7. But let Israel hope in Jehovah; for with Jehovah there is mercy, and with him there is plenteous redemption.8. And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
7. But let Israel hope in Jehovah. After having spoken of himself, and exhibited in his own person an example for all to follow, he now applies the doctrine to the whole body of the Church. It is to be noticed that the foundation upon which he would have the hope of all the godly to rest is the mercy of God, the source from which redemption springs. In the first clause he reminds them that although they bring with them no worth or merits of their own, it ought to suffice them that God is merciful. This mutual relation between the faith of the Church and the free goodness of God is to be attentively marked, to the end we may know that all those who, depending upon their own merits, persuade themselves that God will be their rewarder, have not their hope regulated according to the rule of Scripture. From this mercy, as from a fountain, the Prophet derives redemption; for there is no other cause which moves God to manifest himself as the redeemer of his people but his mercy. He describes this redemption as plenteous, that the faithful, even when reduced to the last extremity, may sustain themselves from the consideration that there are in the hand of God many and incredible means by which to save them. This Psalm may have been composed at a time when the Church was in so very afflicted a condition as might have discouraged one and all, had not the infinite greatness of the power of God served as a buckler to defend them. The true use of the present doctrine is, first, that the faithful, even when plunged in the deepest gulfs, should not doubt of their deliverance being in the hand of God, who, whenever necessity shall require, will be able to find means, which are now hidden and unknown to us; and, secondly, that they should hold it as certain, that as often as the Church shall be afflicted he will manifest himself to be her deliverer. To this truth the sentence immediately following refers.
8. And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities. Here the Psalmist applies more closely to the Church what he has said in the preceding verse. He concludes that it is not to be doubted that God, who has it in his power to save by multiplied means, will prove himself the deliverer of the people whom he has chosen. By these words he teaches us, that when we have evidence of our being adopted by God, we ought also to regard our salvation as certain. His meaning might be explained more familiarly in this way: As to redeem is the continual office of God, and as he is not the redeemer of all men indiscriminately, but only of his chosen people, there is no reason for apprehending that the faithful will not emerge from all calamities; for were it otherwise, God would cease to execute the office which he claims to himself. He repeats the sentiment of the preceding verse, that, provided Israel with all humility draw near to God to plead for pardon, his sins will not be an obstacle in the way of God's showing himself his redeemer. Although the Hebrew word, vn, avon, is often put for the punishment of sin, yet it also contains a tacit reference to the fault. Whenever, then, God promises a mitigation of the punishment, he at the same time gives assurance that he will pardon the sins; or rather in offering to sinners a gratuitious reconciliation, he promises them forgiveness. According to this exposition it is here said that he will redeem his Church, not from the captivity of Babylon, or from the tyranny and oppression of enemies, or from penury, or, in short, from any other disasters but from sin; for until God pardon the sins of the men whom he afflicts, deliverance is not to be hoped for. Let us then learn from this passage in what way we are to expect deliverance from all calamities, or the order which it becomes us to observe in seeking it. Remission of sins always goes first, without which nothing will come to a favorable issue. Those who only desire to shake off the punishment are like silly invalids, who are careless about the disease itself with which they are afflicted, provided the symptoms which occasion them trouble for a time are removed. In order, then, that God may deliver us from our miseries, we must chiefly endeavor to be brought to a state of favor with him by obtaining the remission of our sins. If this is not obtained, it will avail us little to have the temporal punishment remitted; for that often happens even to the reprobate themselves. This is true and substantial deliverance, when God, by blotting out our sins, shows himself merciful towards us. Whence, also, we gather, that having once obtained forgiveness, we have no reason to be afraid of our being excluded from free access to, and from enjoying the ready exercise of, the lovingkindness and mercy of God; for to redeem from iniquity is equivalent to moderating punishments or chastisements. This serves as an argument to disprove the preposterous invention of the Papists respecting satisfactions and purgatory, as if God, in forgiving the fault, still reserved for a future time the execution of the punishment upon the sinner. If it is objected that the Lord sometimes punishes those whom he has already pardoned; in reply, I grant that he does not always, at the very moment in which he reconciles men to himself, show them the tokens of his favor, for he chastises them to render them circumspect for the future, but while he does this, he in the meantime fails not to moderate his rigour. This, however, forms no part of the satisfactions by which the Papists imagine that they present to God the half of the price of their redemption. In innumerable passages of Scripture, where God promises to his people outward blessings, he always begins with a promise of the pardon of sin. It is therefore the grossest ignorance to say, that God does not remit the punishment till they have pacified him by their works. Moreover, while God's intention in inflicting some punishments or chastisements upon the faithful, is to bring them to yield a more perfect obedience to his law, the Papists are mistaken in extending these punishments beyond death. But it is not wonderful to find them heaping together so many heathenish dreams, seeing they adhere not to the true and only way of reconciliation, which is, that God is merciful only to such as seek the expiation of their sins in the sacrifice of Christ. It is to be noticed that it is said from all iniquities, that poor sinners, although they feel themselves to be guilty in many ways, may not cease to cherish the hope that God will be merciful to them.