The LORD has mingled a perverse spirit in the middle thereof: and they have caused Egypt to err in every work thereof…
The Lord hath mingled a perverse spirit in the midst thereof. Failure in recognizing men's minds and wills, as spheres of Divine operation, makes difficult to us such cases as that of Pharaoh, whose heart the Lord is said to have hardened; or that of the prophets in the time of Ahab, amongst whom God had sent a "lying spirit." But the apostle distinctly taught that all the sides and all the forces of man's nature are in God's control, and that he can work his purposes through them all, Writing to the Romans (Romans 1:28), Paul says of the Gentiles, "God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient." And the heathen have a motto which embodies the same truth, "Whom the gods would destroy they first dement" - a sentence involving a belief in the control of the gods over men's minds. A further illustration may be found in the prayer offered by David in the time of his extreme peril: "O Lord, I pray thee, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness" (2 Samuel 15:31). This truth we can clearly see and fully accept.
I. GOD HAS CONTROL OVER MAN'S CIRCUMSTANCES. These are, undoubtedly, the usual spheres of Divine operation. Life in the midst of varying circumstances, arid subject to the influence of circumstances, is our present lot. God's providence we assume to have its sphere in things and events; and too easily we may come to limit God's working to the incidents of life, and keep him entirely in the external spheres, reaching us only through our senses. So we need to have set before us the further and more searching truth, that -
II. GOD HAS CONTROL OVER MAN'S MIND AND HEART. This may be difficult to harmonize with our notions of man's free-will and independence. But man's free-will is not an absolute thing; it is set within careful and precise limitations. Man has liberty within a tether; and he cannot be trusted beyond the tether. God never looses his hold on him. The point, however, which especially cans for illustration and enforcement here is, that God may execute his judgments on man in the sphere of his mini. A state of stubbornness, perversity, and hardening may be traced by man as the natural response of certain minds to certain circumstances. We are taught to look deeper, and see in bad mental states and moods not Divine permissions only, but Divine operations and Divine judgments. The mental blindness and deafness, the narrow-mindedness, the skeptical tendency, of a particular age, we view aright when we regard as Divine judgment working towards humility. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: The LORD hath mingled a perverse spirit in the midst thereof: and they have caused Egypt to err in every work thereof, as a drunken man staggereth in his vomit.