Return, O Lord
Either from the fierceness of thine anger, according to Aben Ezra and Jarchi; of which complaint is made, ( Psalms 90:7 Psalms 90:9 ) , or unto us, from whom he had departed; for though God is everywhere, as to his being and immensity, yet, as to his gracious presence, he is not; and where that is, he sometimes withdraws it; and when he visits again with it, be may be said to return; and when he returns, he visits with it, and which is here prayed for; and designs a manifestation of himself, of his love and grace, and particularly his pardoning mercy; see ( Psalms 80:14 ) ( Psalms 85:2 Psalms 85:3 )
this is a short abrupt way of speaking, in which something is understood, which the affection of the speaker would not admit him to deliver; and may be supplied, either thus,
how long wilt thou be angry?
God is sometimes angry with his people, which, when they are sensible of, gives them a pain and uneasiness they are not able to bear; and though it endures but for a moment, yet they think it a long time; see ( Psalms 30:5 ) ( 85:5 ) . Arama interprets it,
``how long ere the time of the Messiah shall come?''or "how long wilt thou hide thyself?" when he does this, they are troubled; and though it is but for a small moment he forsakes them, yet they count it long, and as if it was for ever; see ( Psalms 13:1 ) ( 89:46 ) , or "how long wilt thou afflict us?" as the Targum; afflictions come from the Lord, and sometimes continue long; at least they are thought so by the afflicted, who are ready to fear God has forgotten them and their afflictions, ( Psalms 44:23 Psalms 44:24 ) , or "how long wilt thou defer help?" the Lord helps, and that right early, at the most seasonable time, and when difficulties, are the greatest; but it sometimes seems long first; see ( Psalms 6:3 Psalms 6:4 ) ,
and let it repent thee concerning thy servants;
men are all so, of right, by creation, and through the benefits of Providence; and many, in fact, being made willing servants by the grace of God; and this carries in it an argument for the petition: repentance does not properly belong to God; it is denied of him, ( Numbers 23:19 ) ( 1 Samuel 15:29 ) , yet it is sometimes ascribed to him, both with respect to the good he has done, or promised, and with respect to the evil he has brought on men, or threatened to bring; see ( Genesis 6:6 ) ( 1 Samuel 15:11 ) ( Jeremiah 18:8 Jeremiah 18:10 ) , and in the latter sense it is to be understood here; and intends not any change of mind or will in God, which cannot be; but a change of his dispensations, with respect to desertion, affliction, and the like; which the Targum expresses thus,
``and turn from the evil thou hast said thou wilt do to thy servants:''if this respects the Israelites in the wilderness, and their exclusion from Canaan, God never repented of what he threatened; he swore they should not enter it, and they did not, only their children, excepting two persons: some render the words, "comfort thy servants" F6; with thy presence, the discoveries of thy love, especially pardoning grace, and by removing afflictions, or supporting under them.
F6 (Mxnh) "consolare", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus.