In all their affliction he was afflicted
That is, God, who said the above words; not properly speaking; for to be afflicted is not consistent with his nature and perfections, being a spirit, and impassible; nor with his infinite and complete happiness; but this is said after the manner of men, and is expressive of the sympathy of God with his afflicted people, and his tender care of them, and concern for them under affliction, as one friend may have for another: afflictions belong to the people of God; they come to them, not by chance, but according to the will of God; and are not in wrath, but in love; they are many and various; there is an "all" of them, yet not one too many, and in everyone of them God is afflicted, or sympathizes with them: as he looked upon the affliction of the people of Israel, in Egypt, at the Red sea, and in the wilderness, and had compassion upon them, and saved them, so he visits all his people when afflicted, and pities them, and speaks comfortably to them; knows and owns their souls in adversity; makes known himself to them; grants them his gracious presence; puts underneath them his everlasting arms; makes their bed in their affliction, and supplies their wants; and this sympathy arises from their union to him, from his relation to them as a Father, and from his great love to them. There is a double reading of these words; the marginal reading is, "in all their affliction there is affliction to him" F20; or, "he was afflicted"; which our version follows: the textual reading is, "there is no affliction"; or, "he was not afflicted" F21; he seemed to take no notice of their affliction, or be concerned at it, that he might the sooner bring them to a sense of themselves and their sins, ( Hosea 5:15 ) . The Targum follows this reading, and renders it actively, "and he afflicted them not" F23: they were indeed in affliction, but they, and not he, brought it upon them, and by their sins. Some render it, "he was no enemy" F24; though he afflicted them, yet not in wrath, but love; or, "in all their straits there was no strait" F25; the Israelites were in straits when Pharaoh's army pursued them behind, the rocks were on both sides them, and the sea before them, and yet there was no strait as it were, they were so soon delivered out of it; and so it may be read, "in all their afflictions there was no affliction"; there is so much love in the afflictions of God's people, and they work so much for their good, and they are so soon delivered out of them, that they scarce deserve the name of afflictions; and so both readings may be taken in, "in all their afflictions there was no affliction to him"; or to them, to Israel, to the people of God: and the Angel of his presence saved them;
not Michael, as Jarchi; but the Messiah is here meant; the Angel of the covenant, the Angel which went before the Israelites in the wilderness, ( Exodus 23:20-23 ) not a created angel, or an angel by nature, but by office; being sent of God, as the word signifies, on the errand and business of salvation; called "the Angel of God's presence", or "face", because his face was seen in him; his name, and nature, and perfections were in him; he is the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person besides, the presence of God was always with him; he is the "Ithiel", the Word that was with God, and with whom God always was; who lay in the bosom of his Father, and was ever with him; and who also, as Mediator, introduces his people into the presence of God, and always appears in it for them as their advocate and intercessor: now to him salvation is ascribed; he saved Israel out of Egypt, and out of the hands of all their enemies in the wilderness; and which salvation was typical of the spiritual, eternal, and complete salvation, which is only by Christ, and issues in eternal glory: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them;
Israel out of Egyptian bondage, and from all their enemies, which was owing to his great love to them, which operated in a way of mercy, pity, and compassion, ( Hosea 11:1 ) ( Exodus 15:13 ) , and it is he who has redeemed the spiritual Israel of God, not by power only, but by price, from sin, Satan, and the law, death, and hell, with a spiritual and eternal redemption, and which flows from his love to those persons; hence he undertook to be their Redeemer; came in their nature to redeem them; and gave himself for them for that purpose; which love is wonderful and matchless, and showed itself in pity and compassion; he became a merciful as well as a faithful high priest; he saw them in their low estate, pitied them, and delivered them out of it: and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old;
he bore them in his bosom, and in his arms, as a nursing father his child; he carried them, as on eagles' wings, from the time of their coming out of Egypt, to their settlement in Canaan's land, ( Numbers 11:12 ) ( Exodus 19:4 ) he bore with their manners for forty years, and carried them through all their trials and difficulties, and supported them under them, and brought them out of them all, ( Acts 13:18 ) and so he bears all his people on his heart, and in his hands, and bears them up under all their temptations and afflictions; and, from the time of their conversion, carries on his work in them, and carries them safe to heaven, as the great Captain of their salvation, and never leaves them, nor forsakes them; see ( Isaiah 46:3 Isaiah 46:4 ) .
F20 (ru wl) "angustia ipsi fuit", Calvin, Grotius; "ipse fuit contribulatus", Munster; "ipsi fuit angustum", Vitringa.
F21 (ru al) "non angustia, Montanus; non afflictus est", Tigurine version.
F23 "Non affecit [eos] angustia", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "non coarctavit eos, sub. Deus, vel angustia", Forerius,
F24 "Non fuit hostis", Gataker; so Gussetius, Ebr. Comment. p. 423.
F25 "In omni angustia eorum non augustia", Montanus.