Verse 3. For the rod of the wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous. The people of God are not to expect immunity from trial because the Lord surrounds them, for they may feel the power and persecution of the ungodly. Isaac, even in Abraham's family, was mocked by Ishmael. Assyria laid its sceptre even upon Zion itself. The graceless often bear rule and wield the rod; and when they do so they are pretty sure to make it fall heavily upon the Lord's believing people, so that the godly cry out by reason of their oppressors. Egypt's rod was exceeding heavy upon Israel, but the time came for it to be broken. God has set a limit to the woes of his chosen: the rod may light on their portion, but it shall not rest upon it. The righteous have a lot which none can take from them, for God has appointed them heirs of it by gracious entail: on that lot the rod of the wicked may fall, but over that lot it cannot have lasting sway. The saints abide for ever, but their troubles will not. Here is a good argument in prayer for all righteous ones who are in the hands of the wicked.
Lest the righteous put forth their hands unto iniquity. The tendency of oppression is to drive the best of men into some hasty deed for self deliverance or vengeance. If the rack be too long used the patient sufferer may at last give way; and therefore the Lord puts a limit to the tyranny of the wicked. He ordained that an Israelite who deserved punishment should not be beaten without measure: forty stripes save one was the appointed limit. We may therefore expect that he will set a bound to the suffering of the innocent, and will not allow them to be pushed to the uttermost extreme. Especially in point of time he will limit the domination of the persecutor, for length adds strength to oppression, and makes it intolerable; hence the Lord himself said of a certain tribulation, "except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved; but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened."
It seems that even righteous men are in peril of sinning in evil days, and that it is not the will of the Lord that they should yield to the stress of the times in order to escape from suffering. The power and influence of wicked men when they are uppermost are used to lead or drive the righteous astray; but the godly must not accept this as an excuse, and yield to the evil pressure; far rather must they resist with all their might till it shall please God to stay the violence of tim persecutor, and give his children rest. This the Lord here promises to do in due time.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 3. The rod of the wicked. It is, their rod, made for them; if God scourge his children a little with it, he doth but borrow it from tile immediate and natural use for which it was ordained; their rod, their judgment. So it is called their cup: "This is the portion" and potion "of their cup." Psalms 11:6 . --Thomas Adams, in "An Exposition of the Second Epistle of Peter", 1633.
Verse 3. For the rod of the wicked, etc. According to Gussetius, this is to be understood of a measuring rod; laid not on persons, but on lands and estates; and best agrees with the lot, inheritance, and estate of the righteous; and may signify that though wicked men unjustly seize upon and retain the farms, possessions, and estates of good men, as if they were assigned to them by the measuring line; yet they shall not hold them long, or always. -- John Gill.
Verse 3. For the rod of the wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous. No tyranny, although it appear firm and stable, is of long continuance: inasmuch as God does not relinquish the sceptre. This is manifest from the example of Pharaoh, of Saul, of Sennacherib, of Herod, and of others. Rightly, therefore, says Athanasius of Julian the Apostate, "That little cloud has quickly passed away." And how quickly beyond all human expectation the foundations of the ungodly are overthrown is fully declared in Psalms 37:1-40 . --Solomon Gesner, 1559-1605.
Verse 3. Shall not rest, that is to say, "lie heavy", so as to oppress, as in Isaiah 25:10 , with a further sense of continuance of the oppression. --J. J. Stewart Perowne.
Verse 3. Shall not rest, etc. The wrath of man, like water turned upon a mill, shall come on them with no more force than shall be sufficient for accomplishing God's gracious purposes on their souls: the rest, however menacing its power may be, shall be made to pass off by an opened sluice. Nevertheless the trouble shall be sufficient to try every man and to prove the truth and measure of his integrity. --Charles Simeon (1759-1836), in "Horae Homileticae."
Verse 3. The lot of the righteous. There is a fourfold lot belonging to the faithful.
- The lot of the saints is the sufferings of the saints. "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution:" 2 Timothy 3:12 .
- The lot of the saints is also that light and happiness they have in this world. The lot is "fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage:" Psalms 26:6 . When David sat at he sheepfold, which was his lot, he was thus prepared for the kingdom of Israel which was given him by lot from God.
- But more specially faith, grace, and sanctification; which give them just right and title to the inheritance of glory. Heaven is theirs now; though not in possession, yet in succession. They have the earnest of it; let them grow up to stature and perfection, and take it.
- Lastly, they have the lot of heaven. Hell is the lot of the wicked: "Behold at evening tide trouble; and before the morning he is not. This is the portion of them that spoil us, and the lot of them that rob us": Isaiah 27:14 . Therefore it is said of Judas, that he went "to his own place": Acts 1:25 . "Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest; this shall be the portion of their cup": Ps 11:6. But the lot of the righteous is faith, and the end of their faith the salvation of their souls. God gives them heaven, not for any foreseen worthiness in the receivers, for no worthiness of our own can make us our father's heirs; but for his own mercy and favour in Christ, preparing heaven for us, and us for heaven. So that upon his decree it is allotted to us; and unless heaven could lose God, we cannot lose heaven.
Here, then, consider how the lottery of Canaan may shadow out to us that blessed land of promise whereof tile other was a type. --Thomas Adams.
Verse 3. Lest the righteous out fort their hands unto iniquity. Lest overcome by impatience, or drawn aside by the world's allurements or affrightments, they should yield and comply with the desires of the wicked, or seek to help themselves out of trouble by sinister practices. God (saith Chrysostom) acts like a lutanist, who will not let the strings of his lute be too slack, lest it mar the music, nor suffer them to be too hard stretched or screwed up, lest they break. --John Trapp, 1601-1669.
Verse 3. Lest the righteous put forth their hands, etc. The trial is to prove faith, not to endanger it by too sharp a pressure: lest, overcome by this, even the faithful put forth a hand (as in Genesis 3:22 ), to forbidden pleasure; or (as in Exodus 22:8 ), to contamination: through force of custom gradually persuading to sinful compliance, or through despair of good, as the Psalmist (see Psalms 37:1-40 and Psalms 73:1-28 ) describes some in his day who witnessed the prosperity of wicked men. --The Speaker's Commentary, 1871-1881.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 3. Observe,
- The Permission implied. The rod of the wicked may come upon the lot of the righteous. Why?
- That wickedness may be free to manifest itself.
- That the righteous may be made to hate sin.
- That the righteousness of God's retribution may be seen.
- That the consolations of the righteous may abound. 2 Corinthians 1:5 .
- The Permanency denied: "The rod ... shall not rest", etc. Illustrate by history of Job, Joseph, David, Daniel, Christ, martyrs, etc.
- The Probity tried and preserved: "Lest the righteous put forth", etc., by rebelling, sinful compromise, etc.
- God will have it tried, to prove its worth, beauty, etc.
b) But no more than sufficiently tried. --John Field, of Sevenoaks.
- The good defined: "The upright in heart"; such as do not "turn aside", and are not "workers of iniquity."
- The good distressed: by "the rod of the wicked."
- The good delivered: "Do good"; fulfil thy promise ( Psalms 125:3 ). --W. H. J. Page.