15. Though I have bound and strengthened their arms, yet do they imagine mischief against me.
15. Et ego ligavi, eoboravi brachia ipsorum, et contra me cogitant malum.
God again reproaches the Israelites for having in a base manner abused his goodness and forbearance. Some consider the verb ysr, isar, as meaning, |to chastise,| because God had disciplined the Israelites; and, as I have said yesterday, it is often taken in this sense. But as it signifies sometimes |to bind,| it seems a fitter metaphor for this place. I have bound and strengthened their arms; as though God had said, that he had caused their arms not to be enervated. For we know that the strength of the arm depends on the structure of the nerves. Except the bones were bound together by the nerves, a dissolution would immediately follow. Hence God says, I have bound and strengthened their arms; which two things combine for the same end, and the notion of chastising seems not to me to be in any way suitable to the context. The meaning is, that the Israelites had hitherto continued, because God had sustained them by his power. As when one binds up and strengthens a weak or a loosened arm, so God here reminds Israel that he had preserved them in their position. And the Prophet, I have no doubt, alludes here to the many calamities by which the strength of Israel might have been broken, had not a timely remedy been applied by the Lord.
God then compares himself here to a physician or a surgeon, when he says that he had bound the arm of Israel and strengthened it, when it might have been otherwise broken: for they had been often as it were enervated, but the Lord restored them. We now understand the meaning of the Prophet to be, that God had not only by his power sustained the Israelites, but had also performed the office of a surgeon or a physician, when he saw their arms broken, when they were wasted by slaughters in wars, and by other adversities.
Now the Israelites were so far from being grateful to God and mindful of him, that they were even devising evil against him. For after having obtained victories, after having been restored and even replenished with fulness of all blessings, they the more boldly conspired against him; for under this pretence were superstitions established, and then followed the indulgence of all vices; for pride, and cruelty, and ambition, and frauds, prevailed more and more. Since then the Israelites had thus perverted the blessings of God, was not the hope of pardon and salvation justly cut off from them? Now we are reminded in this place, that whenever God heals our evils, and raises us up in adversity and succors us, we ought devoutly to acknowledge his favor, and not to meditate evil against him, when he so kindly extends his hand to us. Let us now proceed --