Verse 2. Many a time have they afflicted, me from my youth. Israel repeats her statement of her repeated afflictions. The fact was uppermost in her thoughts, and she could not help soliloquizing upon it again and again. These repetitions are after the manner of poetry: thus she makes a sonnet out of her sorrows, music out of her miseries. "Yet they have not prevailed against me." We seem to hear the beat of timbrels and the clash of cymbals here: the foe is derided; his malice has failed. That "yet" breaks in like the blast of trumpets, or the roll of kettledrums. "Cast down, but not destroyed", is the shout of a victor. Israel has wrestled, and has overcome in the struggle. Who wonders? If Israel overcame the angel of the covenant, what man or devil shall vanquish him? The fight was oft renewed and long protracted: the champion severely felt the conflict, and was at times fearful of the issue; but at length he takes breath, and cries, "Yet they have not prevailed against me." "Many a time;" yes, "many a time", the enemy has had his opportunity and his vantage, but not so much as once has he gained the victory.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 2. Many a time, etc. The Christian Church may adopt the language of the Hebrew Church: "Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth: yet they have not prevailed against me." What afflictions were endured by the Christian Church from her youth up! How feeble was that youth! How small the number of the apostles to whom our Lord gave his gospel in charge! How destitute were they of human learning, of worldly influence, of secular power! To effect their destruction, and to frustrate their object -- the glory of God and the salvation of men -- the dungeon and the mine, the rack and the gibbet, were all successively employed. The ploughmen ploughed their back, and made long their furrows. Their property was confiscated; their persons were imprisoned; their civil rights were taken from them; their heads rolled on the scaffold; their bodies were consumed at the burning pile; they were thrown, amidst the ringing shouts of the multitude, to the wild beasts of the amphitheatre. Despite, however, of every opposition, our holy religion took root and grew upward. Not all the fury of ten persecutions could exterminate it from the earth. The teeth of wild beasts could not grind it to powder; the fire could not burn it; the waters could not drown it; the dungeon could not confine it. Truth is eternal, like the great God from whose bosom it springs, and therefore it cannot be destroyed. And because Christianity is the truth, and no lie, her enemies have never prevailed against her. --M. M'Michael.
Verse 2. Yet they have not prevailed against me. The words are the same as in Genesis 32:28 . The blessing won by Jacob, when he wrestled with the angel, remained on his descendants. During the long night of the Captivity the faithful had wrestled in faithful prayer; now the morning had appeared, and Israel was raised to a higher stage of privilege. --W. Kay.
Verse 2. Yet they have not prevailed against me. Israel prevailed with God in wrestling with him, and therefore it is that he prevails with men also. If so be that we will wrestle with God for a blessing, and prevail with him, then we need not to fear but we shall wrestle the enemies out of it also. If we be the people of God, and persist in wrestling against his enemies, we need not fear but that we shall be victorious. -- Alexander Henderson.