Psalm 103:13

It should seem as if no gospel could be more full, precious, clear, and heart uplifting than this. It is paralleled but not surpassed by St. John's word, "God is love." Why, then, was it needful for Christ to come in order to reveal to us another gospel? Have we not everything here, in this utterance of the Old Testament, and in those others in the same Old Testament, which are like unto it? What more, then, could be needed? We reply -

I. THE MISSION OF CHRIST WAS NEEDED IN ORDER TO REVIVE AND QUICKEN THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH OF THE LOVE OF GOD. It had been, when our Lord came, so limited, petrified, and practically lost, that it was almost as if it had not been. Pharisaism and Sadduceeism had so overlaid or lessened it, that only a few elect souls knew of it or believed it. God's Fatherhood was not much more in our Lord's day than a dead letter.

II. TO MAKE IT REAL TO MEN. True, our text stood there in the psalm, but the life of the Lord here on earth could alone make it stand out as a real, living truth. Then there was held up - placarded, as St. Paul says (Galatians 3:1) - before the eyes of all men, what the pity and love of God could do and endure for the sake of sinful men. And so, as our Lord said, "I, if I be lifted up, will draw all," etc.

III. TO ENSURE ITS BEING SPREAD ABROAD. The Jews, we well know, would never have allowed this. Their inveterate exclusiveness and scorn of all other nations would have kept it to themselves alone. It was necessary that Christ should come and command his disciples to "go into all the world, and preach," etc.

IV. TO REVEAL ITS ENLARGED SCOPE AND AIM. Life and immortality were brought to light by the gospel. Death, till Christ came, kept its sting, and the grave its victory, but he took both away. Such were some of the reasons wherefore God became man, and lived and suffered and died in the Person of Christ. Doubtless there are others, but amongst them all that horrible one, so sadly dear to theologians of a bygone age, is not to be found - that it was to turn the heart of God from anger to love, for God was and eternally is Love - S.C.

Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth 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.


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.)

No word better brings home the truth of Divine lovingkindness than pity — the pity of the Lord. There is love and mercy shown in passing by our sin, and forgiving us; but it is the love shown in the pity of the Lord that touches us most directly, and at once reaches the quick of our nature. And the reasons for this are not difficult to understand.

I. THE PITY OF GOD IS CONDESCENDING LOVE. It is the love of one who is infinitely our superior. Abject penitence on the one hand, and reliance upon the Divine compassion on the other — that is the truest and best relation in which the sinner and God can stand.

II. THE PITY OF GOD IS UNDERSTANDABLE. The pity of God is most welcome to us, because it is that which best corresponds to our own thoughts concerning ourselves. It is true, we are unworthy; and so unworthy, the very thought of it often repels us from God and makes us ashamed to seek His forgiveness and help; but we can say very sincerely that, however great our sins may be, there is need so great, weakness and helplessness so great, that, apart from our deserts, we ought to be the objects of the pity of a compassionate and loving God.

III. GOD'S INTEREST IN HUMANITY. The wounds of the patriot who has bled for his country become eloquent appeals to his countrymen if he come to be in want; the distresses of the poor become appeals to our hearts, even when they are brought about by their own sin. In the hour of distress we fail to be judges. There is only one feeling of compassion to a fellow-creature in distress. Shall not God be as much moved by the sight of human need as we are?

(James Ross.)


1. God pities His children, in all their ignorance; He is not angry with them, nor doth He speak sharply to them; but He leadeth them on by His Spirit, until they understand His truth, and receive His Word.

2. What pity has the Lord had upon you and me, in all our wanderings.

3. In actual transgressions and downright sin.

4. In sickness.

5. In all our manifold trials, of whatever kind they are, and from whatever quarter they proceed

6. Sometimes God's people have wrongs; and a father pities his children, if they have wrongs that are unrevenged. There never was a wrong done to one of God's people that God did not avenge; there has never been an ill deed done towards them yet but He hath punished the doer of it.


1. There is no contempt in it.

2. It is not the pity of inaction.

3. It is not the pity of mere sensitiveness. Go to Him now if you are poor; tell Him all your care, and see if He will not help you. Go and try Him, for His pity is a heavenly pity; it is the very nard of Paradise, that healeth sores effectually.

III. THE PEOPLE WHOM GOD PITIES. "The Lord pitieth them that fear Him." Oh, that ye would tremble at His presence; and, then, oh, that ye could know yourselves to be His children, and fear Him as children do their parents! Oh, that ye did reverence His name, and keep His Sabbaths! Oh, that ye did obey His commandments, and have His fear ever before your eyes! Then should your peace be like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. IT IS LIKE THAT OF A TENDER AND MERCIFUL FATHER. 1 He forbears summary punishment.

2. He encourages us when we try to serve Him.

3. He ceases to chastise when chastisement has accomplished the purpose for which it was sent.


1. It is His character to be pitiful.

2. He feels to us as a Father.

(W. Handcock.)

It is like tolling the death-knell of all our pride to talk about God pitying us. Why, we shed our pity profusely upon the ungodly; we are often pitying the wicked, the profane, the blasphemer, the Sabbath-breaker; but here we find a God pitying us. Even David, the mighty psalmist, is pitied; a prophet, a priest, a king, each of these shall have pity from God, for "He pitieth them that fear Him," and finds good reasons for pitying them, however high their station, however holy their character, or however happy their position. We are pitiable beings.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

How much a father loves his son is shown in the story of the nobleman who went all the way from Capernaum to Cana for the sake of his boy. The other day an American father gave the great Austrian, Dr. Lorenz, £6,000 to make his crippled daughter able to walk. Many other fathers and mothers brought their children to this great doctor, and he treated as many of them as he had time to do. We never know how much our parents love us until we are sick or in danger. Then it is mother who sits by our bed and never goes to sleep until the danger is over. Then it is father who thinks no toil or sacrifice too great for his darling boy or girl.


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