|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:1-16 Is any afflicted? Let him pray; and let him in prayer pour out his complaint to God. The people of God do so here; they complain not of evils feared, but of evils felt. If penitent and patient under what we suffer for the sins of our fathers, we may expect that He who punishes, will return in mercy to us. They acknowledge, Woe unto us that we have sinned! All our woes are owing to our own sin and folly. Though our sins and God's just displeasure cause our sufferings, we may hope in his pardoning mercy, his sanctifying grace, and his kind providence. But the sins of a man's whole life will be punished with vengeance at last, unless he obtains an interest in Him who bare our sins in his own body on the tree.
Verse 7. - We have borne their iniquities. The fathers died before the iniquity was fully ripe for punishment, and their descendants have the feeling that the accumulated sins of the nation are visited upon them. This view of national troubles is very clearly endorsed by one important class of passages (Exodus 20:5; Exodus 34:7; Numbers 14:18; Jeremiah 32:18). The objection to it is forcibly expressed by Job (Job 21:19), "God [it is said] layeth up his iniquity for his children: [but] let him requite it to himself, that he may feel it!" Hence Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:30) and Ezekiel (Ezekiel 18:1, etc.) insist on the truth that every man is punished for his own sins. Of course the two views of punishment are reconcilable. The Jews were not only punished, according to Jeremiah 16:11, 12, for their fathers' sins, but for their own still more flagrant offences.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Our fathers have sinned, and are not,.... In the world, as the Targum adds; they were in being, but not on earth; they were departed from hence, and gone into another world; and so were free from the miseries and calamities their children were attended with, and therefore more happy:
and we have borne their iniquities; the punishment of them, or chastisement for them: this is not said by way of complaint, much less as charging God with injustice, in punishing them for their fathers' sins, or to excuse theirs; for they were ready to own that they had consented to them, and were guilty of the same; but to obtain mercy and pity at the hands of God.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
7. (Jer 31:29).
borne their iniquities—that is, the punishment of them. The accumulated sins of our fathers from age to age, as well as our own, are visited on us. They say this as a plea why God should pity them (compare Eze 18:2, &c.).
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