The Lord grant - that he may find mercy of the Lord - Some think that this is a prayer to God the Father to communicate grace to him, that he might find mercy in the great day at the hand of Jesus Christ the Judge. It is probably only a Hebraism for, God grant that he may here be so saved by Divine grace, that in the great day he may receive the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. See a similar form of expression, Genesis 9:16; Genesis 19:24; Exodus 24:1, Exodus 24:2.
It is impossible to read this chapter over without feeling deeply interested for this most noble and amiable of men. To what trials did God expose him! His life was a life of perils and tribulations, his labors were superabundant, and his success all but incredible. Wherever he went, he left a track of light and life behind him. To him, as the grand instrument of God, the Gentiles, the whole habitable world, owe their salvation. Yet see him, in his old age, neglected by his friends, apparently forsaken of God, and abandoned to the hands of ruthless men; in prison and in chains; triumphing over sufferings and death; perfectly unshaken, unstumbled, with the evils with which he is obliged to contend, having the fullest persuasion of the truth of the doctrines which he had preached, and the strongest and most encouraging anticipation of the glory that was about to be revealed. He felt no evil, and he feared none. Sin had lost its power, and death its sting; the grave its victory, and hell its horrors. He had the happiness which heathenism spoke of, but could not attain, because it knew not the great Source whence it must proceed. This God he knew, feared, loved, obeyed, and was happy. Who but the righteous man can sing: -
Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas;
Atque metus omnes et inexorabile fatum
Subjecit pedibus, strepitumque Acherontis avari! -
Illum non populi fasces, non purpura regum
Flexit, et infidos agitans discordia fratres; -
Non res Romanae, perituraque regna.
Virg. Georg. ii. v. 490.
No murmur is heard from his heart; he is persuaded that all things work together for good to them that love God; the miserable uncertainty of friendship, the defection of cowardly brethren, and the apostasy of once zealous professors, did not move him. As far as it is lawful, he courts death, knowing that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Glorious system of truth by which such an apostle was formed! and glorious apostle by whom this system was illustrated and confirmed! The character and conduct of St. Paul must make Christianity doubly amiable to believers and highly respectable even to its enemies.