God has spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongs to God.
"God hatch spoken once." This is a description of sovereignty. The oriental despot speaks once, decisively, unequivocally, and only once. If the inferior does not instantly understand and obey, off with his head! But though 'the old divines laid all the stress on the sovereignty of God, this does not constitute His chief glory. There are other and diviner elements in Deity than this. According to the psalmist, God stretches a point in pity for human weakness and .incapacity. He speaks more than once. If His first message is misunderstood, He repeats it. "Twice have I heard this." God spoke once as a Sovereign, the second time as a Father. And "twice" stands as a figure of speech, not for one repetition, but for many. "Once, twice." Some people cannot wait for God's second word. They seize on a text for controversial purposes, tear it out of its connection and proper sequence, and imagine they have proved something by it. But wait! Is there not another text? Has not the truth another phase? IS there not a New Testament as well as an Old? Is there not s Church as well as a Bible? Is there not a Spirit as well as a Church? The true "mind of the Spirit" lies in the consensus of all the texts, in the harmony of all the voices. Not only is there the reiterated message, but there is twice hearing for every message. "Twice have I heard;" once with the ear, once with the heart. It is the sympathetic intelligence, the spiritual faculty alone that hears. When you knock at a door, it is not the door that hears, but the resident within. Much truth falls upon men's ears but as the tap of the knocker upon the unconscious door. Now observe the first element in that idea which had thus impressed itself upon his mind. "Power belongeth unto God." That was a natural impression. That is, as a rule, the first truth that the human mind lays hold of in its attempt to conceive a first cause. It deifies power. But While the Hebrew conception began here, it did not stop here. It included the idea of mercy as well. Now, as it cannot be said that we find this idea in nature, it is all the more remarkable that these Hebrew seers and poets should have had, not merely a glimpse, but so firm a grasp Of it. This was the thought of God in which they exulted, and to which they sometimes gave utterance in sublimest fashion. "He telleth the number of the stars; He calleth them all by their names." "He bindeth up the broken in heart, He healeth all their wounds." Isaiah 40. is a beautiful poem of reconciliations; of the reconciliation of the majesty and mercy, the power and tenderness of God. But now I ask your attention to the psalmist's enlightened conception of mercy as well as of God, "for thou renderest to every man according to his work." That is not at all the conventional idea. We rather think of mercy as "letting off" the criminal, and shielding him from the deserts of his transgression. But that is really an altogether mistaken view. The truest mercy is to let him suffer, and let him learn by his suffering. Otherwise, mercy to him is wrong to the other members of the community. Further, the unkindest thing to any man himself is to leave the roots of evil in his nature, there to spring up and bring forth all their baleful harvest. This is what we do, however, when we only relieve him from the painful results of his wrong-doing. The sooner he perceives the real quality and tendency of his actions, and the more rigorously he therefore seeks to eradicate the last fibre of evil propension from his being, the sooner will he come to a healthy and happy moral condition. And all this arrives through the experience of that suffering which is the inevitable consequence of moral guilt, and the purpose of which is disciplinary and not vindictive. And so the psalmist mentions it as an essential element in the Divine mercy, that it "renders to every man according to his work."
Parallel VersesKJV: God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God.