Verse 4. The LORD is righteous. Whatever men may be, Jehovah remains just, and will therefore keep covenant with his people and deal out justice to their oppressors. Here is the hinge of the condition: this makes the turning point of Israel's distress. The Lord bears with the long furrows of the wicked, but he will surely make them cease from their ploughing before he has done with them. He hath cut asunder the cords of the wicked. The rope which binds the oxen to the plough is cut; the cord which bound the victim is broken; the bond which held the enemies in cruel unity has snapped. As in Psalms 124:7 we read, "the snare is broken; we are escaped", so here the breaking of the enemies' instrument of oppression is Israel's release. Sooner or later a righteous God will interpose, and when he does so, his action will be most effectual; he does not unfasten, but cuts asunder, the harness which the ungodly use in their labour of hate. Never has God used a nation to chastise his Israel without destroying that nation when the chastisement has come to a close: he hates those who hurt his people even though lie permits their hate to triumph for a while for his own purpose. If any man would have his harness cut, let him begin to plough one of the Lord's fields with the plough of persecution. The shortest way to ruin is to meddle with a saint: the divine warning is, "He that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye."
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 4. The LORD is righteous: he hath cut asunder the cords of the wicked; i.e., he has put an end to their domination and tyranny over us. In the Hebrew word which is rendered "cords" there is a reference to the harness with which the oxen were fastened to the plough; and so to the involved machinations and cruelties of the enemy. The Hebrew word properly denotes thick twisted cords; figuratively, intertwined wickedness; Micah 7:8 . "The cords of the wicked", therefore, signify their power, dominion, tyranny, wickedness, and violence. These cords God is said "to have cut", so that he should have made an end; and, therefore "to have cut" for ever, so that they should never be reunited. --Hermann Venema.
Verse 4. He hath cut asunder the cords of the wicked. The enemies' power has been broken; God has cut asunder the cords of the wicked, has cut their gears, their traces, and so spoiled their ploughing; has cut their scourges, and so spoiled their lashing; has cut the bands of union, by which they were combined together; he has cut the bands of captivity, in which they held God's people. God has many ways of disabling Wicked men to do the mischief they design against his church, and shaming their counsels. --Matthew Henry.
Verse 4. He hath cut asunder the cords of the wicked. He repeateth the same praise of God in delivering his church from oppression of the enemy, under the similitude of cutting the cords of the plough, which tilleth up another man's field. Whence learn,
- The enemies of the church do no more regard her than they do the earth under their feet, and do seek to make their own advantage of her, as usurpers use to do in possessing and labouring of another man's field. "The plowers plowed upon my back."
- The Lord useth to suffer his enemies to break up the fallow ground of his people's proud and stiff hearts with the plough of persecution, and to draw deep and long furrows on them: "They made long their furrows."
- What the enemies do against the church the Lord maketh use of for maturing the church, which is his field, albeit they intend no good to God's church, yet they serve in God's wisdom to prepare the Lord's people for receiving the seed of God's word; for the similitude speaketh of their tilling of the church, but nothing of their sowing, for that is reserved for the Lord himself, who is owner of the field.
- When the wicked have performed so much of God's husbandry as he thinketh good to suffer them, then he stoppeth their design, and looseth their plough. "He Hath cut asunder the cords of the wicked." --David Dickson.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 4. Israel's song of triumph.
- The Lord is righteous in permitting these afflictions to come upon his people.
- He is righteous in keeping his promise of deliverance to his people.
- He is righteous in visiting the enemies of his people with judgment. --W. H. J. P.