James 5:11 ‘Ye have seen the end of the Lord, how that the Lord is full of pity, and merciful.’

October 8, 2017 by David Farmer 0 comments

Posted in: Weekly Commentary

Consider the entirety of the eleventh verse, chapter five, of James:

Behold, we call them blest that endured: ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord, how that the Lord is full of pity, and merciful.

While the footnotes of reference ought not to be trusted implicitly, for they are the products of the minds of men, nonetheless they are very frequently helpful when they are considered in a circumspect manner, resting upon our God to keep us from any and all serious error.

Nelson publishers offer two such references in their ASV publication as parallel with our focus passage; Exodus 34:6 and Psalm 103:8. Exodus 34:6 is that rather well-known response from God to the plea of Moses when he cried out, Show me, I pray thee, thy glory in 33:18: the Lord responded, saying to His prophet,

And he said, Thou canst not see my face; for man shall not see me and live. And Jehovah said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon the rock: and it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover thee with my hand until I have passed by: and I will take away my hand, and thou shalt see my back; but my face shall not be seen.

This promise is fulfilled very swiftly as Moses is directed to hew two tables of stone like unto the first; for Moses had broken the first tables when he came down with them from the Mount whence he had spoken with God, and thereupon witnessed the terrible idolatrous corruption of those whom God had so recently brought safely through the Red Sea. Moses immediately obeyed God.

And he hewed two tables of stone like unto the first; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went unto the Mount Sinai, as Jehovah had commanded him, and took in his hand two tables of stone. And Jehovah descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of Jehovah. And Jehovah passed by before him, and proclaimed, Jehovah, Jehovah, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness and truth; keeping lovingkindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.

This is the message contained in the second of these reference notes taking us to Psalm 103:8, where David, under inspiration, has evidently cited Exodus.

Jehovah is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness.

Frankly, upon seeing this footnote, it was anticipated that it was actually not the eighth verse of David’s psalm, but the thirteenth, for that seems to be more in keeping with the revelation of God as pitying those who fear and reverence Him. And for that very reason, we are citing verses eleven through thirteen.

For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is his loving-kindness toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, So far hath he removed our transgressions from us, Like as a father pitieth his children, So Jehovah pitieth them that fear him.

James has written, how that the Lord is full of pity, and merciful, or full of mercy. His referent is Job with special and positive notice taken of Job’s patient endurance in affliction. The word rendered pity, in the 1901-ASV, has been translated in many other English translations with the word, compassion. Indeed, among the synonyms for pity, commonly found in our dictionaries, are the words mercy, tenderness, and compassion. Sympathy is frequently added. And when we consider what is involved in the activity of sympathy, apart from the gift of faith we would never be able to believe that the living God could sympathize with us.  

“Ye have seen the end of the Lord, how that the Lord is full of pity, and merciful,” A. T. Robertson has written in his comments upon James. “The outcome in the case of Job proves the point. It turned out all right with Job. So he illustrates the pity and mercy of the Lord; “the end of the Lord” is seen in the conclusion like a novel that turns out happily at last. In the midst of the stress and storm of Job’s life and his violent outbursts of emotion and exalted feeling God is sympathetic and compassionate. God has understood Job and watched his endurance all the while. The story is so well known that James does not have to tell it, but can depend upon his readers to see the point of the illustration.”

Sympathetic and compassionate is our Father in heaven toward the children of His love. And He has sent His only-begotten Son of His love; God incarnate; God manifest in the flesh; Emmanuel, God with us, to even more vividly confirm and express these feelings toward His people; the people of His love. Among definitions to be found in dictionaries for ‘compassion’ is this, ‘Compassion is a combination of sorrow and tenderness; it is gentle and merciful toward the grief-stricken and the burdened.’ Is that not a perfectly apt picture of our Lord Jesus that was demonstrated in action to many during His abode on earth? We may witness multiple instances of this in the narratives that we have in the Scriptures. In Luke 7, we may read of the occasion of our Savior approaching the city of Nain and seeing a funeral procession; with the body of a young man being carried out of the city. This young man was the only son of his weeping mother, who was also a widow. Luke informs us that when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her. He had sympathy for her.  In similar fashion, He wept with Mary and Martha at the tomb of their deceased brother, Lazarus. How can these things be? Wherefore it behooved him in all things to be made like unto his brethren. He is able and willing to compassionate us. He continues doing so even now at the right hand of the Father, ever living to intercede.

 

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church  

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