The LORD is slow to anger and great in power; the LORD will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. His path is in the whirlwind and storm, and clouds are the dust beneath His feet.
I. HIS PATIENCE ALWAYS IMPLIES GREAT POWER. "The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power." This is a remarkable expression. It seems as if the prophet meant, God is "slow to anger" because he is "great in power;" if he had leas power he would be less patient. A man may be "slow to anger," slow to deal out vengeance, because he lacks power to do so. But God is "slow to anger" because he has abundance of power. In order to see the power revealed in his forbearance towards sinners in this world, think of four things. I. His exquisite sensibility. There are some men "slow to anger" because they have not the susceptibility of feeling an insult or offence; their patience, such as it is, is nothing but a natural stoicism. Many men are lauded for their calmness under insults, who are rather to be pitied for their natural insensibility, or denounced for their moral callousness. But the great God is ineffably sensitive. He is sensibility itself. He is love. He feels everything. Every immoral act vibrates, so to speak, on his heart chord; and yet he is "slow to anger."
2. His abhorrence of sin. It is the "abominable thing" which he emphatically hates. His whole nature revolts from it. He feels that it is antagonism to his will and to the order and well being of the universe.
3. His provocation by the world. Multiply the sins of each man in one day by the countless millions of men that populate the globe; then you will have some conception of the provocation that this God of exquisite sensibility, of an ineffable hatred to sin, receives every day from this planet. One insult often sets man's blood ablaze. Surely, if all the patience of all the angels in heaven were to be embodied in one personality, and that personality were entrusted with the government of this world for one day, before the clock struck the hour of midnight he would set the globe in flames.
4. His right to do whatever he pleases He could show his anger if he pleased, at any time, anywhere, or anyhow. He is absolutely irresponsible. He has no one to fear. When men feel anger there are many reasons to prevent them from showing it; but he has no such reason. How great, then, must be his "power" in holding back his anger! His power of self-control is infinite. "He is Slow... to anger, and of great power." "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long suffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).
II. HIS PATIENCE PRECLUDES NOT THE PUNISHMENT OF THE IMPENITENT. "And will not at all acquit the wicked." That is, the impenitent wicked. However wicked a man is, if he repents he will be acquitted. "Let the wicked forsake his ways, and the unrighteous man his thoughts," etc. (Isaiah 55:7).
1. To "acquit" the impenitent would be an infraction of his law. He has bound suffering to sin by a law as strong and as inviolable as that which binds the planets to the sun. "The wages of sin is death;" "Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." Sin leads to ruin: this is a law.
2. To "acquit" the impenitent would be a violation of his word. "The wicked shall be turned into hell, with all the nations that forget God;" "Unless ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish;" "I will laugh at your calamities, and mock when your fear cometh."
3. To "acquit" the impenitent would be to break the harmony of his universe. If inveterate rebels and incorrigible sinners were acquitted, what an impulse there would be given in God's moral empire to anarchy and rebellion!
CONCLUSION. Abuse not the patience of God; nay, avail yourselves of it. While he forbears, and because he forbears, repent! "Despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?" (Romans 2:4). - D.T.
He rebuketh the sea.
Homilist.Here is a description of God's power unrivalled in its sublimity and soul-stirring force. Power belongeth unto God. It is absolute, inexhaustible, ever and everywhere operative. "He fainteth not, neither is weary." His power is here presented in two aspects.
I. AS OPERATING IRRESISTIBLY IN NATURE.
1. It works in the air. "The Lord hath His way in the whirlwind and the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet."
2. It works in the sea. "He rebuketh the sea. and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers." There is undoubtedly an allusion here to the Red Sea and the Jordan. "He holdeth the winds in His fists, and the waters in the hollow of His hands." "His way is in the sea," and "His path in the great waters."
3. It works on the earth. "Bashan languisheth, and Carmel and the flower of Lebanon languisheth." No spots in Palestine were more fruitful than these three. But their life and their growth depended on the results of God's power. Nor is His power less active in the inorganic parts of the world. "The mountains quake at Him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at His presence, yea, the world and all that dwell therein." God's power is seen in all the phenomena of the material world. How graphically and beautifully is this presented in Psalm 104. The fact that God's power is ever acting in the material universe is —(1) The most philosophic explanation of all its phenomena. The men who ascribe all the operations of nature to what they call laws, fail to satisfy my intellect. For what are those laws! The fact that God's power is ever acting is(2) The most hallowing aspect of the world we live in. God is in all. Then walk the earth in reverence.
II. AS IRRESISTIBLY OPPOSED TO THE WICKED. "Who can stand before His indignation!"
I. GOD'S CONTROL OVER THE POWERS OF NATURE. With the terrible effects of His wrath. He ruleth in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath, and in the waters under the earth.
II. THE ESSENTIAL GOODNESS OF GOD'S CHARACTER, AND THE ALL-SUFFICIENCY OF HIS PROTECTION. Both the scenes of external nature, and the general condition of nations and individuals will, on the slightest reflection, convince you of the prevailing goodness of God. If them is any doubt on the subject, turn to the book of inspiration.
III. THE MEANS WHEREBY MAN MAY AVERT GOD'S ANGER, AND SECURE HIS FAVOUR (ver. 7). "He knoweth them that are His." Trust in Him is the grand means to be employed. The faith that is wrought in your hearts by the Holy Spirit of God. This faith will work submission to Him will, and repentance towards Him. This faith will lay hold of the stronghold that can defend in the day of trouble. This faith worketh by love.
(Hugh Hughes, B. D.)
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