PSALM 101 OVERVIEW.
As mercy is here set in the first place; so shall the sentence of mercy and absolution be first pronounced at the last day. And it is a laudable custom of princes, at their first entrance to their kingdoms, to shew mercy, by hearing the mourning of the prisoner, and delivering the children of death, by loosing the bands of wickedness, by taking off the heavy burdens, by letting the oppressed go free, and by breaking every yoke of former extortions. Thus, our prophet himself, as soon as the crown was settled on his head, made inquiry if there remained yet alive any of the house of Saul, on whom he might shew mercy ( 2 Samuel 9:1 ). O how fair a thing is this mercy in the time of anguish and trouble! It is like a cloud of rain that cometh in the time of drought. But this mercy, here spoken of in the first part of our prophet's song, stretcheth further; unfolding itself in clemency, in courtesy, and in compassion. In clemency, by pardoning malefactors; in compassion, by relieving the afflicted; in courtesy, towards all. --George Hakewill, or Hakewell, 1579-1649.
Verse 1. Mercy and judgment. What is the history of every poor sinner, plucked as a brand from the fire and brought to heaven in peace at last, but a history of "mercy and judgment"? Judgment first awakes to terror and to fear; mercy meets the poor, trembling, returning prodigal, and falls on his neck, and kisses, and forgives. Then, through all his chequered course, God hems up his way with judgment, that he may not wander, and yet brightens his path with mercy, that he may not faint. Is there a child of God that can look into the varied record of his heart or of his outward history, and not see goodness and severity, severity and goodness, tracking him all his journey through? Has he ever had a cup so bitter that he could say, "There is no mercy here"? Has he ever had a lot so bright that he could say, "There is no chastisement or correction here"? Has he ever had any bad tidings, and there have been no good tidings set over against them to relieve them? Has he ever had a sky so dark that he could see in it no star, or a cloud so unchequered that he could trace no rainbow of promise there? ...
What a beautifully woven web of judgment and mercy does every man's secret history, in his way through the wilderness of life to the land of promise, present! and how good, and how wholesome, and how kindly, and how gracious is this blessed intermingling of both! How do we need the judgment, to keep us humble and watchful and pure! and how do we need the mercy to keep us hopeful, and to nerve our efforts, and to stir our hearts, and to sustain us in patience, amid life's battle and struggle, and disappointment and vexation! Oh, how good it is for us, that we should thus, therefore, have the rod and staff together -- the rod to chasten, and the staff to solace and sustain! How good it is for us, that we should have to "sing of mercy and judgment!" And yet, what is judgment itself, but mercy with a sterner aspect? And what are the chidings of judgment, but the sterner tones of the voice of a Father's love? For even judgment is one of the "all things" that "work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to his purpose." --Hugh Stowell.
Verse 1. Mercy and judgment. God intermixeth mercy with affliction: he steeps his sword of justice in the oil of mercy; there was no night so dark, but Israel had a pillar of fire in it; there is no condition so dismal, but we may see a pillar of fire to give light. If the body be in pain, conscience is in peace, -- there is mercy: affliction is for the prevention of sin, -- there is mercy. In the ark there was a rod and a pot of manna, the emblem of a Christian's condition, mercy interlined with judgment. --Thomas Watson.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Whole Psalm. -- This is a psalm of wills and shalls. There are nine wills and five shalls. Resolutions should be made,
Verse 1. --
Verse 1. -- What there is in mercy that affords ground of singing.
--From Ralph Erskine's Sermon, entitled "The Militant's Song".
Verse 1. --
(b) Because they are both from love.
(c) Because they are both for present good.
(d) Because they are both preparative for the heavenly rest.
Verse 1. -- The blending of song with holy living. The bell of praise and the pomegranate of holy fruitfulness should both adorn the Lord's priests.