Verse 2. Thou hast made the earth to tremble. Things were as unsettled as though the solid earth had been made to quake; nothing was stable; the priests had been murdered by Saul, the worst men had been put in office, the military power had been broken by the Philistines, and the civil authority had grown despicable through insurrections and intestine contests.
Thou hast broken it. As the earth cracks, and opens itself in rifts during violent earthquakes, so was the kingdom rent with strife and calamity.
Heal the breaches thereof. As a house in time of earthquake is shaken, and the walls begin to crack, and gape with threatening fissures, so was it with the kingdom.
For it shaketh. It tottered to a fall; if not soon propped up and repaired it would come down in complete ruin. So far gone was Israel, that only God's interposition could preserve it from utter destruction. How often have we seen churches in this condition, and how suitable is the prayer before us, in which the extremity of the need is used as an argument for help. The like may be said of our personal religion, it is sometimes so tried, that like a house shaken by earthquake it is ready to come down with a crash, and none but the Lord himself can repair its breaches, and save us from utter destruction.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 2. Heal the breaches thereof; for it shaketh. They pray that this may be done with the utmost speed, because there was a danger in delay, for the kingdom was already pressed down with a heavy calamity, and on the brink of ruin, which is signified by the word hjm whose origin is in a very strong and tremulous inclination to one side, properly from the application of a lever, and is applied to those who are leaning so far to one side that they are just on the point of falling; figuratively, therefore, it expresses a most perilous condition, in which one is on the edge of destruction. Hermann Venema.
Verse 2. Heal the breaches thereof. Even Israel is subject to breaches. So it was with the literal typical Israel, David's kingdom; so it may be with spiritual mystical Israel, the kingdom of Christ, the church of God upon earth. There are breaches from without, and breaches from within. I will invert the order. From without, by open persecution; from within, by intestine and homebred divisions. Of both these the church of God in all ages hath had sufficient experience. Look we upon the primitive times, during the infancy of the church, however the soundest and most entire church that ever was, yet how was it broken! Broken, as by foreign persecutions, so by homebred divisions. Both these ways was the church during the apostles' time broken, distressed by enemies from without who persecuted it. John Brinsley (1600-1665), in "The Healing of Israel's Breaches."
Verse 2. It shaketh. That is, presaging nothing but ruin and downfall, unless it be speedily underpropped, and the breaches thereof made up and healed. Thus did David look upon Israel's disease, and hereupon it was that he was so deeply affected with it, so earnestly desiring the cure of it. The reference, as interpreters conceive, is to those homebred divisions, those civil wars betwixt the two houses of Saul and David, after the death of Saul: then did the "earth," the land, that land of Israel (as the Chaldee explains it), quake and tremble, being broken, riven (as the word in the original signifieth): even as the earth sometimes by earthquakes is riven, and torn asunder with prodigious chasms, openings, or gapings: so was that kingdom divided in those civil commotions, the nobles and commons taking parts and siding, some with David, some with Ishbosheth. John Brinsley.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 2. The perturbation, the prayer, the plea. G. R.