of all places fit for the lovingkindness of an all pure God to enter. --J.C. Philpot.
Verse 11. Thy faithfulness in destruction. You will see God's faithfulness to have been manifested most, -- in destruction. You will see God's faithfulness to his covenant most clearly evidenced in destroying your false religion, in order to set up his own kingdom in your soul; in destroying everything which alienated and drew away your affections from him, that he alone might be enshrined in your hearts; and you will say, when the Lord leads you to look at the path he has led you, in after years, "Of all God's mercies his greatest have been those that seemed at the time to be the greatest miseries; the richest blessings which he has given us, are those which came wrapped up in the outside covering of curses; and his faithfulness has been as much or more manifested in destruction, than in restoration." --J.C. Philpot.
Verse 11. -- It is not by leaving man in the "destruction" which sin and death produce, that God will declare his "faithfulness" to his promises which have flowed out of his "lovingkindness"; for instance, his promise that the woman's seed should bruise the serpent's head ( Genesis 13:15 and Hosea 13:14 ). --A.R. Faussett.