You open your hand, and satisfy the desire of every living thing.
(with ver. 19): — You observe the recurrence, in these two verses, of the one emphatic word "desire." Its repetition evidently shows that the psalmist wishes to run a parallel between God's dealings in two regions. The same beneficence works in both. Here is the true extension of natural law to the spiritual world.
I. TWO KINDS OF PENSIONERS.
1. "Every living thing." Life makes a claim on God, and whatever desires arise in the living creature by reason of its life, God would be untrue to Himself, a cruel Parent, an unnatural Father if He did not satisfy them. "He is a faithful Creator;" and wherever there is a creature that He has made to need anything, He has hereby said, "As I live, that creature shall have what it wants."
2. Then take the other class, "them that fear Him"; or, as they are described in the context — by contrast with "the wicked who are destroyed" — "the righteous." That is to say, whilst, because we are living things, like the bee and the worm, we have a claim on God precisely parallel with theirs for what we may need by reason of His gift, which we never asked for — His gift of life — we shall have a similar but higher claim on Him if we are "they that fear Him" — with that loving reverence which has no torment in it, — and that love Him with that reverential affection which has no presumption in it, and whose love and fear coalesce in making them long to be righteous, like the object of their love, to be holy like the object of their fear. It comes to this — wherever you find in people a confidence which grows with their love of God, be sure that there is, somewhere or other in the universe of things, that which answers it.
II. TWO SETS OF NEEDS. The first of them is very easily disposed of. "The eyes of all wait upon Thee, and Thou givest them their meat." That is all. Feed the beast, and give it the other things necessary for its physical existence, and there is no more to be done. But there is more wanted for the desires of the men that love and fear God. These are glanced at in the context, "He also will hear their cry, and will save them"; "The Lord preserveth all them that love Him." That is to say, there are deeper needs in our hearts and lives than any that are known amongst the lower creatures. Evils, dangers, inward and outward; sorrows, disappointments, losses of all sorts shadow our lives in a fashion which the happy, careless life of field and forest knows nothing about. What is the object of desire to a man that loves God? God. What is the object of desire to a man that fears Him? God. What is the object of desire to a righteous man? Righteousness. And these are the desires which God is sure to fulfil to us. Therefore, there is only one religion in which it is safe and wise to cherish longings, and it is the region of the spiritual life where God imparts Himself. Everywhere else there will be disappointments — thank Him for them. Nowhere else is it absolutely true that that He will "fulfil the desires of them that fear Him." But in this region it is. Whatever any of us want to have of God we are sure to get. We open our mouths and He fills them. In the Christian life desire is the measure of possession, and to long is to have. And there is nowhere else where it is absolutely, unconditionally, and universally true that to wish is to possess, and to ask is to have.
III. TWO FORMS OF APPEAL. "The eyes of all wait upon Thee." That is beautiful! The dumb look of the unconscious creature, like that of a dog looking up in its master's face for a crust, makes appeal to God, and He answers that. But a dumb, unconscious look is not for us. "He also will hear their cry." Put your wish into words if you want it answered; not for His information, but for your strengthening.
IV. THE TWO PROCESSES OF SATISFYING. "Thou openest Thine hand." That is enough. But God cannot satisfy our deepest desire by any such short and easy method. There is a great deal more to be done by Him before the aspirations of love, and fear, and longing for righteousness can be fulfilled. He has to breathe Himself into us. God's best gifts cannot be separated from Himself. They are Himself, and in order to "satisfy the desires of them that fear Him" there is no way possible, even to Him, but the impartation of Himself to the waiting heart. He has to discipline us for His highest gifts, in order that we may receive them. And sometimes He has to do that, as I have no doubt He has done it with many of us, by withholding or withdrawing, the satisfaction of some of our lower desires, and so emptying our hearts and turning the current of our wishes from earth to heaven. Not only has He to give us Himself, and to discipline us in order to receive Him, but He has put all His gifts which meet our deepest desires into a great storehouse. He does not open His hand and give us peace and righteousness, and growing knowledge of Himself, and closer union, and the other blessings of the Christian life, but He gives us Jesus Christ. We are to find all these blessings in Him, and it depends upon us whether we find them or not, and how much of them we find. Expand your desires to the width of Christ's great mercies; for the measure of our wishes is the limit of our possession. He has laid up the supply of all our need in the storehouse, which is Christ; and He has given us the key. Let us see to it that we enter in. "Ye have not because ye ask not." "To him that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance."
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.