19–20 In response to Moses’ request to see God’s “glory,” God says he will “cause all [of his] goodness to pass” before Moses (v. 19). By his “goodness” is meant his whole character and nature. In a later theophany the Lord passed by what may have been the same cleft of the rock (cave) for the discouraged prophet Elijah (1 Ki 19:11).
A further aspect of the revelation of God’s glory is the proclamation of his name. The name of God includes his nature, character, person (Ps 20:1; Lk 24:47; Jn 1:12), doctrine (Ps 22:22; Jn 17:6, 26), and standards of ethical and moral living (Mic 4:5). In this context his name includes his “mercy” (i.e., his “grace”) and his “compassion” (rehem, lit., “womb, bowels,” i.e., deep-seated feelings; GK 8167). Romans 9:15 quotes this verse and applies it to the sovereignty of God. The one restriction of the Lord is that Moses will not be permitted to see the Lord’s face (v. 20). In fact, “no one may see me and live” (v. 20; see Jn 1:18; 6:46; 1 Ti 1:17; 1 Jn 4:12).
Expositor’s Bible Commentary
33:19 The Lord’s words appear to be a response to Moses’ requests—that the Lord would show him his ways (v. 13) and his glory (v. 18). The description points forward to the event of the Lord’s self-declaration that is to come: “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord’ (see 34:5–6) … I will be gracious … and will show mercy” (see 34:6). Paul cites this in Rom. 9:15 to show that, when God shows mercy, it is because he has chosen to do so.
33:19 God as sovereign works his will in election (Rom. 9:15).
ESV Study Bible
33:19 my goodness … my name. Though the visible magnificence of this theophany is apparent from the text, the emphasis falls on a revelation to Moses of God’s sovereign, gracious, and compassionate nature (cf. 34:5–7). In Jesus Christ, the glory of the gracious and compassionate God that was withheld even from Moses is displayed to believers through the Spirit (John 1:14; 2 Cor. 3:18).
to whom … on whom. The Lord is sovereign in His purposes of mercy (Rom. 9:14–16). See “The Purpose of God: Predestination and Foreknowledge” at Mal. 1:2.
Reformation Study Bible