Wednesday, May 04, 2011

When Sorrow Clouds God's Mercy

I was reading Exodus 6 this morning, and was struck by verse 9:
Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery. (Ex. 6:9)
Moses had just finished relating God's plan of deliverance to the people of Israel, proclaiming His promise to remember his covenant (vs. 5), deliver them from slavery (vs. 6), take them to be His people and be their God (vs. 7), and bring them into the promised land (vs. 8).

Remember, in chapter 4, we are told that the people "bowed their heads and worshiped" (Ex 4:31) upon hearing Aaron speak the word of the Lord concerning their deliverance, and upon seeing the signs that Moses performed.

Why then were they downcast?

Matthew Henry offers some insights in his commentary on Exodus 6:9.
First, disconsolate spirits often put from them the comforts they are entitled to, and stand in their own light. (See Isa. 28:12)
Secondly, strong passions oppose strong consolations. By indulging ourselves in discontent and fretfulness, we deprive ourselves of the comfort we might have both from God's Word and from His providence, and must thank ourselves if we go comfortless. (Matthew Henry's Commentaries)
Calvin also offers some comments on this passage.
Thus do the afflicted often, by closing their ears, shut the gate against the promise of God, which is indeed a marvelous thing... It is contrary to nature that the sorrow which ought to awaken the longings of those who are overwhelmed with trouble, should be an obstacle to the receiving the comfort freely offered them of God.
But it is too common for people the more they are respectively afflicted, to harden themselves against the reception of God's help.
This should cause us to consider how we grieve. We are not to grieve as "those who have no hope" (1 Thes. 4:13), but to use our sorrow as yet another reason to come before the throne of grace. God will grant us compassion and comfort.
For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men. (Lam. 3:31-33)
Watch Jordan Lee's powerful testimony of grief in the aftermath of last week's AL tornado. His father was killed in the storm, but the family has exhibited a remarkable level of faith and hope in the midst of this tragedy. Click here to help the Lees, and other families who lost everything in the tornado.

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