Verse 2. O thou that hearest prayer. This is thy name, thy nature, thy glory. God not only has heard, but is now hearing prayer, and always must hear prayer, since he is an immutable being and never changes in his attributes. What a delightful title for the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Every right and sincere prayer is as surely heard as it is offered. Here the psalmist brings in the personal pronoun thou, and we beg the reader to notice how often "thou," "thee," and "thy," occur in this hymn; David evidently believed in a personal God, and did not adore a mere idea or abstraction.
Unto thee shall all flesh come. This shall encourage men of all nations to become suppliants to the one and only God, who proves his Deity by answering those who seek his face. Flesh they are, and therefore weak; frail and sinful, they need to pray; and thou art such a God as they need, for thou art touched with compassion, and dost condescend to hear the cries of poor flesh and blood. Many come to thee now in humble faith, and are filled with good, but more shall be drawn to thee by the attractiveness of thy love, and at length the whole earth shall bow at thy feet. To come to God is the life of true religion; we come weeping in conversion, hoping in supplication, rejoicing in praise, and delighting in service. False gods must in due time lose their deluded votaries, for man when enlightened will not be longer be fooled; but each one who tries the true God is encouraged by his own success to persuade others also, and so the kingdom of God comes to men, and men come to it.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 2. O thou that hearest prayer, etc. This is one of his titles of honour, he is a God that hears prayer; and it is as truly ascribed to him as mercy or justice. He hears all prayer, therefore, unto thee shall all flesh come. He never rejects any that deserves the name of prayer, how weak, how unworthy soever the petitioner be. All flesh! And will he (may faith say) reject mine only? Romans 10:12 , "He is rich unto all that call upon him;" Psalms 86:5 , "Thou art plenteous in mercy to all that call upon thee;" Hebrews 11:6 , "A rewarder of them that diligently seek him." This must be believed as certainly as we believe that God is. As sure as God is the true God, so sure is it that none who sought him diligently departed from him without a reward. He rewards all seekers, for indefinita in materia necessaria aequipollet universali. And if all, why not me? You may as well doubt that he is God, as doubt that he will not reward, not hear prayer; so James 1:5 , "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." David Clarkson.
Verse 2. O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come. What avails prayer, if it be not heard? But God's people need not lay it aside on that score. Our text bears two things with respect to that matter.
- A comfortable title ascribed to God, with the unanimous consent of all the sons of Zion, who are all praying persons: O thou that hearest prayer. He speaks to God in Zion, or Zion's God, that is in New Testament language, to God in Christ. An absolute God thundereth on sinners from Sinai, there can be no comfortable intercourse betwixt God and them, by the law: but in Zion, from the mercyseat, in Christ, he is the hearer of prayer; they give in their supplications, and he graciously hears them. Such faith of it they have, that praise waits there for the prayer hearing God.
- The effect of the savour of this title of God, spread abroad in the world: Unto thee shall all flesh come: not only Jews, but Gentiles. The poor Gentiles who have long in vain implored the aid of their idols, hearing and believing that God is the hearer of prayer, will flock to him, and present their petitions. They will throng in about his door, where by the gospel they understand beggars are so well served. They will come in even unto thee, Hebrew. They will come in even to thy seat, thy throne of grace, even unto thyself through the Mediator... That God is the hearer of prayer, and will hear the prayers of his people, is evident from these considerations:
First. The supernatural instinct of praying that is found in all that are born of God, Ga 4:6. It is as natural for them to fall a praying when the grace of God has touched their hearts, as for children when they are born into the world to cry, or to desire the breasts. Zechariah 12:10 , compared with Acts 9:11 , where in the account that is given of Paul, at his conversion, it is particularly noticed, "Behold, he prayeth." Hence the whole saving change on a soul comes under the character of this instinct. Jeremiah 3:4 Jeremiah 3:19 .
Secondly. The intercession of Christ, Romans 8:34 . It is a great part of the work of Christ's intercession to present the prayers of his people before his Father, Revelation 8:4 , to take their causes in hand, contained in their supplications. 1 John 2:1 .
Fourthly. The many encouragements given in the Word to the people of God, to come with their cases unto the Lord by prayer. He invites them to his throne of grace with their petitions for supply of their needs. Song of Solomon 2:14 . He sends afflictions to press them to come. Hosea 5:15 . He gives them ground of hope of success, Psalms 50:15 , whatever extremity their case is brought to. Isaiah 41:17 . He shows them that however long he may delay their trial, yet praying and not fainting shall be successful at length. Luke 18:8 .
Fifthly. The gracious nature of God, with the endearing relations he stands in to his people. Exodus 22:27 . He wants not power and ability to fulfil the holy desires of his people; he is gracious, and will withhold no good from them that they really need. He has the bowels of a father to pity them, the bowels of a mother to her sucking child. He has a most tender sympathy with them in all their afflictions, the touches on them are as on the apple of his eye; and he never refuses them a request, but for their good. Romans 8:28 .
Sixthly. The experiences which the saints of all ages have had of the answer of prayer. The faith of it brings them to God at conversion, as the text intimates: and they that believe cannot be disappointed. Lastly. The present ease and relief that prayer sometimes gives to the saints, while yet the full answer of prayer is not come. Psalms 138:3 . Thomas Boston (1676-1732).
Verse 2. O thou that hearest prayer. Observe
- That God is called the hearer of prayers, since he hears, without distinction of persons, the prayers of every one poured forth with piety, not only of the Jews, but also of the Gentiles; as in Acts 10:34-35 ... It follows, therefore, as a necessary consequence, that all flesh should come to him.
- To come to God, is not indeed simply tantamount to saying, to draw near to God, to adore, call upon, and worship him, but to come to Zion for the purpose of adoring God; for it was just now said, that God must be praised in Zion, and to this the phrase, to come to God, must be referred. On this account also la is not used, but d[, whose proper force is right up to God, or to the place of the habitation of God to render adoration to God. Hermann Venema.
Verse 2. To thee shall all flesh come. To Christ "all flesh comes," that is
- every sinner and carnal man. He himself says, Matthew 9:13
"I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."
The Grecian priest in olden times, when approaching to
receive the sacrifice, used to exclaim, Who comes
there? and the reply was, Many and good. But
God received publicans and sinners, and invites them
to his banquet, and eateth with them; but for the
purpose of delivering them from sin. "All flesh
shall see the salvation of God."
- All flesh may be taken for the whole flesh, the
whole body; all the senses and members of the body
shall come to God that they may pay him tribute as
their King. Thomas Le Blanc.
Verse 2. All flesh. By flesh is meant man in his weakness and need. J. J. Stewart Perowne.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 2. (first clause). The hearing and granting of prayer is the Lord's property, his usual practice, his pleasure, his nature, and his glory. David Dickson.