|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
73:21-28 God would not suffer his people to be tempted, if his grace were not sufficient, not only to save them from harm, but to make them gainers by it. This temptation, the working of envy and discontent, is very painful. In reflecting upon it, the psalmist owns it was his folly and ignorance thus to vex himself. If good men, at any time, through the surprise and strength of temptation, think, or speak, or act amiss, they will reflect upon it with sorrow and shame. We must ascribe our safety in temptation, and our victory, not to our own wisdom, but to the gracious presence of God with us, and Christ's intercession for us. All who commit themselves to God, shall be guided with the counsel both of his word and of his Spirit, the best counsellors here, and shall be received to his glory in another world; the believing hopes and prospects of which will reconcile us to all dark providences. And the psalmist was hereby quickened to cleave the closer to God. Heaven itself could not make us happy without the presence and love of our God. The world and all its glory vanishes. The body will fail by sickness, age, and death; when the flesh fails, the conduct, courage, and comfort fail. But Christ Jesus, our Lord, offers to be all in all to every poor sinner, who renounces all other portions and confidences. By sin we are all far from God. And a profession Christ, if we go on in sin, will increase our condemnation. May we draw near, and keep near, to our God, by faith and prayer, and find it good to do so. Those that with an upright heart put their trust in God, shall never want matter for thanksgiving to him. Blessed Lord, who hast so graciously promised to become our portion in the next world, prevent us from choosing any other in this.
Verse 21. - Thus my heart was grieved; literally, for my heart was grieved, or "was soured." The "for" refers to a suppressed phrase of self-condemnation, "But at the time I did not see all this - the solution did not present itself to me." I was too full of grief and bitterness to consider the matter calmly and dispassionately. And I was pricked in my reins; i.e. "a pang of passionate discontent had pierced my inmost being" (Cheyne).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Thus my heart was grieved,.... Not with his own sins, nor with the sins of the wicked, but at their prosperity; for this is an account of himself, while under the temptation, and before he went into the sanctuary of the Lord; or when he was "leavened" (r), with the old leaven of wickedness, and envy, and indignation; he was in a ferment, so Plautus (s) uses the phrase for being in anger and wrath; he swelled, as what is leavened does, against God and his providence: or was "soured" (t); he was out of humour and angry with God, or was exasperated and provoked at the favours bestowed upon the wicked. Some render it "inflamed" (u), made hot; not with the love of God, and meditation upon it, but with wrath and indignation:
and I was pricked in my reins; disturbed and distracted in his thoughts, felt a great deal of pain in his mind, while he was considering the prosperity of the wicked; which was as a sword in his bones, and as an arrow shot into his reins; see Lamentations 3:13.
(r) "effervesceret fermenti instar", Tigurine version; "in fermento esset", Cocceius; so Ainsworth. (s) Casina, Acts 2. Sc. 5. v. 17. (t) Acescet Montanus; "quasi aceto acri perfundebatur", Vatablus. (u) "Inflammatum est", V. L.
The Treasury of David
21 Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins.
22 So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee.
23 Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand.
24 Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.
The holy poet here reviews his inward struggle and awards himself censure for his folly. His pain had been intense; he says, "Thus my heart was grieved." It was a depp-seated sorrow, and one which penetrated his inmost being. Alexander reads it, "My heart is soured." His spirit had become embittered; he had judged in a harsh, crabbed, surly manner. He had become atrabilious, full of black bile, melancholy, and choleric; he had poisoned his own life at the fountain-head, and made all its streams to be bitter as gall. "And I was pricked in my reins." He was as full of pain as a man afflicted with renal disease; he had pierced himself through with many sorrows; his hard thoughts were like so many calculi in his kidneys; he was utterly wretched and woebegone, and all through his own reflections. O miserable philosophy, which stretches the mind on the rack, and breaks it on the wheel! O blessed faith, which drives away the inquisitors, and sets the captives free!
"So foolish was I." He, though a saint of God, had acted as if he had been one of the fools whom God abhorreth. Had he not even envied them? - and what is that but to aspire to be like them? The wisest of men have enough folly in them to ruin them unless grace prevents. "And ignorant." He had acted as if he knew nothing, had babbled like an idiot, had uttered the very drivel of a witless loon. He did not know how sufficiently to express his sense of his own fatuity. "I was as a beast before thee." Even in God's presence he had been brutish, and worse than a beast. As the grass-eating ox has but this present life, and can only estimate things thereby, and by the sensual pleasure which they afford, even so had the Psalmist judged happiness by this mortal life, by outward appearances, and by fleshly enjoyments. Thus he had, for the time, renounced the dignity of an immortal spirit, and, like a mere animal, judged after the sight of the eyes. We should be very loth to call an inspired man a beast, and yet, penitence made him call himself so; nay, he uses the plural, by way of emphasis, and as if he were worse than any one beast. It was but an evidence of his true wisdom that he was so deeply conscious of his own folly. We see how bitterly good men bewail mental wanderings; they make no excuses for themselves, but set their sins in the pillory, and cast the vilest reproaches upon them. O for grace to detest the very appearance of evil!
"Nevertheless I am continually with thee." He does not give up his faith, though he confesses his folly. Sin may distress us, and yet we may be in communion with God. It is sin beloved and delighted in which separates us from the Lord, but when we bewail it heartily, the Lord will not withdraw from us. What a contrast is here in this and the former verse! He is as a beast, and yet continually with God. Our double nature, as it always causes conflict, so is it a continuous paradox: the flesh allies us with the brutes, and the spirit affiliates us to God. "Thou hast holden me by my right hand." With love dost thou embrace me, with honour ennoble me, with power uphold me. He had almost fallen, and yet was always upheld. He was a riddle to himself, as he had been a wonder unto many. This verse contains the two precious mercies of communion and upholding, and as they were both given to one who confessed himself a fool, we also may hope to enjoy them.
"Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel." I have done with choosing my own way, and trying to pick a path amid the jungle of reason. He yielded not only the point in debate, but all intention of debating, and he puts his hand into that of the great Father, asking to be led, and agreeing to follow. Our former mistakes are a blessing, when they drive us to this. The end of our own wisdom is the beginning of our being wise. With Him is counsel, and when we come to him, we are sure to be led aright. "And afterward." "Afterward!" Blessed word. We can cheerfully put up with the present, when we foresee the future. What is around us just now is of small consequence, compared with afterward. "Receive me to glory." Take me up into thy splendour of joy. Thy guidance shall conduct me to this matchless terminus. Glory shall I have, and thou thyself wilt admit me into it. As Enoch was not, for God took him, so all the saints are taken up - received up into glory.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
21, 22. He confesses how—
foolish—literally, "stupid," and
ignorant—literally, "not discerning," had been his course of thought.
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