Psalm ciii. 13
The Fatherly Compassion of God.
by John Dickie
“LIKE as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him" (Psalm ciii. 13). I have heard it said that a right-minded father never hears sounds so sweet and delightful to his ear, as when his little one sitting on his knee, cuddles his little head on his bosom and says, "Pa." The utter helplessness, the uncumbered trustfulness and love, meet and draw out the father's heart. And we have a Father, to whose ear the lowly, loving, trustful cry of "Abba, Father," raised to Him in an extremity of helplessness, is infinitely more sweet. Even to Israel, in her backslidden condition, He said, through Jeremiah: "Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, Thou art my Father" (Jer. iii. 4). But to us, God has gone much further. He has brought us in Christ Jesus, into the very place of sonship. He has given us the hearts of sons. He has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, in order that He might PERSUADE and ENABLE us to give unto Him, and to take to ourselves without ceasing, the immense joy of crying to Him always, and everywhere, "ABBA,—MY FATHER."
I am much struck with the word in Psalm ciii. 13, "Like as father pitieth his children, SO the Lord pitieth them that fear Him." It is of Divine love that the Psalmist here speaks. And how suggestive to us are these words, that our circumstances are such that God's Father-like love takes the form of "pity." And He is not only pitiful, but "VERY PITIFUL" (James v. 2). He has pity for His children in perfection of FULNESS, nay, it is added: "and of TENDER mercy." These words seem to be heaped on each other, so as to give the utmost emphasis and intensity to this delightful revelation to us, of what is in the heart of God.
And it is a needful revelation. Nature never could have discovered from all her resources in Creation and in Providence, that God is so wonderfully pitiful and compassionate. Mere reason would have inferred that God is very hard and pitiless. But being a matter of Divine revelation, it can be received only by simple, child-like faith. There is not a single soul on earth, except the true believer, who is in the least degree aware of the Divine compassion that is in the heart of God, and even the believer knows it not, except as enlightened by the Holy Spirit, he is walking by faith and not by sight. The moment a believer permits himself to look at things in the light of natural reason, instead of by faith, he falls into the misery of ceasing to realize for the time, the delightful truth of the compassion of God.
The revelation of God given in His Word is the only key to the inscrutable mystery of daily providence, and of all the Father's dealings with His children, and faith is the only hand that can rightly make use of this key.
It is by the use of this key, that we come to understand clearly that God is dealing with us as a Father, who in very pity is oftimes constrained to exercise severity, when self-will and rebellion are working in His realm among His children. In such circumstances, severity is true mercy.
He is also treating us with all the wisdom of a skilled Physician, whose raving fever patients must in very pity to them be kept under a strict regimen, with all luxuries for the time withdrawn, and every freedom of merriment denied.
He is dealing with us as a Father, whose children are very young and very foolish, and with evil tendencies in them which must be curbed. But in all His discipline of us, O how infinitely tender and compassionate is His heart. How implicitly should we trust Him, as indeed we will do, so far as we really know HIM, and OURSELVES. With what unshrinking courage should we then lie under his pitiful hands! And if His treatment of us inflict much pain, how clearly should we see in this, nothing but the awful virulence of our disease. It is no trifling ailment which needs from our Father-Physician such treatment as He is giving to us. And we shall be strengthened in this, if in faith we lift our eyes from gazing exclusively on His hand which holds the surgeon's knife and let them rest on His heart which is brimful of a Father's love and deep compassion.
“The Believer’s Magazine” 1901