He has not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
The point made by the psalmist is that God's dealings with men are not measured with the same measure as man's dealings with his fellow men. If we think precisely we shall admit that God does deal exactly with us "after our sins;" but it is as our sins are divinely estimated. When man proceeds to recognize and punish sins, he deals with sins, rather than with sinners; and metes out his punishments according to standard, with no consideration for the individual. Man, when he authoritatively punishes, is not supposed to make allowances. Judges administer law irrespective of persons. Clemency, with us, is left to the supreme authority behind the judge; and only comes in after the judge has given his judgment according to standard. Man's law concerns acts, not motives. God's judgments are after another standard. God judges sinners, not merely sins. God unites the clemency of the king with the justice of the magistrate. God makes all reasonable allowances. God considers the force of human frailty. God estimates circumstances and motives. Then God's is the higher standard, but it is one which only the God of infinite wisdom and perfect righteousness can use. This may be worked out along two lines.
I. THE MEASURE OF DIVINE DEALING IS WHAT IS POSSIBLE FOR THE RACE. God never measures humanity by the standard he provides for the angels. He never measures humanity fallen by the standard he provides for humanity intact. He does not measure the race in its savage condition with the standard for the race civilized. He does not make one absolute standard to apply equally to every branch of the race. He is mindful of, and considerate towards, all forms of racial peculiarity and disability. Carefully show the distinction between an absolute standard of morals, and an absolute setting, or application, of that standard. If God deals with a morally fallen and frail race, he lets mercy help justice to fix the standard.
II. THE MEASURE OF DIVINE DEALINGS IS WHAT IS POSSIBLE TO THE INDIVIDUAL. This is fully treated under ver. 14. One point only need be mentioned. In every sin committed by the individual the element of heredity has to be taken into account. The sin is not absolutely and entirely the man's own. Yet man can never measure this heredity; so his measures will never suffice for deciding the Divine judgments and dealings. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.