Psalm 130:4
But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.
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(4) But.—Rather, for, marking an ellipse easily supplied. Israel’s sense of Jehovah’s readiness to forgive was too deep to need expression, it was understood; “Thou wilt not mark, &c, for . . .”

Forgiveness.—The article in the original may be more than that common with abstract nouns. “The forgiveness we need.”

That thou mayest be feared.—Either that the forgiven ones may become more profoundly religious, or perhaps, rather, that the manifestation of Divine mercy to Israel may strike fear in the heathen.

130:1-4 The only way of relief for a sin-entangled soul, is by applying to God alone. Many things present themselves as diversions, many things offer themselves as remedies, but the soul finds that the Lord alone can heal. And until men are sensible of the guilt of sin, and quit all to come at once to God, it is in vain for them to expect any relief. The Holy Ghost gives to such poor souls a fresh sense of their deep necessity, to stir them up in earnest applications, by the prayer of faith, by crying to God. And as they love their souls, as they are concerned for the glory of the Lord, they are not to be wanting in this duty. Why is it that these matters are so long uncertain with them? Is it not from sloth and despondency that they content themselves with common and customary applications to God? Then let us up and be doing; it must be done, and it is attended with safety. We are to humble ourselves before God, as guilty in his sight. Let us acknowledge our sinfulness; we cannot justify ourselves, or plead not guilty. It is our unspeakable comfort that there is forgiveness with him, for that is what we need. Jesus Christ is the great Ransom; he is ever an Advocate for us, and through him we hope to obtain forgiveness. There is forgiveness with thee, not that thou mayest be presumed upon, but that thou mayest be feared. The fear of God often is put for the whole worship of God. The only motive and encouragement for sinners is this, that there is forgiveness with the Lord.But there is forgiveness with thee - The Septuagint renders this ἱλασμός hilasmos, propitiation, reconciliation; the Latin Vulgate "propitiatio," propitiation. The Hebrew word means "pardon." The idea is, that sin may be forgiven; or, that God is a Being who does pardon sin, and that this is the only ground of hope. When we come before God, the ground of our hope is not that we can justify ourselves; not that we can prove we have not sinned; not that we can explain our sins away; not that we can offer an apology for them; it is only in a frank and full confession, and in a hope that God will forgive them. He who does not come in this manner can have no hope of acceptance with God.

That thou mayest be feared - That thou mayest be reverenced; or, that men may be brought to serve and worship thee - may be brought to a proper reverence for thy name. The idea is, not that pardon produces fear or terror - for the very reverse is true - but that God, by forgiving the sinner, brings him to reverence him, to worship him, to serve him: that is, the sinner is truly reconciled to God, and becomes a sincere worshipper. The offendcr is so pardoned that he is disposed to worship and honor God, for God has revealed himself as one who forgives sin, in order that the sinner may be encouraged to come to him, and be his true worshipper.

4. Pardon produces filial fear and love. Judgment without the hope of pardon creates fear and dislike. The sense of forgiveness, so far from producing licentiousness, produces holiness (Jer 33:9; Eze 16:62, 63; 1Pe 2:16). "There is forgiveness with thee, not that thou mayest be presumed upon, but feared." There is forgiveness with thee; thou art able and ready to forgive repenting sinners.

That thou mayest be feared; not with a slavish, but with a child-like fear and reverence. This grace and mercy of thine is the foundation of all religion and worship of thee in the world, without which men would desperately proceed on in their impious courses without any thought of repentance.

But there is forgiveness with thee,.... And with God only; not with angels, nor any of the sons of men; and which flows from his grace and mercy, through the blood of his Son. It appears to be with him by his promise of it in covenant; by appointing his Son to shed his blood for it, and exalting him as a Saviour to give it; by proclaiming it in the Gospel; and by the numerous instances of it, both under the Old and under the New Testament. Or, there is "a propitiation with thee"; as the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions render it: God had found out Christ to be the propitiatory sacrifice for sin, and the ransom of his people; and set him forth in his purposes and decrees for that end; and which was made known by the sacrifices of the law, typical of it; and in the fulness of time he sent him to be the propitiation for it, and he is become so; and has made reconciliation for sin, and reconciled his people to God by the sufferings of death; and reconciled all the divine perfections of justice and holiness, grace and mercy, together, in the salvation of men; and is now an advocate the Father for them, pleading the propitiatory sacrifice of himself before him;

that thou mayest be feared; were it not for pardon, and the hope of it, men would be desperate; and, having no hope, would resolve upon taking their swing of sin, and be entirely negligent of the worship and service of God: was there no forgiveness of sin, there would be no more fear of God among men than there is among devils, for whom there is no forgiveness; there might be dread and trembling, as among them, but no godly fear: yea, if God was strictly to mark iniquity, and not pardon it, there would be none to fear him, all must be condemned and cut off by him; but, in order to secure and preserve his fear among men, he has taken the step he has to pardon sin through the propitiatory sacrifice of his Son; and a discovery, and an application of his grace, teaches men to fear to offend him; influences them to serve him acceptably with reverence and godly fear, and engages them to fear him and his goodness, and him for his goodness's sake, Titus 2:11, Hosea 3:5.

But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou {c} mayest be feared.

(c) Because by nature you are merciful therefore the faithful revere you.

4. But there is forgiveness with thee] The Heb. conjunction, which literally means for (so P.B.V.), gives the reason for the truth implied in the preceding verse: ‘Thou dost not remember iniquities, for with thee is forgiveness’; and so it may be rendered But or Nay but. The word for forgiveness occurs again only in Nehemiah 9:17; Daniel 9:9 (in plur.): the adj. forgiving in Psalm 86:5. Cp. 1 John 2:1-2.

that thou mayest be feared] God forgives in order that men may fear Him. Man might dread a stern unforgiving God, but he could not fear Him with that devout reverence which is the animating spirit of Old Testament religion (Deuteronomy 5:29), and which still finds its place in the New Testament as an element in the relation of man to God (1 Peter 1:17). Cp. the plea for pardon in Psalm 79:9, “for thy name’s sake,” and 1 Kings 8:39-40; Romans 2:4.

Most of the Ancient Versions misunderstood this clause, and connected it with the next verse. Thus the LXX, “For thy name’s sake have I waited for thee,” or according to the reading of some MSS (probably taken from Theodotion) followed by the Vulg., “For thy law’s sake.” Jer. “since thou art to be feared.”

Verse 4. - But there is forgiveness with thee (comp. Exodus 34:7; 1 Kings 8:30, 34, 36, 39. etc.; Psalm 25:13; Psalm 32:1, etc.; Daniel 9:9; 1 John 1:9, etc.). That thou mayest be feared. Milton makes his Satan say, "Then farewell hope, and, with hope, farewell fear!" ('Paradise Lost,' canto 1.). And certainly the true fear of God, which Scripture requires in us - a reverential, loving fear - could not exist, unless we had a confident hope in God's mercy and willingness to forgive us our trespasses, if we turn to him. Psalm 130:4The depths (מעמקּים) are not the depths of the soul, but the deep outward and inward distress in which the poet is sunk as in deep waters (Psalm 69:3, Psalm 69:15). Out of these depths he cries to the God of salvation, and importunately prays Him who rules all things and can do all things to grant him a compliant hearing (שׁמע בּ, Genesis 21:12; Genesis 26:13; Genesis 30:6, and other passages). God heard indeed even in Himself, as being the omniscient One, the softest and most secret as well as the loudest utterance; but, as Hilary observes, fides officium suum exsequitur, ut Dei auditionem roget, ut qui per naturam suam audit per orantis precem dignetur audire. In this sense the poet prays that His ears may be turned קשּׁבות (duller collateral form of קשּׁב, to be in the condition of arrectae aures), with strained attention, to his loud and urgent petition (Psalm 28:2). His life hangs upon the thread of the divine compassion. If God preserves iniquities, who can stand before Him?! He preserves them (שׁמר) when He puts them down to one (Psalm 32:2) and keeps them in remembrance (Genesis 37:11), or, as it is figuratively expressed in Job 14:17, sealed up as it were in custody in order to punish them when the measure is full. The inevitable consequence of this is the destruction of the sinner, for nothing can stand against the punitive justice of God (Nahum 1:6; Malachi 3:2; Ezra 9:15). If God should show Himself as Jāh,

(Note: Eusebius on Psalm 68 (67):5 observes that the Logos is called Ἴα as μορφὴν δούλον λαβὼν καὶ τάς ἀκτῖνας τῆς ἑαυτοῦ θεότητος συστείλας καὶ ὥσπερ καταδὺς ἐν τῷ σώματι. There is a similar passage in Vicentius Ciconia (1567), which we introduced into our larger Commentary on the Psalms (1859-60).)

no creature would be able to stand before Him, who is Adonaj, and can therefore carry out His judicial will or purpose (Isaiah 51:16). He does not, however, act thus. He does not proceed according to the legal stringency of recompensative justice. This thought, which fills up the pause after the question, but is not directly expressed, is confirmed by the following כּי, which therefore, as in Job 22:2; Job 31:18; Job 39:14; Isaiah 28:28 (cf. Ecclesiastes 5:6), introduces the opposite. With the Lord is the willingness to forgive (הסּליחה), in order that He may be feared; i.e., He forgives, as it is expressed elsewhere (e.g., Psalm 79:9), for His Name's sake: He seeks therein the glorifying of His Name. He will, as the sole Author of our salvation, who, putting all vain-glorying to shame, causes mercy instead of justice to take its course with us (cf. Psalm 51:6), be reverenced; and gives the sinner occasion, ground, and material for reverential thanksgiving and praise by bestowing "forgiveness" upon him in the plenitude of absolutely free grace.

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