For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are…
I. LET US SEE WHAT IT DECLARES THE LORD TO BE IN HIMSELF. His throne of grace signifies —
1. That He is a God of glory, of a glorious majesty. Here was the most glorious and majestic appearance of God amongst His people of old. Upon the mercy-seat He appeared in glory. The ark, whereof this very mercy-seat was a part, the most rich and splendid part, is called His glory (Psalm 78:61). Here He vouchsafed His special presence, as upon His throne.
2. That He is a God of dominion and sovereignty, that He rules and reigns and is supreme governor (Psalm 99:1, 2). He reigns; that appears by His throne. He sits between the cherubims. As so represented, the mercy-seat was His throne. Upon this account greatness, supremacy is ascribed to Him (ver. 2), and from hence Hezekiah declares His sovereignty over all kingdoms (2 Kings 19:15).
3. That He is a God of power and might, of almighty power. When He is spoken of as upon His throne, the mercy-seat, He is called the Lord of hosts, one who has all the power in the world (1 Samuel 4:4; 2 Samuel 6:2); and the ark, whereof the mercy-seat was a principal part, is called the strength of God (Psalm 78:61, 132:8), because, as it was a testimony of His presence, so a symbol of His strength and power, ready to be engaged for His people.
4. That He is a God of holiness (Psalm 99:5). To worship at His footstool is to worship towards the mercy-seat (ver. 1), between the cherubim. There He resided as a God of holiness. And upon that account every part of the temple, yea, the hill where it was seated, was counted holy (ver. 9). But above all, that part where the mercy-seat was, that was the most holy place, or. as it is in Hebrew, the holiness of holinesses (Exodus 27:23). The mercy-seat was the throne of His holiness (Psalm 47:8); and giving oracles from thence, it is called the oracle of holiness (Psalm 28:2).
5. That He is a God of wisdom, who sees and knows all things, to whom nothing is hid, or obscure, or difficult. From the mercy-seat He gave oracles; He made discoveries to His people of such things which otherwise they could not come to the knowledge of.
6. In fine, the mention of the throne of grace minds us of the wisdom of God, that we should draw near Him as one who knows our state, yea, our hearts, and understands all the ways and means how to help us and do us good.
II. WHAT THE THRONE OF GRACE DECLARES THE LORD TO BE UNTO US.
1. A God in Christ. The throne of grace is "the throne of God and of the Lamb" (Revelation 22:3). The throne of God alone is not to be approached by us; but the throne of God and the Lamb is the seat of mercy, the throne of grace. He not only gives law to His people, but makes provision for them, that their souls may have plenty (ver. 1 with Ezekiel 47.), and he protects His subjects too. As the wings of the cherubims (parts of the mercy-seat) overshadowed and covered the holy things, so does He cover and overshadow His holy ones.
2. A God reconciled. It signifies that His justice is satisfied, His wrath appeased; not now incensed against His people, but well pleased and propitious. The name of the mercy-seat declares this. It is ἱλαστήριον, a propitiatory.
3. A God of forgiveness. As graciously pardoning the sins of His people. When He is represented to us upon the mercy-seat, He is set forth as a God that has found out a way to hide our sins out of His sight.
4. A God in covenant (Numbers 10:33; Hebrews 9:4).
5. A God that will have communion with His people; one who will admit dust and ashes to have fellowship with Him. He offers there to meet them, to commune with them, to discover and communicate Himself to them. He admits His servants to communion with Him when He vouch ales to meet them. And the mercy-seat was the place of meeting which the Lord appointed for Moses (Exodus 30:36). He will meet with him as we meet with a friend whom we desire and delight to converse with. He would meet His servants there to discover Himself to them. The LXX render it, "I will be known to thee from thence," He did make known Himself as a man to his friend. There He did commune with them (Exodus 25:22).
6. A God that bears prayer, and will answer the petitions and supplications of His people. The Lord gave answers from the mercy-seat; and this may be the reason why their posture of old in worshipping and praying was towards the mercy-seat (Psalm 28:2). That was the place where the mercy-seat was. Called the oracle, because the Lord from the mercy-seat gave answers; and so it is rendered by some " the answering place" (so Psalm 5:7).
7. A God that is present with His people. More particularly this denotes —
(1) An intimate presence. He is in the midst of His people. So He was while He was on the mercy-seat, so He will be while that remains, which this did but typify; while the throne of grace, while the mediation of Christ continues, who is King and Priest for ever.
(2) A special, a gracious presence. He was not present here only as He is in the rest of the world, but in a more special way, as upon a mercy-seat, from which others were far removed, so as they could have no access to the propitiatory, no advantages by it.
(3) A glorious presence. As the mercy-seat upon which the Lord appears is a throne of grace, so is it a throne of glory (Jeremiah 17:12; Jeremiah 14:21).
(4) An all-sufficient presence — sufficient to secure them from all things dreadful and to supply them with all things desirable. This is the security of His people (Psalm 46:5).
(5) A continuing presence. He is said to dwell on the mercy-seat. In reference thereto is His promise (1 Kings 6:13). The throne of grace denotes no less (Revelation 7:15). Here He is, and here He abides. We need never suffer through His absence. Have recourse to Him on the throne of grace, and we need never be at a loss.
8. A God that will show Himself merciful and gracious to His people, that will deal mercifully and graciously with them. Now, when He thus represents Himself, they may find grace and mercy.
(D. Clarkson, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.