Verse 34. A fruitful land into barrenness. This has been done in many instances, and notably in the case of the psalmist's own country, which was once the glory of all lands and is now almost a desert.
For the wickedness of them that dwell therein. Sin is at the bottom of sorrow. It first made the ground sterile in father Adam's day, and it continues to have a blighting effect upon all that it touches. If we have not the salt of holiness we shall soon receive the salt of barrenness, for the text in the Hebrew is -- "a fruitful land into saltness." If we will not yield the Lord a harvest of obedience he may forbid the soil to yield us a harvest of bread, and what then? If we turn good into evil can we wonder if the Lord pays us in kind, and returns our baseness into our own bosoms? Many a barren church owes its present sad estate to its inconsistent behaviour, and many a barren Christian has come into this mournful condition by a careless, unsanctified walk before the Lord. Let not saints who are now useful run the risk of enduring the loss of their mercies, but let them be watchful that all things may go well with them.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 34. A fruitful land into barrenness. Hereof Judaea is at this day a notable instance (besides many parts of Asia, and Africa, once very fruitful, now, since they became Mahometan, dry and desert). Judaea, saith one, hath now only some few parcels of rich ground found in it; that men may guess the goodness of the cloth by the fineness of the shreds. --John Trapp.
Verse 34. For the wickedness of them that dwell therein. When I meet with a querulous husbandman, he tells me of a churlish soil, of a wet seed time, of a green winter, of an unkindly spring, of a lukewarm summer, of a blustering autumn; but I tell him of a displeased God, who will be sure to contrive and fetch all seasons and elements, to his own most wise drifts and purposes. --Joseph Hall.
Verse 34. For the wickedness. God locks up the clouds, because we have shut up our mouths. The earth is grown hard as iron to us, because we have hardened our hearts against our miserable neighbours. The cries of the poor for bread are loud, because our cries against sin have been so low. Sicknesses run apace from house to house, and sweep away the poor unprepared inhabitants, because we sweep not out the sin that breeds them. --Richard Baxter, 1615-1691.