And if [they be] bound in fetters
Not the wicked, as the Targum, but the righteous spoken of in ( Job 36:7 ) , with which this is closely connected; and this is not to be understood of righteous kings on the throne in particular, or their special favourites, but of the righteous in general; and not in a literal sense, of their bonds and imprisonment for religion and righteousness sake, which is sometimes their lot; but in a figurative sense, of afflictions, as chastenings and corrections for sin, as appears by the next clause; and the design is to obviate an objection, and to show that the eye of God is upon them, and his heart towards them; and they are not the less objects of his love and delight, of his value and esteem, care and protection, though they are afflicted by him, and, as it may seem, used with some severity; seeing he has gracious ends and designs in all this, which are suggested in the following verses;
[and] be holden in cords of affliction;
righteous men are not exempt from afflictions; the afflictions of the righteous are many, according to divine appointment, the covenant of grace, the declaration of God, the constant experience of good men, it being the way in which they are all led, and must enter into the kingdom; and the metaphor here used shows that afflictions are sometimes heavy upon them, like fetters and chains, and those made heavy by the hand of God pressing them sore, ( Lamentations 3:7 ) ; no affliction is joyous, but grievous and heavy in itself; it is indeed comparatively light when viewed with the weight of glory; and God can make a heavy affliction light with his presence, and the discoveries of his love; but they are heavy to the flesh, as Job felt his to be, ( Job 6:2 Job 6:3 Job 6:12 ) ( Job 23:2 Job 23:3 ) ; and, like fetters and cords, they cannot free themselves from them, or loose them, until it is the pleasure of God to take them off; and moreover by these they are sometimes held and restrained from going into more or greater sins, which is one use of them: as they are with afflictions hedged about that they cannot come out, any more than a person bound fast in a prison; so they are hedged up with thorns that they cannot go out after their lovers, ( Lamentations 3:7 ) ( Hosea 2:6 ) . Some render the phrase, "cords of poverty" F12; it is oftentimes the case of righteous persons to be poor, and to be sadly hampered with poverty, and out of which, by all that they can do, cannot extricate themselves; and sometimes they fall into it, and are held in it, after they have enjoyed much worldly prosperity, which was the case of Job. Mr. Broughton renders it, cords of anguish; and indeed the word for "cords" is used of the pains of a woman in travail, who has then great anguish and trouble; and anguish on various accounts lays hold on the righteous, and they are holden thereby, and cannot relieve themselves, ( Psalms 119:143 ) ; and yet this is all in mercy, and to answer some good ends and purposes, as follow.
F12 (yne ylbtb) "funibus paupertatis", Mercerus, Drusius; "funibus inopiae", Cocceius.