18. Behold, the eye of Jehovah is upon them that fear him, upon those who hope in his mercy; 19. To deliver their souls from death, and to give them life in the time of famine.
18. Behold, the eye of Jehovah is upon them that fear him. Having shown that what men account their best defences often profit them nothing, or rather are utterly worthless, when men depend upon them; the Psalmist now shows, on the other hand, that believers, although they are neither men of great power nor of great wealth, are nevertheless sufficiently protected by God's favor alone, and shall be safe for ever. His meaning is not a little illustrated by this comparison, that kings and giants derive no aid from their invincible strength, while God supports the life of the saints in famine and dearth, as really as if he were to restore life to them when dead. We consequently understand better why the prophet lays low all the strength of the world; not, surely, that men should lie prostrate, or be so heart-broken as to pine away in despair; but that, laying aside their pride, they should fix their thoughts on God alone, and persuade themselves that their life depends on his protection. Moreover, in saying that the eye of God is bent upon them that fear him to save them, he expresses more than if he had said that his hand and power were sufficient to preserve them. A doubt might creep into the minds of the weak, whether God would extend this protection to every individual; but when the Psalmist introduces him as keeping watch and ward, as it were, over the safety of the faithful, there is no reason why any one of them should tremble, or hesitate with himself a moment longer, since it is certain that God is present with him to assist him, provided he remain quietly under his providence. From this, also, it appears still more clearly how truly he had said a little before, that the people are blessed whose God is Jehovah, because, without him, all the strength and riches which we may possess will be vain, deceitful, and perishing; whereas, with a single look he can defend his people, supply their wants, feed them in a time of famine, and preserve them alive when they are appointed to death. The whole human race, no doubt, are maintained by the providence of God; but we know that his fatherly care is specially vouchsafed to none but his own children, that they may feel that their necessities are truly regarded by him.
Again, when it is affirmed, that God, in times of famine and dearth, has remedies in readiness to preserve the lives of the godly, we are taught that the faithful only pay due honor to his providence when they allow not their hearts to despond in the extremest indigence; but, on the contrary, raise their hopes even from the grave. God often suffers his servants to be hungry for a time that he may afterwards satiate them, and he overspreads them with the darkness of death that he may afterwards restore them to the light of life. Yea, we only begin to place our trust firmly in him when death comes to present itself before our eyes; for, until we have known by experience the vanity of the aids of the world, our affections continue entangled in them, and wedded to them. The Psalmist characterises believers by two marks, which comprehend the whole perfection of our life. The first is, that we reverently serve the Lord; and the second, that we depend upon his grace. Hypocrites may loudly boast of their faith, but they have never tasted even a little of the divine goodness, so as to be induced to look to him for what they need. On the contrary, when the faithful give themselves with their whole heart to the service and fear of God, this affection springs from faith; or rather the principal part of right worship, which the faithful render to God, consists in this, that they depend upon his mercy.