Matthew Henry Commentary
His melancholy fears and apprehensions: I communed with my own heart, v. 6. Come, my soul, what will be the issue of these things? What can I think of them and what can I expect they will come to at last? I made diligent search into the causes of my trouble, enquiring wherefore God contended with me and what would be the consequences of it.
And thus I began to reason,
Will the Lord cast off for ever, as he does for the present?
He is not now favourable; and will he be favourable no more?
His mercy is now gone; and is it clean gone for ever?
His promise now fails; and does it fail for evermore?
God is not now gracious; but has he forgotten to be gracious?
His tender mercies have been withheld, perhaps in wisdom; but are they shut up, shut up in anger?”
v. 7-9. This is the language of a disconsolate deserted soul, walking in darkness and having no light, a case not uncommon even with those that fear the Lord and obey the voice of his servant, Isa. 50:10. He may here be looked upon,
1. As groaning under a sore trouble. God hid his face from him, and withdrew the usual tokens of his favour.
Note, Spiritual trouble is of all trouble most grievous to a gracious soul; nothing wounds and pierces it like the apprehensions of God’s being angry, the suspending of his favour and the superseding of his promise; this wounds the spirit; and who can bear that?
2. As grappling with a strong temptation.
Note, God’s own people, in a cloudy and dark day, may be tempted to make desperate conclusions about their own spiritual state and the condition of God’s church and kingdom in the world, and, as to both, to give up all for gone. We may be tempted to think that God has abandoned us and cast us off, that the covenant of grace fails us, and that the tender mercy of our God shall be for ever withheld from us. But we must not give way to such suggestions as these. If fear and melancholy ask such peevish questions, let faith answer them from the Scripture:
Will the Lord cast off for ever?
God forbid, Rom. 11:1.
No; the Lord will not cast off his people, Ps. 94:14.
Will he be favourable no more?
Yes, he will; for, though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion, Lam. 3:32.
Is his mercy clean gone for ever?
No; his mercy endures for ever; as it is from everlasting, it is to everlasting, Ps. 103:17.
Doth his promise fail for evermore?
No; it is impossible for God to lie, Heb. 6:18.
Hath God forgotten to be gracious?
No; he cannot deny himself, and his own name which he hath proclaimed gracious and merciful, Ex. 34:6.
Has he in anger shut up his tender mercies?
No; they are new every morning (Lam. 3:23); and therefore, How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? Hos. 11:8, 9.
Thus was he going on with his dark and dismal apprehensions when, on a sudden, he first checked himself with that word, Selah, “Stop there; go no further; let us hear no more of these unbelieving surmises;” and he then chid himself (v. 10): I said,
This is my infirmity.
He is soon aware that it is not well said, and therefore, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? I said, This is my affliction” (so some understand it); “This is the calamity that falls to my lot and I must make the best of it; every one has his affliction, his trouble in the flesh; and this is mine, the cross I must take up.” Or, rather, “This is my sin; it is my iniquity, the plague of my own heart.” These doubts and fears proceed from the want and weakness of faith and the corruption of a distempered mind. note,
(1.) We all know that concerning ourselves of which we must say, “This is our infirmity, a sin that most easily besets us.”
(2.) Despondency of spirit, and distrust of God, under affliction, are too often the infirmities of good people, and, as such, are to be reflected upon by us with sorrow and shame, as by the psalmist here:
This is my infirmity.
When at any time it is working in us we must thus suppress the rising of it, and not suffer the evil spirit to speak. We must argue down the insurrections of unbelief, as the psalmist here: But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High. He had been considering the years of ancient times (v. 5), the blessings formerly enjoyed, the remembrance of which did only add to his grief; but now he considered them as the years of the right hand of the Most High, that those blessings of ancient times came from the Ancient of days, from the power and sovereign disposal of his right hand who is over all, God, blessed for ever, and this satisfied him; for may not the Most High with his right hand make what changes he pleases?