From the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs, even glory to the righteous. But I said, My leanness, my leanness…
The key-note of this passage is found in the twentieth verse: "The transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it." All these dire evils are the consequences of national transgression. They are fivefold.
I. IT IMPOVERISHES. The prophet, speaking not only for himself, but for his country, exclaims, "My leanness, my leanness, woe unto me!" (ver. 16). The violation of Divine Law not only
(1) reduces a man's bodily strength, causing him to waste away, and bringing the pale cheek and the trembling nerve; but it
(2) outs down a man's resources, changing the princely revenue into a beggar's dole; moreover, it
(3) impoverishes the mind, causing it to starve on empty folly while it might be nourished with heavenly truth; and
(4) it despoils the soul, making it barren of those noble virtues and those exquisite graces which elevate and beautify human character.
II. IT DELUDES. It is full of treachery (ver. 16); its victims delude themselves with the notion that they are escaping, but they only flee from the noise to fall into the pit, or escape from the pit to be entangled in the net (vers. 17, 18). This is "the deceitfulness of sin." Men think they will shake themselves free from their iniquity a little further on, but they find that temptation awaits them at every point, that one sin paves the way for another: indulgence leads down to dishonesty, and dishonesty conducts to falsehood; superstition ends in skepticism, and skepticism in utter unbelief. There is no escape from the consequences of folly but by entering the path of wisdom, from the penalty of sin but by penitence and purity. They who look to time and chance for deliverance are only deluding themselves with a hope which will certainly "make ashamed" those that cherish it.
III. IT AGITATES. "The foundations of the earth do shake... the earth is moved exceedingly... (it) shall reel to and fro"(vers. 18-20). There often comes a time in the history of folly, or of crime, or of transgression, when the subject of it - individual or collective - finds everything unsettled, shaking beneath his (its) feet; it is to him as if the very ground were rocking; friends fall away, kindred disown, confidence is lost, obligations are pressed against him, the last measures are taken, liberty itself is threatened, the blackest clouds overhang; behind is folly and before is ruin, while within are agitation and alarm.
IV. IT OPPRESSES AND EVEN CRUSHES. "The transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again" (ver. 20). Sin lies with a heavy weight upon the soul. The sense of guilt, the Wearing weight of wrong-doing, oppresses the spirit, takes away its elasticity, its freshness, its vigor. Sometimes it does much more than that - it crushes the soul; it makes it incapable of attempting anything better; it gives way to a fatal despondency, and pursues the evil path even to the bitter end. One of the very worst penalties of sin is the dead weight which it lays on the spirit of the sinner, killing his hope and dooming him to despair and death.
V. IT IMPRISONS. The "high ones" were to be "shut up in the prison" (vers. 21, 22). There is no dungeon, however dark and strong, in which the bodies of men have been confined that is so dark and so deplorable as "the pit" or "prison in which sin shuts up its victims. The children of iniquity are slaves; they wear bends which are more firmly riveted than the closest iron fetters on human limbs; they are bondmen indeed; their pitiable thraldom is slavery itself, of which the imprisonment of the body is only the type and picture. In Jesus Christ and in his service is:
2. Truth and disillusion.
3. The calm of conscientiousness and a well-grounded hope.
4. Expectation founded on a wise and holy trustfulness.
5. Spiritual freedom. Whom the Son makes free, they are free indeed;" "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: From the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs, even glory to the righteous. But I said, My leanness, my leanness, woe unto me! the treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously; yea, the treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously.
WEB: From the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs. Glory to the righteous! But I said, "I pine away! I pine away! woe is me!" The treacherous have dealt treacherously. Yes, the treacherous have dealt very treacherously.