Verse 5. The Lord trieth the righteous: he doth not hate them, but only tries them. They are precious to him, and therefore he refines them with afflictions. None of the Lord's children may hope to escape from trial, nor, indeed, in our right minds, would any of us desire to do so, for trial is the channel of many blessings.
"It is my happiness below
Not to live without the cross;
But the Saviour's power to know,
Sanctifying every loss."
"Trials make the promise sweet;
Trials give new life to prayer; Trials bring me to his feet -- Lay me low, and keep me there."
"Did I meet no trials here -- No chastisement by the way -- Might I not, with reason, fear I should prove a cast away?"
"Bastards may escape the rod, Sunk in earthly vain delight; But the true born child of God Must not -- would not, if he might." William Cowper.
Is not this a very cogent reason why we should not distrustfully endeavour to shun a trial? -- for in so doing we are seeking to avoid a blessing.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 5. The Lord trieth the righteous. Except our sins, there is not such plenty of anything in all the world as there is of troubles which come from sin, as one heavy messenger came to Job after another. Since we are not in paradise, but in the wilderness, we must look for one trouble after another. As a bear came to David after a lion, and a giant after a bear, and a king after a giant, and Philistines after a king, so, when believers have fought with poverty, they shall fight with envy; when they have fought with envy, they shall fight with infamy; when the have fought with infamy, they shall fight with sickness; they shall be like a labourer who is never out of work. Henry Smith.
Verse 5. The Lord trieth the righteous. Times of affliction and persecution will distinguish the precious from the vile, it will difference the counterfeit professor from the true. Persecution is a Christian's touchstone, it is a lapis lydius that will try what metal men are made of, whether they be silver or tin, gold or dross, wheat or chaff, shadow or substance, carnal or spiritual, sincere or hypocritical. Nothing speaks out more soundness and uprightness than a pursuing after holiness, even then when holiness is most afflicted, pursued, and persecuted in the world: to stand fast in fiery trials argues much integrity within. Thomas Brooks.
Verse 5. Note the singular opposition of the two sentences. God hates the wicked, and therefore in contrast he loves the righteous; but it is here said that he tries them: therefore it follows that to try and to love are with God the same thing. C.H.S.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 4-5. In these verses mark the fact that the children of men, as well as the righteous, are tried; work out the contrast between the two trials in their designs and results, etc.
Verse 5. The Lord trieth the righteous.
- Who are tried?
- What in them is tried? -- Faith, love, etc.
- In what manner? -- Trials of every sort.
- How long?
- For what purpose?
Verse 5. His soul hateth. The thoroughness of God's hatred of sin. Illustrate by providential judgments, threatenings, sufferings of the Surety, and the terrors of hell.
Verse 5. The trying of the gold, and the sweeping out of the refuse.