Verse 26. With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward. The sinner's frowardness is sinful and rebellious, and the only sense in which the term can be applied to the Most Holy God is that of judicial opposition and sternness, in which the Judge of all the earth will act at cross purposes with the offender, and let him see that all things are not to be made subservient to wicked whims and wilful fancies. Calvin very forcibly says, "This brutish and monstrous stupidity in men compels God to invent new modes of expression, and as it were to clothe himself with a different character." There is a similar sentence in Leviticus 26:21-24 , where God says, "and if ye walk contrary unto (or perversely with) me, then I will also walk contrary unto (or perversely, or roughly, or at random with) you." As if he had said that their obstinacy and stubbornness would make him on his part forget his accustomed forbearance and gentleness, and cast himself recklessly or at random against them. We see then what the stubborn at length gain by their obduracy; it is this, that God hardens himself still more to break them in pieces, and if they are of stone, he causes them to feel that he has the hardness of iron. The Jewish tradition was that the manna tasted according to each man's mouth; certainly God shows himself to each individual according to his character.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 24-26. See Psalms on "Psalms 18:24" for further information.
Verse 24-27. See Psalms on "Psalms 18:24" for further information.
Verse 26. With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure, etc. But doth the Lord take colour from every one he meets, or change his temper as the company changes? That's the weakness of sinful man: he cannot do so with whom there is no variableness nor shadow of changing. God is pure and upright with the unclean and hypocritical, as well as with the pure and upright, and his actions show him to be so. God shows himself froward with the froward when he deals with him as he hath said he will deal with the froward -- deny them and reject them. God shows himself pure with the pure, when he deals with them as he hath said he will -- hear them and accept them. Though there be nothing in purity and sincerity which deserveth mercy, yet we cannot expect mercy without them. Our comforts are not grounded upon our graces, but our comforts are the fruits or consequences of our graces. Joseph Caryl.
Verse 26. The froward one. Here, as in the first promise, the two combatants stand contrasted -- the seed of the woman and the serpent -- the benignantly bountiful, perfect, pure One, and the froward one, whose works he came to destroy, and who made it his great business to circumvent him whom he feared. The literal meaning of the word is "tortuous," or "crooked," and both the ideas of perversity and cunning which the figure naturally suggests, are very applicable to "that old serpent the devil." From the concluding part of the sentence, I think there is no doubt that it is the latter idea that is intended to be conveyed. God cannot deal perversely with any one; but he outwits the wise, and takes the cunning in their own craftiness. John Brown.
Verse 26. With the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward. The Hebrew word in the root signifieth to wrest or writhe a thing, or to wrest or turn a thing, as wrestlers do their bodies. Hence by a trope, it is translated often to wrestle, because a cunning man in wrestling, turns and winds his body, and works himself in and out every way, to get an advantage of his adversary any way; therefore your cunning headed men, your crafty men, are fitly presented under this word; they are like wrestlers who turn and wind themselves in and out, and lie for all advantages; or as we speak, they "lie at catch." A man knows not where to have them, or what they mean when they speak plainest, or swear solemnest; when we think we see their faces, we see but their vizards; all their promises and performances too are under a disguise... And this word is applied to the Lord himself, "With the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward;" that is, if men will be winding and turning, and thinking to catch others, or over reach the Lord himself with tricks and turnings of wit, the Lord will meet and answer them in their own kind; he can turn as fast as they, he can put himself into such intricate labyrinths of infinite wisdom and sacred craft, as shall entangle and ensnare the most cunning wrestler or tumbler of them all. He will Cretize the Cretians, supplant the supplanters of his people. Joseph Caryl.
Verse 26. Wilt shew thyself froward. It is a similitude taken from wrestlers, and notes a writhing of one's self against an adversary. Compare herewith Deuteronomy 32:5 . "They are a perverse and a crooked generation," the same two words that are here in this text; the latter imports that they wriggled and writhed after the manner of wrestlers that wave up and down, and wind the other way, when one thinks to have him here or there. But all will not serve their turn to save them from punishment. God will be sure to meet with them, his Word will lay hold on them, and their sins shall find them out. John Trapp.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 26. Echoes, in providence, grace, and judgment.