Verse 9. The LORD is good to all. No one, not even his fiercest enemy, can this; for the falsehood would be too barefaced, since the very existence lips which slander him is a proof that it is slander. He allows his live, he even supplies them with food, and smooths their way with many forts; for them the sun shines as brightly as if they were saints, and the rain waters their fields as plentifully as if they were perfect men. Is not this goodness to all? In our own land the gospel sounds in the ears of all who care to listen; and the Scriptures are within reach of the poorest child. It would be a wanton wresting of Scripture to limit this expression to the elect, as some have tried to do; we rejoice in electing love, but none the less we welcome the glorious truth, "Jehovah is good to all."
And his tender mercies are over all his works. Not "his new covenant works", as one read it the other day who was wise above that which is written, yea, contrary to that which is written. Kindness is a law of God's universe: the world was planned for happiness; even now that sin has so sadly marred God's handiwork, and introduced elements which were not from the beginning, the Lord has so arranged matters that the fall is broken, the curse is met by an antidote, and the inevitable pain is softened with mitigations. Even in this sin stricken world, under its disordered economy, there are abundant traces of a hand skilful to soothe distress and heal disease. That which makes life bearable is the tenderness of the great Father. This is seen in the creation of an insect as well as in the ruling of nations. The Creator is never rough, the Provider is never forgetful, the Ruler is never cruel. Nothing is done to create disease, no organs are arranged to promote misery; the incoming of sickness and pain is not according to the original design, but a result of our disordered state. Man's body as it left the Maker's hand was neither framed for disease, decay, nor death, neither was the purpose of it discomfort and anguish; far otherwise, it was framed for a joyful activity, and a peaceful enjoyment of God. Jehovah has in great consideration laid up in the world cures for our ailments, and helps for our feebleness; and if many of these have been long in their discovery, it is because it was more for man's benefit to find them out himself, than to have them labelled and placed in order before his eyes. We may be sure of this, that Jehovah has never taken delight in the ills of his creatures, but has sought their good, and laid himself out to alleviate the distresses into which they have guiltily plunged themselves.
The duty of kindness to animals may logically be argued from this verse. Should not the children of God be like their Father in kindness?
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 9. The Lord is good to all, etc. According to the doctrine of Christianity, we are not the creatures of a God who takes no care of his beings, and leaves them to themselves; not the offspring of a father who disowns his children, who does not concern himself about them, and is indifferent to their happiness and their misery. No; never has God, according to that comfortable doctrine, left himself unwitnessed to man; never withdrawn from him his fatherly providence and love; never abandoned the fortunes of his feeble, helpless, untutored children, to blind chance or to their own ignorance. No; from their first progenitor, to his latest posterity, he has himself provided for their support, their instruction, their guidance, their progress to higher attainments. He has constantly revealed himself to them m various ways; constantly shed innumerable benefits on them; sometimes lovingly correcting, and sometimes bountifully blessing them; has constantly been nigh to them, and has left them in want of no means for becoming wiser and better. - -George Joachim Zollikofer, 1730-1788.
Verse 9. The Lord is good to all, etc. God's pity is not as some sweet cordial, poured in dainty drops from a golden phial. It is not like the musical water drops of some slender rill, murmuring down the dark side of Mount Sinai. It is wide as the whole scope of heaven. It is abundant as all the air. If one had art to gather up all the golden sunlight that today falls wide over all the continent, falling through every silent hour; and all that is dispersed over the whole ocean, floating from every wave; and all that is poured refulgent over the northern wastes of ice, and along the whole continent of Europe, and the vast outlying Asia and torrid Africa -- if we could in any wise gather up this immense and incalculable outflow and treasure that falls down through the bright hours, and runs in liquid ether about the mountains, and fills all the plains, and sends innumerable rays through every secret place, pouring over and filling every flower, shining down the sides of every blade of grass, resting in glorious humility upon the humblest things -- on sticks, and stones, and pebbles -- on the spider's web, the sparrow's nest, the threshold of the young foxes' hole, where they play and warm themselves -- that rests on the prisoner's window, that strikes radiant beams through the slave's tear, and puts gold upon the widow's weeds, that plates and roofs the city with burnished gold, and goes on in its wild abundance up and down the earth, shining everywhere and always, since the day of primal creation, without faltering, without stint, without waste or diminution; as full, as fresh, as overflowing today as if it were the very first day of its outlay -- if one might gather up this boundless, endless, infinite treasure, to measure it, then might he tell the height, and depth, and unending glory of the pity of God! That light, and the sun, its source, are God's own figure of the immensity and copiousness of his mercy and compassion. --Henry Ward Beecher, 1875.
Verse 9. Even the worst taste of God's mercy; such as fight against God's mercy taste of it; the wicked have some crumbs from mercy's table. "The Lord is good to all." Sweet dewdrops are on the thistle as well as on the rose. The diocese where mercy visits is very large. Pharaoh's head was crowned though his heart was hardened. --Thomas Watson.
Verse 9. His tender mercies are over all his works. When the sensible sinner is seeking faith of God, he may plead the largeness of mercy. God's mercy is like the firmament spread over all this lower world; and every infirm creature partakes more or less of its influence, according to its exigence and capacity. True, may he say, I have made myself by sin, the vilest of all creatures; I am become worse than the beasts that perish; as vile as a worm, as loathsome as a toad, by reason of the venomous corruption that is in my heart, and my woeful contrariety to the nature of a holy God. But there is "mercy over all", even over such vile and loathsome creatures as these; there may be some over me, though wrath do now abide on me. Oh, let that mercy, whose glory it is to stretch itself over all, e reach my soul also! Oh, that the blessed and powerful influence thereof would p beget faith in my heart! --David Clarkson.
Verse 9. His tender mercies. The nature and force of the word ~ymxr, is properly the bowels; that is, there are tender mercies in God (so we term it in the Benedictus). Not of the ordinary sort, slight, and such as pierce not deep, come not far; but such as come de profundis, from the very bowels themselves, that affect that part, make the bowels relent. And what bowels? Not the bowels of the common man (for then ~w[m had been the right word), but ~mxr are the bsw[lv of a par[nt (so, we said, the word signifies), and this adds much; adds to m[rcy stosgh, natural love; to one strong affection another as strong or stronger than it.
And what parent? the more pitiful of the twain, the mother. For ~xr (the singular of this word) is Hebrew for the womb. So as this, to the two former addeth the sex; the sex holden to be the more compassionate. Of all mercies, those of the bowels; and of all bowels, the bowels of a parent; and of the two parents, those of the mother: such pity as the mother takes of the children of her womb. Mercies are in God; such mercies are in God.
"Over all." It is good news for us that these mercies are in God; but, better yet, that they are in him with a super -- "over." But, best of all, that that super is a super omnia -- "over all." Much is said in few words to mercy's praise when 'tis said, super omnia. Nihil supra were much, none above it: but it is written super omnia, above all. He that saith this leaves no more to say; there is no higher degree; super omnia is the superlative.
All that are above are not over. It is not above only, as an obelisk or Maypole, higher than all about them, but have neither shadow nor shelter; no good they do! Mercy hath a broad top, spreading itself over all. It is so above all, as it is over them, too. As the vault of this chapel is over us, and the great vault of the firmament over that; the super of latitude and expansion, no less than of altitude and elevation. And this to the end that all may retire to it, and take covert; it over them, and they under it. Under it, under the shadow of it, as of Esay's "great rock in the wilderness", from the heat: under it, under the shelter of it as of Daniel's "great tree", from the tempest. ( Isaiah 32:2 Daniel 4:11-12 ). - -Lancelot Andrewes.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 9. The universal goodness of God in no degree a contradiction to the special election of grace.