I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offense, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.
Prosperity is not so unmixed a blessing as men are prone to imagine. It often withdraws the attention from the unseen world and the eternal future. And, on the other hand, much as men may dread adversity, multitudes have had reason to be grateful for affliction. "Before I was afflicted I went astray," etc.
I. AFFLICTION IS DIVINELY APPOINTED. The order of things, as a result of which troubles and privations befall men, is constituted by Divine wisdom. In the Hebrew manner of thought this fact is conveyed by the language put into the lips of Jehovah, "I will go and return to my place."
"Lot us be patient; these severe afflictions
Not from the ground arise."
II. AFFLICTION IS INTENDED TO DIRECT THE THOUGHTS TO THE SUFFERER'S SINS. It is often idle curiosity to speculate upon the connection between disobedience and particular troubles. But, as a general principle, sin is the root of which suffering is the fruit. And times of affliction call upon the "tried" and harassed to scrutinize their own conduct and their own heart, "till they acknowledge their offense," or "hold themselves guilty." Men go on sinning, from one crime or folly to another, and confirm themselves in their evil courses, until a check comes, until calamity overtakes them, until they are constrained to ask themselves - Have we forgotten that the world is ruled by a righteous God, who is angry with the wicked every day? Thus they are led, by God's grace, to confession and to penitence.
III. AFFLICTION IS INTENDED TO DIRECT THE THOUGHTS TO GOD. It is not enough for the offender to look inwards to himself; he must look upwards to his God. "Till they seek my face;" "They will seek me early." In days of calm, of pleasure, of health, of plenty, God has been forgotten. But "sweet are the uses of adversity;" and there is no use sweeter, more profitable, than this - its tendency to raise the mind to heaven. To seek forgiveness for careless, forgetful days, to seek the favor which has been justly forfeited, to seek the help which has been despised, - such is the attitude of the humbled and the contrite. And such suppliants shall not seek the face of God in vain. - T.
Parallel VersesKJV: I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.