Matthew 5:4
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
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(4) They that mourn.—The verb is commonly coupled with weeping (Mark 16:10; Luke 6:25; James 4:9; Revelation 18:15-19). Here, as before, there is an implied, though not an expressed, limitation. The “mourning” is not the sorrow of the world that worketh “death” (2Corinthians 7:10) for failure, suffering, and the consequences of sin, but the sorrow which flows out in the tears that cleanse, the mourning over sin itself and the stain which it has left upon the soul.

They shall be comforted.—The pronoun is emphatic. The promise implies the special comfort (including counsel) which the mourner needs; “comforted” he shall be with the sense of pardon and peace, of restored purity and freedom. We cannot separate the promise from the word which Christendom has chosen (we need not now discuss its accuracy) to express the work of the Holy Ghost the Comforter, still less from the yearning expectation that then prevailed among such of our Lord’s hearers as were looking for the “consolation”—i.e., the “comfort”—of Israel (Luke 2:25).

Matthew 5:4. Blessed [or happy] are they that mourn — Namely, for their own sins and those of other men, and are steadily and habitually serious, watchful, and circumspect; for they shall be comforted — Even in this world, with the consolation that arises from a sense of the forgiveness of sins, peace with God, clear discoveries of his favour, and well-grounded, lively hopes of the heavenly inheritance, and with the full enjoyment of that inheritance itself in the world to come.

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.Blessed are they that mourn - This is capable of two meanings: either, that those are blessed who are afflicted with the loss of friends or possessions, or that they who mourn over sin are blessed. As Christ came to preach repentance, to induce people to mourn over their sins and to forsake them, it is probable that he had the latter particularly in view. Compare 2 Corinthians 7:10. At the same time, it is true that the gospel only can give true comfort to those in affliction, Isaiah 61:1-3; Luke 4:18. Other sources of consolation do not reach the deep sorrows of the soul. They may blunt the sensibilities of the mind; they may produce a sullen and reluctant submission to what we cannot help: but they do not point to the true source of comfort. In the God of mercy only; in the Saviour; in the peace that flows from the hope of a better world, and there only, is there consolation, 2 Corinthians 3:17-18; 2 Corinthians 5:1. Those that mourn thus shall be comforted. So those that grieve over sin; that sorrow that they have committed it, and are afflicted and wounded that they have offended God, shall find comfort in the gospel. Through the merciful Saviour those sins may be forgiven. In him the weary and heavy-ladened soul shall find peace Matthew 11:28-30; and the presence of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, shall sustain them here John 14:26-27, and in heaven all their tears shall be wiped away, Revelation 21:4. 4. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted—This "mourning" must not be taken loosely for that feeling which is wrung from men under pressure of the ills of life, nor yet strictly for sorrow on account of committed sins. Evidently it is that entire feeling which the sense of our spiritual poverty begets; and so the second beatitude is but the complement of the first. The one is the intellectual, the other the emotional aspect of the same thing. It is poverty of spirit that says, "I am undone"; and it is the mourning which this causes that makes it break forth in the form of a lamentation—"Woe is me! for I am undone." Hence this class are termed "mourners in Zion," or, as we might express it, religious mourners, in sharp contrast with all other sorts (Isa 61:1-3; 66:2). Religion, according to the Bible, is neither a set of intellectual convictions nor a bundle of emotional feelings, but a compound of both, the former giving birth to the latter. Thus closely do the first two beatitudes cohere. The mourners shall be "comforted." Even now they get beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. Sowing in tears, they reap even here in joy. Still, all present comfort, even the best, is partial, interrupted, short-lived. But the days of our mourning shall soon be ended, and then God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes. Then, in the fullest sense, shall the mourners be "comforted." The world is mistaken in accounting the jocund and merry companions the only happy men; their mirth is madness, and their joy will be like crackling of thorns under a pot: but those are rather the happy men, who mourn; yea, such are most certainly happy, who mourn out of duty in the sense of their own sins, or of the sins of others, or who mourn out of choice rather to suffer afflictions and persecutions with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasure of sin for a season. Though such sufferings do excite in them natural passions, yet it is a blessed mourning, for those are the blessed tears which God will wipe at last from his people’s eyes, and such are these.

They shall be comforted, either in this life, with the consolations of the Spirit, or with their Master’s joy in the life that is to come, Isaiah 61:3 John 16:20 Jam 1:12. So as this promise, and declaration of blessedness, is not to be extended to all mourners, but only to such as God hath made so, or who in duty have made themselves so, obeying some command of God, for sympathizing with God’s glory, or with his afflicted people, Romans 12:15, or testifying their repentance for their sins; for there is a mourning which is a mere natural effect of passion, and a worldly sorrow which worketh unto death, as well as a godly sorrow working repentance to salvation, 2 Corinthians 7:10.

Blessed are they that mourn,.... For sin, for their own sins; the sin of their nature, indwelling sin, which is always working in them, and is a continual grief of mind to them; the unbelief of their hearts, notwithstanding the many instances, declarations, promises, and discoveries of grace made unto them; their daily infirmities, and many sins of life, because they are committed against a God of love, grace, and mercy, grieve the Spirit, and dishonour the Gospel of Christ: who mourn also for the sins of others, for the sins of the world, the profaneness and wickedness that abound in it; and more especially for the sins of professors, by reason of which, the name of God, and ways of Christ, are evil spoken of: who likewise mourn under afflictions, spiritual ones, temptations, desertions, and declensions; temporal ones, their own, which they receive, either more immediately from the hand of God, or from men; such as they endure for the sake of Christ, and the profession of his Gospel; and who sympathize with others in their afflictions. These, how sorrowful and distressed soever they may appear, are blessed

for they shall be comforted: here in this life, by the God of all comfort, by Christ the comforter; by the Spirit of God, whose work and office it is to comfort; by the Scriptures of truth, which are written for their consolation; by the promises of the Gospel, through which the heirs of promise have strong consolation; by the ordinances of it, which are breasts of consolation; and by the ministers of the word, who have a commission from the Lord to speak comfortably to them; and then are they comforted, when they have the discoveries of the love of God, manifestations of pardoning grace, through the blood of Christ, and enjoy the divine presence: and they shall be comforted hereafter; when freed from all the troubles of this life, they shall be blessed with uninterrupted communion with Father, Son, and Spirit, and with the happy society of angels and glorified saints. Isaiah 61:1 seems to be referred to, both in this, and in the preceding verse.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Matthew 5:4. Οἱ πενθοῦντες] Comp. Isaiah 61:2; Isaiah 57:17 f. After Chrysostom, these have frequently been understood as those who mourned over their own sins and those of others. These are not excluded, but they are not exclusively or specially meant by the general expression (Keim). They are generally those who are in suffering and distress. Think, for example, of Lazarus, of the persecuted Christians (John 16:20; Hebrews 12:11), of the suffering repentant ones (2 Corinthians 7:9), and so on; for that no unchristian πενθεῖν, no λύπη τοῦ κόσμου, is meant, is (2 Corinthians 7:10) understood of itself from the whole surroundings. The πενθοῦντες shall, Romans 8:18, 2 Corinthians 4:17, John 14:13, be comforted as a matter of fact in the Messiah’s kingdom by the enjoyment of its blessedness (Luke 2:25; Luke 16:25), therefore the Messiah Himself is also called מְנַחֵם (Schoettgen, Hor. II. p. 18; Wetstein, I. p. 665). According to the beatitudes, which all refer to the Messiah’s kingdom, there is no mention of temporal comfort by the promise of the forgiveness of sins, and so on. This in answer to Kienlen in the Stud. u. Kritik. 1848, p. 681.

Matthew 5:4. οἱ πενθοῦντες. Who are they? All who on any account grieve? Then this Beatitude would give utterance to a thoroughgoing optimism. Pessimists say that there are many griefs for which there is no remedy, so many that life is not worth living. Did Jesus mean to meet this position with a direct negative, and to affirm that there is no sorrow without remedy? If not, then He propounds a puzzle provoking thoughtful scholars to ask: What grief is that which will without fail find comfort? There can be no comfort where there is no grief, for the two ideas are correlative. But in most cases there is no apparent necessary connection. Necessary connection is asserted in this aphorism, which gives us a clue to the class described as οἱ πενθοῦντες. Their peculiar sorrow roust be one which comforts itself, a grief that has the thing it grieves for in the very grief. The comfort is then no outward good. It lies in a right state of soul, and that is given in the sorrow which laments the lack of it. The sorrow reveals love of the good, and that love is possession. In so far as all kinds of sorrow tend to awaken reflection on the real good and ill of human life, and so to issue in the higher sorrow of the soul, the second Beatitude may be taken absolutely as expressing the tendency of all grief to end in consolation.—παρακληθήσονται, future. The comfort is latent in the very grief, but for the present there is no conscious joy, but only poignant sorrow. The joy, however, will inevitably come to birth. No noble nature abides permanently in the house of mourning. The greater the sorrow, the greater the ultimate gladness, the “joy in the Holy Ghost” mentioned by St. Paul among the essentials of the Kingdom of God (Romans 14:17).

4. mourn] Those who mourn for sin are primarily intended; but the secondary meaning, “those who are in suffering and distress,” is not excluded. The first meaning is illustrated by 2 Corinthians 7:10, “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of, but the sorrow of the world worketh death.”

Matthew 5:4. Παρακληθήσονται, shall be comforted) The future tense indicates promises made in the Old Testament, and now to be performed; see Luke 16:25, and 2 Thessalonians 2:16. The poor and the meek are joined together in Matthew 5:3; Matthew 5:5, as in the frequently-occurring עני ואביון, poor and needy, cf. also ch. Matthew 11:29.

Verse 4. - In some, especially "Western" authorities, vers. 4, 5 are transposed (vide Westcott and Hort, 'Appendix'), possibly because the terms of ver. 5 seemed to be more closely parallel to ver. 3 (cf. Meyer, Weiss), and also those of ver. 4 fitted excellently with ver. 6. But far the greater balance of evidence is in favour of the usual order, which also, though not on the surface, is in the deepest connexion with the preceding and the following verses. They that mourn (cf. Isaiah 61:2). Our Lord does not define that which causes the mourning, but as the preceding and the following verses all refer to the religious or at least the ethical sphere, merely carnal and worldly mourning is excluded. The mourning referred to must, therefore, be produced by religious or moral causes. Mourners for the state of Israel, so far as they mourned not for its political but for its spiritual condition (cf. similar mourning in the Christian Church, 2 Corinthians 7:9, 10), would be included (cf. Weiss, 'Life,' 2:142); but our Lord's primary thought must have been of mourning over one's personal state, not exactly, perhaps, over one's sins, but over the realized poverty in spirit just spoken of (cf. Weiss-Meyer). As the deepest poverty lies in the sphere of the spirit, so the deepest mourning lies there also. All other mourning is but partial and slight compared with this (Proverbs 18:14). For they shall be comforted. When? On having the kingdom of heaven (ver. 3); i.e. during this life in measure (cf. Luke 2:25), but fully only hereafter. The mourning over one's personal poverty in spirit is removed in proportion as Christ is received and appropriated; but during this life such appropriation can be only partial. Matthew 5:4They that mourn (πενθοῦντες)

Signifying grief manifested; too deep for concealment. Hence it is often joined with κλαίειν, to weep audibly (Mark 16:10; James 4:9).

Shall be comforted

See on John 14:16.

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