O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you, I will praise your name; for you have done wonderful things…
I. THE PERSONAL APPROPRIATION OF GOD. This is one of the great marks of personal, spiritual religion. Other nations have known their gods as leaders in war, protectors of hearth and home; it was reserved for Israel and for Christianity to think of the High and Holy One as tenanting the heart and soul of the believer. Jehovah is not only "my father's God," - this would be merely traditional religion; but "my God," "my Salvation," - this is personal religion (Exodus 15:2 The language of Psalm 18:28 and 145. It seems echoed here. The prophet becomes choral leader of the Church of the future, of the Church in all ages. The echoes of all past ages gather up into one volume, and become a mighty prophecy of the future. The thought of the faithfulness of the Eternal enters into the appropriation of his Name. He is a covenant-keeping God. What he has been in the past is a pledge of what he will be in the future. "There shall never be one lost good; what was shall be as before"
II. THE INCOMPARABLE WISDOM AND TRUTH OF GOD. This, too, is a thought deeply impressed from the olden time. "Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?" (Exodus 15:11; of. Psalm 77:15; Psalm 78:12). This is seen in his counsels and in the execution of them.
1. His far-reaching counsels. God's thoughts are not extempore inspirations, accidental - "happy," as we say, springing up in no fixed order or method; they originated "long ago" (Isaiah 22:11; Isaiah 37:26). To God nothing is sudden or unforeseen; though to us it may seem" the unexpected always happens." All things were ordained by him before the foundation of the world (Acts 15:18). "All the wonders which happen contrary to the expectation of men are the result of that regular order which God maintains in governing the world, arranging all things from the beginning to the end. Now, since we do not understand these secret decrees, and our powers of understanding cannot rise so high, our attention must therefore be directed to the manifestation of them; for they are concealed from us, and exceed our comprehension, till the Lord reveal them by his Word, in which he accommodates himself to our weakness; for his decree is unsearchable" (Calvin).
2. The faithful realization of them in history. The imperial city, the city of Israel's oppressors (Isaiah 24:10), is destroyed. It has become a ruinous heap of stones; and the palace of the barbarians will never again rise out of those ruins. It is symbolic in its fate of heathen pride and power and superstition, and all that exalts itself against the true God and the true religion.
III. THE EFFECT OF HIS JUDGMENTS ON THE HEATHEN. They will honor the mighty God of Israel. They will be converted from rudeness and wildness to meekness and lowly reverence. The former oppressors will bow in fear before him. "They are affrighted, and give glory to the God of heaven" (Revelation 11:13). For in great crises, in days of judgment, the nature of Jehovah and his rule is made manifest to men. The calm, unbroken smile of the summer day does not so reveal God to us in his power and beneficence as the thunder and the lightning, followed by the refreshing rain. Revolutions awaken the slumbering consciences of the nation; and God is revealed, not only by the objects and institutions he overthrows, but by those which are protected and fostered in the midst of and by the very means of change. He is seen to have been, in the magnificent imagery of the prophet, "a fortress to the weak, a fortress to the poor in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat" (cf. Isaiah 30:3; Isaiah 4:6; Isaiah 32:2; Isaiah 16:3). As he can quell the fiery heat by bringing up a shady thicket of clouds, (Jeremiah 4:29, Exodus 19:9 Psalm 18:12), or say to the proud waves of the sea, "Thus far, and no further!" so did he dispel the thundering hordes of the assailants of his people. So in later times did he meet the "blast of threats and slaughter" (Acts 9:1) from the mouth of an arch-persecutor, and turn, by his mighty and merciful self-manifestation, that arch-persecutor into an arch-apostle. And to the infant Church he became what is described in ver. 4. Behind the providence which "frowns," the "smiling face" is ever hidden.
IV. THE ULTIMATE CONSUMMATION. In this mountain of Zion, where the prophet dwells, the seat of the Divine presence, a feast of fat things, with wines on the lees well strained, will be made for all peoples. They will be incorporated into the kingdom of Jehovah; many having come from east and west, and north and south, to sit down in the kingdom of God. The feast is symbolic of all spiritual and temporal blessings, as it is in the parables of our Savior. It is symbolic of satisfaction: "The meek shall eat and be satisfied" (Psalm 22:26). The allusion may be to the thank or peace offering: "I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness" (Jeremiah 31:14; cf. Leviticus 7:31). The meal which followed the sacrifice was a joyous and festive occasion. It was expected by the Jews that the glorious Messianic time would be ushered in by a great feast; and of this, doubtless, the guest at the dinner-table of the Pharisee was thinking when he exclaimed, "Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!" As the feast, so the age, of the Messiah is to be unending. And in one great burst of universal joy, death and sorrow are to be swallowed up. Death is signified by the covering or veil cast over all nations, or web woven over them. The covered head is a sign of mourning in antiquity in general; it will be withdrawn (Psalm 21:10; Psalm 55:10). Darkness and oblivion are associated with death; this will greatly give way before the light of Jehovah. The bondage to the fear of death will be broken, death itself will be abolished, and life and immortality be brought to light (2 Timothy 1:10; 1 Corinthians 15:54). The promise belongs to the Jewish nation (Hosea 13:14), and to all its believing members. All sorrow is more or less rooted in the associations of death; this too shall cease, and Jehovah shall wipe away all tears from off all faces. The reproaches so long leveled at the people in their worldwide dispersion shall be taken away. No more will the taunt be leveled at them, "Where is now your God?" (Psalm 79:10). Sin will be eradicated, which has had its fruit in tears, in shame, and in death. "The new Jerusalem is Jehovah's throne, but the whole earth is Jehovah's glorious kingdom. The prophet is here looking from just the same point of view as Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:18, and John in the last page of the Apocalypse" (Delitzsch). The last point in the distant perspective on which the eye rests is the epoch known as" the day of redemption," the restoration of all things, when the old and corrupt order shall finally give place to the new, the confusions of time cease in the harmonies of the eternal world (see Luke 21:28; Acts 3:21; Romans 8:23; Ephesians 4:30). A great poet, Burns, said that he could never read this passage without tears. It does, indeed, touch the depth of the heart, as it strikes the full tones of the eternal evangel. For here we have the gospel in the universality of its message ("good tidings of great joy to all people) - the fullness of its power to satisfy and to comfort, in the all-hopeful perspective of the future it opens up. Let us, then, direct all our hope and expectation to this point, and let us not doubt that the Lord will fulfill all these things in us when we have finished our course. If we now sow in tears, we shall reap in joy. The reproaches of men will procure for us one day the highest glory. Having obtained here the beginning of this happiness and glory, by being adopted by God and beginning to bear the image of Christ, let us firmly and resolutely await the completion of it at the last day" (Calvin). - J.
Parallel VersesKJV: O LORD, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.