The Excellency of God's Loving-kindness
William Nicholson, 1862
"How excellent is Your loving-kindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings. They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures!" Psalm 36:7-8
The Psalmist having been shocked with the contemplation of the wickedness of sinners, verse 1-4, turns with delight to the goodness of God — a subject as delightful as the former was distasteful, and very proper to be placed in the balance against it, verse 5-10.
"Your loving-kindness, O God."
I. the Subject of the Text:
The Psalmist frequently uses this term throughout the Psalms. See also Jeremiah 31:3; Hosea 2:19; Isaiah 63:7.
The loving-kindness of God, is that gracious affection which he manifests to his creatures throughout nature, providence, and grace. The term is very striking. It is not merely kindness, but loving-kindness; it is expressive of strong and tender endearment, which by some scripture is illustrated and expressed by a reference to the various relationships of life — as a father, "Like as a father," etc., and a brother, friend, bridegroom, and bride, etc., etc.
1. This Loving-kindness has been manifested:
(1.) In Creation. All his works praise him, and proclaim his goodness to man.
(2.) In Providence. What provision has been made for all creatures! His loving-kindness appears in the order and regularity of all things — the budding spring — the fruitful summer — the productive autumn — and the fur-clad winter. God is the Savior of all men, but especially of those who believe. He watches over them, cares for them, guides and preserves them, etc. Matthew 6:25, 26. Even dark and afflictive dispensations, frequently indicate his loving-kindness.
(3.) In Grace. His loving-kindness led him to make that rich and abundant provision for us in the Gospel. "But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us!" Titus 3:4-5. Throughout the Bible the Gospel of our salvation is represented as the fruit of Divine love. Hosea 11:4; John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:7-10.
2. This loving-kindness is felt or experienced:
(1.) In Conversion. In calling poor sinners, restoring them, bringing them home, turning from darkness, etc. See Paul's conversion, etc. What loving-kindness!
(2.) In reconciliation and adoption. He abundantly pardons — gives power to become the sons of God. Acts 13:38, 39; John 1:12; Galatians 4:4-6; 1 John 3:1, 2. Amazing loving-kindness!
(3.) In Christian fellowship and communion with God. See Ephesians 2:19, etc.; 1 John 1:3, 7.
(4.) In Ordinances and Promises. Preaching, praise, prayer, Baptism, the Lord's Supper. There the promises are fulfilled. What a treasury of wealth and glory in those promises!
(5.) God's Loving-kindness will be seen and felt in Heaven. Little do we know and feel here — but when that which is perfect is come, etc.
II. The Excellency of God's Loving-kindness."How excellent," etc. The Psalmist expresses his feelings in the way of admiration. "How excellent!" It is an emphatic exclamation. Its excellency, neither men nor angels can adequately define. It is indescribably excellent, abundant, and free. The exclamation implies that believers relish it; they taste a transcendent sweetness in it; it is precious to them; they admire God's beauty and goodness above anything in this world. Its excellency appears,
1. In being manifested to the most unworthy. Sinners, vile sinners, the ungodly — the chief of sinners, etc.
2. In the multitude of blessings of which it is the source. "All things are yours!" "You are blessed with all spiritual blessings," etc. It is like the, "the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month!" Revelation 22:2. Its blessings are admirably adapted to the state of man as a sinner. It respects the soul, and provides for its needs and desires.
3. This loving-kindness is gives security in all dangers, and produces confidence. "Therefore the children of men," etc., 5:7. When exposed to peril, they find that the "Eternal God as their refuge," etc. "The name of the Lord is a strong tower," etc. They find themselves safe as the baby chicks under the wings of the hen. Matthew 23:37; Ruth 2:12; Psalm 37:8; 57:1; 61:1; 91:4.
O glorious privilege of believers! "They trust," etc. They trust in your good providence for the supply of their bodies; they trust in your mercy for the salvation of their souls. These, according to figures, are the two wings of the Divine Goodness, under which saints take refuge. Just like the wings of the Cherubim, above the mercy seat.
4. This loving-kindness is infinitely satisfying. "They shall be abundantly satisfied," etc., 5:8. They shall be saturated, as a thirsty field is by showers from Heaven. The Vulgate reads, shall be inebriated.
It is especially in the House of God where the marrow or fatness of the Gospel is dispensed there the afflicted — the tempted — the persecuted — the mourner, etc., are satisfied. See John 4:14. Fears disperse — the mind is calmed — hope is inspired — peace and joy result. Nothing human can satisfy like this!
5. This loving-kindness is constant. "He loves his own to the end." "I will never leave," etc.
6. This loving-kindness is pregnant with prospective blessedness and ineffable glory. A saving interest in it, conquers death. "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord." Revelation 14:13, etc. It raises to heaven — gives an abundant entrance, etc.
"You shall make them drink of the river of your pleasures," 5:8, or the river of your Eden. They shall be restored to their paradisiacal estate; for there is a reference to the river that ran through the garden of Eden, and watered it. Genesis 2:10.
"Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign forever and ever. Revelation 22:1-5.
Here is the consummation of religion — the salvation of the soul in Heaven. "You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand!" Psalm 16:11. "And I — in righteousness I will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness!" Psalm 17:15
1. Does your experience lead you to admire God's loving-kindness?
2. If not, it is a proof of slothfulness and barrenness, and calls for repentance.
3. However much of this loving-kindness you enjoy now, it is but a foretaste of the Heavenly glory!