Like as a father pities his children, so the LORD pities them that fear him.
With a text from the Old Testament, I purpose to take you straight away to the New, and the tenderness and pitifulness of the Father shall be illustrated by the meekness and lowliness of the Son towards His immediate disciples, the apostles. While the Holy Spirit shows you thus the pity of Jesus Christ towards His own personal attendants, you will see as in a glass His pity towards you.
I. THE DIVINE PATIENCE OF OUR LORD JESUS TOWARDS THE APOSTLES. He kept no register of their faults, He never rehearsed the list of their shortcomings, but, on the contrary, His main rebuke was His own perfect example, and He ever treated them as His friends and brethren. Think of this, and you will see in Christ Jesus that "like as a father pitieth his children," etc. Much forbearance He had with their lack of understanding. The apostles, before Pentecost, were very gross and unspiritual in judgment. Their eyes were holden in more senses than one. Many a master would have grown weary of such pupils, but infinite love brought to its succour infinite patience, and He continued still to teach them though they were so slow to learn. "Like as a father pitieth," etc. He taught them humility by His humility; He taught them gentleness by His gentleness; He did not point out their defects in words, He did not dwell upon their errors, but He rather let them see their own spots by His purity, their own defects by His perfection. Oh, the marvellous tenderness of Christ, who so paternally pitied them that feared Him!
II. THE REASONS OF THIS DIVINE PATIENCE in the case of our Lord. Doubtless we must find the first reason in what He is. Our Lord was so greatly good that He could bear with poor frail humanity. When you and I cannot bear with other people it is because we are so weak ourselves. I would to God we could copy His love and borrow His "meekness so divine." He bore with them and pitied them because of His relationship to them. He had loved them as He has loved many of us, "from before the foundation of the world." He was their Shepherd, and He pitied the diseases of His flock; He was their "brother born for adversity," and He stooped to be familiar with their frailties. Another reason for His patience was His intention to become perfect as the Captain of our salvation, through suffering. In order that He might be a complete High Priest, and know all the temptations of all His servants, He bears with the infirmities and sins of His disciples whom He could have perfected at once if He had willed, but whom He did not choose to perfect because He desired to reveal His tender pity towards them, and to obtain by experience complete likeness to His brethren. Did He not also do this that He might honour the Holy Spirit? If Jesus had perfected the apostles, they would not have seen so manifestly the glory of the Holy Ghost. Until the Holy Ghost was come, what poor creatures the eleven were! but when the Holy Ghost was given, what brave men, what heroes, how deeply instructed, how powerful in speech, how eminent in every virtue they became! It is the object of Jesus Christ to glorify the Spirit, even as it is the design of the Holy Spirit to glorify Christ in our hearts.
III. THE TEACHING TO DE DERIVED FROM THIS PATIENCE.
1. If the Lord had thus had pity upon you as He had on His apostles, do ye even so to others. Look at the bright side of your brother, and the black side of yourself, instead of reversing the order as many do. Remember there are points about every Christian from which you may learn a lesson. Look to their excellences, and initiate them. Think, too, that small as the faith of some of your brethren is, it will grow, and you do not know what it will grow to. Though they be now so sadly imperfect, yet if they are the Lord's people, think of what they will be one day.
2. In your own case, have firm faith in the gentleness and forbearance of Christ. Think of how gentle He was with the apostles, and remember He is the same still. Change of place has not changed His character. The exaltations of heaven have not removed from Him the tenderness of His heart; He will accept you still.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.