|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:16-20 Not only feel sorrow for the sin committed, but break off the practice. We must be doing, not stand idle. We must be doing the good the Lord our God requires. It is plain that the sacrifices of the law could not atone, even for outward national crimes. But, blessed be God, there is a Fountain opened, in which sinners of every age and rank may be cleansed. Though our sins have been as scarlet and crimson, a deep dye, a double dye, first in the wool of original corruption, and afterwards in the many threads of actual transgression; though we have often dipped into sin, by many backslidings; yet pardoning mercy will take out the stain, Ps 51:7. They should have all the happiness and comfort they could desire. Life and death, good and evil, are set before us. O Lord, incline all of us to live to thy glory.
Verse 17. - Learn to do well. Now comes the positive; first, in the general form" learn," etc.; which resembles the apostle's "Put on the armor of light" (Romans 13:12). Then follow the particulars. Seek judgment; or, seek out justice; i.e. endeavor to get justice done to all men; see that they "have right." Relieve the oppressed. So the LXX., the Vulgate, the Syriac, and the Chaldean Versions. But the word translated "oppressed" is thought by many to mean "oppressor" (Kimchi, Gesenius, Cheyne). This is certainly its meaning in Psalm 71:4. Translate, tighten the oppressor; i.e. correct and chasten him. Judge the fatherless; rather, do justice to the orphan (Cheyne); see that he is not wronged - be his champion. Plead for the widow; i.e. plead her cause in the courts; or, if judge, and she have no advocate, lean towards her, as if her advocate. The widow and the orphan were taken under God's special protection from the time of Moses, and constantly commended to the tender care of the righteous (Exodus 22:22-24; Deuteronomy 10:18; Deuteronomy 24:17; Deuteronomy 27:19, etc.).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Learn to do well,.... Which men are naturally ignorant of; to do good they have no knowledge; nor can they that are accustomed to do evil learn to do well of themselves; but the Lord can teach them to profit, and of him they should ask wisdom, and desire, under the influence of his grace, to learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, and particularly to do acts of beneficence to all men, and especially to the household of faith; and also, the following ones,
seek judgment; seek to do justice between man and man in any cause depending, without respect of persons:
relieve the oppressed; the poor that are oppressed by their neighbours that are richer and mightier than they, right their wrongs, and deliver them out of the hands of their oppressors (i):
judge the fatherless; do justice to them who have none to take care of them, and defend them:
plead for the widow; that is desolate, and has none to plead her cause.
(i) Misn. Sabbat, c. 9. sect. 3. T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 67. 1,
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
17. seek judgment—justice, as magistrates, instead of seeking bribes (Jer 22:3, 16).
judge—vindicate (Ps 68:5; Jas 1:27).
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