Then he showeth them their work
Either what they ought to do, so the Tigurine version; and which they have not done, their sins of omission; when they have been negligent either of the duty of prayer in private and public, or of attendance on the ordinances of the house of God; then he sends an affliction, and by it, as in a glass, presents to their view the omissions they have been guilty of: or else the work which they have done, and should not have done, their sins of commission: sin is a work at which some toil and labour, and weary themselves to commit; it is a work of the flesh; and so it is in good men; it is a man's own work, and which he can work of himself; to have a will, and to do good works, is owing to God working in his people, and it is through him strengthening them they do them; but sin fill works are their own act and deed, though tempted to them by others, and which they are able to do of their own freewill and power. Now God, in the glass of affliction, holds forth to view the sinful actions of good men, and brings them to their remembrance which they had forgotten; as the cases of Joseph's brethren, David, and others, prove: the Lord shows them that they have done such actions, and shows them the evil of them, how exceeding sinful they are; and humbles them under a sense of them, and brings them to repentance for them, and the acknowledgment of them; which sense is confirmed by the next clause, which explains what this their work is,
and their transgressions that they have exceeded.
Sin is a transgression of the law, ( 1 John 3:4 ) ; every sin, greater or lesser, is, and even righteous persons are guilty of many; for there is not a just man that sinneth not; and these exceed the bounds set by the righteous law of God, and many of them are sadly aggravated by the light and knowledge, grace and mercy, such have been favoured with; and some of them, they are suffered to fall into, are exceeding great and exceeding sinful; such as those of David, Peter, and others; all which they are made to see, bewail, and weep over, when God by afflictions brings them to a sense of them. Or "when" or "because they have prevailed" F13; or begin to prevail: as soon as ever indwelling sin begins to be prevalent, the Lord is pleased to take measures to nip it in the bud, by sending a sharp and severe affliction; or when it has prevailed greatly, as sometimes it does, so that good is hindered from being done, and much evil is committed, then the soul is so much under the power of it, as to be carried captive with it; see ( Romans 7:23 Romans 7:24 ) . Or "because they are become proud", or "behaved themselves proudly" F14; and therefore he afflicts them to humble them, and drive pride from them.