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THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE HEBREWS - Chapter 12 - Verse 5
Verse 5. And ye have forgotten the exhortation. This exhortation is found in Pr 3:11,12. The object of the apostle in introducing it here is, to show that afflictions were designed, on the part of God, to produce some happy effects in the lives of his people, and that they ought, therefore, to bear them patiently. In the previous verses, he directs them to the example of the Saviour. In this verse and the following, for the same object, he directs their attention to the design of trials, showing that they are necessary to our welfare, and that they are, in fact, proof of the paternal care of God. This verse might be rendered as a question, "And have ye forgotten?" etc. This mode of rendering it will agree somewhat better with the design of the apostle.
Which speaketh unto you. Which may be regarded as addressed to you; or which invokes a principle as applicable to you as to others. He does not mean that when Solomon used the words he had reference to them particularly, but that he Used them with reference to the children of God, and they might therefore be applied to them. In this way we may regard the language of the Scriptures as addressed to us.
As unto children. As if he were addressing children. The language is such as a father uses.
My son. It is possible that in these words Solomon may have intended to address a son literally, giving him paternal counsel; or he may have spoken as the head of the Jewish people, designing to address all the pious, to whom he sustained, as it were, the relation of a father. Or it is possible, also, that it may be regarded as the language of God himself addressing his children. Whichever supposition is adopted, the sense is substantially the same.
Despise not thou the chastening of the Lord. Literally, "Do not regard it as a small matter, or as a trivial thing"—oligwrei. The Greek word here used does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. The word here rendered chastening paideia—and also in Heb 12:6-8, and Heb 12:9, "corrected"— paideutav—does not refer to affliction in general, but that kind of affliction which is designed to correct us for our faults, or which is of the nature of discipline. The verb properly relates to the training up of a child—including instruction, counsel, discipline, and correction, (see this use of the verb in Ac 7:22; 2 Ti 2:25; Tit 2:12, ) and then especially discipline, or correction for faults —to correct, chastise, chasten, 1 Co 11:32; 2 Co 6:9; Re 3:19.
This is the meaning here; and the idea is, not that God will afflict his people in general, but that if they wander away he will correct them for their faults. He will bring calamity upon them as a punishment for their offences, and in order to bring them back to himself, he will not suffer them to wander away unrebuked and unchecked, but will mercifully reclaim them, though by great sufferings. Afflictions have many objects, or produce many happy effects. That referred to here is, that they are means of reclaiming the wandering and erring children of God, and are proofs of his paternal care and love. Comp. 2 Sa 7:14; 12:13,14; Ps 89:31-34; Pr 3:11,12. Afflictions, which are always sent by God, should not be regarded as small matters, for these reasons:
(1.) The fact that they are sent by God. Whatever he does is of importance, and is worthy the profound attention of men.
(2.) They are sent for some important purpose, and they should be regarded, therefore, with attentive concern. Men despise them when
(1.) they treat them with affected or real unconcern;
(2.) when they fail to receive them as Divine admonitions, and regard them as without any intelligent design; and
(3.) when they receive them with expressions of contempt, and speak of them and of the government of God with scorn. It should be a matter of deep concern, when we are afflicted in any manner, not to treat the matter lightly, but to derive from our trials all the lessons which they are adapted to produce on the mind.
Nor faint, etc. Bear up patiently under them. This is the second duty. We are first to study their character and design; and, secondly, to bear up under them, however severe they may be, and however long they may be continued. "Avoid the extremes of proud insensibility and entire dejection." Doddridge.
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