15. The eyes of Jehovah are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry. 16. The face of Jehovah1 is upon them that do evil, to cut off their remembrance from the earth. 17. They cried, and Jehovah heard them, and delivered them from all their troubles.
15. The eyes of Jehovah are upon the righteous. The best support of our patience is a firm persuasion that God regards us, and that according as every man perseveres in a course of uprightness and equity, so shall he be preserved in peace and safety under his protection. In order, therefore, that the faithful may not think that they are exposed to the caprice of the world, while they are endeavoring to keep themselves innocent, and that they may not, under the influence of this fear, go astray from the right path, David exhorts them to reflect upon the providence of God, and to rest assured that they are safe under his wings. He says, then, that the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, to preserve them, in order that the good and simple may persevere the more cheerfully in their uprightness. At the same time, he encourages them to supplication and prayer, if at any time the world should unjustly persecute them. In saying that the ears of the Lord are open to their cry, he teaches that the man who is wantonly and unjustly persecuted, will find a ready and suitable remedy in all afflictions, by calling upon God as his avenger. On the other hand, he declares, that although God sometimes appears to wink at the misdeeds of men, and seems to overlook them, because he does not inflict immediate punishment upon them, yet nothing escapes his inspection. Whilst the wicked, says he, by reason of their impunity harden themselves in sin, God is watching, that he may cut off their remembrance from the earth, (1 Peter 5:10.) He speaks particularly of this kind of punishment, because the ungodly not only expect that they shall be happy during their whole life, but also imagine that they shall enjoy immortality in this world. Peter, in his First Epistle,2 applies this passage very judiciously, for the purpose of assuaging our sorrows and appeasing our impatience, as often as the pride and arrogance of the wicked may carry us beyond due limits. Nothing is more useful for preserving our moderation than to depend upon God's help, and having the testimony of a good conscience, to rely upon his judgment. If it is objected, that good men experience the contrary, who, after having been long afflicted, at length find no help or comfort; I reply, that the aid which God affords to the righteous is not always made manifest, nor bestowed in the same measure; and yet he so alleviates their troubles as never to forsake them. Besides, even the best of men often deprive themselves of the help of God; for scarcely one in a hundred perseveres in such a course of integrity as not, by his own fault, to deserve the infliction of some evil upon himself. But as soon as they fall, lest sin should take root in them, God chastises them, and often punishes them more severely than the reprobate, whom he spares to utter destruction.3 And yet, however much things may appear to be mingled and confused in the world, good men will find that God has not promised them help in vain against the violence and injuries of the wicked.
17. They4 cried, and Jehovah heard them. The Psalmist's meaning is, that they are heard as often as they cry. This is a doctrine applicable to all times; and David does not merely relate what God has done once or twice, but what he is accustomed to do. It is also a confirmation of the preceding sentence, where he had said that the ears of the Lord are open to the cry of the righteous; for he now demonstrates by the effect, that God is not deaf when we lay our complaints and groanings before him. By the word cry we are taught, that although God defend the righteous, they are not exempt from adversity. He regulates the protection which he affords them in such a wonderful manner, as that he notwithstanding exercises them by various trials. In like manner, when we here see that deliverance is promised only to those who call upon God, this ought to prove no small encouragement to us to pray to him; for it is not his will that the godly should so regard his providence as to indulge in idleness, but rather that, being firmly persuaded that he is the guardian of their safety, they should direct their prayers and supplications to him.