But know that the LORD has set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call to him.
"The godly." They are evidently a distinguished, a peculiar people. They have undergone a process of change. There may be a very exalted scale of morals observed by men, but still it amounts not to the scriptural idea of godliness, for all that comes within the range of moral observance may be entirely without reference to God. Godliness is a state of mind and heart which is derived from a source higher than man.
I. THE SOURCE OF GODLINESS. It must be God Himself; Almighty power, acting out the dictates of Almighty grace and love, can alone bring a sinner, from his state of abject denudation, near to God, and pour into his nature the renovating spirit that shall bring upon him the lineaments of that perfection in which he was at first created. If God "sets apart" or "chooses" a sinner, therefore, it is in order that there may be produced in him affinity to Christ, likeness to Christ — likeness to Christ in principle, in desire and intention, in motive, in affections, in actions. Incidental to this, and essential to it, is the conviction of sin which the Spirit of God creates in the heart. It includes also a closing with the terms of salvation, on the part of the sinner — the laying aside of sin in the act, though he cannot lay it aside, in his own will, in its inward power and principle — the laying aside of sin in the act, and looking for grace that shall subdue sin in its power. It includes also the acceptance of a free pardon of all past sin — an assurance of the imputation of all sin to the Saviour, in order to its expiation, and the impartation of the Saviour's righteousness to the sinner, in order to his justification. It includes that simple exercise of faith which is of God's bestowment.
II. THE END PROPOSED. "The Lord hath set apart him that is godly for Himself." He is brought into a state of sonship with God. He may not at first have, but he expects to have, the witnessing of the Spirit. God has created all things in the universe for His own glory. We may at first, while contemplating the great purposes of the gospel, imagine that God's primary end was to rescue the lost and to pardon the guilty. But by man's creation God glorified Himself, and by man's fall He acquired glory, inasmuch as in the recovery of man was brought into exercise that bright and blessed attribute of mercy which could not otherwise have been manifested.
III. THE PRIVILEGES CONNECTED WITH A STATE OF GODLINESS. "The Lord will hear when I call unto Him." How full of privilege is this avowal and assurance! It implies that —
1. The godly man has the privilege of access, when he will, to "the King of kings and Lord of lords." The presence chamber is never closed. The believer has a kind of precedence of others into the presence of the Sovereign.
2. The godly man has a claim upon God; and this we would put in the strongest terms. At first he has no claims on God; but being conformed to the image of Christ, or even beginning to be conformed, he immediately has a claim on Him — a claim based on God's paternity.
3. To "hear" in Scripture language means to "answer." The Lord will hear on account of the agreement there is between the Spirit that animates the believing heart and his own mind and intention. Tell me what is in the wide world, for which men are bartering such blessed prospects for eternity, worth a moment's notice, when godliness, with all its happy privileges, is fully set before you at the foot of the Cross of the Redeemer?
(George Fisk, LL. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him.