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Nothing Else but Grace and Favor

July 21, 2018
By Martin Luther

A broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

PSALM 51:17

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Nothing Else but Grace and Favor

This is a description or definition of God that is full of comfort: that in His true form God is a God who loves the afflicted, has mercy upon the humbled, forgives the fallen, and revives the drooping. How can any more pleasant picture be painted of God? Since God is truly this way, we have as much of Him as we believe. Then this verse simply rejects all other acts of worship and all works and simply calls us back to trust alone in the mercy and kindness of God, so that we believe that God is favorably disposed to us even when we seem to ourselves to be forsaken and distressed. . . This theology must be learned through experience. Without experience it cannot be understood that the "poor in spirit" (Matthew 5:3) should know that they are in grace when they most feel the wrath of God, that in despair they should keep their hope in mercy, and in smugness they should keep their fear of God. As another passage says (Psalm 147:11): "The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His steadfast love." According to this verse, God is by definition nothing else than grace and favor, but only to the humble and afflicted.

From Commentary on Psalm 51 (Luther's Works 12:406)

July 21

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