Verse 6. Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble. Not till they were in extremities did they pray, but the mercy is that they prayed then, and prayed in the right manner, with a cry, and to the right person, even to the Lord. Nothing else remained for them to do; they could not help themselves, or find help in others, and therefore they cried to God. Supplications which are forced out of us by stern necessity are none the less acceptable with God; but, indeed, they have all the more prevalence, since they are evidently sincere, and make a powerful appeal to the divine pity. Some men will never pray till they are half starved, and for their best interests it is far better for them to be empty and faint than to be full and stouthearted. If hunger brings us to our knees it is more useful to us than feasting; if thirst drives us to the fountain it is better than the deepest draughts of worldly joys; and if fainting leads to crying it is better than the strength of the mighty,
And he delivered them out of their distresses. Deliverance follows prayer most surely. The cry must have been very feeble, for they were faint, and their faith was as weak as their cry; but yet they were heard, and heard at once. A little delay would have been their death: but there was none, for the Lord was ready to save them. The Lord delights to come in when no one else can be of the slightest avail. The case was hopeless till Jehovah interposed, and then all was changed immediately; the people were shut up, straitened, and almost pressed to death, but enlargement came to them at once when they began to remember their God, and look to him in prayer. Those deserve to die of hunger who will not so much as ask for bread, and he who being lost in a desert will not beg the aid of a guide cannot be pitied even if he perish in the wilds and feed the vultures with his flesh.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 6. Then they cried, etc. In these words we find three things remarkable; first, the condition of God's church and people, trouble and distress: Secondly, the practice and the exercise of God's people in this state: "Then they cried unto the Lord": Thirdly, their success, and the good issue of this practice: "And he delivered them", etc. --Peter Smith, in a Sermon preached before the House of Commons, 1644.
Verse 6. Then they cried. The root q[c has here a peculiar force: it denotes a cry of that kind into which any one, when shaken with a violent tempest of emotion, in the extremity of his grief and anxiety, breaks with a crash and with complaining, as the heavens send forth thunder and lightning. The original idea of the word being a crash, it indicates such complaints and cries as they send forth, who are oppressed by others, or are held fast in straits, in imploring public protection and help. See Deuteronomy 22:24 1 Kings 20:39 Isaiah 19:20 . --Venema.
Verse 6. In their trouble. observe the words, "Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble." Not before, nor after, but in it. When they were in the midst of it; when trouble was wrapped round their head, as the weeds were wrapped round the head of Jonah; when they were surrounded by it, and could see no way out of it; when, like a person in a mist, they saw no way of escape before or behind; when nothing but a dark cloud of trouble surrounded their souls, and they did not know that ever that cloud would be dispersed; -- then it was that they cried. --J.C. Philpot.
Verse 6. "Trouble." "Distresses." The condition of the Church, or its most usual lot, is to be under sorrows and afflictions. I say, most usual: "For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made", Isaiah 57:16 . But as we say of the several callings and trades of life, this man professes such a calling, and that man another; and as the poet said of Hermogenes, Though he hold his peace (peradventure being asleep) yet he's a good singer, and a musician by profession: so say I of the people of God, their trade of life is suffering: and as Julian told the Christians, when they complained of his cruelty, It is your profession to endure tribulation. --Peter Smith.