THOSE WHO MOURN: makarioi oi penthountes, (PAPMPN): (Ps
6:1-9; 13:1, 2, 3, 4, 5; 30:7, 8, 9, 10, 11; 32:3, 4, 5, 6, 7; 40:1, 2, 3; 69:29,30; 116:3,
4, 5, 6, 7; Ps
126:5,6; Isa 12:1; 25:8; 30:19; 35:10; 38:14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19;
51:11,12; 57:18; Isa 61:2,3; 66:10; Jer 31:9, 10, 11, 12,16,17; Ezek
7:16; 9:4; Zech 12:10, 11, 12, 13, 14; 13:1; Lk 6:21,25; 7:38,50; 16:25;
Jn 16:20, 21, 22; 2Cor 1:4, 5, 6, 7; 2Cor 7:9,10; Jas 1:12; Rev 7:14,
15, 16, 17; 21:4)
Our attitude toward sin, a
true sorrow for sin.
Blessed is the man who mourns like
one mourning for the dead. (Barclay)
Happy the mourning (Young's Literal)
Blessed the mourning ones.
(Notice that the verb "are"
is not present in the original Greek and has
been added by most of the translations in this beatitude as well as all
introduces this beatitude
An ordinary superficial view of
these so-called Beatitudes is that they are simply a collection of
unrelated sayings. But they are a great deal more than that. There is a
vital connection and progress in them. The jewels are not flung down in
a heap; they are wreathed into a chain, which whosoever wears shall have
‘an ornament of grace about his neck.’ They are an outgrowth from a
common root; stages in the evolution of Christian character.
Now, I tried to show in the former sermon (The
First Beatitude) how the root of them all is the poverty of
spirit which is spoken of in the preceding verse (Mt 5:3); and how it
really does lie at the foundation of the highest type of human
character, and in its very self is sure of possessing the Kingdom of
And now I turn to the second of these
Beatitudes. Like all the others, it is a paradox, for it starts from a
wholly different conception from the common one, of what is man’s chief
good. If the aims which usually engross us are really the true aims of
life, then there is no meaning in this saying of our Lord, for then it
had been better not to sorrow at all than to sorrow and be comforted.
But if the true purpose for which we are all gifted with this solemn
gift of life is that we may become ‘imitators of God as dear children,’
then there are few things for which men should be more thankful than the
sacred sorrow, than which there are few instruments more powerful for
creating the type of character which we are set here to make our own.
All lofty, dignified, serious thinkers and poets (who for the most of
men are the best teachers) had spoken this same thought as well as
Christ. But He speaks it with a difference all His own, which deepens
incalculably its solemnity, and sets the truth of the otherwise
sentimental saying, which flies often in the face of human nature, upon
Let me ask you, then, to look
with me, in the simplest possible way, at the two thoughts of our text,
as to who are the mourners that are ‘blessed,’ and as to what is the
consolation that they receive.
‘Blessed are they that
mourn.’ Ah! that is not a universal bliss. All mourners are not
blessed. It would be good news, indeed, to a world so full of miseries
that men sometimes think it were better not to be, and holding so many
wrecked and broken hearts, if every sorrow had its benediction. But just
as we saw in the preceding discourse that the poverty which Christ
pronounced blessed is not mere straitness of circumstances, or lack of
material wealth, so here the sorrow, round the head of which He casts
this halo of glory, is not that which springs from the mere alteration
of external circumstances, or from any natural causes. The influence of
the first saying runs through all the Beatitudes, and since it is ‘the
poor in spirit’ who are there pronounced happy, so here we must go
far deeper than mere outward condition, in order to find the ground of
the benediction pronounced. Let us be sure, to begin with, of this, that
no condition, be it of wealth or woe, is absolutely and necessarily
good, but that the seat of all true blessedness lies within, in the
disposition which rightly meets the conditions which God sends.
So I would say, first, that the mourners whom Christ pronounces
‘blessed’ are those who are ‘poor in spirit.’ The mourning is the
emotion which follows upon that poverty. The one is the recognition
of the true estimate of our own characters and failings; the other is
the feeling that follows upon that recognition. The one is the
prophet’s clear-sighted ‘I am a man of unclean lips’; the other is the
same prophet’s contemporaneous wail, ‘Woe is me, for I am undone! (Isa
And surely, brethren, if you and
I have ever had anything like a glimpse of what we really are, and have
brought ourselves into the light of God’s face, and have pondered upon
our characters and our doings in that—not ‘fierce’ but all-searching,
‘light’ that flashes from Him, there can be no attitude, no disposition,
more becoming the best, the purest, the noblest of us, than that ‘Woe is
me, for I am undone!’
Oh, dear friends, if—not as a theological term, but as a clinging,
personal fact—we realize what sin against God is, what must necessarily
come from it, what aggravations His gentleness, His graciousness, His
constant beneficence cause, how facilely we do the evil thing and then
wipe our lips and say, ‘We have done no harm,’ we should be more
familiar than we are with the depths of this experience of mourning for
I cannot too strongly urge upon
you my own conviction—it may be worth little, but I am bound to speak
it—that there are few things which the so-called Christianity of this
day needs more than an intenser realisation of the fact, and the gravity
of the fact, of personal sinfulness. There lies the root of the
shallowness of so much that calls itself Christianity in the world
to-day. It is the source of almost all the evils under which the Church
is groaning. And sure I am that if millions of the people that
complacently put themselves down in the census as Christians could but
once see themselves as they are, and connect their conduct with God’s
thought about it, they would get shocks that would sober them. And sure
I am that if they do not thus see themselves here and now, they will one
day get shocks that will stupefy them. And so, dear friends, I urge upon
you, as I would upon myself, as the foundation and first step towards
all the sunny heights of God-likeness and blessedness, to go down, down
deep into the hidden corners, and see how, like the elders of Israel
whom the prophet beheld in the dark chamber, we worship creeping things,
abominable things, lustful things, in the recesses within. And then we
shall possess more of that poverty of spirit, and the conscious
recognition of our own true character will merge into the mourning which
is altogether blessed.
As J I Packer said...
A sense of defilement
before God is not morbid,
neurotic or unhealthy in any way. It is natural, realistic, healthy, and
a true perception of our condition.
J C Ryle said it a bit more
A right knowledge of the way to
heaven is to feel that we are on the way to hell...To be sensible of our
corruption and abhor our own transgressions is the first symptom of
spiritual health...We must know the depth and malignancy of our disease
in order to appreciate the Great Physician.
- A paradox (as was Mt 5:3 - where the "poor" receive a "kingdom"!) and
foolishness to the natural man who cannot understand Jesus' words
because they are spiritually appraised (1Co
2:14) In fact John Stott remarks that...
One might almost translate this
second beatitude ‘Happy are the unhappy’ in order to draw
attention to the startling
paradox it contains. What kind of sorrow can it be which brings the joy
of Christ’s blessing to those who feel it? It is plain from the context
that those here promised comfort are not primarily those who mourn the
loss of a loved one, but those who mourn the loss of their innocence,
their righteousness, their self-respect. It is not the sorrow of
bereavement to which Christ refers, but the sorrow of repentance. This
is the second stage of spiritual blessing. It is one thing to be
spiritually poor and acknowledge it; it is another to grieve and to
mourn over it. Or, in more theological language, confession is one
thing, contrition is another. (Stott, John: The Message of the Sermon on
the Mount: Intervarsity Press)
means spiritual prosperous, independent of circumstances because it is a
state bestowed by God and not a feeling felt.
Note that Jesus does not mean,
"Blessed are grim, cheerless Christians" and neither does He mean,
"Blessed are those who are mourning over the difficulties of life" as is
explained in more detail below.
Thomas Watson writes...
'Blessed are those who mourn.' We
must go through the valley of tears—to paradise! Mourning would be a sad
and unpleasant subject to address—were it not that it has blessedness
going before, and comfort coming after. Mourning is put here, for
repentance. It implies both sorrow, which is the cloud, and tears which
are the rain distilling in this golden shower! (Beatitudes)
Adam Clarke writes that...
the person whom Christ terms happy is
one who is not under the influence of fate or chance, but is governed by
an all-wise providence, having every step directed to the attainment of
immortal glory, being transformed by the power into the likeness of the
ever-blessed God. (Clarke, A. Clarke's Commentary: Matthew)
The Amplified Version
(which often functions much like a "mini-lexicon") adds
Blessed and enviably
happy [with a happiness
produced by the experience of God’s favor and especially conditioned by
the revelation of His matchless grace]
“Lord, let me weep for nought but
And after none but thee;
And then I would-oh, that I might-
A constant mourner be!”
= mourning) means to mourn for, lament. Pentheo denotes loud mourning
such as the lament for the dead or for a severe, painful loss. It is
grief and sorrow caused by profound loss, especially death.
Mourning can reflect an outward expression of sorrow. It is to
experience sadness or grief as the result of depressing circumstances or
the condition of persons and so to be sad, to grieve, to bewail or to
In context, Jesus is surely
calling for mourning over one's sins (and the sins of the world),
for those sins have brought and continue to bring death. Obviously, this
mourning is not like that of the sinner who howls loudly when its sins
find him out (2Co 7:10).
As C H Spurgeon said...
let a man once feel sin for half an
hour, really feel its tortures, and I warrant you he would prefer to
dwell in a pit of snakes than to live with his sins... If you can look
on sin without sorrow then you have never looked on Christ.
Sinclair Ferguson asks...
Is Jesus, then, giving us a word of
general encouragement in what he says here, assuring us that sorrow will
eventually abate? Is he saying, 'Keep going. It will soon pass. Time
heals all wounds'? That would be far too superficial a reading of the
Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is speaking about life in the kingdom of God.
The poverty he describes is in a man's spirit, not his pocket.
Similarly, the grief Jesus describes is man's mourning over his own
sinfulness; it is regret that he has proved a disappointment to the
Lord. Numbed by the discovery of his poverty of spirit, he learns to
grieve because of it. Here, then, is another characteristic of the
Christian. He does not excuse his sin, or belittle it, or ignore it...As
with all spiritual graces, it is possible for us to be deceived about
the real nature of this mourning. It is emphatically not to be equated
with a heavy and depressive spirit. It is emphatically not to be equated
with a heavy and depressive spirit. Some of us by nature are
melancholic, and sink more easily in our spirits. We become introverted
and develop a poor image of ourselves that surfaces in the way we look
at or address others, even in the way we hold our heads and walk. But
all of these things can be characteristics of a person who is absorbed
in himself; rather than is poor in spirit. By contrast, the man who
genuinely mourns because of his sin has been drawn out of himself to see
God in his holiness and grace. It is this – his sight of God – that has
made him mourn. Paradoxically, it is the same sight of God that will
bring him comfort. The God against whom he has sinned is one who
forgives sinners! (Ferguson,
Sinclair: Sermon on the Mount :Banner of Truth)
Lenski writes that..
Behind this sorrow of the godly lies
the recognition of the merciless power of sin and of our helplessness to
ward it off and to escape. Hence this mourning is a constant cry to God
in their distress. (Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of St. Matthew's
Gospel. Minneapolis, MN.: Augsburg Publishing House)
Note that in Mt 5:4 pentheo
is in the
which speaks of
a constant mourning, which is exactly the reaction that sin should
continually have on us. Beware when you can sin with indifference for
you are not far from callousness. Martin Luther felt that one's entire
life must be one of continuous contrition and repentance -- not that we
go around continually morose, but that we are ever aware of the evil and
destructive capacity of sin, both ours and those around us (including
our nation, cp Pr 14:34)
Pentheo 10x in NT
translated mourn, 6; mourned, 1; mourning, 3. The KJV translates it
bewail, 1; mourn, 7; wail, 2.
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Matthew 9:15 And Jesus said to them, "The attendants of the
bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them,
can they? But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from
them, and then they will fast.
Mark 16:10 She went and reported to those who had been with Him,
while they were mourning and weeping.
Luke 6:25 "Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be
hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.
1 Corinthians 5:2 And you have become arrogant, and have not
mourned instead, in order that the one who had done this deed might be
removed from your midst.
2 Corinthians 12:21 I am afraid that when I come again my God may
humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those who have
sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity, immorality and
sensuality which they have practiced.
James 4:9 (note) Be
your laughter be turned
into mourning, and your joy to gloom. (All these commands are in the
the merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her, because no one buys
their cargoes any more;
merchants of these things, who became rich from her, will stand at a
distance because of the fear of her torment, weeping and mourning,
they threw dust on their heads and were crying out, weeping and
mourning, saying, 'Woe, woe, the great city, in which all who had ships
at sea became rich by her wealth, for in one hour she has been laid
is found 45 times in the
Septuagint or LXX.
- Gen 23:2; 37:34f; 50:3; Num 14:39; 1Sa 6:19; 15:35; 16:1; 2 Sam
13:37; 14:2; 19:1; 1Chr 7:22; 2Chr 35:24; Ezra 10:6; Neh 1:4; 8:9; Job
14:22; Ps 35:14; 78:63; Isa 3:26; 16:8; 19:8; 24:4, 7; 33:9; 61:2f;
66:10; Jer 4:28; 12:4; 14:2; 16:5; 23:10; 31:21; Lam 1:4; 2:8; Ezek
31:15; Dan 10:2; Hos 4:3; 10:5; Joel 1:9f; Amos 1:2; 8:8; 9:5
The first use of pentheo in the
Lxx describes the mourning of Abraham for his wife Sarah (Ge
23:2). Pentheo describes Jacob mourning for his son Joseph whom he
thought had been killed (Ge 37:34, 35). Samuel grieving over Saul and his
failure to obey (1Sa 15:35, 16:1). David for his son Absalom (2Sa
13:37, 19:1). All Judah and Jerusalem for King Josiah (2Chr 35:24). Ezra
mourning over the unfaithfulness of the exiles in marrying foreign
women. Ezra 10:6, cp 10:1, 2). Nehemiah mourning over the great distress
of the remnant who were back in Jerusalem (Neh 1:4). The people weeping
and mourning upon hearing the Words of the Law read (Neh 8:9).
Figuratively of Zion or Jerusalem's gates mourning over the coming
destruction (Isa 3:6). When Messiah returns to comfort all who mourn
(Isa 61:2-3). Daniel mourned for 3 entire weeks (Da 10:1) Several verses
refer to "the land" (the land of Israel) mourning over the sin of the
chosen people (cp Jer 23:10 because of the curse, Hos 4:3, Joel 1:10)
It is interesting to note that the
Greek Stoics regarded such mourning as something to be avoided and the
pointlessness (as seen in this secular view) was a popular theme in
Greek philosophy. One imagines what their shock must have been to read
Jesus' words which can be paraphrased as
"Happy those who continually mourn as one laments over a loved one who
Trench says that pentheo
to grieve with a grief which so takes
possession of the whole being that it cannot be hid.
R. C. Synonyms of the New Testament. Hendrickson Publishers. 2000)
Pentheo is the word which
is used for mourning for the dead, for the passionate lament for one who
was loved. This is the quality of mourning Jesus is calling for as we
see our sins the way God sees them and His Spirit convicts us of sin.
(cp John 16:8, Acts 2:37, Zech 12:10)
The English word mourn
means to feel or express grief or sorrow.
In Classical Greek in most uses of
pentheo, it expresses a sorrow which is outwardly expressed in
some way, such as by tear or laments. Among the Greeks the verb and noun
(penthos) were used especially for public mourning.
Not surprisingly, pentheo
is often connected with the term "weep" and it describes the mourning
which cannot be hidden. It describes not only a grief which brings an
ache to the heart, but also a grief which brings tears to the eyes.
Barclay comments that
It is defined as the kind of grief
which takes such a hold on a man that it cannot be hid. It is not only
the sorrow which brings an ache to the heart; it is the sorrow which
brings an ache to the heart; it is the sorrow which brings the
unrestrainable tears to the eyes. Here then indeed is an amazing kind of
bliss: Blessed is the man who mourns like one mourning for the dead.(Barclay,
W: The Daily Study Bible Series. The Westminster Press
Notice that here in Mt 5:4 Jesus
uses pentheo in the
which speaks of a
continual state of mourning or mourning as one's lifestyle! Spiritual
mourning is not just an isolated or limited act in life. It is a
continual part of the believer’s life. The present tense shows that
spiritual mourning has lasting dimensions in the life of the Christian.
Wuest conveys the sense of the verb tense rendering it...
Spiritually prosperous are those
who are mourning, because they themselves shall be encouraged and
strengthened by consolation.
MacArthur notes that in
Greek there are nine words that express sorrow, but that...
of the nine terms used for sorrow,
the one used here (pentheo, mourn) is the strongest, the most
severe. It represents the deepest, most heart-felt grief, and was
generally reserved for grieving over the death of a loved one. It is
used in the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament) for Jacob’s grief when he
thought his son Joseph was killed by a wild animal (Ge 37:34). It is
used of the disciples’ mourning for Jesus before they knew He was raised
from the dead (Mark 16:10). It is used of the mourning of world
business leaders over the death of its commerce because of the
destruction of the world system during the Tribulation (Rev. 18:11,
The word carries the idea of deep
inner agony, which may or may not be expressed by outward weeping,
wailing, or lament. When David stopped hiding his sin and began mourning
over it and confessing it (Ps. 32:3–5), he could declare, “How
blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How
blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in
whose spirit there is no deceit!” (vv. 1–2). (MacArthur,
J: Matthew 1-7 Chicago: Moody Press)
As A W Pink so eloquently
phrases it (see full quote below)...
this “mourning” is by no means
to be confined unto the initial experience of conviction and contrition,
for observe the tense of the verb: it is not “have mourned,” but
“mourn”—a present and continuous experience. The Christian himself has
much to mourn over. The sins which he now commits—both of omission and
commission—are a sense of daily grief to him, or should be, and will be,
if his conscience is kept tender. An ever-deepening discovery of the
depravity of his nature, the plague of his heart, the sea of corruption
within—ever polluting all that he does—deeply exercises him.
Consciousness of the surgings of unbelief, the swellings of pride, the
coldness of his love, and his paucity of fruit, make him cry, “O
wretched man that I am.” (Ro 7:24) (Matthew 5:3-4: The Beatitudes)
Pentheo "is most frequent in
the LXX for mourning for the dead, and for the sorrows and sins of
"There can be no comfort where there
is no grief" (Bruce).
Sorrow should make us look for the
heart and hand of God and so find the comfort latent in the grief. (But
remember that in the present context the grief is not sorrow in general
as affects all mankind but sorrow over grieving the heart of God with
our sins against Him, cf Gen 39:9, 2Sa 12:13, Ps 51:3-4, Ezek 6:9).
“Lord, let me
weep for nought but sin,
And after none but thee;
And then I would-oh, that I might-
A constant mourner be!”
(C H Spurgeon)
This word describes brokenness
over our estrangement by our sin and how prone we are to wander.
Ps 34:18 The Lord is near to the
brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Spurgeon's comment: The Lord
is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart. Near in friendship to
accept and console. Broken hearts think God far away, when He is really
most near them; their eyes are holden so that they see not their best
Friend. Indeed, He is with them, and in them, but they know it not. They
run hither and thither, seeking peace in their own works, or in
experiences, or in proposals and resolutions, whereas the Lord is nigh
them, and the simple act of faith will reveal Him.
And saveth such as be of a
contrite spirit. What a blessed token for good is a repentant,
mourning heart! Just when the sinner condemns himself, the Lord
graciously absolves him. If we chasten our own spirits the Lord will
spare us. He never breaks with the rod of judgment those who are already
sore with the rod of conviction. Salvation is linked with contrition.
Ps 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a
broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not
Spurgeon's Comment: The
sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. All sacrifices are presented to
thee in one, by the man whose broken heart presents the Saviour's merit
to thee. When the heart mourns for sin, thou art better pleased than
when the bullock bleeds beneath the axe. "A broken heart" is an
expression implying deep sorrow, embittering the very life; it carries
in it the idea of all but killing anguish in that region which is so
vital as to be the very source of life. So excellent is a spirit humbled
and mourning for sin, that it is not only a sacrifice, but it has a
plurality of excellences, and is preeminently God's sacrifices. A broken
and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. A heart crushed is a
fragrant heart. Men contemn those who are contemptible in their own
eyes, but the Lord seeth not as man seeth. He despises what men esteem,
and values that which they despise. Never yet has God spurned a lowly,
weeping penitent, and never will he while God is love, and while Jesus
is called the man who receiveth sinners. Bullocks and rams he desires
not, but contrite hearts he seeks after; yea, but one of them is better
to him than all the varied offerings of the old Jewish sanctuary.
Isa 57:15 For thus says the high and
exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, "I dwell on a high
and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order
to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the
Spurgeon comments: That is a
wonderful verse. You notice that the prelude to it explains the
greatness and the holiness of God; and then, like an eagle swooping out
of the shy even down to the earth, we find God coming from his high and
lofty place to dwell with humble and contrite hearts. Not with the
proud,— not with you who think yourselves good and excellent,— does God
dwell; but with men who feel their sin, and own it; with men who feel
their unworthiness, and confess it. I will read this verse again to
impress it upon your memory: “Thus saith the high and lofty One that
inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy
place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive
the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite
F B Meyer (Our Daily Walk)
comments: THIS VERSE has reference to God's two Homes--the macrocosm
of the great universe and the microcosm of the human heart. Our God is
so great that the Heaven of heavens cannot contain Him, but He is so
lowly and humble that He will stoop to fill the heart of a child. He
bids us learn of Him, for He is meek and lowly in heart.
The humble and contrite heart.
It seems almost too wonderful to believe that the Eternal One will care
to come and live with the child of Time; that the Infinite and Holy God
will descend to the narrow limits of a human heart! (see John 14:23).
Spirit of purity and grace,
Our weakness, pitying, see;
O make our hearts Thy dwelling-place,
And worthier Thee. AMEN.
J. C. Philpot (Daily Portions)
comments: O what a mystery that God should have two
dwelling-places! The "heaven of heavens" that "cannot contain him;" and
the humble, broken, and contrite heart! But in order that the Lord of
heaven might have a place in which he could live and lodge, God gives to
his people gifts and graces; for he cannot come and dwell in the carnal
mind, in our rebellious nature, in a heart full of enmity and
wickedness; he therefore makes a lodging-place for himself, a pavilion
in which the King of glory dwells, the curtains of which are like the
curtains of Solomon. His abode is that holy, divine nature which is
communicated at regeneration--"the new man, which after God is created
in righteousness and true holiness." Thus Christ dwells in the heart by
faith; and is "in his people, the hope of glory." And this made Paul
say, "I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but
Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live
by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."
This is the object of God's
dealings--that the Lord God might dwell in his people; that there might
be a union between the Church and her covenant Head--"I in them, and
they in me, that they might be perfect in one." This is the unfolding of
the grand enigma, the solution of the incomprehensible mystery, "God
manifest in the flesh,"--that the Lord God might dwell in his people; "I
will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they
shall be my people;" and thus glorify himself by filling their hearts
with his grace and glory, as Solomon's temple was of old, and that they
might enjoy him, and be with him when time shall be no more. This is the
grand key to all the Lord's dealings with the soul, and all his
mysterious leadings in providence--that the Lord God might dwell in the
hearts of his people here, and be eternally glorified in them in a
brighter and a better world.
Isa 66:1,2 Thus says the LORD
"Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a
house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? For My hand made all these
things. Thus all these things came into being," declares the Lord. "But
to this one I will look. To him who is humble and contrite of spirit,
and who trembles at My word.
Spurgeon comments: The text
first of all teaches us that God rejects all material temples as the
places of his abode; but, secondly, it informs us that God has made a
choice of spiritual temples, wherein he will dwell...
Only God is pleased to say that the
man who trembleth at his word, the man of broken heart, the man who is
poor in spirit, is such an one as he will look to; these are his
temples, — these, and these only, the men in whom he will dwell.
And I am so thankful for this, beloved friends, because this is a state
which, through God’s grace, is attainable by all here whom the Lord
...“of a contrite spirit,”
that is, the man that feels his sin and hates it, that mourns that he
should have rebelled against God, and desires to find mercy. Now, God
will come to such, because there is purity in that heart. “Oh,” saith
the contrite spirit, “I do not see any purity in my heart.” No, but
what do you see, then? “Oh, I see all manner of sin and evil, and I
hate myself because it is so.” There is purity in that hatred; at any
rate there is a something that God loves in that hatred in your soul, of
the sin that is within, and He will come to you, for there is something
there that is akin to His own holiness: He has put it there. You have
begun to appeal for mercy. Oh, then, God’s mercy will come, for mercy
delights to visit misery. Mercy is always at home where there is a
sinner confessing sin...
...I will close, lastly, with this:
Those that are of this character secure A Great Blessing. God says he
will look to them. That means several things. It means consideration.
Whoever and whatever God may overlook, he will look upon a broken heart.
This means approbation. Though God does not approve of the most costly
building that is meant to be his house, he approves of every one that
trembles at his word. It means acceptance. Though God will accept no
materialism in his worship, he will accept the sighs and cries of a poor
broken spirit. It means affection. Be they who they may that do not
receive God’s help, contrite spirits shall have it. And it means
benediction. “To this man will I look.” I was reading the other day in
an old author the following reflection as near as I can remember it.
Saith he, “There may be a child in the family that is very weak and
sickly. There are several others that are also out of health, but this
one is sorely ill. And the mother says to the nurse, ’You shall see
after the rest, but to this one will I look — even to this one that is
so sore sick and so exceeding weak.’” So God does not say to his
angels, “You shall look after the poor and the contrite, I have other
things to do,” but he saith, “Go ye about, ye spirits, be ye
ministering spirits to those that are stronger, and bear them up in your
hands, lest they dash themselves against a stone; but here is a poor
soul that is very poor: I will look after him myself. Here is a poor
spirit that is very broken: I will bind that up myself. Here is a heart
that trembles very much at my word: I will comfort that heart myself;”
and so, he that telleth the number of the stars, and calleth them all by
name — he healeth the broken in heart; he bindeth up their wounds. Out
of special love to them he will do it himself. I should like to be the
means of comfort to some contrite spirit to-night. Very likely the Lord
will say, “No, I will not make you the means of it.” Very well,
Master: be it as thou wilt; but thou wilt do it thyself. When we write
books and tracts, we wish that we might comfort the desponding. Very
likely the Lord will say, “No, no.” What should we reply to this?
“Lord, thou canst do it better than we could. There are some sores we
cannot reach, some diseases that laugh at our medicines, but, good Lord,
thou canst do it.” And the Lord will come to you, poor broken down in
heart, — he will come. Don’t despair. Though the devil says you will
never be saved, don’t believe it; and above all, turn your eyes full
tears to Christ on the cross, and trust him. There is salvation in no
other, but there is salvation in the crucified Redeemer. (Read
Spurgeon's full message on this passage -
Living Temples for the Living God)
Many despise warning, and perish.
Happy is he who trembles at the word of the Lord. Josiah did so, and
he was spared the sight of the evil which the Lord determined to send
upon Judah because of her great sins. Have you this tenderness? Do you
practice this self-humiliation? Then you also shall be spared in the
evil day. God sets a mark upon the men that sigh and cry because of the
sin of the times. The destroying angel is commanded to keep his sword in
its sheath till the elect of God are sheltered: these are best known by
their godly fear, and their trembling at the Word of the Lord. (Faith's
Checkbook - see April 3)
Isaiah 61:3 To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland
instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of
praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of
righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified. (C H
Spurgeon has an entire book on this one verse! "The Mourner's
Comforter") (See also Spurgeon's sermon
Comfort and Comforting
or listen to the
The great characteristic of Jeremiah,
the Weeping Prophet, was that he wept for his people (Jeremiah 9:1;
journal on October 18, 1740 has this
"In my morning devotions my soul was
exceedingly melted, and bitterly mourned over my exceeding sinfulness and
John MacArthur has an
excellent discussion of "How can I truly mourn over sin?" The following
discussion summarizes his thoughts. On the "negative side" you need to
remove the things which hinder you from mourning, especially "the
things that make us content with ourselves, that make us resist God’s
Spirit and question His Word, and that harden our hearts. A stony heart
does not mourn. It is insensitive to God". One of greatest
hindrances is a failure to let go of our love for a pet sin. Be assured
that this will turn your heart to stone. Puritan Thomas Watson writes
that the love of sin “makes sin taste sweet and this sweetness in sin
bewitches the heart”. (cf note
mentions other hindrances including despair, conceit, presumption,
procrastination ("one of these days I'll take a look at my sins"...sure
you will! Not! Delays do not make Christianity easier. The folly of
taking your time when you stand under divine judgment makes less sense
than purposely sleeping in a house that you know is on fire), and excessive merriment (click
Happy are the Sad
and scroll down).
On the positive side we can cultivate
a heart soil that is fertile for the growth of genuine mourning over
sins (and those in our church, our community, our country) by getting a
fresh glimpse of the holiness of God, especially as demonstrated in His
sacrifice for sins on the Cross. (e.g., see notes
1 Peter 1:14,
18-19). This vital discipline has been beautifully expressed by
Christina Rossetti in her poem "Good Friday"
Am I a stone and not a sheep,
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath
To number drop by drop Thy Blood’s slow loss
And yet not weep?
Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;
Not so the Sun and Moon
Which hid their faces in a starless
A horror of great darkness at broad noon-
I, only I.
Yet give not oe’r
But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.
One has to be careful that their
mourning is not just an emotional reaction but that there is true
confession, repentance and genuine mourning. John MacArthur addresses
this question of how one can know they are mourning as Christ teaches...
Knowing whether or not we have godly
mourning is not difficult. First, we need to ask ourselves if we are
sensitive to sin. If we laugh at it, take it lightly, or enjoy it, we
can be sure we are not mourning over it and are outside the sphere of
God’s blessing. (see for example Saul's regret not mourning over his sin
in 1Sa 15:30)...The godly mourner will have true sorrow for his sins.
His first concern is for the harm his sin does to God’s glory, not the
harm its exposure might bring to his own reputation or welfare. If our
mourning is godly we will grieve for the sins of fellow believers and
for the sins of the world. We will cry with the psalmist, “My eyes shed
streams of water, because they do not keep Thy law” (Ps. 119:136). We
will wish with Jeremiah that our heads were fountains of water that we
could have enough tears for weeping (Jer. 9:1; cf. Lam. 1:16).
With Ezekiel we will search out faithful believers “who sigh and groan
over all the abominations which are being committed” around us (Ezek.
9:4; cf. Ps. 69:9). We will look out over the community where we
live and weep, as Jesus looked out over Jerusalem and wept (Luke
19:41). The second way to determine if we have genuine mourning over
sin is to check our sense of God’s forgiveness. Have we experienced the
release and freedom of knowing our sins are forgiven? Do we have His
peace and joy in our life? Can we point to true happiness He has given
in response to our mourning? Do we have the divine comfort He promises
to those who have forgiven, cleansed, and purified lives? The godly
mourners “who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting. He who goes
to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed, shall indeed come again
with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him” (Ps 126:5–6)." (MacArthur,
J: Matthew 1-7 Chicago: Moody Press)
William Barclay commenting
on "blessed are those who mourn" reminds us that...
the very first word of the message of
Jesus was, “Repent!” No man can repent unless he is sorry for his
sins. The thing which really changes men is when they suddenly come up
against something which opens their eyes to what sin is and to what sin
does. A boy or a girl may go his or her own way, and may never think of
effects and consequences; and then some day something happens and that
boy or girl sees the stricken look in a father’ or a mother’s eye’s; and
suddenly sin is seen for what it is....Christianity begins with a sense
of sin. Blessed is the man who is intensely sorry for his sin, the man
who is heart-broken for what his sin has done to God and to Jesus
Christ, the man who sees the Cross and who is appalled by the havoc
wrought by sin. It is the man who has that experience who will indeed be
comforted; for the experience is what we call penitence, and the broken
and the contrite heart God will never despise (Psalm 51:17). The way
to the joy of forgiveness is through the desperate sorrow of the broken
William: New Testament Words:. Westminster John Know Press, 1964)
Richards writes concerning
"blessed are those who mourn"...
It is best to understand this phrase
in the context of Jesus' purpose in the Beatitudes, where he contrasted
the values of his kingdom with those of the world. This world considers
blessed, not those who mourn, but the hedonistic and pleasure-seeking,
who find "happiness" in transitory experience. It is the one who is
dissatisfied and pained by what this world has to offer who will find
the comfort that is offered by a living relationship with God. (Richards,
L O: Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: Regency)
George Barlow was right when
There is no progress possible to
the man who does not see and mourn over his defects.
John R. W. Stott spoke of
the value of mourning when he said that
We can stand before the cross only
with a bowed head and a broken spirit.
Chambers alludes to
"those who mourn" over sin and relates it to repentance writing that...
Repentance always brings a man to
this point: ‘I have sinned.’ The surest sign that God is at work is when
a man says that and means it. Anything less than this is remorse for
having made blunders, the reflex action of disgust at himself. The
entrance into the Kingdom is through the panging pains of repentance
crashing into a man’s respectable goodness; then the Holy Ghost, Who
produces these agonies, begins the formation of the Son of God in the
life. The new life will manifest itself in conscious repentance and
unconscious holiness, never the other way about. The bedrock of
Christianity is repentance. Strictly speaking, a man
cannot repent when he chooses; repentance is a gift of God.
Puritans used to pray for
gift of tears.’
If ever you cease to know the virtue
of repentance, you are in darkness. Examine yourself and see if you have
forgotten how to be sorry.
As Sinclair Ferguson states...
Some Christians never seem to discover
this reality of life in God's kingdom. It is grace that makes us mourn
for our sinfulness.
The law of God convicts us of our
sin (as it did Paul; see Ro 7:7-12). But it is the grace of God that
melts our hearts and causes a right attitude toward that sin, in sorrow,
shame, and mourning. Is this not a gloomy picture of what it means to be
a Christian? Admittedly it is a contrast – and perhaps an antidote – to
the contemporary notion that being a Christian means being on a constant
emotional `high.' But is it true to say that the Christian constantly
lives in a state of mourning, always crying out, `What a wretched man I
am' (Ro 7:24)? (Ferguson,
Sinclair: Sermon on the Mount :Banner of Truth)
As you read the words of Frank W Boreham regarding mourning,
apply his thoughts to mourning over sins (yours, your
church's, your nation's)...
tendency is to become insensitive. We get used to things. Our
susceptibilities become seared. The doctor, who nearly fainted at his
first operation, learns in time to look upon pain without emotion...It
is not easy under such conditions to keep the spirit fresh and the heart
tender. Blessed are they that mourn! (NB:
present tense) Mourning implies
a soft, copious, heartfelt grief--a grief that has broken all restraint
and finds relief in welcome floods of tears...Unless we are constantly
on our guard against it, we are all in danger of being drawn into the
horrible vortex of insensibility (Ed note: specifically insensibility to
J C Ryle writes that "those
who mourn" refers to
those who sorrow for sin, and grieve
daily over their own shortcomings. These people are more concerned about
sin than about anything on earth: the remembrance of it is grievous to
them; the burden of it is intolerable. Blessed are all such! “The
sacrifices of God are a broken spirit” and a contrite heart (Psalm
51:17). One day they will weep no more: “they will be comforted.”
(Ryle, J. C. Matthew)
Adam Clarke comments
those who, feeling their spiritual
poverty (Mt 5:3), mourn after God, lamenting the iniquity that separated
them from the fountain of blessedness. Every one flies from sorrow,
and seeks after joy, and yet true joy must necessarily be the fruit of
sorrow. The whole need not (do not feel the need of) the physician,
but they that are sick do; i.e. they who are sensible of their disease
(Mt 9:10-13). Only such persons as are deeply convinced of the
sinfulness of sin, feel the plague of their own heart, and turn with
disgust from all worldly consolations, because of their insufficiency to
render them happy, have God’s promise of solid comfort. (Clarke,
A. Clarke's Commentary: Matthew) (Bolding added)
These seem worse off than the merely poor in spirit, for "they mourn."
They are a stage higher, though they seem to be a stage lower. The way
to rise in the kingdom is to sink in ourselves. These men are grieved by
sin, and tried by the evils of the times; but for them a future of rest
and rejoicing is provided. Those who laugh shall lament, but those who
sorrow shall sing. How great a blessing is sorrow, since it gives room
for the Lord to administer comfort! Our griefs are blessed, for they are
our points of contact with the divine Comforter. The beatitude reads
like a paradox, but it is true, as some of us know full well. Our
mourning hours have brought us more comfort than our days of mirth. (The
Gospel of the Kingdom: A Popular Exposition of the Gospel According to
Guzik writes that...
The ancient Greek grammar indicates
an intense degree of mourning. Jesus does not speak of casual sorrow for
the consequences of our sin, but a deep grief before God over our fallen
state. What do those who mourn actually mourn about? Their mourning is
over just anything, but they mourn over sin. To really be followers of
Jesus, we must mourn over our sin and the ruin and separation from God
that comes to our life from sin. We also mourn the general
destruction and separation sin brings, far beyond the personal
consequences to ourselves.
Dwight Pentecost quips
Our Lord did not promise, “Blessed
are they that moan, for they shall. be comforted,” but,
“Blessed are they that mourn.” When we carry some burden
that brings tears, our natural response is to complain, to moan, to
question God’s wisdom and benevolence, God’s right to do this to us. He
did not say, “Those who moan will be comforted,” but,
“those who mourn.” The biblical concept of mourning is
recognizing a need, and then presenting that need to the God of all
comfort. When one, in desperation, oppression, loneliness, bereavement,
discouragement, anxiety, earnestness, desire, devotion, presents his
need to God, God commissions the angels of heaven to dry tears from his
J. D. Design for living: Lessons in Holiness from the Sermon on the
Mount. Kregel Publications)
Phil Newton draws an important
distinction regarding the correct interpretation and application of Mt
5:4, noting that this...
is a favorite verse at funerals...as
the assurance that in the time of bereavement and loss, they can be
certain that God will give comfort. But this verse is not speaking to
that issue. Others suppose that it is the assurance of comfort for some
deprivation in life or some loss of perceived privilege. Some mourn
because of being caught in a sin or deed that brings about certain
consequences of great discomfort. So they comfort themselves that as
they mourn they will eventually be comforted from this time of distress.
They mourn over the penalty not over the deed. As the Puritan pastor in
London, Thomas Watson, penned, “To mourn only for fear of hell is like a
thief that weeps for the penalty rather than the offense” [The
Beatitudes, 62]. There is no promise of comfort in this situation. Some
mourn due to hurt feelings or perceived wrongs or personal injustices or
the inability to accomplish personal goals, but that is not the type of
mourning spoken of in this text. Mourning also has nothing to do with
the habits of our lives. Some people are naturally melancholy so that
they can easily weep or easily feel pity over a situation or quickly
shed tears for a loss. But this is not a promise of blessing for a
particular type of personality. To sum it up in one phrase, “It is not
the sorrow of bereavement to which Christ refers, but the sorrow of
repentance” [John Stott, 40-41].
...spiritual mourning does not begin
by pointing at everyone else’s sins and shortcomings. It starts with
me....How does this deep, inward spiritual mourning develop and continue
in our lives?
1. It results from seeing God as
holy. Sinclair Ferguson concurs, “It is this—his sight of God—that
has made him mourn. Paradoxically, it is the same sight of God that will
bring him comfort” [The Sermon on the Mount: Kingdom Life in a Fallen
World, 19]. Where do we see God? We look into the pages of God’s Word,
that infallible revelation of God. We meditate upon Scripture. We
contemplate the Lord; see how he has worked in creation and most of all,
in redemption. We look at the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, to his
perfectly holy life, and then to the cross. Gaze upon Him who is so
utterly holy that for Him to forgive just one sinner, it required that
He pour out the vials of His wrath upon His own Son in a propitiatory
2. It is the apprehension of the
nature of sin. David’s penitential Psalm 51 expressed this so
clearly: “‘for I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your
sight, so that You are justified when you speak and blameless when You
judge” (Ps 51:3-4). Sin is ultimately an offense against God and his
holy law. Thomas Watson adds, “David, that he might be a mourner, kept
his eye full upon sin. See what sin is, and then tell me if there will
be not enough in it to draw forth tears” . It is God who is offended
by our sin! It is God the Creator who lovingly sustains us, who even
restrains us from following headlong after our own lusts, who tenderly
places roadblocks in our way lest we face more of his judgment—it is
this God against whom we sin!
3. It is the comprehension of sin as the source of our enmity with
God, and consequently our hopelessness to change our own hearts.
That produces spiritual mourning as we see the heavy toll requited for
our sin: enemies of God; dead in trespasses and sins; children of wrath.
4. Spiritual mourning focuses upon sins in particular and not just
general. It is not terribly difficult for a person to join the crowd
by saying, “I’m a sinner,” for he generally adds, “I’m a sinner like
everyone else.” But to get more specific, to address our own deeds, our
thoughts, our attitudes, our tongue, our mistreatment of others, our
neglect of spiritual disciplines, our ingratitude, our lusts, our impure
thoughts, our disobedience to parents, our greed, our self-centeredness,
our pride, and our arrogance, will bring us to the shocking reality of
our sinfulness. Watson wrote, “A wicked man will say he is a sinner, but
a child of God says, I have done this evil” .
5. Spiritual mourning produces hatred for sin and a repentant heart
that desires to be holy. The American myth of Christianity without
holiness knows nothing of spiritual mourning. When the sins of the
world are just as prevalent within the church as outside the church, it
tells us that true spiritual mourning—this character of true
conversion—has not been near as widespread as statistics would state.
Spiritual mourning targets sin, applies the cross of Christ, pleads with
the Lord for deliverance, and exercises the spiritual disciplines that
will help to shape the believer in conduct and character like that of
Jesus Christ. He takes seriously Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesians,
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Eph 5:1).
Do you know something of this spiritual mourning as a reality in your
life? My friend, without it there will be no repentance, and without
repentance there is no life (Luke 13:3). (See complete sermon
Matthew 5:4:The Blessing of Mourning)
Newton also has some practical
thoughts on how mourning functions in a person's life...
In conversion -
Spiritual mourning begins in conversion; it is the pathway to
repentance. It comes as a gift of God’s grace that enables us to see our
sin as an offense against God, and to understand the judgment of God
that weighs against us. This is where the promise, “for they shall be
comforted,” shines. When a person faces his own lost condition before
God, and sees his unworthiness of forgiveness, and yet God in His mercy
saves him, then you can be assured that he is “comforted!” The word
implies that God comes near to him with great consolations. It is not a
comfort that leads to cockiness as though he deserved what God did, but
a comfort that humbles him, that spills forth in continual gratitude as
he is converted to Christ.
In Sanctification - Spiritual mourning continually operates in
the life of the Christian. For as he sins it brings grief, and grief
causes him to turn to Christ and the sufficiency of His death; then he
is comforted again. “Whenever the Christian is conscious of his own
sin,” writes Ferguson, “he will be grieved by it” . Grief leads to
repentance, and comfort. Watson adds, “The soul of the Christian is most
eased when it can vent itself by holy mourning” . It was this same
idea that Martin Luther put at the top of his Ninety-five Theses that he
nailed to the church door at Wittenberg. “When our Lord and Master Jesus
Christ said, “Repent” (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers
to be one of repentance.” Jeremiah Burroughs, another Puritan, offers us
great insight on why mourning is part of our sanctification.
As weeds grow very rank in summer
time, now in the winter the frost nips the weeds and keeps them under;
but if it be a long frost it kills them. And so doth a mournful
condition; if it be sanctified, it kills the vermin, it kills our lusts,
and is a special means of mortification in the soul; and therefore
blessed are they that do mourn, and carry themselves graciously in a
mourning condition [The Saints’ Happiness, 38].
In glorification - You can
easily see the progress, going from conversion—and the justification
that takes place, to sanctification, and finally to glorification. It is
not that spiritual mourning follows into glorification, but it is the
pathway to it. For the ultimate comfort promised by Christ, “for they
shall be comforted,” has a future dimension that points to that time of
glorification forever in the Lord’s presence. It is that blessed hope of
the Christian, that time in which the mortal shall put on immortality,
death will no longer be in the pictured; sin and death will have long
been put asunder as enemies under the feet of Christ. And who can
describe the measure of Christ’s eternal comfort? (See complete sermon
Matthew 5:4:The Blessing of Mourning)
Mourning is hateful and
irksome to poor human nature: from suffering and sadness our spirits
instinctively shrink. It is natural for us to seek the society of the
cheerful and joyous. The verse now before us presents an anomaly to
the unregenerate, yet is it sweet music to the ears of God’s elect: if
“blessed” why do they “mourn?” If they mourn, how can they be blessed?
Only the child of God has the key to this paradox, for “happy are they
who sorrow” is at complete variance with the world’s logic. Men have,
in all places and in all ages, deemed the prosperous and the gay to be
the happy ones, but Christ pronounces blessed those who are poor in
spirit and who mourn.
Now it is obvious that it is not
every species of mourning which is here referred to. There are
thousands of mourners in the world today who do not come within the
scope of our text: those mourning over blighted hopes, over financial
reverses, over the loss of loved ones. But alas, so far from many of
them coming beneath this Divine benediction, they are under God’s
condemnation; nor is there any promise that such shall ever be
There are three kinds of
“mourning” referred to in the Scriptures:
a natural, such as we have
just referred to above;
a sinful, which is a
disconsolate and inordinate grief, refusing to be comforted, or a
hopeless remorse like that of Judas;
and a gracious, a “godly
sorrow,” of which the Holy Spirit is the Author.
The “mourning” of our text is a
spiritual one. The previous verse indicates clearly the line of
thought here: ”Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the
kingdom of heaven.” Yes,” Blessed are the poor,” not the poor in
purse, but the poor in heart: those who realize themselves to be
spiritual bankrupts in themselves, paupers before God. That felt
poverty of spirit is the very opposite of the Laodiceanism which is so
rife today, that self-complacency which says, “I am rich, and
increased with goods, and have need of nothing.” In like manner it is
spiritual mourning which is in view here. Further proof of this is
found in the fact that Christ pronounces these mourners “blessed.”
They are so because the Spirit of God has wrought a work of grace
within them, and hence they have been awakened to see and feel their
lost condition. They are “blessed” because God does not leave them at
that point: “they shall be comforted.”
“Blessed are they that mourn.”
The first reference is to that initial mourning which ever precedes a
genuine conversion, for there must be a real sense of sin before the
remedy for it will even be desired. Thousands acknowledge that they
are sinners, who have never mourned over the fact.
Take the woman of Luke 7:36-50, who
washed the Saviour’s feet with her tears: have you ever shed any over
Take the prodigal in Luke 15:
before he left the far country he said, “I will arise and go unto my
Father and say unto Him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and
before Thee, And am no more worthy to be called Thy son “ (Luke
15:21)—where shall we find those today with this sense of their
Take the publican of Luke 18: why
did he “smite upon his breast” and say “God be merciful to me a
sinner?” (Luke 18:13) Because he felt the plague of his own heart.
So of the three thousand converted
on the day of Pentecost: they were “pricked in their heart, and cried
out.” (Acts 2:37)
This “mourning” springs from a
sense of sin, from a tender conscience, from a broken heart. It
is a godly sorrow over rebellion against God and hostility to His
will. In some cases it is grief over the very morality in which
the heart has trusted, over the self-righteousness which has caused
such complacency. This “mourning” is the agonizing realization that it
was my sins which nailed to the Cross the Lord of glory. When Israel
shall, by faith, see Christ, “they shall mourn for Him” (Zech. 12:10).
It is such tears and groans which prepare the heart to truly welcome
and receive the “balm of Gilead,” (Jer 8:22, 46:11) the comfort of the
Gospel. It is, then, a mourning over the felt destitution of our
spiritual state, and over the iniquities that have separated between
us and God. Such mourning always goes side by side with conscious
poverty of spirit.
CLOSER LIVES TO GOD,
THE MORE ONE WILL MOURN!
But this “mourning” is by no means
to be confined unto the initial experience of conviction and
contrition, for observe the tense of the verb (in Mt 5:4 - mourn =
pentheo in the
it is not “have mourned,” but “mourn”—a present and continuous
experience. The Christian himself has much to mourn over. The sins
which he now commits—both of omission and commission—are a sense of
daily grief to him, or should be, and will be, if his conscience is
kept tender (Ed: I must
ask, dear reader, how is your conscience? Are you keeping it tender by
cultivating it with communion, with time in His Holy presence in His
Holy Word and in prayer?).
An ever-deepening discovery of the depravity of his nature, the plague
of his heart, the sea of corruption within—ever polluting all that he
does—deeply exercises him. Consciousness of the surgings of unbelief,
the swellings of pride, the coldness of his love, and his paucity of
fruit, make him cry, “O wretched man that I am.” (Ro 7:24-note)
A humbling recollection of past offences: “Wherefore remember that ye
being in time past” (Eph. 2:11-note).
Yes, “Ourselves also, which have
the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within
ourselves” (Romans 8:23-note).
Does not the Christian groan under the disciplining rod of the Father:
“No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous”
And is he not deeply grieved by the awful dishonour which is now done
to the Lord Jesus on every hand? The fact is that the closer the
Christian lives to God, the more will he mourn overall that dishonours
Him: with the Psalmist he will say, “Horror hath taken hold upon
me because of the wicked that forsake Thy law” (Psalm 119:53), and
with Jeremiah, “My soul shall weep in secret places for your pride;
and mine eyes shall weep sore and run down with tears, because the
Lord’s flock is carried away captive” (Jer 13:17). But blessed be God,
it is written, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of
Jerusalem, and seta mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and
that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof”
(Ezek. 9:4). So too there is a sympathetic mourning over the
sufferings of others: “Weep with them that weep” (Romans 12:15).
But let us return to the primary
thought of our verse: “Blessed are they that mourn” has immediate
reference to the convicted soul sorrowing over his sins. And here it
is most important to note that Christ does not pronounce them
“blessed” simply because they are mourners, but because they are such,
mourners as “shall be comforted.” There are not a few in Christendom
today who glory in their grief and attempt to find comfort in their
own inward wretchedness—as well seek health from our sicknesses. True
comfort is not to be found in anything in self—no, not in perceiving
our own vileness—but in Christ alone. Distress of soul is by no means
always the same thing as evangelical repentance, as is clear from the
case of Cain (Gen. 4:13). But where the Spirit produces in the heart a
godly sorrow for sin, He does not leave him there, but brings him to
look away from sin to the Lamb of God, and then he is “comforted.” The
Gospel promises no mercy except to those who forsake sin and close
with Christ. (Pink,
A. W. An Exposition of the Sermon on the Mount)
The Puritan writer Thomas
Watson in his exposition of Mt 5:4 (Beatitudes)
has a treatise on mourning which is too lengthy to quote
in its entirety.
Here are a few snippets to entice you to read his sobering
exposition on an all too seldom contemplated subject...
We have in our hearts the seed of
the unpardonable sin. We have the seed of all those sins for which the
damned are now tormented! And shall we not mourn? He who does not
mourn, has surely lost the use of his reason....
There is a fivefold
mourning which is false and spurious.
A despairing kind of
mourning. Such was Judas' mourning. He saw his sin, he was sorry,
he made confession, he justifies Christ, he makes restitution (Matthew
27). Judas, who is in hell, did more than many nowadays! He confessed
A hypocritical mourning. The
heart is very deceitful. It can betray as well by a tear—as by a kiss.
Saul looks like a mourner, and as he was sometimes 'among the
prophets' (1 Samuel 10:12)
...The true penitent labors to
make the worst of his sin. Saul labors to make the best of sin...
A forced mourning. When
tears are pumped out by God's judgments, these are like the tears of a
man who has the stone, or that lies upon the rack. Such was Cain's
mourning. (Genesis 4:13). His punishment troubled him more than
his sin! To mourn only for fear of hell is like a thief that weeps for
the penalty, rather than the offence. The tears of the wicked are
forced by the fire of affliction!
An external mourning; when
sorrow lies only on the outside. 'They disfigure their faces' (Matthew
The eye is tender—but the heart is hard. Such was Ahab's mourning. 'He
tore his clothes and put sackcloth on his flesh, and went softly' (1Ki
21:27). His clothes were torn—but his heart was not torn. He had
sackcloth but no sorrow. He hung down his head like a bulrush—but his
heart was like granite. There are many who may be compared to weeping
marbles, they are both watery and flinty.
A vain fruitless mourning.
Some will shed a few tears—but are as bad as ever. They will deceive
and be unclean. Such a kind of mourning there is in hell. The damned
weep—but the continue to blaspheme God.
What is the RIGHT
gospel-mourning?...It is spontaneous and free. It must come as
water out of a spring, not as fire out of a flint. Tears for sin must
be like the myrrh which drops from the tree freely without cutting or
forcing. Gospel-mourning is spiritual; that is, when we mourn for sin
more than suffering. Pharaoh says, "Take away the plague!" He never
thought of the plague of his heart. A sinner mourns because judgment
follows at the heels of sin—but David cries out, 'My sin is ever
before me' (Psalm 51:3-note).
God had threatened that the sword should ride in circuit in his
family—but David does not say, 'The sword is ever before me'—but 'My
sin is ever before me'. The offence against God troubled him. He
grieved more for his treason against God—than the bloody axe.
In particular, our mourning
for sin, if it is spiritual, must be under this threefold
1. We must mourn for sin, as it is an act of hostility and enmity
against God. Sin not only makes us unlike God—but contrary to God:
'They have walked contrary unto me' (Leviticus 26:40). Sin affronts
and resists the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51). Sin is contrary to God's
nature; God is holy; sin is an impure thing. Sin is contrary to his
will. If God be of one mind—sin is of another. Sin does all it can to
spite God. The Hebrew word for 'sin' signifies 'rebellion'. A sinner
fights against God (Acts 5:39). Now when we mourn for sin as it is a
walking contrary to heaven, this is a gospel-mourning.
2. We must mourn for sin,
as it is the highest ingratitude against God. It is a kicking
against the breasts of mercy. God sends his Son to redeem us, his
Spirit to comfort us. We sin against the blood of Christ, the grace of
the Spirit—and shall we not mourn? We complain of the unkindness of
others, and shall we not lay to heart our own unkindness against God?
Caesar took it unkindly that his son, Brutus, should stab him—'and
you, my son!' May not the Lord say to us, 'These wounds I have
received in the house of my friend!' (Zechariah 13:6). Israel took
their jewels and earrings and made a golden calf of them. The sinner
takes the jewels of God's mercies and makes use of them to sin.
Ingratitude is a 'crimson sin' (Isaiah 1:18-note).
Sins against gospel-love are worse in some sense, than the sins of the
devils, for they never had an offer of grace offered to them. Now when
we mourn for sin as it has its accent of ingratitude upon it, this is
an evangelical mourning.
3. We must mourn for sin as it
is a privation; it keeps good things from us; it hinders our
communion with God. Mary wept for Christ's absence. 'They have taken
away my Lord!' (John 20:13). So our sins have taken away our Lord.
They have deprived us of his sweet presence. Will not he grieve, who
has lost a rich jewel? When we mourn for sin under this notion, as it
makes the Sun of Righteousness withdraw from our horizon; when we
mourn not so much that peace is gone, and trading is gone—but God is
gone, 'My beloved had withdrawn himself' (Song 5:6); this is a holy
mourning. The mourning for the loss of God's favor—is the best way to
regain His favor. If you have lost a friend, all your weeping will not
fetch him again—but if you have lost God's presence, your mourning
will bring your God again. (cp Jas 4:8-note)
Gospel-mourning sends the
soul to God. When the prodigal son repented, he went to his
father. 'I will arise and go to my father' (Lk 15:18). Jacob wept and
prayed (Hosea 12:4). The people of Israel wept and offered sacrifice
(Jdg 2:4,5). Gospel-mourning puts a man upon duty. The reason is, that
in true sorrow there is a mixture of hope, and hope puts the soul upon
the use of means. That mourning which like the 'flaming sword' keeps
the soul from approaching to God, and beats it off from duty—is a
sinful mourning. It is a sorrow hatched in hell. Such was Saul's
grief—which drove him to the witch of Endor (1Sa 28:7). Evangelical
mourning is a spur to prayer. The child who weeps for offending his
father goes to his presence and will not leave until his father is
reconciled to him. Absalom could not be quiet 'until he had seen the
king's face' (2Sa 14:32, 33).
Gospel-mourning is for sin
in particular. The deceitful man is occupied with generalities. It
is with a true penitent as it is with a wounded man. He comes to the
surgeon and shows him all his wounds. Here I was cut with the sword;
here I was shot with a bullet. So a true penitent bewails all his
particular sins. 'We have served Baal' (Judges 10:10). They mourned
for their idolatry. And David lays his fingers upon the sore—and
points to that very sin which troubled him (Psalm 51:4-note).
'I have done this evil!' He means his blood-guiltiness. A wicked man
will say he is a sinner—but a child of God says, 'I have done this
evil!' Peter wept for that particular sin of denying Christ. It is
reported that Peter never heard a rooster crow—but he fell a-weeping.
There must be a particular repentance, before we have a general
Gospel tears must drop from
the eye of faith. 'The father of the child cried out with tears,
'Lord, I believe' (Mark 9:24). Our disease must make us mourn—but when
we look up to our Physician, who has made a remedy of his own blood,
we must not mourn without hope. Believing tears are precious. When the
clouds of sorrow have overcast the soul, some sunshine of faith must
break forth. The soul will be swallowed up of sorrow, it will be
drowned in tears—if faith does not keep it up from sinking. Though our
tears drop to the earth—yet our faith must reach heaven. After the
greatest rain, faith must appear as the rainbow in the cloud. The
tears of faith are bottled as precious wine. 'You keep track of all my
sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have
recorded each one in your book' (Ps 56:8-note).
Gospel-mourning is joined with self-loathing. The sinner admires
himself. The penitent loathes himself. 'You shall loath yourselves in
your own sight for all your evils' (Ezekiel 20:43). A true penitent is
troubled not only for the shameful consequence of sin—but for the
loathsome nature of sin; not only the sting of sin—but the deformed
face of sin. How did the leper loathe himself! (Leviticus 13:45). The
true mourner cries out, O these impure eyes! this heart which is a
conclave of wickedness! He not only leaves sin—but loathes sin. He who
has fallen in the dirt loathes himself (Hosea 14:1).
Gospel-mourning must be purifying. Our tears must make us more holy.
We must so weep for sin, as to weep out sin. Our tears must drown our
sins. We must not only mourn—but turn. 'Turn to me with weeping' (Joel
2:12). What good is it, to have a watery eye and a whorish heart? It
is foolish to say it is day, when the air is full of darkness; so to
say you repent, when you draw dark shadows in your life. It is an
excellent saying of Augustine, 'He truly bewails the sins he has
committed, who never commits the sins he has bewailed'. True mourning
is like the 'water of jealousy' (Nu 5:12-22). It makes the thigh
of sin to rot. 'You broke the heads of the monster in the waters.'
(Ps 74:13-note). The heads of our sins, these monsters, are broken in
the waters of true repentance. True tears are cleansing. They are like
a flood that carries away all the rubbish of our sins away with it.
The waters of holy mourning are like the river Jordan wherein Naaman
washed and was cleansed of his leprosy (2Ki 5:11, 12, 13, 14). It is reported that there is a
river in Sicily where, if the blackest sheep are bathed, they become
white; so, though our sins be as scarlet—yet by washing in this river
of repentance, they become white as snow (Isaiah 1:18-note). Naturalists say of the
serpent, before it goes to drink it vomits out its poison. In this 'be
wise as serpents'. Before you think to drink down the sweet cordials
of the promises, cast up the poison that lies at your heart. Do not
only mourn for sin—but break from sin.
Gospel-mourning must be joined with hatred of sin. 'What indignation!'
(2Cor 7:11). We must not only abstain from sin—but abhor sin.
The dove hates the least feather of the hawk. A true mourner hates the
least motion to sin. A true mourner is a sin-hater. Amnon hated Tamar
more than ever he loved her (2Sa 13:15). To be a sin-hater
implies two things: first, to look upon sin as the most deadly evil—as
the essence of all evil. It looks more ghastly than death or hell.
Second, to be implacably incensed against it. A sin-hater will never
admit of any terms of peace. The war between him and sin is like the
war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam. 'There was war between Rehoboam and
Jeroboam all their days' (1Ki 14:30). Anger may be
reconciled—hatred cannot. True mourning begins in the love of God—and
ends in the hatred of sin.
Gospel-mourning in some cases is joined with restitution. It is as
well a sin to violate the name of another—as the chastity of another.
If we have eclipsed the good name of others, we are bound to ask them
for forgiveness. If we have wronged them in their estate by unjust,
fraudulent dealing, we must make them some compensation. Thus Zacchaeus, 'If I have taken anything from any man by false accusation,
I restore him fourfold' (Luke 19:8), according to the law of Ex
22:1. James bids us not only look to the heart but the hand: 'Cleanse
your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts' (Jas 4:8-note). If you
have wronged another, cleanse your hands by restitution. Be assured,
without restitution—no remission.
Gospel-mourning must be a speedy mourning. We must take heed of
adjourning our repentance, and putting it off until death. As David
said, 'I will pay my vows now' (Psalm 116:18-note), so should a Christian
say, 'I will mourn for sin now.' 'Blessed are you that weep now' (Lk
6:21). God has encircled us in the compass of a little time, and
charges us immediately to bewail our sins. 'Now God calls all men
everywhere to repent' (Acts 17:30). We know not whether we may have
another day granted us. Oh let us not put off our mourning for sin
until the making of our will. Do not think holy mourning is only a
deathbed duty. You may seek the blessing with tears, as Esau when it
is too late. How long shall I say that I will repent tomorrow? Why not
at this instant? 'Delay brings danger'. Caesar's deferring to read his
letter before he went to the Senate-house, cost him his life. The true
mourner makes haste to meet an angry God, as Jacob did his brother;
and the present he sends before, is the sacrifice of tears.
Gospel-mourning for sin is perpetual. There are some who at a sermon
will shed a few tears—but they are soon dried up. The hypocrite's
sorrow is like a vein opened and presently stopped. The Hebrew word
for 'eye' signifies also 'a fountain', to show that the eye must run
like a fountain for sin and not cease; but it must not be like the
Libyan fountain which the ancients speak of—in the morning the water
is hot, at midday cold. The waters of repentance must not overflow
with more heat in the morning, at the first hearing of the gospel; and
at midday, in the midst of health and prosperity, grow cold and be
ready to freeze. No! it must be a daily weeping. As Paul said, 'I die
daily' (1Cor 15:31), so a Christian should say, 'I mourn
daily'. Therefore keep open an outflow of godly sorrow, and be sure it
is not stopped until death. 'Let your tears flow like a river. Give
yourselves no rest from weeping day or night' (Lam 2:18). It
is reported of holy John Bradford that scarcely a day passed him
wherein he did not shed some tears for sin. Daily mourning is a good
antidote against backsliding. I have read of one that had an epilepsy,
and being dipped in seawater, was cured. The washing of our souls
daily in the brinish waters of repentance is the best way both to
prevent and cure the falling into relapses.
the preceding is only a "snippet" of Thomas Watson's treatise on
Mourning - highly recommended)
FOR THEY SHALL
BE COMFORTED: hoti autoi paraklethesontai (3PFPI):
(autos) is the personal pronoun and it is noteworthy that it is
placed emphatically in the sentence. Kenneth Wuest conveys this nuance
because they themselves shall
be encouraged and strengthened by consolation.
What is the point? The point is
that this beatitude of God's comfort is reserved exclusively for they
who live life with a contrite heart which is mournful over sin and it is
only "they" (and they alone) who will have their tears wiped away by the loving hand of
Not all those who "mourn"
over their sin will be comforted...
For the sorrow that is according to
the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to
salvation, but the sorrow (grief, sadness, pain in one's mind, always
the opposite of joy, elation, blessedness) of the world produces death.
(2 Co 7:10)
Shall be comforted - This
verb is future tense (Click
for Macarthur's point below
that the future tense can be used to express certainty).
When in the
future? Do we have to wait until we see Jesus face to face
to be comforted. In a word, no!
Primarily Jesus means that the comfort is dispensed future to the
time one mourns (primarily a mourning over sin) -- in other words the
comfort "at once follows the mourning" (Lenski). It means the comfort is
there when one mourns and is broken over sin, for Scripture teaches that God is near the
brokenhearted (Ps 34:18-note).
There is also a sense in
which there will be a future eschatological fulfillment when Messiah
returns in Person to rule and to comfort in the
D A Carson's note below)
In other words, God will comfort now and then. And
this pattern of present and future fulfillments is not unusual in
Scripture, for even in the previous beatitude, the promise of the
kingdom of heaven has a "now" and a future fulfillment. Grace has a
present and a future component, for Peter speaks of "the grace to be
brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." (1Pe 1:13-note)
Redemption has a now and then component for all believers have
been redeemed by His blood (1Pe 1:18-note),
but there will be a future aspect for Paul writes that we are "waiting
eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body."
And so it would not be surprising that God would supply a present,
immediate comfort and a future comfort, when "there shall no longer be
any mourning" (Rev 21:4-note,
cp Rev 7:17-note).
And below are two OT examples of
"future comfort", the first in the context of Israel's regathering the
prophet Jeremiah declares...
Then (in the Messianic Kingdom
the virgin shall rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old,
together, for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort
them, and give them joy for their sorrow. And I will fill the
soul of the priests with abundance, and My people shall be satisfied
with My goodness," declares the LORD. (Jer 31:13, 14)
Isaiah 61 records
another OT passage that speaks of future comfort...
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon
me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the
afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim
liberty to captives, And freedom to prisoners;2 To proclaim the
favorable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to
comfort all who mourn, 3 To grant those who mourn in
Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness
instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of
fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of
the LORD, that He may be glorified.
Comment: Isa 61:1 describes
Jesus, while Isa 61:2 describes the time which had its onset at His
first appearance (the favorable year) and then His return at the
end of the Great Tribulation (the day of vengeance) which in turn
is followed by the establishment of His Millennial Reign, and it is this
latter time period to during which He will comfort all who mourn.
When Jesus quoted this passage (Isaiah 61:1,2) in the synagogue and
stated that it was fulfilled in Him (Lk 4:16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21), He
stopped quoting Isa 61:2, just before the day of vengeance. This
final aspect of His work will be accomplished at His second coming (cp
My year of redemption in Isa 63:4). Isa 61:3 amplifies the
comfort that God will give to all who mourn in Zion (Jerusalem). Again,
the text speaks primarily to the time when the Redeemer returns at the
end of the
and "all (all who mourn - see
on this verse) Israel will be
saved" (Ro 11:26-note)
(they are those Jews who mourn over sin).
[word study] from para = beside + kaleo = to call)
means literally to call to one's side and so refers to the act of
calling someone to one’s side in order to help one.
speaks of the subject receiving comfort from a source outside himself or
herself. God Himself is the Comforter. The Lord will call the mourner to
Himself, and speak the words of pardon, peace, and life eternal, to
their hearts (cf Mt 11:28)
The noun form of parakaleo
(parakletos) is translated "Comforter"
(KJV, "Helper" in NAS) and is what is referred to as a verbal adjective
which refers to aid of any kind. In Classic Greek a "parakletos"
referred to a legal advisor, a pleader, a proxy, or an advocate. The
idea was one who would come forward in behalf of and as the
representative of another. John is the only NT writer to use parakletos
and four times for the Holy Spirit and once for Jesus...
And I will ask the Father, and He
will give you another Helper (Comforter, KJV), that He may be
with you forever (John 14:16)
But the Helper (Comforter, KJV),
the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you
all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. (John
When the Helper (Comforter, KJV)
comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit
of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness of Me,
But I tell you the truth, it is to
your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper
(Comforter, KJV) shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him
to you. (John 16:7)
My little children, I am writing
these things to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an
Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; (1John 2:1)
rabbinical literature parakletos could indicate one who offers legal aid
or who intercedes on behalf of someone else and similarly in this
context parakletos undoubtedly signifies a legal Advocate or
Counsel for the defense
The Holy Spirit is called a
Paraclete because He undertakes Christ’s office in the world
while Christ is not in the world as the God–Man in bodily form. In
addition, the Holy Spirit is also called the Paraclete because He acts
as Christ’s substitute on earth. The Parakletos in the widest sense it
means “a helper, a succorer (Derivation - from Latin succurrere
to run up, run to help, from sub- up + currere to run), one who aids another.” In the three
passages in the Gospel noted above, the Holy Spirit is the Comforter to
the saint, not that He comforts him in the sense of consoling him
merely, but that He is sent to be the One to come to the aid of the
Christian in the sense of ministering to him in his spiritual life. In
1John 2:1 the Lord Jesus is the parakletos of the believer in the sense
that He pleads our cause before our heavenly Father in relation to sin
in the life of the Christian, praying us back into fellowship with God
by the way of our confession and the cleansing blood (cf Hebrews 7:25-note,
Kent Hughes reminds us
God's comfort is relational. It comes
in the form of his divine companionship. He is our ally. He personally
binds up our sorrows and consoles us. How comprehensive our comfort is!
It is immediate. It comes to us alone. It comes personally in the Person
of the Holy Spirit. And it is based on the forgiveness of our sins. That
is why we are called "blessed." What a stupendous paradox! Jesus stands
truth on its head to get our attention, and he says, "Would you be
comforted? Then mourn. Would you be happy? Then weep." (Hughes, R. K.
Sermon on the Mount: The Message of the Kingdom.
Only when a person mourns (and
weeps) over his or her own sinfulness will that person be comforted by
the only Comforter who can relieve their spiritual distress. To those
who mourn God grants pardon, forgiveness, deliverance, strength and
reassurance. Jesus Christ with His own precious blood has fully
satisfied all our sins (1John 1:6, 7, 8, 9), and delivered us from all the
power of evil. You can either sweep your sins "under the rug" or you can
put them under the blood. The choice is yours beloved.
Have you experienced that in your
life? Have you been flat on your face before God mourning over your sins
and failures and found Him to come and place His hand on your shoulder
and deep within your soul you know His peace that passes all
understanding. If you are carrying a deep burden of sin and you sense
that grief even to the point that it is beyond you to carry, drop it at
the feet of Jesus and receive His pardon and grace. He speaks to the
soul with pardon and release and assurance that all your sins are under
His blood...The saddest thing in life is not a sorrowing heart, but a
heart that is incapable of grief over sin, for it is without grace.
Without poverty of spirit no one enters the kingdom of God. Likewise,
without its emotional counterpart - grief over sin - no one receives the
comfort of forgiveness and salvation.
For Christians, mourning over sin
is essential to spiritual health. It is significant that the
first of Martin Luther's famous 95 Theses states that the entire life is
to be one of continuous repentance and contrition. It was this attitude
in the Apostle Paul that caused him to affirm, well along into his
Christian life, that he was the chief of sinners (1Ti
1:15).(Hughes, R. K.
Sermon on the Mount: The Message of the Kingdom.
above, shall be comforted
is future tense which might at first suggest one would have to
wait until we see Jesus face to face in order to receive comfort.
Obviously that is not the case and in fact the future tense in Greek
also be used to indicate certainty.
John MacArthur explains
the comfort of Matthew 5:4 is
future only in the sense that the blessing comes after the
the comfort comes after the mourning.
As we continually mourn (present
tense) over our
sin, we shall be continually comforted-now, in this present life. God is
not only the God of future comfort but of present comfort.
Father” already has “given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace”
(2Th 2:16). Even God’s written Word is a present comforter, given
for our encouragement and hope (Ro. 15:4-note). And as God Himself gives
us comfort and His Word gives us comfort, we are called to comfort each
other with the promises of His Word (1Th 4:18-note; cf. 2Co
1:6; 7:13; 13:11; etc.).
Happiness comes to sad people because
their godly sadness leads to God’s comfort. “Come to Me, all who are
weary and heavy-laden,” Jesus says, “and I will give you rest”
He will lift the burden from those who
mourn over sin,
and He will give rest to those who are weary of sin. As often as we
confess our sin, He is faithful to forgive, and for as long as we mourn
over sin He is faithful to comfort. (MacArthur, J.
Matthew 1-7 Macarthur New Testament
Commentary Chicago: Moody Press)
Hughes agrees writing...
Notice that the comfort is actually
immediate. Don't misinterpret the future tense, which is used merely to
sequence mourning and comfort. The actual sense of Christ's words is,
"Blessed are the mourners, for they will be immediately comforted, and
they will continue to be so." (Hughes, R. K.
Sermon on the Mount: The Message of the Kingdom.
Broadus commenting on the OT idea
that the Messiah was to "comfort ye My people" (Isa 40:1) notes that...
The later Jews caught this
conception, and in the Talmud the Messiah is sometimes called Menahem,
‘comforter.’ At the time of his birth some truly devout ones (the godly
remnant of Jesus' day) were
‘waiting for the consolation of Israel.’ (Lk 2:25)
D A Carson in the
Bible Commentary explains those who mourn writing that...
remnant of Jesus'
day weeps because of the humiliation of Israel, but they understand that
it comes from personal and corporate sins. The psalmist testified,
"Streams of tears flow from my eyes, for your law is not obeyed" (Ps
119:136; cf. Ezekiel 9:4). When Jesus preached, "The kingdom of heaven
is near," he, like John the Baptist before him, expected not jubilation
but contrite tears. It is not enough to acknowledge personal spiritual
bankruptcy (Mt 5:3) with a cold heart. Weeping for sins can be deeply
poignant (Ezra 10:6; Ps 51:4; Da 9:19, 20) and can cover a global as
well as personal view of sin and our participation in it. Paul
understands these matters well (cf. Ro 7:24-note; 1Cor 5:2; 2Cor 12:21;
Php 3:18-note). "Comfort, comfort my people" (Isa 40:1) is God's
These first two beatitudes
(Mt 5:3, 4) deliberately allude to the
Messianic blessing of Isaiah 61:1, 2, 3 (cf. also Luke 4:16, 17, 18, 19), confirming them as
eschatological and Messianic. The
Messiah comes to bestow "the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a
garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair" (Isa 61:3). But these
blessings, already realized partially but fully only at the consummation
Re 21:3, 4-note), depend on a Messiah
Who comes to save His people from their
sins (Mt 1:21; cf. also Mt 11:28, 29, 30). Those who claim to experience all its
joys without tears mistake the nature of the kingdom. (Gaebelein,
F, Editor: Expositor's Bible Commentary 6-Volume New Testament.
Alexander Maclaren also
agrees that the comfort Jesus promises ...
is both present and
future. As for the present, the mourning which is based, as our text
bases it, on poverty of spirit, will certainly bring after it the
consolation (comfort) of forgiveness arid of cleansing. Christ’s gentle
hand laid upon us, to cause our guilt to pass away, and the inveterate
habits of inclination towards evil to melt out of our nature, is His
answer to His child’s cry, ‘Woe is me, for I am undone!’ And
anything is more probable than that Christ, hearing a man thus complain
of himself before Him, should fail to send His swift answer.
Ah, brethren! you will never know how deep and ineffably precious are
the consolations which Christ can give, unless you have learned despair
of self, and have come helpless, hopeless, and yet confident, to that
great Lord. Make your
hearts empty, and He will fill them; recognise your desperate condition,
and He will lift you up. The deeper down we go into the depths, the
surer is the rebound and the higher the soaring to the zenith. It is
they who have poverty of spirit, and mourning based upon it, and only
they, who pass into the sweetest, sacredest, secretest recesses of
Christ’s heart, and there find all-sufficient consolation.
In like manner, that consolation will come in its noblest and most
sufficing form to those who take their outward sorrows and link them
with this sense of their own ill-desert.
Oh, dear friends, if I am speaking to any one who to-day has a
burdened heart, let such be sure of this, that the way to consolation
lies through submission; and that the way to submission lies through
recognition of our own sin.
If we will only ‘lie still, let Him strike home, and bless the rod,’ the
rod will blossom and bear fruit. The water of the cataract would not
flash into rainbow tints against the sunshine, unless it had been dashed
into spray against black rocks. And if we will but say with good old Dr.
‘When His strokes are felt,
His strokes are fewer than our crimes,
And lighter than our guilt,’
it will not be hard to bow down and say, ‘Thy will be done,’ and with
submission consolation will be ours.
Is there anything to say
about that future consolation? Very little, for we know very little.
But ‘God Himself shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.’ The hope of
that consolation is itself consolation, and the hope becomes all the
more bright when we know and measure the depths of our own evil. Earth
needs to be darkened in order that the magic, ethereal beauty of the
glow in the western heavens may be truly seen. The sorrow of earth is
the background on which the light of heaven is painted.
So, dear friends, be sure of this, that the one thing which ought to
move a man to sadness is his own character. For all other causes of
grief are instruments for good. And be sure of this, too, that the one
thing which can ensure consolation adequate to the grief is bringing the
grief to the Lord Christ and asking Him to deal with it. His first word
of ministry ran parallel with these two Beatitudes. When He spoke them
He began with poverty of spirit, and passed to mourning and consolation,
and when He opened His lips in the synagogue of Nazareth He began with,
‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to
preach good tidings unto the poor, to give unto them that mourn in Zion
a diadem for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise
for the spirit of heaviness.’
Matthew Poole writes
They shall be comforted, either in this life, with the
consolations of the Spirit, or with their Master's joy in the life that
is to come, Isa 61:3; Jn 16:20; Jas 1:12.
LET THE TEARS FLOW - A DEVOTIONAL