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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Psalms 100

Verses 1-5

Psalms 100:3

This text is closely associated with the personal history of Melanchthon, but the facts are quite wrongly given by Dr. John Ker in his book on the Psalms. Dr. Ker supposed that the use of the verse related to a bereavement which took place shortly before the Reformer's death. It was, on the contrary, a passage which accompanied him in thought from the year 1529, when at the age of thirty-two he lost his baby son George, who was born at Jena on 25 November, 1527. Luther, writing to Jonas on 17 August, 1529, tells of this bereavement, and says that Melanchthon was suffering under it the more severely, because he had no previous experience of such a loss. Luther wrote: 'Hic cogitare potes, quid nobis sit operae et curae, ut hunc hominem tenerrimi et patheticissimi cordis solemur. Scis, quanti referat hunc hominem vivere et valere. Nos omnes cum eo aegrescimus et moesti sumus' (Enders. Luther's Briefwechsel, vol. VII. p. 147). In letters of the time Melanchthon told his friends of the loss of little George, who was a child of rarest promise. He calls him 'suavissimus puer,' and we may conjecture that this child was all the dearer because the elder boy, Philip, who grew up and lived to old age, was delicate in body and dull in intellect. On 2 September, 1529, Melanchthon wrote to Myconius: 'I have lost my younger son, a very sweet boy'. His letters of the time are full of expressions of grief. 'Nothing in life was ever dearer to me than that little boy. There shone in him some rare gifts of mind. No words can tell anything of the wound I received when I lost him.' Not for years afterwards did Melanchthon venture to write of the passage which had comforted him in sorrow. After his own almost fatal illness at Weimar in 1540, he was attempting to comfort a friend in bereavement, and we find this passage: 'At the time of my son's death these words, " Ipse fecit nos, et non ipsi nos ," brought me wonderful comfort when they came suddenly before me as I was looking through the Psalms' ( Corpus Reformatorum, vol. III. p. 1069).

In later years we find allusions to the same text in his letters of consolation. Thus, in July, 1549, he wrote to an acquaintance in Hamburg:

'I remember that a certain friend of mine, who was in deep grief because of the death of his son, came by chance on a journey, while his sorrow was still fresh, on that passage in the Psalms, " Ipse fecit nos, et non ipsi nos ". This admonition of providence so penetrated his thoughts that it was, he said, as if some Divine flame had been suddenly kindled in his heart while he was reading that text, and afterwards he became much more resigned.'

C.R. vol. VII. p. 429.

The text was chosen by Edward FitzGerald for his tombstone.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Psalms 100". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/psalms-100.html. 1910.