World Wide Study Bible
a Bible passage
9. Are there not twelve hours in the day? This passage has been explained in various ways. Some have thought the meaning of these words to be, that men sometimes adopt a new and different resolution every hour. This is very far from Christ’s meaning; and indeed I would not have reckoned it worthy of being mentioned, had it not been that it has passed into a common proverb. Let us therefore be satisfied with the simple and natural meaning.
First, Christ borrows a comparison from Day and Night. For if any man perform a journey in the dark, we need not wonder if he frequently stumble, or go astray, or fall; but the light of the sun by day points out the road, so that there is no danger. Now the calling of God is like the light of day, which does not allow us to mistake our road or to stumble. Whoever, then, obeys the word of God, and undertakes nothing but according to his command, always has God to guide and direct him from heaven, and with this confidence he may safely and boldly pursue his journey. For, as we are informed,
Whosoever walketh in his ways hath angels to guard him, and, under their direction, is safe, so that he cannot strike his foot against a stone,
Relying on this protection, therefore, Christ advances boldly into Judea, without any dread of being stoned; for there is no danger of going astray, when God, performing the part of the sun, shines on us, and directs our course.
We are taught by these words, that whenever a man allows himself to be guided by his own suggestions, without the calling of God, his whole life is nothing else than a course of wandering and mistake; and that they who think themselves exceedingly wise, when they do not inquire at the mouth of God, and have not his Spirit to govern their actions, are blind men groping in the dark; that the only proper way is, to be fully assured of our divine calling, and to have always God before our eyes as our guide. 310310 “Quand nous avons tousjours Dieu devant nos yeux pour nostre guide.” This rule of regulating our life well is followed by a confident expectation of a prosperous result, because it is impossible that God shall not govern successfully. And this knowledge is highly necessary to us; for believers can scarcely move a foot to follow him, but Satan shall immediately interpose a thousand obstructions, hold out a variety of dangers on every side, and contrive, in every possible way, to oppose their progress. But when the Lord invites us to go forward, by holding out, as it were, his lamp to us, we ought to go forward courageously, though many deaths besiege our path; for he never commands us to advance without at the same time adding a promise to encourage us, so that we may be fully convinced, that whatever we undertake agreeably to his command will have a good and prosperous issue. This is our chariot, and whoever betakes himself to it will never fail through weariness; and even though the obstacles were so formidable that we could not be conveyed through them by a chariot, yet, furnished with these wings, we shall always succeed, till we reach the goal. Not that believers never meet with any adversity, but because adverse occurrences are aids to their salvation.
It amounts to this, that the eyes of God will always be attentive to guard those who shall be attentive to his instructions. Hence we learn also that, whenever men overlook and disregard the word of God, and consequently indulge themselves foolishly, and undertake whatever they think right, the whole course of their life is accursed by God, and vengeance is always ready to punish their presumption and their blind passions. Again, Christ here divides the day into twelve hours, according to ancient custom; for though the days are longer in summer and shorter in winter, 311311 “Combien que les jours soyent plus grands en este, et plus petits en hyver.” yet they had always twelve hours of the day, and twelve of the night.