Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful. The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me.

—Psalm 116:5-6

Satan’s first attack upon the human race was his sly effort to destroy Eve’s confidence in the kindness of God. Unfortunately for her and for us he succeeded too well. From that day, men have had a false conception of God, and it is exactly this that has cut out from under them the ground of righteousness and driven them to reckless and destructive living….

The God of the Pharisee was not a God easy to live with, so his religion became grim and hard and loveless. It had to be so, for our notion of God must always determine the quality of our religion….

It is most important to our spiritual welfare that we hold in our minds always a right conception of God. If we think of Him as cold and exacting we shall find it impossible to love Him, and our lives will be ridden with servile fear. If, again, we hold Him to be kind and understanding our whole inner life will mirror that idea.

The truth is that God is the most winsome of all beings and His service one of unspeakable pleasure….

The fellowship of God is delightful beyond all telling. ROR011-013

Lord, I’ve already seen much of Your majesty. How phenomenal that You are also so gracious and kind, so winsome and delightful in fellowship! I thank You. Amen. [1]

5–6a The perfections of the Lord are those attributes revealed to Israel, who is in need of his grace (Ex 34:6–7; see Reflections, p. 271, The Perfections of Yahweh). The psalmist is fully aware that the Lord alone can help him, for he is “gracious,” “righteous,” full of “compassion,” so as to protect (šōmēr [participle], lit., “guarding”; cf. 121:3–8) the needy. He is “gracious” (ḥannûn, GK 2843) in his forgiveness and in sustaining his children (cf. 103:8; 111:4). He is “righteous” (ṣaddîq, GK 7404) in keeping the covenant and all the promises. He is “full of compassion” (meraḥēm; cf. Ex 34:6: raḥûm) in his tenderness and understanding of the limits of his children (cf. 103:13–14). This affirmation of the character of God is the reason for his thanksgiving, as the Lord is reliable and faithful. At the same time, the psalmist hereby encourages all the godly to call on the Lord in their various distresses.

6b The affirmation of the character of Yahweh (vv. 5–6a) leads the psalmist back to his story of how the Lord delivered him (vv. 3–4). The second colon of v. 6 restates and develops vv. 3–4: “when I was in great need, he saved me.” The psalmist called on the Lord, “Save me” (mālaṭ, v. 4); and the Lord was true to his promise: “he saved me” (yāšaʿ; cf. v. 13). In v. 8 the experience of deliverance is expressed by another verb: “you, O Lord, have delivered” (ḥalaṣ; cf. 6:4; 18:19; 34:7; 50:15; 81:7; 91:15; 119:153; et al.; see Reflections, p. 544, Yahweh Is My Redeemer). The variety of the synonyms reveal the fullness of deliverance. Though the Lord has promised to be with his own, the psalmist does not take his deliverance for granted. He is astounded by the marvel of full and free salvation.[2]

116:5, 6 A third element of worship is found in telling out the excellencies of the Lord. The risen Christ here lists some of the virtues of God which were displayed in His Resurrection. God is gracious, that is, kind and good. God is righteous; all He does is just and fair. God is merciful; He is of great compassion. The Lord preserves the simple, which in the case of the Lord Jesus on the cross meant that He preserved the sincere, the guileless or the helpless. God saves His people when they are in danger.[3]

116:5 Gracious … righteous … merciful. God reveals His kindness in His answer to the psalmist’s request. He does not stand at a distance when His people suffer.[4]

[1] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, pp. 846–847). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 731). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 841). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

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