Friday, September 07, 2012

Matthew Henry on Divine Favor

The peculiar favour of God to the saints. Observe,

(1.) Their character, Psa_36:7. They are such as are allured by the excellency of God's loving-kindness to put their trust under the shadow of his wings. [1.] God's loving-kindness is precious to them. They relish it; they taste a transcendent sweetness in it; they admire God's beauty and benignity above any thing in this world, nothing so amiable, so desirable. Those know not God that do not admire his loving-kindness; and those know not themselves that do not earnestly covet it. [2.] They therefore repose an entire confidence in him. They have recourse to him, put themselves under his protection, and then think themselves safe and find themselves easy, as the chickens under the wings of the hen, Mat_23:37. It was the character of proselytes that they came to trust under the wings of the God of Israel (Rth_2:12); and what more proper to gather proselytes than the excellency of his loving-kindness? What more powerful to engage our complacency to him and on him? Those that are thus drawn by love will cleave to him.

(2.) Their privilege. Happy, thrice happy, the people whose God is the Lord, for in him they have, or may have, or shall have, a complete happiness. [1.] Their desires shall be answered, (Psa_36:8): They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house, their wants supplied; their cravings gratified, and their capacities filled. In God all-sufficient they shall have enough, all that which an enlightened enlarged soul can desire or receive. The gains of the world and the delights of sense will surfeit, but never satisfy, Isa_55:2. But the communications of divine favour and grace will satisfy, but never surfeit. A gracious soul, though still desiring more of God, never desires more than God. The gifts of Providence so far satisfy them that they are content with such things as they have. I have all, and abound, Phi_4:18. The benefit of holy ordinances is the fatness of God's house, sweet to a sanctified soul and strengthening to the spiritual and divine life. With this they are abundantly satisfied; they desire nothing more in this world than to live a life of communion with God and to have the comfort of the promises. But the full, the abundant satisfaction is reserved for the future state, the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Every vessel will be full there. [2.] Their joys shall be constant: Thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures. First, There are pleasures that are truly divine. “They are thy pleasures, not only which come from thee as the giver of them, but which terminate in thee as the matter and centre of them.” Being purely spiritual, they are of the same nature with those of the glorious inhabitants of the upper world, and bear some analogy even to the delights of the Eternal Mind. Secondly, There is a river of these pleasures, always full, always fresh, always flowing. There is enough for all, enough for each; see Psa_46:4. The pleasures of sense are putrid puddle-water; those of faith are pure and pleasant, clear as crystal, Rev_22:1. Thirdly, God has not only provided this river of pleasures for his people, but he makes them to drink of it, works in them a gracious appetite to these pleasures, and by his Spirit fills their souls with joy and peace in believing. In heaven they shall be for ever drinking of those pleasures that are at God's right hand, satiated with a fulness of joy, Psa_16:11. [3.] Life and light shall be their everlasting bliss and portion, Psa_36:9. Having God himself for their felicity, First, In him they have a fountain of life, from which those rivers of pleasure flow, Psa_36:8. The God of nature is the fountain of natural life. In him we live, and move, and have our being. The God of grace is the fountain of spiritual life. All the strength and comfort of a sanctified soul, all its gracious principles, powers, and performances, are from God. He is the spring and author of all its sensations of divine things, and all its motions towards them: he quickens whom he will; and whosoever will may come, and take from him of the waters of life freely. He is the fountain of eternal life. The happiness of glorified saints consists in the vision and fruition of him, and in the immediate communications of his love, without interruption or fear of cessation. Secondly, In him they have light in perfection, wisdom, knowledge, and joy, all included in this light: In thy light we shall see light, that is, 1. “In the knowledge of thee in grace, and the vision of thee in glory, we shall have that which will abundantly suit and satisfy our understandings.” That divine light which shines in the scripture, and especially in the face of Christ, the light of the world, has all truth in it. When we come to see God face to face, within the veil, we shall see light in perfection, we shall know enough then, 1Co_13:12; 1Jo_3:2. 2. “In communion with thee now; by the communications of thy grace to us and the return of our devout affections to thee, and in the fruition of thee shortly in heaven, we shall have a complete felicity and satisfaction. In thy favour we have all the good we can desire.” This is a dark world; we see little comfort in it; but in the heavenly light there is true light, and no false light, light that is lasting and never wastes. In this world we see God, and enjoy him by creatures and means; but in heaven God himself shall be with us (Rev_21:3) and we shall see and enjoy him immediately.

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