Verse 8. An evil disease, say they, cleaveth fast unto him. They whisper that some curse has fallen upon him, and is riveted to him. They insinuate that a foul secret stains his character, the ghost whereof haunts his house, and never can be laid. An air of mystery is cast around this doubly dark saying, as if to show how indistinct are the mutterings of malice. Even thus was our Lord accounted "smitten of God and afflicted." His enemies conceived that God had forsaken him, and delivered him for ever into their hands. And now that he lieth he shall rise up no more. His sickness they hoped was mortal, and this was fine news for them. No more would the good man's holiness chide their sin, they would now be free from the check of his godliness. Like the friars around Wycliffe's bed, their prophesyings were more jubilant than accurate, but they were a sore scourge to the sick man. When the Lord smites his people with his rod of affliction for a small moment, their enemies expect to see them capitally executed, and prepare their jubilates to celebrate their funerals, but they are in too great a hurry, and have to alter their ditties and sing to another tune. Our Redeemer eminently foretokened this, for out of his lying in the grave he has gloriously risen. Vain the watch, the stone, the seal! Rising he pours confusion on his enemies.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 8. An evil disease, say they, cleaveth fast unto him. An evil deed of Belial cleaveth fast to him. Grammarians maintain that the word Belial is compounded of (ylb), beli, and (l[y), yaal, which signify "not to rise" the expression, "thing of Belial" (for so it is literally in the Hebrew), I understand in this place as meaning an extraordinary and hateful crime which as we commonly say can never be expiated, and from which there is no possibility of escape; unless perhaps some would rather refer it to the affliction itself under which he laboured, as if his enemies had said that he was seized by some incurable malady. John Calvin.
Verse 8. An evil disease, etc. What is here meant by (l[ylbrkd) is matter of some difficulty. The ancient interpreters generally render it a perverse or mischievous, or wicked word; the Chaldee, a perverse word; the Syriac, a word of iniquity; the LXX logon paranomon; the Latin, iniquum verbum, a wicked word; the Arabic, words contrary to the law. And so in all probability it is set to signify a great slander, or calumny -- that as "men of Belial" are slanderous persons, so the speech of Belial shall signify a slanderous speech. And this is said to "cleave" to him on whom it is fastened, it being the nature of calumnies, when strongly affixed on any, to cleave fast, and leave some evil mark behind them. Henry Hammond.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 7-12. On a sick bed a man discovers not only his enemies and his friends, but himself and his God, more intimately.