|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
58:1-5 When wrong is done under the form of law, it is worse than any other; especially it is grievous to behold those who profess to be children of God, joining together against any of his people. We should thank the Lord for merciful restraints; we should be more earnest in seeking renewing grace, more watchful over ourselves, and more patient under the effects of fallen nature in others. The corruption of their nature was the root of bitterness. We may see in children the wickedness of the world beginning. They go astray from God and their duty as soon as possibly they can. And how soon will little children tell lies! It is our duty to take pains to teach them, and above all, earnestly to pray for converting grace to make our children new creatures. Though the poison be within, much of it may be kept from breaking forth to injure others. When the Saviour's words are duly regarded, the serpent becomes harmless. But those who refuse to hear heavenly wisdom, must perish miserably, for ever.
Verse 5. - Which will not hearken to the voice of charmers. Serpent charmers are alluded to in Ecclesiastes 10:11 and Jeremiah 6:17. They have at all times been common in the East, as they are still in India; and it is with reason suspected that the magicians of Pharaoh employed the art in their contest with Moses and Aaron. Charming never so wisely; literally, though they bind their spells skilfully.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Which will not hearken to the voice of charmers,.... Or "that use enchantments", to enchant serpents, by muttering certain words, or by magical songs; by which means it is said that they have been drawn out of their holes, or caused to fly, or have become stupefied, and have lost their poison, and even burst asunder; as Bochart (b) relates from Pliny, Aelianus, Lucan, Isidore, Virgil, Ovid, Horace, and others: but an "asp" is unmoved by enchantments, and they are of no avail against its bites and poison (c). Nor do these words suppose that the psalmist approved of enchantments, or affirms the virtue of them to be real, but rather suggests the contrary; he only takes his similitude from the seeming deafness and disregard of serpents to enchantments, to set forth the obstinacy of wicked men: and their resolution to continue in their wicked ways; like the serpent that disregards men:
charming never so wisely; being "wise, skilful" (d), or made wise in enchanting enchantments; one very learned and expert in the art; or in "associating associations, skilful" (e): who makes a consort of magical words to obtain his point, as some think; or because by his enchantments he associates and gathers many serpents together, and tames them; or because he does this by society and fellowship with the devil; methods no ways approved of by the psalmist, only alluded to. It may perhaps better be rendered, "which will not hearken to the voice of the eloquent, putting things together ever so wisely": the word is used for an eloquent orator, Isaiah 3:3. Such Gospel ministers are, who are mighty in the Scriptures. The voice of the Gospel is a charming voice; it publishes good news and glad tidings; it is a voice of love, grace, and mercy, of peace, pardon, righteousness, and salvation by Christ; and is wisely charmed when it gives no uncertain sound, is all of a piece, and is faithfully preached, as it was by the apostles of Christ; who, as wise men, laid him as the foundation of eternal life and salvation; and especially as it was preached by Christ himself, who spake as never man did: and yet, such were the hardness and obstinacy of the wicked Jews, that they stopped their ears to his ministry, nor would they suffer others to attend upon it; and so it is now: which shows the insufficiency of the best means of themselves, and the necessity of powerful and efficacious grace, to work upon the hearts of men.
(b) Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 2. c. 6. col. 390. (c) Aelian. de Animal. l. 1. c. 54. (d) "incantantis incantationem periti", Vatablus; "vel incantationes exercitati ac peritissimi", Michaelis; "of him that is made wise", Ainsworth. (e) "Jungentis conjunctiones docti", Montanus; "consociantis societates serpentum", Michaelis.
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