Verse 5. For his anger endureth but a moment. David here alludes to those dispensations of God's providence which are the chastisement ordered in his paternal government towards his erring children, such as the plague which fell upon Jerusalem for David's sins; these are but short judgments, and they are removed as soon as real penitence sues for pardon and presents the great and acceptable sacrifice. What a mercy is this, for if the Lord's wrath smoked for a long season, flesh would utterly fail before him. God puts up his rod with great readiness as soon as its work is done; he is slow to anger and swift to end it. If his temporary and fatherly anger be so severe that it has need be short, what must be the terror of eternal wrath exercised by the Judge towards his adversaries? In his favour is life. As soon as the Lord looked favourably upon David, the city lived, and the king's heart lived too. We die like withered flowers when the Lord frowns, but his sweet smile revives us as the dews refresh the field. His favour not only sweetens and cheers life, but it is life itself, the very essence of life. Who would know life, let him seek the favour of the Lord. Weeping may endure for a night; but nights are not for ever. Even in the dreary winter the day star lights his lamp. It seems fit that in our nights the dews of grief should fall. When the Bridegroom's absence makes it dark within, it is meet that the widowed soul should pine for a renewed sight of the Well beloved. But joy cometh in the morning. When the Sun of Righteousness comes, we wipe our eyes, and joy chases out intruding sorrow. Who would not be joyful that knows Jesus? The first beams of the morning brings us comfort when Jesus is the day dawn, and all believers know it to be so. Mourning only lasts to morning: when the night is gone the gloom shall vanish. This is adduced as a reason for saintly singing, and forcible reason it is; short nights and merry days call for the psaltery and harp.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 5. His anger. Seeing God is often angry with his own servants, what cause have those of you who fear him, to bless him that he is not angry with you, and that you do not feel his displeasure! He sets up others as his mark against which he shoots his arrows; you hear others groaning for his departure, and yet your hearts are not saddened as theirs are; your eyes can look up toward heaven with hope, whilst theirs are clouded with a veil of sorrow; he speaks roughly to them, but comfortable words to you; he seems to set himself against them as his enemies, whilst he deals with you as a loving friend; you see a reviving smile on his face and they can discern nothing there but one continued and dreadful frown. O admire, and for ever wonder at the sovereign, distinguishing grace of God. Are you that are at ease better than many of his people that are now thrown into a fiery furnace? Have you less dross than they? Have they sinned, think you, at a higher rate than you have ever done? He is angry with them for their lukewarmness, for their backsliding; and have your hearts always burned with love? Have your feet always kept his way and not declined? Have you never wandered? Have you never turned aside to the right hand or to the left? Surely you have; and therefore, what a mercy is it, that he is not angry with you as well as with them ... Do not presume for all this; for though he is not angry yet with you, he may be so. This was the fault of David: "In my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved;" but it immediately follows, "Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled." The sun shines now upon you, the candle of the Lord does refresh your tabernacle; but you may meet with many storms, and clouds, and darkness before you come to your journey's end. The disciples were once greatly pleased with the glory of the transfiguration; and during the delightful interview between Christ, and Moses, and Elias, they thought themselves as in heaven; but a cloud came and obscured the preceding glory, and then the poor men were afraid. It is true the anger of God endured but for a moment; but even that moment is very sad, and terrible beyond expression. Weeping endureth for a night; but it may be a very bitter and doleful night for all this. It is a night like that of the Egyptians: when they arose they saw all their firstborn slain, and there was a hideous universal cry and mourning throughout all the land. So this night of the anger of the Lord may destroy all our comforts, and make the firstborn of our strength, the confidence and pleasure of our hopes to give up the ghost. Timothy Rogers.
Verse 5. In his favour is life. Let us see wherein the weight of the blessing and cursing of sheep and goats doth lie. Is it not the gift of eternal life that is our happiness in heaven; but as David saith, "in his favour is life." If a damned soul should be admitted to the fruition of all the pleasures of eternal life without the favour of God, heaven would be hell to him. It is not the dark and horrid house of woe that maketh a soul miserable in hell, but God's displeasure, ite maledicti. If an elect soul should be cast thither, and retain the favour of God, hell would be an heaven to him, and his joy could not all the devils in hell take from him; his night would be turned into day. Edward Marbury.
Verse 5. As an apprentice holds out in hard labour and (it may be) bad usage for seven years together or more, and in all that time is serviceable to his master without any murmuring or repining, because he sees that the time wears away, and that his bondage will not last always, but he shall be set at large and made a freeman in the conclusion: thus should everyone that groaneth under the burden of any cross or affliction whatsoever, bridle his affections, possess his soul in patience, and cease from all murmuring and repining whatsoever, considering well with himself, that the rod of the wicked shall not always rest upon the lot of the righteous; that weeping may abide at evening, but joy cometh in the morning; and that troubles will have an end, and not continue for ever. John Spencer.
Verse 5. How often have we experienced the literal truth of that verse, Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning! How heavily does any trouble weigh on us at night! Our wearied nerve and brain seem unable to bear up under the pressure. Our pulse throbs, and the fevered restless body refuses to help in the work of endurance. Miserable and helpless we feel; and passionately weep under the force of the unresisted attack. At last sleep comes. Trouble, temptation, whatever it be that strives to overcome us, takes the one step too far which overleaps its mark, and by sheer force drives our poor humanity beyond the present reach of further trial. After such a night of struggle, and the heavy sleep of exhaustion, we awake with a vague sense of trouble. Our thoughts gather, and we wonder over our own violence, as the memory of it returns upon us. What was it that seemed so hopeless -- so dark? Why were we so helpless and despairing? Things do not look so now -- sad indeed still, but endurable -- hard, but no longer impossible -- bad enough perhaps, but we despair no more. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. And so, when life with its struggles and toils and sins, bringing us perpetual conflict, ends at last in the fierce struggle of death, then God "giveth his beloved sleep." They sleep in Jesus, and awake to the joy of a morning which shall know no wane -- the morning of joy. The Sun of Righteousness is beaming on them. Light is now on all their ways. And they can only wonder when they recall the despair and darkness, and toil, and violence of their earthly life, and say, as they have often said on earth, "Weeping has endured only for the night, and now it is morning, and joy has come!" And our sorrows, our doubts, our difficulties, our long looks forward, with despair of enduring strength for so long a night of trial -- Where are they? Shall we not feel as is so beautifully described in the words of one of our hymns --
"When in our Father's happy land
We meet our own once more,
Then we shall scarcely understand
Why we have wept before." Mary B. M. Duncan, 1825-1865.
Verse 5. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. Their mourning shall last but till morning. God will turn their winter's night into a summer's day, their sighing into singing, their grief into gladness, their mourning into music, their bitter into sweet, their wilderness into a paradise. The life of a Christian is filled up with interchanges of sickness and health, weakness and strength, want and wealth, disgrace and honour, crosses, and comforts, miseries and mercies, joys and sorrows, mirth and mourning; all honey would harm us, all wormwood would undo us; a composition of both is the best way in the world to keep our souls in a healthy constitution. It is best and most for the health of the soul that the south wind of mercy, and the north wind of adversity, do both blow upon it; and though every wind that blows shall blow good to the saints, yet certainly their sins die most, and their graces thrive best, when they are under the drying, nipping north wind of calamity, as well as under the warm, cherishing south wind of mercy and prosperity. Thomas Brooks.
Verse 5. Joy cometh in the morning. The godly man's joy cometh in the morning, when the wicked man's goeth; for to him "the morning is even as the shadow of death." Job 24:17 . He is not only afraid of reproof and punishment, but he grieves and suffers sufficiently, though nobody should know of his actions, for the impair and loss, and misspence of his strength and his time and his money. Zachary Bogan.
Verse 5. In the second half of the verse weeping is personified, and represented by the figure of a wanderer, who leaves in the morning the lodging, into which he had entered the preceding evening. After him another guest arrives, namely, joy. E. W. Hengstenberg.
Verse 5. The princely prophet says plainly, heaviness may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. As the two angels that came to Lot lodged with him for a night, and when they had dispatched their errand, went away in the morning; so afflictions, which are the angels or the messengers of God. God sendeth afflictions to do an errand unto us; to tell us we forget God, we forget ourselves, we are too proud, too self conceited, and such like; and when they have said as they were bid, then presently they are gone. Thomas Playfere.
Verse 5-10. When a man's heart is set upon the creatures, there being thorns in them all, therefore if he will grasp too much of them, or too hard, he shall find it. God's children are trained up so to it, that God will not let them go away with a sin; if they be too adulterously affected, they shall find a cross in such a thing. You may observe this in the thirtieth Psalm; there you may see the circle God goes in with his children. David has many afflictions, as appeareth by the fifth verse: I cried, and then God returned to me, and joy came. What did David then? "I said, I shall never be moved:" his heart grew wanton, but God would not let him go away so: "God turned away his face and I was troubled." At the seventh verse he is, you see, in trouble again: well, David cries again, at the eighth and tenth verses, and then God turned his mourning into joy again. And this is to be his dealing you shall find in all the Scriptures; but because we find his dealing set so close together in this Psalm, therefore I name it. John Preston, D.D. (1587-1628), in "The Golden Scepter held forth to the Humble."
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 5. The anger of God in relation to his people.
Verse 5. The night of weeping, and the morning of joy.
Verse 5. Life in God's favour.
Verse 5. The transient nature of the believer's trouble, and the permanence of his joy.