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67. Before I was brought low I went astray As the verb ענה anah, sometimes signifies to speak, or to testify, some adopt this rendering, Before I meditated upon thy statutes I went astray; but this seems too forced. Others go still farther from the meaning, in supposing it to be, that when the prophet went astray, he had nothing to say in answer to God. I will not stop to refute these conceits, there being no ambiguity in the words. David in his own person describes either that wantonness or rebellion, common to all mankind, which is displayed in this, that we never yield obedience to God until we are compelled by his chastisements. It is indeed a monstrous thing obstinately to refuse to submit ourselves to Him; and yet experience demonstrates, that so long as he deals gently with us, we are always breaking forth into insolence. Since even a prophet of God required to have his rebellion corrected by forcible means, this kind of discipline is assuredly most needful for us. The first step in obedience being the mortifying of the flesh, to which all men are naturally disinclined, it is not surprising if God bring us to a sense of our duty by manifold afflictions. Yea, rather as the flesh is from time to time obstreperous, even when it seems to be tamed, it is no wonder to find him repeatedly subjecting us anew to the rod. This is done in different ways. He humbles some by poverty, some by shame, some by diseases, some by domestic distresses, some by hard and painful labors; and thus, according to the diversity of vices to which we are prone, he applies to each its appropriate remedy. It is now obvious how profitable a truth this confession contains. The prophet speaks of himself even as Jeremiah, (Jeremiah 31:18,) in like manner, says of himself, that he was “as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke;but still he sets before us an image of the rebellion which is natural to us all. We are very ungrateful, indeed, if this fruit which we reap from chastisements do not assuage or mitigate their bitterness. So long as we are rebellious against God, we are, in a state of the deepest wretchedness: now, the only means by which He bends and tames us to obedience, is his instructing us by his chastisements. The prophet, at the same time, teaches us by his own example, that since God gives evidence of his willingness that we should become his disciples, by the pains he takes to subdue our hardness, we should at least endeavor to become gentle, and, laying aside all stubbornness, willingly bear the yoke which he imposes upon us.

The next verse needs no explanation, being nearly of the same import as the last verse of the former eight. He beseeches God to exercise his goodness towards him, not by causing him to increase in riches and honors, or to abound in pleasures, but by enabling him to make progress in the knowledge of the law. It is usual for almost all mankind to implore the exercise of God’s goodness towards them, and to desire that he would deal bountifully with them, in the way of gratifying the diversity of the desires into which they are severally hurried by the inclinations of the flesh; but David protests that he would be completely satisfied, provided he experienced God to be liberal towards him in this one particular, which almost all men pass over with disdain.




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