6. Because Jehovah the exalted will yet have respect to the lowly, and being high will know afar off, [or, will know afar off him that is high.] 7. Should I will1 in the midst of trouble thou wilt revive me: thou wilt put forth thy hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me. 8. Jehovah will recompense upon me.2 thy mercy, O Jehovah! is for ever; thou wilt not forsake the works of thine own hand.
6. Because Jehovah the exalted, etc. In this verse he passes commendation upon God's general government of the world. The thing of all others most necessary to be known is, that he is not indifferent to our safety; for though in words we are all ready to grant this, our disbelief of it is shown by the feat' we betray upon the slightest appearance of danger, and we would not give way to such alarm if we had a solid persuasion of our being under his fatherly protection. Some read, Jehovah on high, that is, he sits on his heavenly throne governing the world; but I prefer considering, that there is an opposition intended -- that the greatness of God does not prevent his having' respect to the poor and humble ones of the earth. This is confirmed by what is stated in the second clause, That being highly exalted he recognises afar off, or from a distance. Some read hbg, gabah, in the accusative case, and this gives a meaning to,the words which answers well to the context, That God does not honor the high and haughty by looking near to them -- that he despises them -- while, with regard to the poor and humble, who might seem to be at a great distance from him, he takes care of them, as if they were near to him. By some the verb edy, yada, is rendered, to crush, and they take the meaning to be, that God, while he favors the lowly, treads down the mighty who glory in their prosperity. There is reason to doubt, however, whether any such refinement of meaning is to be attached to David's words, and it is enough to conclude, that he here repeats the same sentiment formerly expressed, that God though highly exalted, takes notice of what might be thought to escape his observation. Thus we have seen, (Psalm 113:6,)
"The Lord dwelleth on high, yet he humbleth himself to behold both the things that are in heaven and on earth."
The meaning is, that though God's glory is far above all heavens, the distance at which he is placed does not prevent his governing the world by his providence. God is highly exalted, but he sees after off, so that he needs not change place when he would condescend to take care of us. We on our part are poor and lowly, but our wretched condition is; no reason why God will not concern himself about us. While we view with admiration the immensity of his glory as raised above all heavens, we must not disbelieve his willingness to foster us under his fatherly care. The two things are, with great propriety, conjoined here by David, that, on the one hand, when we think of God's majesty we should not be terrified into a forgetfulness of his goodness and benignity, nor, on the other, lose our reverence for his majesty in contemplating the condescension of his mercy.3
7. Should I walk in the midst of trouble, etc. Here David declares the sense in which he looked flint God would act the part of his preserver -- by giving him life from the dead, were that necessary. The passage is well deserving our attention for by nature we are so delicately averse to suffering as to wish that we might all live safely beyond shot of its arrows, and shrink from close contact with the fear of death, as something altogether intolerable. On the slightest approach of danger we are immoderately afraid, as if our emergencies precluded the hope of Divine deliverance. This is faith's true office, to see life in the midst of death, and to trust the mercy of God -- not as that which will procure us universal exemption from evil, but as that which will quicken us in the midst of death every moment of our lives; for God humbles his children under various trials, that his defense of them:may be the more remarkable, and that he may show himself to be their deliverer, as well as their preserver. In the world believers are constantly exposed to enemies, and David asserts, that he will be safe under God's protection from all their machinations. He declares his hope of life to lie in this, that the hand of God was stretched out:for his help, that hand which he knew to be invincible, and victorious over every foe. And from all this we are taught, that it is God's method to exercise his children with a continual conflict, that, having one foot as it were in the grave, they may flee with alarm to hide themselves under his wings, where they malt abide in peace. Some translate the particle Pa, aph, also, instead of anger, reading -- thou wilt also extend over mine; enemies, etc. But I have followed the more commonly received sense, as both fuller and more natural.
8. Jehovah will recompense upon me, etc. The doubtful-ness which attaches to the meaning of the verb rmg, gamar, throws an uncertainty over the whole sentence. Sometimes it signifies to repay, and, in general, to bestow, for it is often applied to free favors.4 Yet the context would seem to require.another sense, since, when it is added as a reason, that Jehovah's mercy is everlasting, and that he will not forsake the works of his hands, the better sense would seem to be -- Jehovah will perform for me, that is, will continue to show that he cares for my safety, and will fully perfect what he has begun. Having once been delivered by an act of Divine mercy, he concludes that what had been done would be perfected, as God's nature is unchangeable, and he cannot divest himself of that goodness which belongs to him. There can be no doubt that the way to maintain good hope in danger is to fix our eyes upon the Divine goodness, on which our deliverance rests. God is under no obligation on his part, but when, of his mere good pleasure, he promises to interest himself in our behalf. David concludes with the best reason, from the eternity of the Divine goodness, that the salvation granted him would be of no limited and merely evanescent character. This he confirms still farther by what he adds, that it is impossible God should leave his work, as men may do, in an imperfect or unfinished state through lassitude or disgust. This David is to be understood as asserting in the same sense in which Paul declares, that "the gifts and calling of God are without repentance." (Romans 11:29.) Men may leave off a work for very slight reasons which they foolishly undertook from the first, and from which they may have been diverted through their inconstancy, or they may be forced to give up through inability what they enterprised above their strength; but nothing of this kind can happen with God, and, therefore, we have no occasion to apprehend that our hopes will be disappointed in their course towards fulfillment. Nothing but sin and ingratitude on our part interrupts the continued and unvarying tenor of the Divine goodness. What we firmly apprehend by our faith God will never take from us, or allow to pass out of our hands. When he declares that God perfects the salvation of his people, David would not encourage sloth, but strengthen his faith and quicken himself to the exercise of prayer. What is the cause of that anxiety and fear which are felt by the godly, but the consciousness of their own weakness and entire dependence upon God? At the same time they rely with full certainty upon the grace of God, "being confident," as Paul writes to the Philippians,
"that he who has begun the good work will perform it till the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6.)
The use to be made of the doctrine is, to remember, when we fall or are disposed to waver in our minds, that since God has wrought the beginning of our salvation in us, he will carry it forward to its termination. Accordingly, we should betake ourselves to prayer, that we may not, through our own indolence, bar our access to that continuous stream of the divine goodness which flows from a fountain that is inexhaustible.