Verse 16-18. See Psalms on "Psalms 10:16" for further information.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 17.. There is a humbling act of faith put forth in prayer. Others style it praying in humility; give me leave to style it praying in faith. In faith which sets the soul in the presence of that mighty God, and by the sight of him, which faith gives us, it is that we see our own vileness, sinfulness, and abhor ourselves, and profess ourselves unworthy of any, much less of those mercies we are to seek for. Thus the sight of God had wrought in the prophet ( Isaiah 6:5 ), "Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts." And holy Job speaks thus ( Job 42:5-6 ), "Now mine eye seeth thee: wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." This is as great a requisite to prayer as any other act; I may say of it alone, as the apostle ( James 1:7 ), that without it we shall receive nothing at the hands of God! God loves to fill empty vessels, he looks to broken hearts. In the Psalms how often do we read that God hears the prayers of the humble; which always involves and includes faith in it. Psalms 9:12 , "He forgetteth not the cry of the humble," and Psalms 10:17 , Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear. To be deeply humbled is to have the heart prepared and fitted for God to hear the prayer; and therefore you find the psalmist pleading sub forma pauperis, often repeating, "I am poor and needy." And this prevents our thinking much if God do not grant the particular thing we do desire. Thus also Christ himself in his great distress ( Psalms 22:1-31 ), doth treat God ( Psalms 22:2 ), "O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season am not silent. Our fathers trusted in thee. They cried unto thee, and were delivered. But I am a worm, and no man; reproached of men, and despised of the people; ( Psalms 22:6 ) "and he was "heard" in the end "in what he feared." And these deep humblings of ourselves, being joined with vehement implorations upon the mercy of God to obtain, is reckoned into the account of praying by faith, both by God and Christ. Matthew 8:1-34 . Thomas Goodwin.
Verse 17. Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble. A spiritual prayer is a humble prayer. Prayer is the asking of an alms, which requires humility. "The publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner." Luke 18:13 . God's incomprehensible glory may even amaze us and strike a holy consternation into us when we approach nigh unto him: "O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee." Ezra 9:6 . It is comely to see a poor nothing lie prostrate at the feet of its Maker. "Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes." Genesis 18:27 . The lower the heart descends, the higher the prayer ascends. Thomas Watson.
Verse 17. Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble, etc. How pleasant is it, that these benefits, which are of so great a value both on their own account, and that of the divine benignity from whence they come, should be delivered into our hands, marked, as it were, with this grateful inscription, that they have been obtained by prayer! Robert Leighton.
Verse 17. The desire of the humble. Prayer is the offering up of our desires to God in the name of Christ, for such things as are agreeable to his will. It is an offering of our desires. Desires are the soul and life of prayer; words are but the body; now as the body without the soul is dead, so are prayers unless they are animated with our desires: "Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble." God heareth not words, but desires. Thomas Watson.
Verse 17. God's choice acquaintances are humble men. Robert Leighton.
Verse 17. He that sits nearest the dust, sits nearest heaven. Andrew Gray, of Glasgow, 1616.
Verse 17. There is a kind of omnipotence in prayer, as having an interest and prevalence with God's omnipotence. It hath loosed iron chains ( Acts 16:25-26 ); it hath opened iron gates ( Acts 12:5-10 ); it hath unlocked the windows of heaven ( 1 Kings 18:41 ); it hath broken the bars of death ( John 11:40 John 11:43 ). Satan hath three titles given in the Scriptures, setting forth his malignity against the church of God: a dragon, to note his malice; a serpent, to note his subtlety; and a lion, to note his strength. But none of all these can stand before prayer. The greatest malice of Haman sinks under the prayer of Esther; the deepest policy, the counsel of Ahithophel, withers before the prayer of David; the largest army, a host of a thousand Ethiopians, run away like cowards before the prayer of Asa. Edward Reynolds, 1599-1676.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 17. (first clause).
- The Christian's character -- humble.
- An attribute of the Christian's whole life -- desire: he desires more holiness, communion, knowledge, grace, and usefulness; and then he desires glory.
- The Christian's great blessedness -- "Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble."
Verse 17. (whole verse).
- Consider the nature of gracious desires.
- Their origin.
- Their result.
The three sentences readily suggest these divisions, and the subject may be very profitable.