Verse 5. My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness. Apply this to the body, and it pictures a sad condition of disease; but read it of the soul, and it is to the life. Conscience lays on stripe after stripe till the swelling becomes a wound and suppurates, and the corruption within grows offensive. What a horrible creature man appears to be in his own consciousness when his depravity and vileness are fully opened up by the law of God, applied by the Holy Spirit! It is true there are diseases which are correctly described in this verse, when in the worst stage; but we prefer to receive the expressions as instructively figurative, since the words "because of my foolishness" point rather at a moral than a physical malady. Some of us know what it is to stink in our own nostrils, so as to loathe ourselves. Even the most filthy diseases cannot be so foul as sin. No ulcers, cancers, or putrifying sores, can match the unutterable vileness and pollution of iniquity. Our own perceptions have made us feel this. We write what we do know, and testify what we have seen; and even now we shudder to think that so much of evil should lie festering deep within our nature.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 4-5. See Psalms on "Psalms 38:4" for further information.
Verse 5. My wounds stink and are corrupt, etc. These expressions seem to be in a great measure figurative, and significant rather of the diseased state of his mind than of his body. William Walford.
Verse 5. My wounds stink and are corrupt. I know, O Lord, I have done most foolishly, to let my sores run so long without seeking for help; for now, My wounds stink and are corrupt, in as ill a case as Lazarus' body was when it had been four days buried; enough to make any man despair that did not know thee as I do. For, do not I know, that nullum tempus occurrit tibi; do not I know thou hast as well wisdom to remedy my foolishness as power to cure my wounds? Could the grave hold Lazarus when thou didst but open thy mouth to call him forth? No more can the corruption of my sores be any hindrance to their healing when thy pleasure is to have them to be cured. Although, therefore, I have done my own discretion wrong to defer my care, yet I will not do thy power wrong to despair of thy cure; for, how should I despair, who know thee to be as powerful as thou art merciful; if I may not rather say, to be as merciful as thou art powerful! Sir Richard Baker.
Verse 5. My wounds stink and are corrupt. Either they must be understood literally of the sores that were in his body (as the words in the following verse may also seem to import) which he calls wounds, to intimate that he looked upon them as the wheals or swelling tumours (for so the original word may signify) which the rod of God had made in his flesh, or the wounds of those arrows of which he had spoken Psalms 38:2 , "Thine arrows stick fast in me;" or else figuratively, of any other miseries that God had brought upon him, comparing them to stinking and festering sores; either to imply the long continuance of them, or the sharp pains and sorrows which he felt in himself by reason thereof. Yet some, I know, would have it meant of the shame which his sins had brought upon him. Arthur Jackson.
Verse 5-6. The spiritual feeling of sin is indispensable to the feeling of salvation. A sense of the malady must ever precede, and prepare the soul for, a believing reception and due apprehension of the remedy. Wherever God intends to reveal his Son with power, wherever he intends to make the gospel to be "a joyful sound," he makes the conscience feel and groan under the burden of sin. And sure am I that when a man is labouring under the burden of sin, he will be full of complaint. The Bible records hundreds of the complaints of God's people under the burden of sin. My wounds stink and are corrupt, cries one, because of my foolishness. I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. "My soul," cries another, "is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh until the grave," Psalms 88:3 . "He hath led me," groans out a third, "and brought me into darkness, but not into light." Lamentations 3:2 . A living man must needs cry under such circumstances. He cannot carry the burden without complaining of its weight. He cannot feel the arrow sticking in his conscience without groaning under the pain. He cannot have the worm gnawing his vitals, without complaining of its venomous tooth. He cannot feel that God is incensed against him without bitterly complaining that the Lord is his enemy. Spiritual complaint then is a mark of spiritual life, and is one which God recognises as such. "I have surely hear Ephraim bemoaning himself." Jeremiah 31:18 . It shows that he has something to mourn over; something to make him groan being burdened; that sin has been opened up to him in its hateful malignancy; that it is a trouble and distress to his soul; that he cannot roll it like a sweet morsel under his tongue; but that it is found out by the penetrating eye, and punished by the chastening hand of God. J. C. Philpot. 1842.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 5. Foolishness. The folly of sin. Everything that a man has to do with sin shows his folly.
- Dallying with sin.
- Committing it.
- Continuing in it.
- Hiding it.
- Palliating it.