Verse 7. Lo, then would I wander far off. Yet when David was far off, he sighed to be once more near Jerusalem; thus, in our ill estate we ever think the past to be better than the present. We shall be called to fly far enough away, and perchance we shall be loath to go; we need not indulge vain notions of premature escape from earth.
And remain in the wilderness. He found it none such a dear abode when there, yet resolves now to make it his permanent abode. Had he been condemned to receive his wish he would ere long have felt like Selkirk, in the poet's verse --
"O solitude, where are the charms
That sages have found in thy face?
Better dwell in the midst of alarms
Than reign in this horrible place."
Our Lord, while free from all idle wishes, found much strength in solitude, and loved the mountain's brow at midnight, and the quiet shade of the olives of Gethsemane. It is better practically to use retirement than pathetically to sigh for it. Yet it is natural, when all men do us wrong, to wish to separate ourselves from their society; nature, however, must yield to grace, and we must endure the contradiction of sinners against ourselves, and not be weary and faint in our minds.
Selah. After such a flight well may the mind rest. When we are going too fast, and giving way too freely to regrets, it is well to cry, "halt," and pause awhile, till more sober thoughts return.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 7. Lo, then would I wander far off, etc. A passage in the "Octavia" of Seneca has been referred to as being parallel to this of David. It is in the answer of Octavia to the Chorus, act 5., ver. 914-923.
My woes who enough can bewail?
O what notes can my sorrows express?
Sweet Philomel's self even would fail
To respond with her plaintive distress.
O had I her wings, I would fly
To where sorrows I never should feel more,
Upborne on her plumes through the sky,
Regions far from mankind would explore.
In a grove where sad silence should reign,
On a spray would I seat me alone;
In shrill lamentations complain.
And in wailings would pour forth my moan. J. B. Clarke (From Adam Clarke, in loc.)
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 7. Solitude.
Its fancied benefits. Its sore temptations. Its occasional benefits. Its sweet solaces.