by John Calvin
Why, O LORD, do you stand far off? Although David here complains that God kept himself afar off, he was, notwithstanding, fully persuaded of his presence with him, otherwise it would have been in vain to have called upon him for aid.
In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak. Pride is the mother of all wrongs; for if a man did not through pride magnify himself above his neighbours, and through an overweening conceit of himself despise them, even common humanity would teach us with what humility and justice we ought to conduct ourselves towards each other. Let everyone, therefore, who desires to live justly and unblameably with his brethren, beware of indulging or taking pleasure in treating others disdainfully; and let him endeavour, above all things, to have his mind freed from the disease of pride.
In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. David teaches that the cause of the careless indulgence of the ungodly in the gratification of their lusts, is their base contempt of God. He who duly reflects that God will be his judge, is so much alarmed by this reflection, that he dares not bless his soul while his conscience accuses him of guilt and of being given to the practice of sin. The ungodly, without examination, permit themselves to do any thing, or do not distinguish between what is lawful and unlawful, because their own lust is their law, yea, rather, as if superior to all laws, they fancy that it is lawful for them to do whatever they please. The beginning of well-doing in a man's life is inquiry; in other words, we can only begin to do well when we keep ourselves from following, without choice and discrimination, the dictates of our own fancy, and from being carried away by the wayward propensities of our flesh. But the exercise of inquiring proceeds from humility, when we assign to God, as is reasonable, the place of judge and ruler over us.
Whoever refuses to admit that the world is subject to the providence of God, or do not believe that his hand is stretched forth from on high to govern it, do as much as in them lies to put an end to the existence of God. It is not, however, enough to have some cold and unimpressive knowledge of him in the head; it is only the true and heartfelt conviction of his providence which makes us reverence him, and which keeps us in subjection to him.
Welcome to a one-year devotional by John Calvin (1509-1564) on the Psalms. We are indebted to P & R Publishing for permission to use this copyrighted material from John Calvin: A Heart Aflame on the OPC Web site. In addition to viewing the daily devotional reading here, you may like to purchase a copy of the book A Heart Aflame from P & R Publishing or your local bookstore.
John Calvin, A Heart Aflame: Daily Readings from Calvin on the Psalms, is copyright © 1999 by P & R Publishing Company, all rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise—except for brief quotations for the purpose of review or comment, without the prior permission of the publisher, P & R Publishing Company, P.O. Box 817, Phillipsburg, New Jersey 08865-0817.
Unless marked by an asterisk, italic Scripture excerpts preceding Calvin's exposition are from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society, used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House, all rights reserved. Phrases of Scripture within Calvin's exposition are based on an unidentified older translation, or in rare instances modified to conform to the NIV excerpts preceding Calvin's exposition.
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