Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.
1. Our temporal condition is various and diverse; now afflicted, and then merry. Our prosperity is like glass, brittle when shining. The complaint of the Church may be the motto of all the children of God (Psalm 102:10).
2. This is the perfection of Christianity, to carry an equal pious mind in unequal conditions (Philippians 4:12). Most men are fit but for one condition. Some cannot carry a full cup without spilling. Others cannot carry a full load without breaking. Sudden alterations perplex both body and mind. It is the mighty power of grace to keep the soul in an equal temper.
3. Several conditions require several duties. The Christian conversation is like a wheel — every spoke taketh its turn. God hath planted in a man affections for every condition, grace for every affection, and a duty for the exercise of every grace, and a season for every duty. The children of the Lord are "like trees planted by the rivers of water, that bring forth their fruit in due season" (Psalm 1:3). There is no time wherein God doth not invite us to Himself. It is wisdom to perform what is most seasonable.
4. It is of excellent advantage in religion to make use of the present affection; of sadness, to put us upon prayer; of mirth, to put us upon thanksgiving. The soul never worketh more sweetly than when it worketh in the force of some eminent affection. With what advantage may we strike when the iron is hot! When the affections are stirred up on a carnal occasion, convert them to a religious use (Jeremiah 22:10). When the affections are once raised, give them a right object, otherwise they are apt to degenerate and to offend in their measure, though their first occasion was lawful.
5. Prayer is the best remedy for sorrows. Griefs are eased by groans and utterance. We have great cause in afflictions to use the help of prayer.
(1) That we may ask patience. If God lay on a great burden, cry for a strong back.
(2) That we may ask constancy (Psalm 125:3).
(3) That we may ask hope, and trust and wait upon God for His fatherly love and care.
(4) That we may ask a gracious improvement. The benefit of the rod is a fruit of the Divine grace, as well as the benefit of the Word.
(5) That we may ask deliverance, with a submission to God's will (Psalm 34:7).
6. Thanksgiving, or singing to God's praise, is the proper duty in the time of mercies or comforts. It is God's bargain and our promise, that if He would "deliver us," we would "glorify Him" (Psalm 50:15). Mercies work one way or another; they either become the fuel of our lusts or our praises; either they make us thankful or wanton. Your condition is either a help or a hindrance in religion. Awaken yourselves to this service; every new mercy calleth for a new song.
7. Singing of psalms is a duty of the gospel.
Parallel VersesKJV: Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.