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5 If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. 6But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; 7, 8for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

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5. English Version omits "But," which the Greek has, and which is important. "But (as this perfect entireness wanting nothing is no easy attainment) if any," &c.

lack—rather, as the Greek word is repeated after James's manner, from Jas 1:4, "wanting nothing," translate, "If any of you want wisdom," namely, the wisdom whereby ye may "count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations," and "let patience have her perfect work." This "wisdom" is shown in its effects in detail, Jas 3:7. The highest wisdom, which governs patience alike in poverty and riches, is described in Jas 1:9, 10.

ask—(Jas 4:2).

liberally—So the Greek is rendered by English Version. It is rendered with simplicity, Ro 12:8. God gives without adding aught which may take off from the graciousness of the gift [Alford]. God requires the same "simplicity" in His children ("eye … single," Mt 6:22, literally, "simple").

upbraideth not—an illustration of God's giving simply. He gives to the humble suppliant without upbraiding him with his past sin and ingratitude, or his future abuse of God's goodness. The Jews pray, "Let me not have need of the gifts of men, whose gifts are few, but their upbraidings manifold; but give me out of Thy large and full hand." Compare Solomon's prayer for "wisdom," and God's gift above what he asked, though God foresaw his future abuse of His goodness would deserve very differently. James has before his eye the Sermon on the Mount (see my Introduction). God hears every true prayer and grants either the thing asked, or else something better than it; as a good physician consults for his patient's good better by denying something which the latter asks not for his good, than by conceding a temporary gratification to his hurt.

6. ask in faith—that is, the persuasion that God can and will give. James begins and ends with faith. In the middle of the Epistle he removes the hindrances to faith and shows its true character [Bengel].

wavering—between belief and unbelief. Compare the case of the Israelites, who seemed to partly believe in God's power, but leaned more to unbelief by "limiting" it. On the other hand, compare Ac 10:20; Ro 4:20 ("staggered not … through unbelief," literally, as here, "wavered not"); 1Ti 2:8.

like a wave of the seaIsa 57:20; Eph 4:14, where the same Greek word occurs for "tossed to and fro," as is here translated, "driven with the wind."

driven with the wind—from without.

tossed—from within, by its own instability [Bengel]. At one time cast on the shore of faith and hope, at another rolled back into the abyss of unbelief; at one time raised to the height of worldly pride, at another tossed in the sands of despair and affliction [Wiesinger].

7. For—resumed from "For" in Jas 1:6.

that man—such a wavering self-deceiver.

think—Real faith is something more than a mere thinking or surmise.

anything—namely, of the things that he prays for: he does receive many things from God, food, raiment, &c., but these are the general gifts of His providence: of the things specially granted in answer to prayer, the waverer shall not receive "anything," much less wisdom.