Verse 12. Therefore he brought down their heart with labour. In eastern prisons men are frequently made to labour like beasts of the field. As they have no liberty, so they have no rest. This soon subdues the stoutest heart, and makes the proud boaster sing another tune. Trouble and hard toil are enough to tame a lion. God has methods of abating the loftiness of rebellious looks; the cell and the mill make even giants tremble.
They fell down, and there was none to help. Stumbling on in the dark beneath their weary task, they at last fell prone upon the ground, but no one came to pity them or to lift them up. Their fall might be fatal for aught that any man cared about them; their misery was unseen, or, if observed, no one could interfere between them and their tyrant masters. In such a wretched plight the rebellious Israelite became more lowly in mind, and thought more tenderly of his God and of his offences against him. When a soul finds all its efforts at self salvation prove abortive, and feels that it is now utterly without strength, then the Lord is at work hiding pride from man and preparing the afflicted one to receive his mercy. The spiritual case which is here figuratively described is desperate, and therefore affords the finer field for the divine interposition; some of us remember well how brightly mercy shone in our prison, and what music the fetters made when they fell off from our hands. Nothing but the Lord's love could have delivered us; without it we must have utterly perished.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 12. He brought down their heart. O believer, God may see you have many and strong lusts to be subdued, and that you need many and sore afflictions to bring them down. Your pride and obstinacy of heart may be strong, your distempers deeply rooted, and therefore the physic must be proportioned to them. --John Willison.
Verse 12. He brought down their heart with labour. Those towering passions by which they vainly vaunted themselves above the law and the worship of God, he weakened and curbed, so that they began to submit themselves to God. The root [nk taken from the Arabic, describes a process of weakening by compressing the wings or shrinking the fingers, and is properly applied to birds, which when their wings are compressed are obliged to fall to the ground, or to men, who by the shrivelling up of their fingers lose the power of working; whence it is transferred to oppressions or depressions of any kind. -- Venema.
Verse 12. They fell down, and there was none to help. Affliction is then come to the height and its complete measure, when the sinner is made sensible of his own weakness, and doth see there is no help for him, save in God alone. --David Dickson.
Verse 12. They fell down. They threw themselves prostrate at his feet for mercy; their heart and strength failed them, as the word signifies, and is used in Psalms 31:10 ; terrified with a sense of divine wrath, they could not stand before the Lord, nor brave it out against him. And there was none to help. They could not help themselves, nor was there any creature that could. There is salvation in no other than in Christ; when he saw there was none to help him in that work, his own arm brought salvation to him; and when sinners see there is help in no other, they apply to him. --John Gill.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
- The convicted soul's abject condition -- humbled, exhausted, prostrate, deserted.
- His speedy deliverance. Cried, cried while in trouble, unto the Lord, he saved, out of their distresses.