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Affliction has then had its proper effect, when the sufferer is thereby convinced of sin, and therefore prays for a removal of the latter, as the only way to be delivered from the former, The reproaches of the foolish make no inconsiderable article in the account of aChristian's sufferings; and our Lord frequently complains of them, in the Psalms, as one of the bitter ingredients in his own cup.
9. I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thout didst it.
Whatever materials compose the rod of affliction, and from whatsoever quarter the stroke comes, let us remember, that the rod is grasped, and the stroke is inflicted by the hand of our heavenly Father. To revenge ourselves on the instrument, is-folly; to murmur against the agent, is something worse.
10. Remove thy stroke away from me : I am consumed by the blow of thy hand.
The Christian, who knows from whence his troubles proceed, knows where to apply for relief; and having first petitioned for remission of sin, he then humbly supplicates for a mitigation of his sorrow. “Father," says the beloved Son of God, “if thou be willing, remove this
from me.” 11. When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty, or, all that is delightful, or, desirable in him, to consume away like a moth : surely every man is vanity.
The body of a man is as a garment to the soul : in this garment sin hath lodged a moth, which, by de
grees, frets and wears away, first, the beauty, then the strength, and, finally, the contexture of its parts. Whoever has watched the progress of a consumption, or any other lingering distemper, nay, the slow and silent devastations of time alone, in the human frame, will need no farther illustration of this just and affecting similitude ; but will discern at once, the propriety of the reflection, which follows upon it:Surely every man is vanity !”
12. Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry: hold not thy peace at my tears ; for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.
Meditation should terminate in devotion ; and meditation on human vanity and misery, if indulged as it deserves to be, certainly will do so : it will bring us to our prayers, our cries, and our tears; and teach us to address the throne of grace, as poor pilgrims in a strange land, who have here no abiding city, but are soon to strike our tents, and be gone for ever. Such was David, though king of Israel ; and such was the Son of David, in the body of his flesh, though Lord of all things': both were strangers and sojourners, as all their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, were before them, and as all their children have been, and shall be after them, upon the earth.
13. O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more.
Most fervently and affectionately, therefore, ought the Christian pilgrim to pray, that God would spare his life and respite the fatal sentence, until all that has been decayed, through the frailty of nature, be re
newed by the power of grace; that his perfect reconciliation with the Almighty may be accomplished, and his plenary pardon sealed in heaven, before he takes his last farewell of the world, and ceases to have an existence in these regions of vanity and sorrow.
David, by Absalom's rebellion driven from Jerusalem
to the country beyond Jordan, is there supposed to have indited this Psalm; which, as it is applicable to the case of our Lord, in his state of sojourning and suffering on earth, for our sins; as also, that of the church, under persecution, or that of any member thereof, when deprived of the opportunities of public worship; so doth it, in the most beautiful and pathetic strains, describe the vicissitudes of joy and sorrow, of hope and despondency, which succeed each other in the mind of the Christian pilgrim, while, exiled from the Jerusalem above, he suffers affliction and tribulation in this valley of tears. The last is the application chiefly made in the comment, as it is the most general and useful one; the others naturally offer themselves, being coincident with, or subordinate to it.
1. As the hart panteth after the water brooks, 80 panteth my soul after thee, O God.
The thirst, which the hart experienced, when chased, in sultry weather, over the dusty plains, is here set before us, as a representation of that ardent desire after the waters of eternal comfort, which the temptations, the cares, and the troubles of the world,
produce in the believing soul. Happy they who feel this desire, and fly to the well of life, that it may be satisfied. “ Blessed are they that thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.”
2. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?
Whoever considers what it is to appear before God, to behold the glorious face of Jesus; to contemplate a beauty which never fades ; to be enriched by a beneficence which can never be exhausted, and blessed in a love unmerited and infinite; will find abundant reason to say, again and again, “ My soul thirsteth after God;" why is the time of my banishment prolonged; when shall the days of my pilgrimage have an end; when shall I come and appear before God?
3. My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?
So long as the soul finds herself absent from him whom she loves, sorrow is still her portion, as well in the day of worldly prosperity, as in the night of adversity. And this sorrow is greatly aggravated by the taunts of the enemy; who, because the promise is delayed, and she suffers affliction in the mean season, ridicules and insults her faith and hope, as vain and groundless; intimating, that God has forsaken her, and tempting her to renounce her principles.
4. When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me : for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holy day.