|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:3-12 Our Saviour here gives eight characters of blessed people, which represent to us the principal graces of a Christian. 1. The poor in spirit are happy. These bring their minds to their condition, when it is a low condition. They are humble and lowly in their own eyes. They see their want, bewail their guilt, and thirst after a Redeemer. The kingdom of grace is of such; the kingdom of glory is for them. 2. Those that mourn are happy. That godly sorrow which worketh true repentance, watchfulness, a humble mind, and continual dependence for acceptance on the mercy of God in Christ Jesus, with constant seeking the Holy Spirit, to cleanse away the remaining evil, seems here to be intended. Heaven is the joy of our Lord; a mountain of joy, to which our way is through a vale of tears. Such mourners shall be comforted by their God. 3. The meek are happy. The meek are those who quietly submit to God; who can bear insult; are silent, or return a soft answer; who, in their patience, keep possession of their own souls, when they can scarcely keep possession of anything else. These meek ones are happy, even in this world. Meekness promotes wealth, comfort, and safety, even in this world. 4. Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness are happy. Righteousness is here put for all spiritual blessings. These are purchased for us by the righteousness of Christ, confirmed by the faithfulness of God. Our desires of spiritual blessings must be earnest. Though all desires for grace are not grace, yet such a desire as this, is a desire of God's own raising, and he will not forsake the work of his own hands. 5. The merciful are happy. We must not only bear our own afflictions patiently, but we must do all we can to help those who are in misery. We must have compassion on the souls of others, and help them; pity those who are in sin, and seek to snatch them as brands out of the burning. 6. The pure in heart are happy; for they shall see God. Here holiness and happiness are fully described and put together. The heart must be purified by faith, and kept for God. Create in me such a clean heart, O God. None but the pure are capable of seeing God, nor would heaven be happiness to the impure. As God cannot endure to look upon their iniquity, so they cannot look upon his purity. 7. The peace-makers are happy. They love, and desire, and delight in peace; and study to be quiet. They keep the peace that it be not broken, and recover it when it is broken. If the peace-makers are blessed, woe to the peace-breakers! 8. Those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake are happy. This saying is peculiar to Christianity; and it is more largely insisted upon than any of the rest. Yet there is nothing in our sufferings that can merit of God; but God will provide that those who lose for him, though life itself, shall not lose by him in the end. Blessed Jesus! how different are thy maxims from those of men of this world! They call the proud happy, and admire the gay, the rich, the powerful, and the victorious. May we find mercy from the Lord; may we be owned as his children, and inherit his kingdom. With these enjoyments and hopes, we may cheerfully welcome low or painful circumstances.
Verse 7. - Our Lord here turns more directly to the character of his followers in relation to men; and in the next three Beatitudes mentions particulars which might be suggested by the sixth, seventh, and ninth commandments. The merciful (οἱ ἐλεήμονες). The mercy referred to here is not so much the almost negative quality which the word usually suggests to us (not dealing harshly, not inflicting punishment when due, sparing an animal or a fellow-man some unnecessary labour), as active kindness to the destitute and to any who are in trouble (cf. Matthew 9:27; Matthew 15:22; Matthew 17:15; Mark 5:19). As compared with οἰκτίρμονες (Luke 6:36), it seems to lay more stress on the feeling of pity showing itself in action and not only existing in thought. To this statement of our Lord's, that they who show mercy to those in need shall themselves be the objects of mercy (i.e. from God) in their time of need, many parallels have been adduced, e.g., by Wetstein. Rabbi Gamaliel (? the second, circa A.D. ), as reported by Rabbi Judah (circa A.D. ), says (Talm. Bab., 'Sabb.,' 151 b), on Deuteronomy 13:18, "Every one that showeth mercy to others, they show mercy to him from heaven, and every one that showeth not mercy to others, they show him not mercy from heaven;" cf. also ' Test. XII. Patr.:' Zab., § 8, "In proportion as a man has compassion (σπλαγχνίζεται) on his neighbour, so has the Lord upon him;" and, probably with reference to this passage, Clem. Rom., § 13, ἐλεᾶτε ἵνα ἐλεηθῆτε. (For the converse, cf. James 2:13.) Calvin remarks, "Hoc etiam paradoxon cum humano judicio pugnat. Mundus reputat beatos, qui malorum alienorum securi quieti suae consulunt: Christus autem hic beatos dicit, qui non modo ferendis propriis malis parati sunt, sed aliena etiam in se suscipiunt, ut miseris succurrant."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Blessed are the merciful,.... Who show mercy to the bodies of men, to those that are poor, indigent, and miserable, in their outward circumstances; by both sympathizing with them, and distributing unto them; not only making use of expressions of pity and concern; but communicating with readiness and cheerfulness, with affection and tenderness, and with a view to the glory of God: who also show mercy to the souls of men, by instructing such as are ignorant, giving them good counsel and advice: reproving them for sin, praying for them, forgiving injuries done by them, and by comforting those that are cast down. To show mercy is very delightful to, and desirable by God; it is what he requires, and is one of the weightier matters of the law; it is very ornamental to a child of God, and what makes him more like to his heavenly Father. The happiness of such persons is this, that
they shall obtain mercy; from man, whenever they are attended with any uncomfortable circumstances of life; , "whoever is merciful", men show mercy to him (d): and from God, through Christ; which is free, sovereign, abundant, and eternal. Men are said to obtain this, when they are regenerated, and called by grace; and when they have a discovery, and an application, of the forgiveness of their sins: but here, it seems to design those supplies of grace and mercy, which merciful persons may expect to find and obtain, at the throne of grace, to help them in time of need; and who shall not only obtain mercy of God in this life, but in the world to come, in the great day of the Lord; for which the Apostle prayed for Onesiphorus, 2 Timothy 1:18.
(d) Maimon. Hilch. Mattanot Anayim. c. 10. sect. 2.
Wesley's Notes on the Bible
5:7 The merciful - The tender - hearted: they who love all men as themselves: They shall obtain mercy - Whatever mercy therefore we desire from God, the same let us show to our brethren. He will repay us a thousand fold, the love we bear to any for his sake.
Matthew 5:7 Parallel Commentaries
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