Category Archives: John Calvin

3 APRIL 365 Days with Calvin

Teaching by Example

And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. Isaiah 2:3

suggested further reading: 1 John 2:1–6

People who take upon themselves the office of teaching and exhorting should not only sit down and command others but should also join and walk along with people as companions, Isaiah teaches us. Some men are very severe instructors and eager to urge others forward, yet they themselves do not move a step. But here, believers, we learn that instead of commanding people what to do, teachers should lead the way by their own example. The true method, therefore, of profitable teaching is actually performing what we demand, thereby making it evident that we speak with sincerity and earnestness.

And he will teach us of his ways. He shows, first, that God cannot be worshiped aright until we have been enlightened by doctrine; and, second, that God is the only teacher of the church on whose words we ought to hang. Nothing is less acceptable to God than foolish and erring services that men call devotion. Likewise, though God uses the agency of men in teaching, still he reserves as his own right that they must utter nothing but his word.

Had this rule been followed by those who called themselves teachers of the early church, religion would not have been so shamefully corrupted by a wide and confused diversity of superstitions. Nor is it possible that we today shall not be carried away by various errors when we are tossed about by the opinions of men. So Isaiah justly claims for God alone the power and authority to teach the church and to shut the mouths of all mortals, so that the office of teaching is committed to pastors for no other purpose than that God alone might be heard. Let those who wish to be ministers of Christ allow themselves to be regulated by Isaiah’s teaching, that they may take nothing away from God’s authority.

for meditation: The same principles apply for all Christians. If we are going to bring others to Christ, we must walk alongside them, our example declaring that we are committed to what we say. All our verbal evangelism will be ineffective if we are not living as authentic Christians.[1]

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 112). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

2 APRIL 365 Days with Calvin

Tasting the Good of the Land

If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land. Isaiah 1:19

suggested further reading: Deuteronomy 28:1–14

In saying Ye shall eat the good of the land, Isaiah refers to the fruits that the earth yields to supply the necessities of life. In some sense, the earth may be said to be unkind when it does not produce its fruits and keeps them, as it were, in its bosom. Yet I have no doubt that Isaiah here alludes to the promises of the law, in which God declares that, for those who fear him, he will bless the earth and cause it to produce a great abundance of all good things. “The Lord shall make thee plenteous in … the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers to give thee” (Deut. 28:11).

Yet when God offers us the conveniences of earthly life, it is not because he wishes that our attention should be confined to our present happiness. That is what hypocrites value and what entirely occupies their minds. No, he offers us the good of the land so that by the contemplation of it we may rise to the heavenly life, and that, by tasting so much goodness, he may prepare us for the enjoyment of eternal happiness. God was especially accustomed to act in this manner toward the ancient people, so that by tasting present benefits, as by a shadow, they might be called to heavenly inheritance.

This distinction ought to be carefully observed, so that we might apply this instruction to ourselves according to the degree of prosperity with which God has exalted us. The prophet intends to show us that true happiness, with its accompaniments, consists of obedience to God; and that the wicked, by their obstinacy, bring upon themselves every kind of calamity. Therefore all our distresses ought to be ascribed to the sins and crimes that we have committed.

for meditation: It is proper that we welcome earthly blessings for what they are—blessings. Still, we should not forget that they point to greater things beyond this earth. Regardless of how many earthly blessings we may possess, we should strive to obtain heavenly ones. What steps can you take in your life to take neither earthly nor heavenly blessings for granted?[1]

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 111). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

1 APRIL 365 Days with Calvin

Cleansing from the Heart

Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil. Isaiah 1:16

suggested further reading: 1 Samuel 15:1–11

Isaiah exhorts the Jews to repentance and shows the true way of it if they wish to have God approve their obedience. We know that nothing can please God unless it proceeds from a pure conscience; for God does not, like men, judge our works according to their outward appearance. Frequently a particular action, though performed by a very wicked man, obtains applause from men; but in the sight of God, who beholds the heart, a depraved conscience pollutes every virtue.

Haggai also teaches this, using an illustration from ancient ceremonies. He says everything that an unclean person touches is polluted, from which he concludes that nothing clean proceeds from the wicked. Isaiah declares that if integrity of heart does not sanctify people’s outward worship, in vain do they offer sacrifices to God, in vain do they pray, in vain do they call on God’s name. So that the Jews no longer labor to no purpose, Isaiah demands inward cleanness. He begins by saying that they need a comprehensive reformation, lest, after having discharged one part of their duty, they should imagine that this would veil other actions from the eyes of God.

Such is the manner in which we ought to deal with men who are estranged from God. We must not confine our attention to one or a few sores of a diseased body. Rather, because our aim is a true and thorough cure, we must call on them to begin anew. They must thoroughly remove the contagion so that they who were formerly hateful and abominable in the sight of God may begin to please God.

for meditation: Have we dealt with the root of our own wickedness? If not, our good deeds will not recommend our polluted heart to God; rather, our polluted heart will taint even our best deeds. Until our hearts are thoroughly washed, we cannot cease to do evil.[1]

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 110). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

31 MARCH 365 Days with Calvin

Happy are the Blessed

Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the Lord. Psalm 144:15

suggested further reading: Matthew 5:1–12

David says that those people are happy to whom divine favor has been shown and manifested.

Should anyone object that only a gross and worldly spirit would estimate man’s happiness in terms of transitory gifts, I would reply that we must read the two things in connection: that those people are happy who recognize the favor of God in the abundance they enjoy. They have a sense of happiness from these transitory blessings that persuades them of their Father’s care and leads them to aspire after the true inheritance of eternal blessings. There is no impropriety in calling those happy whom God blesses in this world, provided they do not show themselves blind to the improvements and uses that they make of God’s mercies or foolishly and lazily overlook the author of them.

The kind providence of God in not suffering us to lack the basic needs of life is surely a striking illustration of his wonderful love. What is more desirable than to be the objects of God’s care, especially if we have sufficient understanding to conclude from the liberality with which he supports us that he is our Father? For everything is to be viewed in reference to this point. It would be better for us to perish for want than to have mere brute satisfaction that forgets the main thing, that only those are happy whom God has chosen as his people.

In giving us meat and drink, God allows us to enjoy a certain measure of happiness, but it does not follow that believers who struggle through life in want and poverty are miserable, for this want, whatever it be, God can counterbalance by better consolations.

for meditation: When God blesses us by meeting our material needs such as food, clothing, housing, and work, we may feel happy. But that happiness is incomplete if we do not look beyond the gifts to the Giver, as well as to the ultimate Gift of all, Jesus Christ our Savior.[1]

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 109). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

30 MARCH 365 Days with Calvin

Comfort in the Midst of Death

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me. Psalm 138:7

suggested further reading: Psalm 23

Here David declares that God chooses to be his preserver, even if that means bringing him back to life in the midst of his troubles.

The passage well deserves our attention, for by nature we are so averse to suffering that we wish we might live safely beyond the shot of its arrows. We shrink from close contact with even the fear of death as something altogether intolerable. At the slightest approach to danger, we are immoderately afraid, as if our emergencies preclude the hope of divine deliverance.

Faith’s true office is to see life in the midst of death. It is to trust the mercy of God, not to procure us universal exemption from evil, but to quicken us in the midst of death every moment of our lives. For God humbles his children under various trials so that his defense of them may be more remarkable and that he may show himself to be their deliverer as well as their preserver. In the world, believers are constantly exposed to danger. David offers the assurance that he will be safe under God’s protection from all of his enemies and their efforts. He declares his hope is in the hand of God, which is stretched out for his help and will be invincible and victorious over every foe.

From this we are taught that God chooses to exercise his children with continual conflict, so that, having one foot as it were in the grave, they may flee with alarm to hide themselves under his wings, where they may abide in peace.

for meditation: Rather than shrinking from enemies or danger, let us place our confidence in the Lord; he alone is willing and able to save us. This ought to give us a sense of peace, even in a world of trouble where enemies abound. What do you think David meant when he said, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies” (Ps. 23:5a)?[1]

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 108). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

29 MARCH 365 Days with Calvin

Success at Work

It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep. Psalm 127:2

suggested further reading: Matthew 6:25–34

Solomon, the writer of this psalm, identifies two means that people believe contribute in an eminent degree to the amassing of riches. It is not surprising to find that those who become rich in a short time spare no exertion but work night and day in their occupations, allowing themselves only scanty payment from the product of their labor.

Solomon, however, says that neither living on a small salary nor diligence in work will by itself profit us. He does not forbid us to practice temperance in our diet or to rise early to engage in worldly business, but rather stirs us up to prayer and to calling upon God. He also recommends that we express gratitude for divine blessings and bring to naught whatever would obscure the grace of God.

Consequently, we shall rightly enter our worldly vocations when our hope depends exclusively upon God. Our success then will correspond to our wishes. But if a person takes no account of God as he eagerly makes haste, he will bring ruin upon himself by his precipitous course.

The design of the prophet is not to encourage men to give way to sloth, so that they think about nothing all their life long and abandon themselves to idleness. Rather, his meaning is that they execute what God has asked them to do. They should begin each day with prayer and call upon God’s name, offering him their labors so that he may bless them.

for meditation: No matter how diligent we are, if our work is not blessed by God, it will fail miserably. Sadly, this principle is far from our minds during most workdays when we so easily slip into the mentality that our success depends solely on us. Make a conscious effort today to remember that any success in work is a blessing from God.[1]

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 107). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

28 MARCH 365 Days with Calvin

The Only Way to Live

The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting: give me understanding, and I shall live. Psalm 119:144

suggested further reading: Proverbs 2

People cannot truly live destitute of the light of heavenly wisdom, the psalmist says. Unlike swine or asses, people were not created to stuff their bellies but to exercise themselves in the knowledge and service of God. When they turn away from such endeavors, life becomes worse than a thousand deaths. David stresses that the purpose of life for him was not merely to be fed with meat and drink and to enjoy earthly comforts, but to aspire after a better life, which could only be done under the guidance of faith.

That is a very necessary warning; for though it is universally acknowledged that people exceed the lower animals in intelligence, yet most people, as if deliberately, stifle whatever light God pours into their understanding. I admit that all people want to be sharp-witted. Nonetheless, few aspire to heaven and consider that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. As meditation upon the celestial life is buried by earthly cares, people do nothing else than plunge into the grave. While living to the world, they die to God.

In using the term live, the prophet names his utmost wish. He seems to say, though I am already dead, yet if thou art pleased to illumine my mind with the knowledge of heavenly truth, this grace will be sufficient to revive me.

for meditation: If our great passion in life is to live well, we must not look for fulfillment in earthly pleasures and luxuries, for none of these will truly satisfy. Rather, we must be like David—passionate in seeking righteousness and understanding from God on how to live. That is the only way that leads to heaven.[1]

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 106). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

27 MARCH 365 Days with Calvin

Distancing Ourselves from Evil

Depart from me, ye evildoers: for I will keep the commandments of my God. Psalm 119:115

suggested further reading: Ephesians 5:1–21

To follow the way of the Lord without stumbling, we must endeavor to keep the greatest possible distance from worldly and wicked people, not in terms of physical separation but in terms of interacting and conversing with them.

The dangerous influence of wicked people is well evident from observing that few people keep their integrity to the end of life. The world is fraught with corruption. In addition, the extreme infirmity of our nature makes it easy for us to be infected and polluted by evil, even from the slightest contact with evildoers.

With good reason, the prophet bids the wicked to depart from him, so he may progress in the fear of God without obstruction. This statement agrees with the admonition of Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” It is beyond the prophet’s power to chase the wicked away from him, but by these words he intimates that, from now on, he will have no more interaction with them. He emphatically designates God as his God, to testify that he counts him to be more worthy than all of mankind. Finding extreme wickedness universally prevalent on the earth, he chooses to separate himself from evildoers so that he might join himself wholly to God.

So that bad examples may not tempt us to evil, we are well advised to put God on our side and to abide constantly in him, for he is ours.

for meditation: To engage with a wicked world while remaining separate from evildoers can be difficult; yet it must be done. We cannot abandon sinners in their plight, but we must ensure that their evil does not rub off on us. This requires constant prayer for wisdom and a heart and mind full of Christ and his Word.[1]

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 105). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

26 MARCH 365 Days with Calvin

Disciplined to Obedience

Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. Psalm 119:67

suggested further reading: Hebrews 12:5–11

Experience demonstrates that when God deals gently with us, we often break into rebellion. Since even a prophet of God who strays needs to be corrected by forcible means, discipline is assuredly needful for us when we rebel.

The first step in obedience is the mortification of the flesh, which does not come naturally to people. So, not surprisingly, God brings us to a sense of duty by manifold afflictions. As the flesh is from time to time resistant, even when it seems to be tamed, it is no wonder to find God repeatedly subjecting us anew to the rod.

This is done in different ways. He humbles some by poverty, some by shame, some by disease, some by domestic distress, and some by hard and painful labors. He applies the appropriate remedy to the diversity of vices to which we are prone. It is now obvious how profitable is the truth of David’s confession. The prophet speaks of himself even as Jeremiah (31:18) says of himself that he was “as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke,” setting before us an image of the rebellion that is natural to us all.

We are very ungrateful indeed if the fruit that we reap from chastisements does not assuage or mitigate their bitterness. So long as we are rebellious against God, we are in a state of the deepest wretchedness. The means he chooses to bend and tame us to obedience is his chastisements.

The prophet teaches us by his own example that God gives evidence of his willingness that we should become his disciples by the pains he takes to subdue our hardness. We should then at least strive to become gentle, and, laying aside all stubbornness, willingly bear the yoke that he imposes upon us.

for meditation: If the afflictions we experience have a blessed end—our sanctification (Heb. 12:11)—shouldn’t we learn to become thankful for them? Rather than simply enduring them with a stiff upper lip, we should be praising God that he did not leave us to ourselves. Are you facing afflictions today? If so, how can you shift your perception of them to offer thanks to the Lord for them?[1]

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 104). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

25 MARCH 365 Days with Calvin

God’s Wondrous Law

Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. Psalm 119:18

suggested further reading: Psalm 19

God gives light to us to see the wonder of his Word, the prophet says. We are blind to the gospel even in the midst of the clearest light until God removes the veil of blindness from our eyes.

The psalmist confesses that his eyes were shut, making him unable to discern the light of the heavenly doctrine until God, by the invisible grace of his Spirit, opened them. The psalmist seems to be deploring his own blindness as well as that of the whole human race. But he tells us that the remedy is at hand, provided we do not, by trusting our own wisdom, reject the gracious illumination that God offers to us.

Let us realize that we do not receive the illumination of the Spirit of God to make us condemn God’s law and take pleasure in secret revelations, like many fanatics who do not regard themselves spiritual unless they reject the Word of God and put in its place their own wild speculations.

The prophet’s goal is very different. He wishes to inform us that God illumines us so we are able to discern the light of life that God manifests in his Word. He mentions the wondrous things of the law to humble us, to help us contemplate that law with admiration; and to convince us of our great need of God’s grace to comprehend the mysteries of his Word which surpass our limited capacity. The law includes not only the Ten Commandments but also the covenant of eternal salvation with all its provisions, which God has made with us. Knowing that Christ, “in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” “is the end of the law,” we need not be surprised that the prophet commends it and the sublime mysteries which it contains (Col. 2:3; Rom. 10:4).

for meditation: When we focus on the wonders of the revelations of God’s Word, we are much safer from the temptation to desire new and special revelations from God. The Bible contains so many wondrous things that a lifetime of study would not reveal them all to us; study them further to find new strength for each new day.[1]

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 103). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

24 MARCH 365 Days with Calvin

Vows to the Lord

I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people. Psalm 116:14

suggested further reading: Deuteronomy 23:15–25

David’s steadfast piety now shines forth in his willingness to fulfill the vows he made to God when he was in the midst of danger. He did not forget those promises, as most people do. When the hand of God lies heavy upon them, many people ask for God’s help, but shortly after receiving that help they soon bury in oblivion the deliverance that they have received.

In speaking of the true worship of God, the Holy Spirit properly connects by an indissoluble bond these two parts of worship: “Call upon me in the day of trouble” and, after your deliverance, glorify me (Ps. 50:15). If any regard it absurd for the faithful to enter into a covenant with God by making vows to him in hopes of procuring his approbation, I must explain that they do not promise the sacrifice of praise to soothe him by their flatteries, as if he were a mortal like themselves. Also, they do not attempt to bind God to themselves by proposing some reward, for David previously protested that he would not offer any recompense.

The intent of vows, first, is that the children of God may have their hearts strengthened with the confidence of obtaining whatever they ask. Second, it is that they may be stimulated to offer up more gratitude to God for his mercies. The privilege of vowing may surely be conceded to the children of God in their infirmity, for by this means their most merciful Father allows them to enter into familiar conversation with him, provided they make their vows for the right purpose. Whatever happens, nothing may be attempted without God’s permission.

for meditation: Many of us might be uncomfortable making vows to God, thinking of that as bargaining with the Almighty. But if we are able to leave behind the notion of repaying God (as David did), such vows can be a great stimulus for praise, worship, and service. How have you “paid” your vows “unto the Lord”?[1]

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 102). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

23 MARCH 365 Days with Calvin

The Wonder of his Benefits

What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me? Psalm 116:12

suggested further reading: Psalm 136

The psalmist now exclaims that the multitude of God’s benefits to him is so great that he cannot find adequate language to express his gratitude. His question is emphatic, What shall I render unto the Lord?, indicating that it was not his desire but the means that were inadequate to render thanks to God. Acknowledging this inability, the psalmist uses the only means in his power to extol the grace of God. He seems to say, “I am exceedingly wishful to discharge my duty, but when I look around me, I find nothing that will prove an adequate recompense.”

He cannot offer to God sufficient compensation for his benefits, the psalmist says, adding that he felt obligated to do so not just for one series of benefits but for a variety of innumerable benefits. “There is no benefit on account of which God has not made me a debtor to him; how should I have the means of repaying him for them?” he seems to ask. Since the means of recompense fails him, the expression of thanksgiving is the only thing he can offer that will be acceptable to God.

David’s example teaches us not to treat God’s benefits lightly or carelessly, for if we estimate them according to their value, that very thought ought to fill us with admiration. Each one of us has had God’s benefits heaped upon us. But our pride, which carries us away into extravagant theories, causes us to forget this very doctrine of God’s generosity toward us. Nonetheless, that ought to engage our unremitting attention. Furthermore, God’s bounty toward us merits more praise because he expects no recompense from us, nor can receive any, for he stands in need of nothing, and we are poor and destitute in all things.

for meditation: It is so easy to think that certain blessings are owed to us, but this is not a proper way to cultivate thankfulness to God. David’s perspective is much healthier; his praise flows out of recognizing the wonder of these blessings and their source in God. What impact could this perspective have on your day today?[1]

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 101). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

22 MARCH 365 Days with Calvin

Resting in God’s Favor

Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee. Psalm 116:7

suggested further reading: Psalm 145

David now tells himself to rest because God has shown favor to him.

Is the experience of the grace of God enough to allay the fear and trepidation of our minds? That is what David seems to indicate here in saying that, since he has experienced the relief of divine aid, he can now return to rest. But if the faithful regain their peace of mind only after God manifests himself as their deliverer, what room is there for the exercise of faith, and what power will the promises have to quiet our souls?

Surely, waiting calmly and silently for indications of God’s favor which is concealed from us is the undoubted evidence of faith. As strong faith quiets the conscience and composes the spirit, so, according to Paul, “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding,” reigns supremely there (Phil. 4:7). Hence the godly remain unmoved, though the world around them seems to be falling into ruin.

What does it mean to return unto thy rest? However much the children of God may be driven hither and thither, yet they constantly derive support from the Word of God so that they cannot totally and finally fall away. In confiding in his promises, they throw themselves upon God’s providence even while they are sorely distressed by disquieting fears and sadly buffeted by the storms of temptation. No sooner does God come to their assistance, than inward peace takes possession of their minds. Also, in the manifestation of God’s grace, they are given grounds for joy and gladness.

This latter kind of quietness is what David asks for, declaring that, even though he has experienced much to cause agitation of mind, it is now time for him to delight himself calmly in God.

for meditation: The storms of life can so agitate our minds and spirits that our only option is to run in desperation to the Rock of our salvation. There we not only find relief from the temptations and attacks of life, but, by grace, we also are inwardly restored to rest, assured that God will care for us. Have you experienced this peace that passes understanding?[1]

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 100). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

21 MARCH 365 Days with Calvin

Praiseworthy Liberality

He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor; his righteousness endureth forever; his horn shall be exalted with honour. Psalm 112:9

suggested further reading: Mark 12:38–44

The righteous will never lose the fruit and the reward of their liberality, the psalmist says. First, they will be honored for their dispersing. They do not give sparingly and grudgingly, unlike some who imagine that they fulfill their duty to the poor by doling out a small pittance to them. The righteous give as liberally as necessity requires and their means allow; for a liberal heart does not necessarily mean that the person possesses a large portion of the wealth of this world. The prophet’s point is that the righteous are never parsimonious but rather are always ready to give to others as they are able.

Next he says they give to the poor, meaning they do not offer charity at random but with prudence and discretion to meet the needs of the poor. We are aware that unnecessary and superfluous expenditures for the sake of ostentation are frequently lauded by the world; consequently, a larger quantity of the good things of life is squandered away in luxury and ambition than is dispensed in prudent charity. The prophet instructs us that truly praiseworthy liberality does not consist of distributing our goods without any regard to the objects upon whom they are conferred and the purposes to which they are applied, but in relieving the needs of the truly needy and expending money on proper and lawful things.

This passage is quoted by Paul (2 Cor. 9:9), in which he says it is easy for God to bless us with plenty so that we may exercise our bounty freely, deliberately, and impartially. This accords best with the design of the prophet.

for meditation: We can easily fall into a sort of a mechanical habit of giving, lacking the spirit the psalmist talks about here. But we should always have our eyes open for opportunities to give liberally, spontaneously, and quietly to people who are truly in need. Can you think of any such opportunities today?[1]

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 99). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

20 MARCH 365 Days with Calvin

Delighting in his Commands

Praise ye the Lord. Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in his commandments. Psalm 112:1

suggested further reading: James 2:14–26

In the second clause of the verse, the prophet specifies that the fear of God includes delighting greatly in his commandments. The addition of this explanatory clause is quite apparent, for while people boldly condemn the law of God, yet it is also common for them to pretend that they fear God. The prophet refutes such impiety when he acknowledges that no one is a true worshiper of God who does not also endeavor to keep God’s law. The prophet makes a significant distinction between a willing and prompt effort to keep the law, and one that merely consists of servile and constrained obedience.

We must, therefore, cheerfully embrace the law of God in such a manner that our love of it, with all its sweetness, may overcome all allurements of the flesh. Mere attention to the law is fruitless. A person cannot be regarded as a genuine observer of the law unless he truly delights in the law of God and renders obedience that is agreeable to God.

In considering the passage at large, the prophet affirms that the worshipers of God who delight in his Commandments are blessed, thus guarding us against the very dangerous deception that the ungodly practice upon themselves in imagining that they can reap a sort of happiness from doing evil.

for meditation: Calvin offers a sobering test of our fear of God here: do we truly delight in obeying God’s commands or do we only submit out of mere obligation or duty? Do you esteem his smiles and frowns to be of greater value than the smiles and frowns of people? Do you welcome any means he may employ to urge us on to obedience?[1]

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 98). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

19 MARCH 365 Days with Calvin

Assurance of his Protection

The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Psalm 110:2

suggested further reading: Psalm 2

It is astonishing that though the whole world has united to oppose Christ’s kingdom, the church has continued to spread and prosper. David here encourages the godly not to be dispirited by the foolhardy attempts of those who presume to introduce discord and disorder into the kingdom of Christ, for God will use his invincible power to maintain the glory of his sacred throne.

When our minds are agitated by various commotions, let us confidently rest, knowing that no matter how much the world rages against Christ, they will never be able to hurl him from the right hand of the Father. Moreover, because he does not reign on his own account but for our salvation, we may rest assured that we will be protected and preserved from all ills under the guardianship of this invincible King.

Doubtless our condition in this world will include many hardships, but God’s will is that Christ’s kingdom should be encompassed with many enemies, his design being to keep us in a state of constant warfare. Therefore it becomes us to exercise patience and meekness, and, assured of God’s aid, boldly to consider the rage of the whole world as nothing.

This passage also tells us about the calling of the Gentiles. If God had not told us about the extension of Christ’s kingdom to the Gentiles, we could not today be regarded as his people. But since the wall is broken between Jew and Gentile (Eph. 2:14), and the gospel promulgated, we too have been gathered into the body of the church, and know that Christ puts forth his power to uphold and defend us.

for meditation: Although believers are troubled by worldly enemies or by internal discord and disorder, we can be assured that the church of Christ will be restored to peace. We can look to heaven, confident that God will not allow evil to triumph but will uphold and defend his bride. How does this comfort us here and now?[1]

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 97). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

18 MARCH 365 Days with Calvin

Waiting for God

Let this be the reward of mine adversaries from the Lord, and of them that speak evil against my soul. Psalm 109:20

suggested further reading: Isaiah 30:18–26

David did not rashly or unadvisedly utter curses against his enemies but strictly adhered to what the Spirit dictated. I acknowledge that many people pretend to have similar confidence and hope, but who nevertheless recklessly rush beyond the bounds of temperance and moderation. But what David beheld by the unclouded eye of faith, he also uttered with the zeal of a sound mind; for, having devoted himself to the cultivation of piety under the protection of God’s hand, he was aware that the day was approaching when his enemies would experience the punishment they had earned.

We learn that David’s trust was placed in God alone. He did not look to people to direct his course according to whether the world smiled or frowned upon him. We can be sure that whoever places his dependence on people will find that the most trifling incident will annoy him.

Therefore, even if the whole world abandons us, we, like this holy man, should lift up our heads to heaven and look there for our defender and deliverer. If God intends to use human instruments for our deliverance, he will soon raise up people to accomplish that purpose. But if he chooses to try our faith by depriving us of all earthly assistance, we should not regard that as any negative reflection upon the glory of his name. Rather, we should wait until the proper time when God fully makes known his decision in which we can calmly acquiesce.

for meditation: Patience in waiting for an answer to prayer, especially a prayer for deliverance, must be consciously cultivated if we are to avoid losing confidence in God and his ways. But while waiting is a challenge, the Spirit often uses it to teach us to look to heaven, not people, for deliverance. What lessons have you learned about the Lord or about yourself while waiting on him in prayer?[1]

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 96). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

17 MARCH 365 Days with Calvin

Grateful in Danger

Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron. Psalm 107:10

suggested further reading: Matthew 14:22–33

The Spirit of God mentions many dangers in which God shows his power and grace in protecting and delivering people. The world calls these vicissitudes the sport of fortune; hardly one in a hundred people ascribe them to the superintending providence of God.

But God expects a very different kind of practical wisdom from us, namely, that we should meditate on his judgments in a time of adversity and on his goodness in delivering us from danger. For surely it is not by mere chance that a person falls into the hands of enemies or robbers; neither is it by chance that a person is rescued from them. But what we must constantly keep in mind is that all afflictions are God’s rod, and therefore there is no remedy for them other than God’s grace.

If a person falls into the hands of robbers or thieves and is not instantly murdered, but, giving up all hope of life, expects death at any moment, surely his deliverance is striking proof of the grace of God. This grace is even more illustrious considering the few who escape from such danger. Such circumstances, then, ought not to diminish our praises of God.

The prophet charges people with ingratitude who, after they have been wonderfully saved, very soon lose sight of the deliverance granted to them. To strengthen the charge, he brings forward their sighs and cries as a testimony against them. For when they are in dangerous straits, they confess in good earnest that God is their deliverer. Why then do these confessions disappear when they enjoy peace and quietness?

for meditation: Cries to God for deliverance come so easily and so naturally to our lips when we are unable to help ourselves. Why then does praise feel so difficult when things are going well? Are we so foolish to think that we can take care of ourselves in the good times, as if we are any less dependent on God?[1]

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 95). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

16 MARCH 365 Days with Calvin

Triumphing in Praise

Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the heathen, to give thanks unto thy holy name, and to triumph in thy praise. Psalm 106:47

suggested further reading: Acts 2:40–47

This psalm was composed during the sad and calamitous dispersion of the people of Israel. It was necessary for the people to be completely humbled to prevent them from further murmuring against God’s dispensations. Seeing that God had extended pardon to their fathers, who were undeserving of it, he aimed to inspire their children with the hope of forgiveness, provided they carefully and cordially sought to be reconciled to him. This was especially the case because of God solemnly remembering his covenant with them. Through faith they might draw near to God, even though his anger had not yet turned away.

Moreover, God had chosen them to be his peculiar people, so they could call upon him to collect into one body their dissevered and bleeding members. For, according to the prediction of Moses, “If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the Lord thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee” (Deut. 30:4). This prediction eventually came true when the widely separated multitude was gathered together and grew in the unity of the faith. For though the people of Israel never regained their earthly kingdom and polity, yet they were grafted with the Gentiles into the body of Christ, which was a more preferable gathering.

Wherever they were, the children of God were united with each other and to the Gentile converts by the holy and spiritual bond of faith. Together they constituted one church that extended over the whole earth. They came together to fulfill the purpose of their redemption from captivity, namely, that they might celebrate the name of God and employ themselves continually in praising him.

for meditation: The psalmist asks for deliverance for the people of Israel so that they might give thanks and triumph in praising God. This is a great lesson for us to remember when we ask the Lord for blessings: our ultimate motive should be his glory, not simply our comfort. What means can we use to learn this transforming lesson more profoundly and consistently?[1]

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 94). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

15 MARCH 365 Days with Calvin

Provoking God

Many times did he deliver them; but they provoked him with their counsel, and were brought low for their iniquity. Psalm 106:43

suggested further reading: Numbers 14

The wickedness and perversity of people becomes more evident when even God’s severe chastisements fail to produce reformation. The prophet deduces that the detestable hardness of people’s hearts continues. They are not bent to obedience despite all the benefits they have received from God. Indeed, in the time of their afflictions, they groan under the burden of those afflictions, but when God mitigates their punishment and grants them wonderful deliverance, how can their subsequent backsliding then be excused?

Bear in mind that we have a picture here as in a mirror of the nature of all mankind. If God uses the same means that he used for the Israelites to reclaim the majority of the sons of men, how is it that comparatively few do not continue in the very same state as they were? He may humble us with the severity of his rod or melt us with his kindness, but the effect is only temporary, because, though he visits us with correction upon correction or heaps kindness upon kindness upon us, we very soon relapse into our wonted vicious practices.

The Jews did not cease from backsliding, but, as the psalmist says, provoked him with their counsel. They then received a just recompense of reward in being oppressed by their iniquity. Moreover, though these backsliders deserved their afflictions, yet God still heard their groanings. In his unwearied kindness, God did not cease to strive with them even in their perverseness of spirit.

for meditation: This passage is a clear demonstration of our need for the miracle of regeneration. Unless a person is changed from the inside out, all the chastisements or all the blessings in the world will not turn him to God. What impact do God’s chastisements have on you?[1]

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 93). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.