|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
38:12-22 Wicked men hate goodness, even when they benefit by it. David, in the complaints he makes of his enemies, seems to refer to Christ. But our enemies do us real mischief only when they drive us from God and our duty. The true believer's trouble will be made useful; he will learn to wait for his God, and will not seek relief from the world or himself. The less we notice the unkindness and injuries that are done us, the more we consult the quiet of our own minds. David's troubles were the chastisement and the consequence of his transgressions, whilst Christ suffered for our sins and ours only. What right can a sinner have to yield to impatience or anger, when mercifully corrected for his sins? David was very sensible of the present workings of corruption in him. Good men, by setting their sorrow continually before them, have been ready to fall; but by setting God always before them, they have kept their standing. If we are truly penitent for sin, that will make us patient under affliction. Nothing goes nearer to the heart of a believer when in affliction, than to be under the apprehension of God's deserting him; nor does any thing come more feelingly from his heart than this prayer, Be not far from me. The Lord will hasten to help those who trust in him as their salvation.
Verse 16. - For I said, Hear me, lest otherwise they should rejoice over me; rather, for I said, I will be silent, lest otherwise they should rejoice over me. I feared lest by answering rashly or intemperately I might give my enemies occasion against me. I knew by experience that, when my foot slippeth, they magnify themselves against me. They are always on the watch to catch at any slip on my part, and make it a ground for magnifying themselves and denying me. Hence my silence.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For I said, hear me,.... This he had expressed in prayer to God; he had committed his cause to him, and entreated him that he would hear and answer him; giving this as a reason,
lest otherwise they should rejoice over me; at his misfortunes and calamities, at the continuance of his trouble and distress, both of body and mind;
when my foot slippeth; as it sometimes did through the corruptions of nature, the temptations of Satan, and the snares of the world; which is more or less the case of all the people of God, who are all subject to slips and falls, though they shall not finally and totally fall away;
they magnify themselves against me; that is, his enemies exulted and triumphed over him: this was what he found by experience; and therefore makes use of it as an argument with God, that he would hear and answer and deliver him out of his trouble, and preserve him from falling.
The Treasury of David
16 For I said, Hear me, lest otherwise they should rejoice over me: when my foot slippeth, they magnify themselves against me.
17 For I am ready to halt, and my sorrow is continually before me.
18 For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin.
19 But mine enemies are lively, and they are strong: and they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied.
20 They also that render evil for good are mine adversaries; because I follow the thing that good is.
"For I said, hear me, lest otherwise they should rejoice over me." The good man was not insensible, he dreaded the sharp stings of taunting malice; he feared lest either by his conduct or his condition, he should give occasion to the wicked to triumph. This fear his earnest desires used as an argument in prayer as well as an incentive to prayer. "When my foot slippeth, they magnify themselves against me." The least flaw in a saint is sure to be noticed; long before it comes to a fall the enemy begins to rail, the merest trip of the foot sets all the dogs of hell barking. How careful ought we to be, and how importunate in prayer for upholding grace! We do not wish, like blind Samson, to make sport for our enemies; let us then beware of the treacherous Delilah of sin, by whose means our eyes may soon be put out.
"For I am ready to halt." Like one who limps, or a person with tottering footsteps, in danger of falling. How well this befits us all. "Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall." How small a thing will lame a Christian, how insignificant a stumbling-block may cause him to fall! This passage refers to weakness caused by pain and sorrow; the sufferer was ready to give up in despair; he was so depressed in spirit that he stumbled at a straw. Some of us painfully know what it is to be like dry tinder for the sparks of sorrow; ready to halt, ready to mourn, and sigh and cry upon any occasion, and for any cause. "And my sorrow is continually before me." He did not need to look out of window to find sorrow, he felt it within, and groaned under a body of sin which was an increasing plague to him. Deep conviction continues to irritate the conscience; it will not endure a patched-up peace; but cries war to the knife till the enmity is slain. Until the Holy Ghost applies the precious blood of Jesus, a truly awakened sinner is covered with raw wounds which cannot be healed nor bound up, nor mollified with ointment.
"For I will declare mine iniquity." The slander of his enemies he repudiates, but the accusations of his conscience he admits. Open confession is good for the soul. When sorrow leads to hearty and penitent acknowledgment of sin it is blessed sorrow, a thing to thank God for most devoutly. "I will be sorry for my sin." My confession shall be salted with briny tears. It is well not so much to bewail our sorrows as to denounce the sins which lie at the root of them. To be sorry for sin is no atonement for it, but it is the right spirit in which to repair to Jesus, who is the reconciliation and the Saviour. A man is near to the end of his trouble when he comes to an end with his sins.
"But mine enemies are lively, and they are strong." However weak and dying the righteous man may be, the evils which oppose him are sure to be lively enough. Neither the world, the flesh, nor the devil, are ever afflicted with debility or inertness; this trinity of evils labours with mighty unremitting energy to overthrow us. If the devil were sick, or our lusts feeble, or Madame Bubble infirm, we might slacken prayer; but with such lively and vigorous enemies we must not cease to cry mightily unto our God. "And they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied." Here is another misery, that as we are no match for our enemies in strength, so also they outnumber us as a hundred to one. Wrong as the cause of evil is, it is a popular one. More and more the kingdom of darkness grows. Oh, misery of miseries, that we see the professed friends of Jesus forsaking him, and the enemies of his cross and his cause mustering in increasing bands!
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