Verse 12. Thou sellest thy people for nought. As men sell merchandise to any one who cares to have it, so the Lord seemed to hand over his people to any nation who might choose to make war upon them. Meanwhile no good result was perceptible from all the miseries of Israel; so far as the psalmist could discover, the Lord's name received no honour from the sorrows of his people; they were given away to their foes as if they were so little valued as not to be worth the ordinary price of slaves, and the Lord did not care to gain by them so long as they did but suffer. The woe expressed in this line is as vinegar mingled with gall: the expression is worthy of the weeping prophet. And dost not increase thy wealth by their price. If Jehovah had been glorified by all this wretchedness it could have been borne patiently, but it was the reverse; the Lord's name had, through the nation's calamities, been despised by the insulting heathen, who counted the overthrow of Israel to be the defeat of Jehovah himself. It always lightens a believer's trouble when he can see that God's great name will be honoured thereby, but it is a grievous aggravation of misery when we appear to be tortured in vain. For our comfort let us rest satisfied that in reality the Lord is glorified, and when no revenue of glory is manifestly rendered to him, he none the less accomplishes his own secret purposes, of which the grand result will be revealed in due time. We do not suffer for nought, nor are our griefs without result.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 12. Thou sellest thy people for nought, and dost not increase thy wealth by their price. The sense is: Thou hast given thy people unto the power of their enemies without trouble, without causing the victory even to be clearly bought, as one who parts with a good for any price, which he despises and hates, desiring merely to get rid of it. E. W. Hengstenberg.
Verse 12. Thou sellest thy people for nought, etc. Referring to the siege of Jerusalem by Titus, Eusebius says: "Many were sold for a small price; there were many to be sold, but few to buy."
Verse 12. And dost not increase thy wealth by their price. Thou hast not advanced thy honour and service thereby; for thy enemies do not serve thee more and better than thy people, nor yet so much. Matthew Pool.
Verse 12. (last clause). Takest no money for them; literally, enhances not the price of them, as a seller usually does to the buyer. Daniel Creswell.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 12. The human and divine estimate of the results of persecution.
Verse 12. In answer to this complaint.
- God's people lose nothing eventually by their privations.
- The wicked gain nothing by their triumphs.
- God loses none of his glory in his dealings with either.