Psalm 103:17
But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on them that fear him, and his righteousness to children's children;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Psalm 103:17-18. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting, &c. — But though we quickly decay and perish, yet God’s mercy to us doth not die with us, but, as it was from eternity exercised in gracious purposes, so it will be continued unto eternity in that future and endless life which is before us; upon them that fear him — That is, upon them that are truly religious: see above on Psalm 103:11. And his righteousness unto children’s children — Either his faithfulness, or his benignity, the word being frequently used in both these senses, as has been shown before. But it is here called righteousness, to intimate that God’s kindness to the posterity of his people is not only an act of his goodness, but also a discharge of the obligation under which he had laid himself to them, as elsewhere, so especially Exodus 20:6, to which this place seems to relate. To such as keep his covenant — To them that, through his grace, perform the condition of God’s covenant, that sincerely love and obey him. Such restrictions are often added, as, in the general, to overthrow the presumptuous hopes of ungodly men, so particularly to admonish the Israelites not to rest too much on the privileges of their parents, or the covenant made with them, nor to expect any benefit by it but upon condition of their continuance in God’s covenant. And to those that remember his commandments — That have them much in their thoughts, and practise them in the course of their lives.103:15-18 How short is man's life, and uncertain! The flower of the garden is commonly more choice, and will last the longer, for being sheltered by the garden-wall, and the gardener's care; but the flower of the field, to which life is here compared, is not only withering in itself, but exposed to the cold blasts, and liable to be cropt and trod on by the beasts of the field. Such is man. God considers this, and pities him; let him consider it himself. God's mercy is better than life, for it will outlive it. His righteousness, the truth of his promise, shall be unto children's children, who tread in the footsteps of their forefathers' piety. Then shall mercy be preserved to them.But the mercy of the Lord - The favor of the Lord; or, his loving-kindness.

Is from everlasting to everlasting - Is from the eternity past to the eternity to come. It had its foundation in the eternal decrees of God; it has its security in his purpose that where it is conferred, it shall not be withdrawn. It had no beginning; it will have no end. There never was a period in the past when it was not the purpose of God to save his people; there never will be a period in the future when it will be said that his saving mercy has ceased. It would be difficult to think of a statement which would at the same time, in so few words, confirm at once the doctrine of the divine decrees, and the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. If either of these doctrines is denied, then what is here stated by the psalmist is not true: if the doctrine of the divine decrees is denied, then his purpose of mercy had a beginning, and is not "from everlasting;" if the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints is denied, then his mercy has an end, and is not "to everlasting."

Upon them that fear him - In respect to those who are his true worshippers, or his true people.

And his righteousness - His righteous purpose; or, his purpose in regard to their "becoming" righteous.

Unto children's children - literally, "sons of sons." That is, his purposes embrace the children and children's children of the righteous; or, they are included in the covenant of mercy. See the notes at Acts 2:39. Compare Exodus 20:6.

17, 18. For similar contrast compare Ps 90:2-6; 102:27, 28. But though we quickly decay and perish, yet God’s mercy to us doth not die with us; but as it was from eternity exercised in gracious purposes, so it will be continued unto eternity in that future and endless life.

Upon them that fear him: see before on Psalm 103:11. His righteousness; either his faithfulness, or (that this branch may answer to the former) his mercy or benignity; this word being frequently used in both these senses, as hath been proved before. But it is here called righteousness, to intimate that God’s kindness to the posterity of his people is not only an act of his goodness, but also a discharge of his obligation under which he put himself to them, as elsewhere, so Exodus 20:6, to which this place seems to relate. Hence it is called mercy to Abraham and truth to Jacob, Micah 7:20. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him,.... In opposition to the frailty of man, the stability and duration of the mercy of God is observed. This reaches from one eternity to another; it is from everlasting in the heart of God: it appeared in the choice of the vessels of mercy; in the covenant of grace, which is founded upon it, and filled with it; every blessing of which flows from it, and therefore are called the "sure mercies of David". And it appears in time in the regeneration of God's elect, which is according to his abundant mercy; in the forgiveness of their sins, which is according to the multitude of his tender mercies; and in their whole salvation, which is by that, and not by works of righteousness; and will endure for ever, for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ is unto eternal life. It reaches from the world past to the world to come, as the Targum; and it is so "upon them that fear" the Lord; not with a servile, but a filial fear; a fear of the Lord and his goodness; which only is consistent with the grace and mercy of God, and a sense of it: not that the fear of God is the cause of mercy or grace; but, on the contrary, grace and mercy are the cause of the fear of God; which is a blessing of the covenant of grace, and one of the first things which appear in conversion; but this properly describes the persons who openly and manifestly share in the grace or mercy of God, and to whom he manifests it yet more and more; nor have any reason to believe they are the objects of it, until the true fear of God is wrought in their hearts; and, besides, this character may be given to show that the mercy and grace of God are not limited to the Israelites only, but belong to such of all nations that fear the Lord.

And his righteousness unto children's children; not the essential righteousness of God, but rather his faithfulness in the performance of his promises, which he will not suffer to fail: the justifying righteousness of Christ is here meant; which is an everlasting one, and is unto and upon all them that believe, in all successive generations; which is meant by the phrase of "children's children", even the spiritual seed of Christ, the seed of the church, the seed of Israel; to all and each of which, in every age, the word of God comes, and his promises are fulfilled; and who are justified by and glory in Christ, their righteousness; and who are further described in the next verse, which shows that not the carnal seed of them that fear the Lord are meant.

But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his {k} righteousness unto children's children;

(k) His just and faithful keeping of his promise.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
17. Men may pass away, but Jehovah’s lovingkindness and righteousness, i.e. His covenant faithfulness, endure. The eternity of God is the rock upon which faith can repose in view of the mutability of man. Cp. Psalm 90:1; Psalm 102:12; Psalm 102:27; Isaiah 40:8. Those who fear Him can securely commit their posterity to His care. Cp. Psalm 102:28. Both the assurance, and the condition introduced by Psalm 103:18, rest upon Exodus 20:6; Deuteronomy 7:9.Verse 17. - But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him (comp. vers. 11, 13). Through this "everlasting mercy" of God, man, though so feeble and fragile, does not wholly pass away, but continues to be the recipient of God's bounty. And his righteousness unto children's children. God's "righteousness" is his everlasting justice, by which he gives to men according to their deserts. The ingenious figures in Psalm 103:11. (cf. Psalm 36:6; Psalm 57:11) illustrate the infinite power and complete unreservedness of mercy (loving-kindness). הרחיק has Gaja (as have also השׁחיתו and התעיבו, Psalm 14:1; Psalm 53:2, in exact texts), in order to render possible the distinct pronunciation of the guttural in the combination רח. Psalm 103:13 sounds just as much like the spirit of the New Testament as Psalm 103:11, Psalm 103:12. The relationship to Jahve in which those stand who fear Him is a filial relationship based upon free reciprocity (Malachi 3:11). His Fatherly compassion is (Psalm 103:14) based upon the frailty and perishableness of man, which are known to God, much the same as God's promise after the Flood not to decree a like judgment again (Genesis 8:21). According to this passage and Deuteronomy 31:21, יצרנוּ appears to be intended of the moral nature; but according to Psalm 103:14, one is obliged to think rather of the natural form which man possesses from God the Creator (ויּיצר, Genesis 2:7) than of the form of heart which he has by his own choice and, so far as its groundwork is concerned, by inheritance (Psalm 51:7). In זכוּר, mindful, the passive, according to Bצttcher's correct apprehension of it, expresses a passive state after an action that is completed by the person himself, as in בּטוּה, ידוּע, and the like. In its form Psalm 103:14 reminds one of the Book of Job JObadiah 11:11; Job 28:23, and Psalm 103:14 as to subject-matter recalls Job 7:7, and other passages (cf. Psalm 78:39; Psalm 89:48); but the following figurative representation of human frailty, with which the poet contrasts the eternal nature of the divine mercy as the sure stay of all God-fearing ones in the midst of the rise and decay of things here below, still more strongly recalls that book.
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