Wesley's Notes on the Bible
Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence,
64:1 Rent - A metaphor taken from men, that when they would resolutely help one in distress, break and fling open doors and whatever may hinder. Flow down - That all impediments might be removed out of the way: possibly an allusion to God's coming down upon mount Sinai, in those terrible flames of fire.
As when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence!
64:2 Fire - Come with such zeal for thy people, that the solid mountains may be no more before thy breath, than metal that runs, or water that boils by the force of a vehement fire. Known - That thine enemies may know thy power, and that thy name may be dreaded among them.
When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence.
64:3 Terrible things - This may relate to what he did among the Egyptians, tho' it be not recorded, and afterward in the wilderness. Looked not for - Such things as we could never expect. Mountains - Kings, princes, and potentates, may metaphorically be understood by these mountains.
For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.
64:4 Besides thee - This is to be applied to all the wonderful works, that God at all times wrought for his people: and thus they are a plea with God, that they might well expect such things from him now, that had done such wonderful things for their fathers. Waiteth - This may be taken with reference both to the state of grace and glory, those incomprehensible things that are exhibited through Christ in the mysteries of the gospel.
Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways: behold, thou art wroth; for we have sinned: in those is continuance, and we shall be saved.
64:5 Meetest - As the father the prodigal. Worketh - That rejoices to work righteousness. Continuance - To those that work righteousness. Be saved - In so doing, in working righteousness.
But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
64:6 Unclean - Formerly there were some that feared thee; but now we are all as one polluted mass, nothing of good left in us by reason of an universal degeneracy. And all - The very best of us all are no better than the uncleanest things. Taken - Carried away to Babylon, as leaves hurried away by a boisterous wind.
And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.
64:7 That calleth - That call upon thee as they ought. Take hold - Either to stay thee from departing from us, or to fetch thee back when departed.
But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.
64:8 Our father - Notwithstanding all this thou art our father both by creation, and by adoption, therefore pity us thy children.
Be not wroth very sore, O LORD, neither remember iniquity for ever: behold, see, we beseech thee, we are all thy people.
64:9 Thy people - Thou hast no people in covenant but us, and wilt thou not leave thyself a people in the world?
Thy holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation.
Our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised thee, is burned up with fire: and all our pleasant things are laid waste.
64:11 Pleasant things - The king's palace, and the houses of the nobles, and other pieces of state and magnificence.
Wilt thou refrain thyself for these things, O LORD? wilt thou hold thy peace, and afflict us very sore?
64:12 Wilt thou - Do none of these things move thee to take vengeance? Thy peace - Wilt thou be as one that regards not?