Or, who hath first given to him - Who can pretend to have any demands upon God? To whom is he indebted? Have either Jews or Gentiles any right to his blessings? May not he bestow his favors as he pleases, and to whom he pleases? Does he do any injustice to the Jews in choosing the Gentiles! And was it because he was under obligation to the Gentiles that he has chosen them in the place of the Jews? Let him who has any claim on God prefer it; and he shall be compensated.
But how can the Creator be indebted to the creature? How can the Cause be dependent on the effect? How can the Author of providence, and the Father of every good and perfect gift, be under obligation to them for whom he provides, and who are wholly dependent on his bounty?
Or who hath - The sentiment in this verse is found substantially in Job 41:11. “Who hath prevented me, that I should repay him.” The Hebrew word “prevented” means to anticipate, to go before; and God asks who has anticipated me; who has conferred favors on me before I have on him; who has thus laid me under obligation to him.” This is the sense in which the apostle uses the word here. Who has, by his services, laid God under obligation to recompense or pay him again? It is added in Job, “Whatsoever is under the whole heaven is mine.” Thus Paul, contrary to the prevailing doctrine of the Jews, shows that no one could plead his own merits, or advance with a claim on God. All the favors of salvation must be bestowed by mercy or grace. God owned them all; and he had a right to bestow them when and where he pleased. The same claim to all things is repeatedly made by God; Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 10:14; Psalm 24:1; Psalm 50:12.
Shall be recompensed - Repaid as a matter of debt. None of God‘s mercies can be conferred in that way; if they could, man could bring God under obligation, and destroy the freeness and benevolence of his favors.
The Word is full of precious promises. I shall have strength of eyesight, I shall have strength of brain, I shall have clearness of conception and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, because I ask in the name of Jesus. Precious Saviour! He gave His life for me. “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen” (Romans 11:33-36). TDG 220.3Read in context »
“Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of hosts. MH 433.1
“Then flew one of the seraphim unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: and he touched my mouth with it, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin expiated.” Isaiah 6:1-7, A.R.V., margin. MH 433.2
“There is none like unto Thee, O Lord;
Thou art great,
And Thy name is great in might.
Who would not fear Thee, O King of nations?”
“O Lord, Thou hast searched me, and known me.
Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising,
Thou understandest my thought afar off.
Thou compassest my path and my lying down,
And art acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word in my tongue,
But, lo, O Lord, Thou knowest it altogether.
Thou hast beset my behind and before,
And laid Thine hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain unto it.” MH 433.3
“For there is not a word in my tongue,
But, lo, O Jehovah, Thou knowest it altogether.
Thou hast beset me behind and before,
And laid Thy hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain unto it.” 8T 282.1
Psalm 139:1-6, A. R. V. 8T 282
“Great is our Lord, and of great power:
His understanding is infinite.” 8T 282.2