Verse 3-5. David now gives us his own experience: no instructor is so efficient as one who testifies to what he has personally known and felt. He writes well who like the spider spins his matter out of his own bowels.
Verse 4. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me. God's finger can crush us -- what must his hand be, and that pressing heavily and continuously! Under terrors of conscience, men have little rest by night, for the grim thoughts of the day dog them to their chambers and haunt their dreams, or else they lie awake in a cold sweat of dread. God's hand is very helpful when it uplifts, but it is awful when it presses down: better a world on the shoulder, like Atlas, than God's hand on the heart, like David. My moisture is turned into the drought of summer. The sap of his soul was dried, and the body through sympathy appeared to be bereft of its needful fluids. The oil was almost gone from the lamp of life, and the flame flickered as though it would soon expire. Unconfessed transgression, like a fierce poison, dried up the fountain of the man's strength and made him like a tree blasted by the lightning, or a plant withered by the scorching heat of a tropical sun. Alas! for a poor soul when it has learned its sin but forgets its Saviour, it goes hard with it indeed. Selah. It was time to change the tune, for the notes are very low in the scale, and with such hard usage, the strings of the harp are out of order: the next verse will surely be set to another key, or will rehearse a more joyful subject.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 4. Thy hand. A correcting hand, whereby God scourges and buffets his own children. Now the sense of God's power punishing or correcting, is called God's hand, as 1 Samuel 5:11 . The hand of God was sore at Ekron, because of the ark; and a heavy hand in resemblance, because when men smite they lay their hand heavier than ordinary. Hence, we may note three points of doctrine: first, that all afflictions are God's hand; secondly, that God lays his hand heavily often upon his dear children; thirdly, that God often continues his heavy hand night and day on them. Thomas Taylor.
Verse 4. My moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Another meaning may be attributed to these words. We may suppose the psalmist to be referring to spiritual drought. Charles H. Bingham, B.A., in "Lectures on the Thirty-second Psalm," 1836.
Verse 4. My moisture is turned into the drought of summer. The summer is from the middle of August to the middle of November. The intensity of the heat is great, and almost intolerable ... Up to the beginning or middle of September there are no showers, rain being as scarce in summer as snow ... The dry grass of the fields sometimes takes fire, and produces desolating conflagrations, and the parched earth is cleft and broken into chasms. John Eadie, D.D., LL.D., in Biblical Cyclopaedia, 1868.
Verse 4. The drought of summer. Dr. Russell, in his account of the weather at Aleppo, which very much resembles that of Judea, says that the verdure of the spring fades before the middle of May, and before the end of that month the whole country puts on so parched and barren an aspect that one would scarce think it capable of producing anything, there being but very few plants that have vigour enough to resist the extreme heat. Thomas Harmer's "Observations," 1775.
Verse 4. The drought of summer. During the twelve years from 1846 to 1859 only two slight showers fell in Jerusalem between the months of May and October. One fell in July, 1858, another in June 1859. Dr. Whitty's "Water Supply of Jerusalem," quoted in Kitto's Cyclopaedia.
Verse 4. If God striketh those so sore whom he favoureth, how sharply and sore will he strike them whom he favoureth not. Gregory.
Verse 4-5. If our offences have been not gnats, but camels, our sorrow must be not a drop, but an ocean. Scarlet sins call for bloody tears; and if Peter sin heinously he must weep bitterly. If, then, thy former life hath been a cord of iniquity, twisted with many threads, a writing full of great blots, a course spotted with various and grievous sins, multiply thy confessions and enlarge thy humiliation; double thy fastings and treble thy prayers; pour out thy tears, and fetch deep sighs; in a word, iterate and aggravate thy acknowledgments, though yet, as the apostle saith in another case, I say in this, "Grieve not as without hope," that upon thy sincere and suitable repentance divine goodness will forgive thee thy sins. Nathanael Hardy.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 3-4. "Terrible Conviction and Gentle Drawings." See "Spurgeon's Sermons," No. 313.
Verse 4. The sorrows of a convinced soul. Daily, nightly, from God, heavy, weakening, destroying.
Verse 4. (last clause) Spiritual drought.