Thine Is My Heart: Devotional Readings from the Writings of John Calvin
by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. The Lord looseth the prisoners: The Lord openeth the eyes of the blind: the Lord raiseth them that are bowed down: the Lord loveth the righteous. —Psalm 146:7, 8
We learn from this that he is not always so indulgent to his own as to lead them with abundance, but occasionally withdraws his blessing, that he may help them when reduced to hunger. Had the Psalmist said that God fed his people with abundance, and pampered them, would not those in want or in famine have immediately desponded?
The goodness of God is therefore properly extended farther to the feeding of the hungry. What is added is to the same purpose—that he looses them that are bound, and enlightens the blind. As it is the fate of his people to be pressed by anxiety, or oppressed by human tyranny, or reduced to extremity, in a manner equivalent to being shut up in the worst of dungeons, it was necessary to announce, by way of comfort, that God can easily find a way out for us when brought into such trouble.
To enlighten the blind is the same as giving light in the midst of darkness. When at any time we know not what to do—are in perplexity, and lie confounded and dismayed, as if the darkness of death had fallen upon us—let us learn to ascribe this title to God, that he may dissipate the gloom and open our eyes.
So when he is said to raise up the bowed down, we are taught to take courage when weary and groaning under any burden. Nor is it merely that God would here have his praises celebrated; he in a manner stretches out his hand to the blind, the captives, and the afflicted, that they may cast their griefs and cares upon him. There is a reason for repeating the name of Jehovah three times. In this way he stimulates and excites men to seek him who will often rather chafe and pine away in their miseries than betake themselves to this sure refuge.
What is added in the close of the verse—that Jehovah loves the righteous—would seem to be a qualification of what was formerly said. There are evidently many who, though they are grievously afflicted, and groan with anxiety, and lie in darkness, experience no comfort from God; and this because in such circumstances they provoke God more by their stubbornness, and by failing for the most part to seek his mercy; thus they reap the just reward of their unthankfulness.
The Psalmist therefore very properly restricts what he had said in general terms of God's helping the afflicted, to the righteous—that those who wish to experience his deliverance may address themselves to him in the sincere exercise of godliness. —Commentaries
John Calvin was the premier theologian of the Reformation, but also a pious and godly Christian pastor who endeavored throughout his life to point men and women to Christ. We are grateful to Reformation Heritage Books for permission to use John Calvin's Thine Is My Heart as our daily devotional for 2013 on the OPC Web site. You can currently obtain a printed copy of that book from Reformation Heritage Books.
Dr. Joel Beeke, who is editorial director of Reformation Heritage Books, has this to say:
"Calvin shows us the piety of a Reformed theologian who speaks from the heart. Having tasted the goodness and grace of God in Jesus Christ, he pursued piety by seeking to know and do God’s will every day. He communed with Christ, practicing repentance, self-denial, and cross-bearing. Moreover, his theology worked itself out in heart-felt, Christ-honoring piety. The selections of this devotional bear this out, and hopefully will be used by God to direct pious hearts in our own day."
These devotional readings from John Calvin were compiled by John H. Kromminga. Be sure to read his "Introduction" to John Calvin's Thine Is My Heart.