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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Nehemiah 9

Verses 1-38

The Variedness of the Divine Benevolence

Nehemiah 9:19

I. 'Thy manifold mercies' does not mean the same as 'thy many mercies'. Mercies may be numerous and yet not manifold. I may distribute bread amid a whole multitude in a wilderness. In this case my mercies have been numberless; but they have not been manifold. They have been all of one kind donation. Manifold mercy is mercy which takes different forms. It is like manifold architecture; it can build in opposite ways.

II. I think there are four forms of mercy known to man that which gives, that which refuses, that which deprives, and that which prepares. To a thirsty boy in good health you give a copious draught of cold water; to a fevered boy you deny it; from a delirious grasp you tear it; finally, through healing remedies, you prepare for its administration by and by. Now, amid God's infinite forms of mercy, in relation to the cup of life He has these four. There are times when He gives liberally, when He says, 'drink abundantly'. There are times, again, when the mere denial is not sufficient when the hand needs to be dispossessed. The delirious patient has already grasped the cup, and only a wrench will tear it from his hold. The mercy of our Father gives that wrench. It seems to the patient a harsh thing, a strange thing; but the deprivation is really a blessing.

III. And there are times in which, instead of the cup we desire, our Father sends us things which we do not desire bitter medical draughts which are very different from the looked-for water. Yet they are meant to prepare us for the water. They are sent to cool the fever and make us ready for the copious draught tomorrow. They seem to mock us by offering a crown of thorns instead of a crown of gold; but in reality they are a sanitary preparation for the coming with safety of that unstinted supply which at present could only come with danger. This, too, is the mercy of our Father.

G. Matheson, Messages of Hope, p. 133.

References. IX. 20. G. Matheson, Voices of the Spirit, p. 33. IX. 30. Ibid. p. 36.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Nehemiah 9". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/nehemiah-9.html. 1910.