|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
78:9-39. Sin dispirits men, and takes away the heart. Forgetfulness of God's works is the cause of disobedience to his laws. This narrative relates a struggle between God's goodness and man's badness. The Lord hears all our murmurings and distrusts, and is much displeased. Those that will not believe the power of God's mercy, shall feel the fire of his indignation. Those cannot be said to trust in God's salvation as their happiness at last, who can not trust his providence in the way to it. To all that by faith and prayer, ask, seek, and knock, these doors of heaven shall at any time be opened; and our distrust of God is a great aggravation of our sins. He expressed his resentment of their provocation; not in denying what they sinfully lusted after, but in granting it to them. Lust is contented with nothing. Those that indulge their lust, will never be estranged from it. Those hearts are hard indeed, that will neither be melted by the mercies of the Lord, nor broken by his judgments. Those that sin still, must expect to be in trouble still. And the reason why we live with so little comfort, and to so little purpose, is, because we do not live by faith. Under these rebukes they professed repentance, but they were not sincere, for they were not constant. In Israel's history we have a picture of our own hearts and lives. God's patience, and warnings, and mercies, imbolden them to harden their hearts against his word. And the history of kingdoms is much the same. Judgments and mercies have been little attended to, until the measure of their sins has been full. And higher advantages have not kept churches from declining from the commandments of God. Even true believers recollect, that for many a year they abused the kindness of Providence. When they come to heaven, how will they admire the Lord's patience and mercy in bringing them to his kingdom!
Verse 33. - Therefore their days did he consume in vanity, and their years in trouble. Their faithlessness was punished by their forty years of vain and purposeless wandering in the wilderness, and by the "troubles" that befell them there.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Therefore their days did he consume in vanity,.... They were not immediately cut off by the hand of God, though some were; but the greatest part spent their time, for about eight and thirty years together, in fruitless marches to and fro in the wilderness, and never entered into the land of Canaan, where they were gradually wasted and consumed, till at length all their carcasses fell in the wilderness; see Numbers 14:32, time spent in sin is all waste time, and is spent in vanity; let a man enjoy ever so much of worldly things, it is all vanity and vexation of spirit; if he does not get to heaven at last, his life here is lived in vain; it had been better if he had never been born:
and their years in trouble: or "in terror" (a) and consternation; through their enemies, who smote and discomfited them, Numbers 14:45, through the earth's opening and swallowing many of them up; through fire coming from heaven on some of them, and fiery serpents being sent among them all, Numbers 16:31. It is an awful consideration, and yet it is true, of some wicked men, though not all, that they have nothing but trouble here, by what their sins bring upon them, and hell at last. Kimchi renders the word here used "suddenly", and interprets it of the sudden death of the spies; so the Syriac and Arabic versions "swiftly", following the Vulgate Latin, which renders it "with haste".
(a) "in terrore", Montanus; "per consternationem aut terrorem", Gejerus; "in terrore et consternatione", Michaelis.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
33-39. Though there were partial reformations after chastisement, and God, in pity, withdrew His hand for a time, yet their general conduct was rebellious, and He was thus provoked to waste and destroy them, by long and fruitless wandering in the desert.
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