Exodus 33:19
And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.
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(19) I will make all my goodness pass before thee.—It is not clear how this was fulfilled. Perhaps, as God announced His name—“the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,” &c. (Exodus 34:6-7)—a revelation of God’s ineffable goodness was miraculously flashed into his inmost soul, and the thousand instances of it which he had known brought distinctly to his recollection, so as to “pass before him.”

And will be gracious to whom I will be gracious.—It is not meant that God’s favour is bestowed arbitrarily, but only that it is in any case favour—a free gift, not earned nor merited.

Exodus 33:19. I will make my goodness pass before thee — Moses’s request was to see God’s glory, and God answers him by promising to show him his goodness; intimating that, however, in themselves, all God’s attributes are glorious, yet he glories most in the manifestation of his goodness, and that his creatures need this most. Pass before thee — So that thou mayest at least have a transient view of it. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious — I will show this peculiar favour to thee, and I will also be gracious to the people thou pleadest for; but not promiscuously to all: some, namely, such as turn to me in true repentance, I will pardon and save; but others, even all that are finally impenitent, I will eternally punish.33:12-23 Moses is very earnest with God. Thus, by the intercession of Christ, we are not only saved from ruin, but become entitled to everlasting happiness. Observe here how he pleads. We find grace in God's sight, if we find grace in our hearts to guide and quicken us in the way of our duty. Moses speaks as one who dreaded the thought of going forward without the Lord's presence. God's gracious promises, and mercy towards us, should not only encourage our faith, but also excite our fervency in prayer. Observe how he speeds. See, in a type, Christ's intercession, which he ever lives to make for all that come to God by him; and that it is not by any thing in those for whom he intercedes. Moses then entreats a sight of God's glory, and is heard in that also. A full discovery of the glory of God, would overwhelm even Moses himself. Man is mean, and unworthy of it; weak, and could not bear it; guilty, and could not but dread it. The merciful display which is made in Christ Jesus, alone can be borne by us. The Lord granted that which would abundantly satisfy. God's goodness is his glory; and he will have us to know him by the glory of his mercy, more than by the glory of his majesty. Upon the rock there was a fit place for Moses to view the goodness and glory of God. The rock in Horeb was typical of Christ the Rock; the Rock of refuge, salvation, and strength. Happy are they who stand upon this Rock. The cleft may be an emblem of Christ, as smitten, crucified, wounded, and slain. What follows, denotes the imperfect knowledge of God in the present state, even as revealed in Christ; for this, when compared with the heavenly sight of him. is but like seeing a man that is gone by, whose back only is to be seen. God in Christ, as he is, even the fullest and brightest displays of his glory, grace, and goodness, are reserved to another state.But his request could not be granted in accordance with the conditions of human existence. The glory of the Almighty in its fulness is not to be revealed to the eye of man. Compare Judges 6:22; Isaiah 6:5. A further revelation of the divine goodness was however possible (see Exodus 33:6-7).

It was vouchsafed to Paul, as it had been to Moses, to have special "visions and revelations of the Lord" 2 Corinthians 12:1-4. But he had, also like Moses, to find the narrow reach of the intellect of man in the region of Godhead 1 Timothy 6:16. However intimate may be our communion with the Holy One, we are still, as long as we are in the flesh, "to see through a glass darkly," waiting for the time when we shall see, with no figure of speech, "face to face" 1 Corinthians 13:12. Then we know "that we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" 1 John 3:2.

Exodus 33:19

Will be gracious ... - Yahweh declares His own will to be the ground of the grace which He is going to show the nation. Paul applies these words to the election of Jacob in order to overthrow the self-righteous boasting of the Jews Romans 9:15.

18-23. I beseech thee, show me thy glory—This is one of the most mysterious scenes described in the Bible: he had, for his comfort and encouragement, a splendid and full display of the divine majesty, not in its unveiled effulgence, but as far as the weakness of humanity would admit. The face, hand, back parts, are to be understood figuratively. All my goodness, or, my beauty; for so that Hebrew word is sometimes used, Genesis 6:2 1 Samuel 9:2; or my excellency, or my glory, as appears from Exodus 33:22, which was the thing Moses desired to see; and the difference between his request and God’s answer doth not lie

in glory and goodness, but in showing his glory so as Moses might gaze upon it, and making it only, as it follows, to

pass before him, to wit, in a sudden and very transitory vision; though it may be understood properly of God’s goodness and kindness to men, of which the following words speak, and that was the great, if not the only thing ascribed to God, Exodus 34:6,7.

The name of the Lord, i.e. my name; the noun for the pronoun, as is very frequent. I will give thee notice when I come, that thou mayst attend; I will not surprise thee, nor steal by thee. Or will proclaim, or publish of the name of the Lord, or of my name, i.e. some part of it, especially my goodness, which may seem to be here principally intended,

1. By comparing this with Exodus 34:6,7.

2. By the following words, which seem a limitation of this general expression: q.d. I will proclaim, manifest, and impart my goodness, but with a difference, not to all men, but to whom I please.

3. By other places, where the

name of the Lord is principally, if not solely, understood of his goodness, as Isaiah 1:10, and in many places of the Psalms. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious: this may seem to be added, with reference to the people for whom Moses is interceding, lest Moses should misunderstand or misapply what is said here, and Exodus 34:6,7. The sense is, I will show this peculiar favour to thee, I will also be gracious towards the people thou pleadest for, but not promiscuously. Some of them I will severely and eternally punish for this and their other sins; and some of them I will pardon and save, not because they are righteous, or innocent, or less sinners than the rest, but merely out of my own good pleasure and most free grace, whereby I will show mercy to some, when I will not show mercy to others. Thus this place is interpreted by the apostle, Romans 9:16, &c. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee,.... Which is his glory; the glory of the Lord lies in his goodness, and that appears in the works of his hands, in the methods of his providence, especially in the distribution of his sovereign grace and mercy, and particularly in his pardoning grace and mercy, through the blood of Christ; for as it is "the glory" of a man "to pass over a transgression", Proverbs 19:11 much more it is the glory of God, of which this goodness is afterwards interpreted; and may be understood of Christ himself, who is the goodness of God itself, is not only good, but the Lord's good One, emphatically good; as he is called his holy One, so his good One; because all his goodness is laid up in him, is prevented and filled as Mediator, with the blessings of his goodness; all are proclaimed in him, displayed through him, and communicated by him; and he is that glorious Personage that Moses might be desirous of having a view of, and was favoured with; however, with a view of the divine goodness, as it is conspicuous in him, in what he is, and has done for his people; for God has shown forth the exceeding riches of his grace and goodness in him:

and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee: his name and his nature, his perfections, and the glory of them, as displayed in Christ; or when he is about to pass, or while he is passing by, lest he should pass by unobserved, I will proclaim aloud and give thee notice that he is now passing by thee, whose name is Jehovah, and whose nature, glory, and goodness, are as follow:

and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy: signifying that notwithstanding the children of Israel had sinned against him in such a manner as they had, yet he should show favour, grace, and mercy to them, in pardoning their sins; and it should be distributed, not according to any merits of theirs, but according to his sovereign will and pleasure, and not to all, but to whomsoever he thought fit; and in this would be seen his glory: and so it is with respect to grace and mercy, as displayed in Christ to sinful men; it is not in proportion to their deserts, but according to the purpose and good will of God, and that not unto all, but unto some whom he has appointed, not unto wrath, but unto salvation by Jesus Christ, and which is to the glory of his grace; and the more enlarged view men have of this, the more clearly and fully does the goodness and glory of God pass before them.

And he said, I will make all my {h} goodness pass before thee, and I will {i} proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew {k} mercy on whom I will shew mercy.

(h) My mercy and fatherly care.

(i) See Ex 34:6,7.

(k) For finding nothing in man that deserves mercy, he will freely give his.

19. goodness] goodliness or comeliness, viz. of the Divine appearance; cf. Hosea 10:11 (lit. ‘the goodness, i.e. comeliness, of her neck’). ‘It is to be a spectacle of outward beauty as a visible sign of His moral perfection’ (McNeile).

proclaim the name of Jehovah] and so manifest the character implied in it—here, in particular, Jehovah’s moral character. The name was regarded by the Hebrews as the expression of the character of the person denoted by it: see e.g. Isaiah 1:26; Isaiah 4:3; Isaiah 61:3 b (the names here mentioned are to be given to Zion or Israel, because they will possess the qualities denoted by them).

and I will be gracious, &c.] In virtue of the graciousness implicit in His name (Exodus 34:6 f.), He will shew grace and mercy to such as deserve it. Who these are, is not expressly stated; but fallen and penitent Israel is what is intended. For the form of sentence called the idem per idem construction, which is idiomatic in both Heb. and Arabic, where the means, or the desire, to be more explicit does not exist, cf. Exodus 3:14, Exodus 4:13, Exodus 16:23, 1 Samuel 23:13 (lit. and they went where they went), 2 Samuel 15:20 (‘seeing I am going whither I am going’), 2 Kings 8:1 (‘and sojourn where thou wilt sojourn’); and see the writer’s Notes on Samuel, on 1 S. l.c. The second ‘will’ in each sentence is a simple future: it must not be emphasized as though it meant ‘wish to’ (θέλω). The quotation (from LXX.) in Romans 9:15 (‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy &c.’) expresses the sense exactly. All that is said here is that God is gracious to those to whom He is gracious: on the motives which may prompt Him to be gracious, the passage is silent. See further p. 54.Verse 19. - I will make all my goodness pass before thee. It is not quite clear what this means, or how it was fulfilled - whether the reference is to the revelation of God's goodness in Exodus 34:7, or to the entire experience that Moses would have of God in his later life. It is against the former view, that, if we take it, we can assign to the ensuing clause no distinct and separate sense. I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee. See Exodus 34:5, 6. And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious - i.e., I am not bound to do all this for thee. It is of my free grace that I do it. I intend, however, to be gracious, and show mercy to thee, because thou hast found favour in my eyes. Jehovah had commanded Moses to lead the people to Canaan, and promised him the guidance of an angel; but He had expressly distinguished this angel from His own personal presence (Exodus 33:1-3). Moreover, though it has not been mentioned before, Jehovah had said to Moses, "I have known thee by name," - i.e., I have recognised thee as Mine, and chosen and called thee to execute My will (cf. Isaiah 43:1; Isaiah 49:1), or put thee into "a specifically personal relation to God, which was peculiar to Moses, and therefore was associated with his name" (Oehler); - "and thou hast also found grace in My eyes," inasmuch as God had granted a hearing to his former intercession. Moses now reminded the Lord of this divine assurance with such courage as can only be produced by faith, which wrestles with God and will not let Him go without a blessing (Genesis 32:27); and upon the strength of this he presented the petition (Exodus 33:13), "Let me know Thy way (the way which Thou wilt take with me and with this people), that I may know Thee, in order that I may find grace in Thine eyes, and see that this people is Thy people." The meaning is this: If I have found grace in Thy sight, and Thou hast recognised me as Thy servant, and called me to be the leader of this people, do not leave me in uncertainty as to Thine intentions concerning the people, or as to the angel whom Thou wilt give as a guide to me and the nation, that I may know Thee, that is to say, that my finding grace in Thine eyes may become a reality;

(Note: Domine fac ut verbis tuis respondeat eventus. Calvin.)

and if Thou wilt lead the people up to Canaan, consider that it is Thine own people, to whom Thou must acknowledge Thyself as its God. Such boldness of undoubting faith presses to the heart of God, and brings away the blessing. Jehovah replied (Exodus 33:14), "My face will go, and I shall give thee rest," - that is to say, shall bring thee and all this people into the land, where ye will find rest (Deuteronomy 3:20). The "face" of Jehovah is Jehovah in His own personal presence, and is identical with the "angel" in whom the name of Jehovah was (Exodus 23:20-21), and who is therefore called in Isaiah 63:9 "the angel of His face."

With this assurance on the part of God, the covenant bond was completely restored. But to make more sure of it. Moses replied (Exodus 33:15, Exodus 33:16), "If Thy face is not going (with us), lead us not up hence. And whereby shall it be known that I have found grace in thine eyes, I and Thy people, if not (lit., is it not known) in Thy going with us, that we, I and Thy people, are distinguished (see at Exodus 8:18) before every nation upon the face of the earth?" These words do not express any doubt as to the truth of the divine assurance, "but a certain feeling of the insufficiency of the assurance," inasmuch as even with the restoration of the former condition of things there still remained "the fear lest the evil root of the people's rebellion, which had once manifested itself, should bread forth again at any moment" (Baumgarten). For this reason Jehovah assured him that this request also should be granted (Exodus 33:17). "There was nothing extraordinary in the fact that Moses desired for himself and his people that they might be distinguished before every nation upon the face of the earth; this was merely the firm hold of faith upon the calling and election of God (Exodus 19:5-6)."

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