15. O LORD, thou knowest: remember me, and visit me, and revenge me of my persecutors; take me not away in thy longsuffering: know that for thy sake I have suffered rebuke.
15. Tu nosti, Jehova; recordare mei, et visita me, et ulciscere me a persecutoribus meis, ne in prorogatione (vel, protractione) irae tuae tollas me; cognosce sustinuisse me (id est, quod sustinuerim) propter to opprobrium.
The Prophet again turns to God, to shew that he had to do with the deaf. This breaking off in the Prophet's discourse has much more force than if he had pursued regularly his subject. Had he spoken calmly and in uniform order to the people, his address would have been less forcible, than by speaking to them as it were angrily and by severely reproving them, and then immediately by turning from them and addressing God as though bidding adieu to men. Of this we have spoken elsewhere, but it is well to remind you of what we have before noticed. We now perceive the design of the Prophet, in thus abruptly turning from the people to God, and then again from God to the people, even because he indignantly bore the loss of his labor, when the ears of almost all were closed, and when they had become so hardened that they had no fear of God, nor any regard for his teaching. As then the Prophet indignantly bore so great a wickedness, he could not but speak in a hasty manner.
According to this strain, he now says, Thou knowest, Jehovah; remember me, and visit me, and avenge me of mine enemies The Prophet, however, seems here to have been more angry than he ought to have been, for revenge is a passion unbecoming the children of God. How was it, then, that the Prophet was so indignant against the people that he desired revenge? We have said elsewhere that the prophets, though freed from every carnal feeling, might yet have justly prayed for vengeance on the reprobate. We must distinguish between private and public feelings, and also between the passions of the flesh, which keep within no limits, and the zeal of the Spirit. It is certain that the Prophet had no regard to himself when he thus spoke; but he dismissed every regard for himself, and had regard only to the cause of God: for inconsiderate zeal often creeps in, so that we wish all to be condemned of whom we do not approve; and such was the excessive zeal of the disciples, when they said,
|Lord, bid fire to descend from heaven to consume them, as was done by Elias.|
But it is necessary not only to be moved by a pious zeal, but also to be guided by a right judgment: and this second requisite was possessed by the Prophet; for he did not let loose the reins to his own zeal, but subjected himself to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Since, then, these two things were united, -- a right zeal, to the exclusion of any private feeling, -- and the spirit of wisdom and a right judgment, it was lawful to ask for vengeance on the reprobate, as the Prophet does.
There is further no doubt but that he pitied the people; but he was in a manner freed from the influence of human feelings, and had put off whatever might have disturbed him and led him away from moderation. Though, then, the Prophet was thus emancipated and freed from every kind of perturbation, there is yet no doubt but that he prayed for final judgment on the reprobate; and yet, if there were any healable, he doubtless wished them to be saved, and also prayed anxiously for them.
In short, whenever the prophets were carried away by such a fervor as this, we must understand that they were fined by the Spirit of Christ; and we must know that, when they were thus fined, their whole zeal was directed against the reprobate, while they were at the same time endeavoring to gather together all that could be saved: and the same was the case with David; when he fervently implored destruction on his enemies, he no doubt sustained the person of Christ, as he was fined by his Spirit. (Psalm 35:4-6) Hence he turned and levelled all his vehemence against the reprobate; but, when there was any hope of salvation, David also, in the spirit of kindness, prayed for the restoration of those who seemed to have already perished. Now, then, when the Prophet says, |Thou knowest, Jehovah; remember me, and visit, me, and avenge me of my persecutors,| he doubtless does not mean all his persecutors, but those who had been given up and devoted to destruction, and whom he himself knew to be reprobates.
He afterwards shews what he meant by these words -- remember me, and visit me; for he says, Take me not away by deferring So they render the passage, |Whilst thou bearest with the impiety of this people, and for a time suspendest thy vengeance, let not thy wrath take me away.| The word 'rk arek, means to defer, to protract, and also to prolong, to extend, and to continue. Hence this meaning is not unsuitable, |Take me not away in the protraction of thy wrath;| that is, |By protracting thy wrath, not only for one day, but for a long time, take me not away, involve me not in the same destruction with the reprobate.| David also prayed for the same thing,
|When thou destroyest the wicked, involve me not with them.| (Psalm 26:9)
The sum of the whole is, that the Prophet asks a favor for himself, that God would make a difference between him and the reprobate while he was protracting his wrath; that is, while he was not only taking vengeance on the impiety of the people for a short time, but also while he was adding calamities to calamities, and accumulating evils on evils, and while thus his fire burned for a long time, until the whole land was consumed: and this is the meaning which I prefer, though all the interpreters agree in another.
It must further be noticed that the Prophet, in this prayer, did not so much consult his own advantage as the good of the people, -- that they might at length dread the dreadful judgment which was at hand. We have already stated how supine a security prevailed throughout Judea; and they also hoped, that if any calamity happened it would be for a short time, so that, having endured it, they might again live in pleasure and quietness. Hence the Prophet speaks of the protraction of God's wrath, in order that they might know, as I have already said, that the fire which had been kindled could not be extinguished until they all perished.