“Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, according as we hope in Thee.”
A prayer of the righteous!
A prayer which may be uttered by them as individuals, but also as is the case here, collectively, in the company of those who are like-minded with them. A prayer which may be offered at any time, but most opportunistically in their respective houses of worship on the morning of the first day of a new year, as they gather in the camp of the righteous, before God’s face. For when this Meditation is read, our old calendars will have been changed for a new one, revealing that we have been brought in the providence of God into a new era of time.
A time for the world of the wicked to ring their bells and shoot off their guns, signaling their rash desire for better things to come. A time when they will frivolously cast about their well-wishes of happiness to their fellowmen, opining that the new span of time will bring forth something new under the sun, not considering that they are still in an old world, the same world in which they abode in the year that is passed.
A new year, but an old world! That is the truth that confronts every man on the first day of a new year. Not yet have we seen the fulfillment of the prophecy of the seer of Patmos, who in vision beheld a new heaven and a new earth. Not yet have we seen the firmament rolled up as a scroll, and the elements burning with fervent heat. We still reside in an old world of which Solomon attests: “Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher, vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” All is still vanity and vexation of spirit. ”
Indeed, we are still in an old world! Where the sun and moon continue in their orbits. Where there is still war and rumors of war. Where there is sickness and death. Where the travailing mother still cries out in her pains. Where the rich still gloats over his wealth, and the poor continues to beg for the crumbs that fall from his table. Where kings and presidents still come to their seats of authority and power. Where evil continues to develop. Where the church of Christ is still tried and tested, and where the panoply of God must still be put on, and the battle of faith still endured. Where the pale horse of Revelation still rides victoriously, and where many tears shall still fill our eyes. Such is the reality in the world also in the year which now lies ahead of us.
What then shall we say as we stand in the house of our God on the morning of a new year? Shall we boast of our resolutions we know shall not be kept? Shall we foolishly imagine and then prate about the peace and material prosperity and the betterment of our economy we carnally aspire to achieve?
Nay rather, the righteous will take upon their lips and utter from their hearts the prayer of the psalmist: Let Thy mercy, O Jehovah, be upon us, according as we hope in Thee.
A prayer expressing humble dependence!
They who utter this prayer realize that they are helpless in themselves. All their carnal self-confidence has begun to dissipate. Moreover, because they are ignorant of the way in which they must walk, and the difficulties that may befall them as they traverse that way, they sense the need of a Guide upon Whom they can depend. And because in principle they have lost their natural pride, having been humbled into the dust, they have also learned through the hard way of experience not to inform their Guide as to where He must lead them. Rather, they cast themselves with all their anxieties into His hands.
Indeed, they know and they express it, that apart, from Him they are nothing and can do nothing. They are dependent on God Who is truly God. On God, Who by His Word created the heavens and all y the host of them by the breath of His mouth. Who laid the foundations of the earth, and divided the seas from the dry land. Who gathers the waters of the seas together as an heap, and layeth up the depth in storehouses. Who bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought, and Who maketh the devices of the people of none effect. Who loveth righteousness and judgment, and Whose goodness filleth the earth. Who, because He is Jehovah, will be their faithful, unfailing Guide. His, eye is upon them that fear Him, upon them who hope in His mercy, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Yes, truly, their soul waiteth for Him, for He is their help and their shield. This is what they believe and experience who utter the prayer: Let Thy mercy be upon us, O Jehovah!
A prayer also expressing child-like trust!
O, indeed, we will also confess that our trust in Jehovah is often lacking and weak. How often is our trust placed upon an arm of flesh; whether that trust be in our own powers or in the help of man! How often, when all things appear to be against us, that we fail to believe that all things work together for good to them that love God! How often that we do not experience the peace that surpasseth understanding! Whose heart is it that does not tremble at the sight of adversity? Who has not remembered when his voice was raised in rebellion because of the oppression of the enemy? Who of the righteous refuses to admit before the face of Jehovah that his rebellion and distrust still rise up out of the old nature in which he still dwells in the world, and that that old nature still often appears to have dominion over him?
Nevertheless, O wonder of grace! We believe that if Jehovah’s mercy is upon us we lack nothing!
In Jehovah’s mercy He loves us! Accordingly He has predestinated us and given us unto His Son to be redeemed by Him. In that mercy He has purposed to deliver us from our deepest misery, and to make us participants in the highest good. And it lies in the very nature of that mercy that it transcends above our deepest woes and brings us at last into eternal bliss. This is what we have learned of Him in His saving Word. And nothing shall fail of all that He has purposed; for His Name is Jehovah, the everlasting and immutable God. If then it is His mercy that determines to deliver us from our awful woe and to bring us into the highest glory, would it not then be utter folly not to put our complete trust in Him?
Moreover, in His mercy we may be assured that He will also determine our way in this new span of time. And if in that time to come He will require of us that we suffer, so that our eyes are filled with many tears, will He not also then show unto us His mercy? To be sure, that is normal in the ways of Jehovah—through the way of suffering He leads to eternal glory. On that way we may be sure that His mercies fail not, yea, that they are there every morning. And so we pray: Let Thy mercy be upon us, for we trust in Thee.
A prayer expressing calm assurance!
For does not the psalmist add: According as we, hope in Thee? Actually, according to the Hebrew text, the expression is: According as we hope to or for Thee. And that means that our prayer, “Let Thy mercy be upon us,” is a prayer of hope that looks in eager expectation to Jehovah for its fulfillment. Our hope looks for and waits for Him to fulfill our prayer for His mercy.
We must be careful here not to conclude that our hope is the ground or condition which we fulfill before He will show us His mercy. Jehovah’s mercy is not dependent on our hope; nor does Jehovah wait to show us His mercy until we hope for Him.
The truth is, that our hope is already the fruit of His mercy which is upon us. All the benefits of salvation flow to us in the mercy of God; and hope is not to be excluded from those mercies. This is precisely also what the psalmist says. According as we set our hope for Thee, and all our expectation looks to or for Thee, so let us see that our prayer for Thy mercy is already in fulfillment. It shall be answered to its fullest extent, because we already taste the first principles of it in the hope that vibrates in our hearts, that looks in holy expectation for Jehovah.
So there is calm assurance. Hope, throughout the Word of God, and as it is expressed in the text, is never doubt, but always calm assurance; When we use the term, there is in it always the element of doubt. When you, for example, ask me whether I will do this or that, and I answer: I hope so; then there is in my answer a certain hesitancy and even doubt, because I am not certain that I shall perform what you are inquiring about. There is so much that could happen that would make it impossible for me to perform: But the Word oft God never uses the term in this manner. Always it signifies assurance, expectation. The reason for this is the fact that hope is a grace of God. It is that work of God in us that causes us to rely upon Him, and to look to and for Him Who is the absolutely sure One, Who will fulfill all our expectations. Hope, here, is the unwavering, expectation that the prayer for Jehovah’s mercy will surely be heard, and positively realized.
Comforting, calming assurance, that, no matter what may betide, all is well!
This hope the world never has. Indeed, the wicked are without God and without hope in the world. Though the wicked may appear, also at this change of the year, to live in high expectations, and though they may extend to others their well-wishes for prosperous times ahead, their expectations are vain and their well-wishes as fickle as those who express them. The Scriptures describe the wicked as being like the troubled sea, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. Verily, there is no peace and rest for the wicked. As we already remarked, Solomon writes cover all the expectations of the wicked: Vanity of vanities. All is vain, idle!
But he whose hope is fixed on and waits for Jehovah has already found in principle the mercy for which he prays. Without fear and with calm assurance he walks with uplifted head, confident that the favor of his God is upon him. Assured also is he that the good work which Jehovah his God has already performed upon him He will continue and finish it even unto the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And so, as he looks for Jehovah as He shall appear in the face, of our wonderful Savior, he continues to pray: Let Thy mercy continue to be upon me until I shall be swallowed up of Thy mercy in everlasting bliss.
And all the righteous pray it with him, and say: