Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry out, and He will say, 'Here I am.' If you remove the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger and malicious talk,
James 4:3). God wants signs of right character in those whose petitions he grants; for such character is the only guarantee that what he gives is rightly accepted and rightly used. Here with special reference to the particular sins of the age, we have these conditions laid down.
1. Ceasing from stern and cruel dealings with those who serve us. "Take away the yoke" (see ver. 6).
2. Taunts of those who are recognized as the faithful servants of God, but de not make just the same expression of their piety that we do. "Putting forth the finger;" a gesture of derision. "Indicative of mockery and insolence towards the pious and persisting part of the nation" (Matthew Arnold).
3. Boasting. A spirit of self-satisfaction, which is quite inconsistent with any approach to God with expressions of need and fervent desires. "Speaking vanity." While these evils must be put away, it is made a further condition of answer to prayer, that he who prays shall be positively set upon doing good, caring for the hungry and the afflicted. As the immediate reference is to the prayers offered on the national fast-days, this homily may be made to hear specially upon national days of humiliation, Lenten times, etc. Such times are useful, and are necessary. They are called for by the Divine judgments. But the special danger of them is insincerity. The special condition of their acceptance with God is national turning from sin to righteousness and charity. Therefore, at such seasons, the work of God's ministers is to produce due convictions of national sins. Our Lord taught conditions of prayer for his individual disciples, in his sermon on the mount. "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." - R.T.
Then shalt thou call.Psalm 130:2). No sooner do they call to Him, but He answers, Ready, ready. Wherever they are praying, God saith, Here I am hearing; I am in the midst of you, nigh unto them in all things (Deuteronomy 4:7).
( M. Henry.)
If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke.
1. The besetting sins.(1) Oppression "If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke," i.e. oppression.(2) Scorn and contempt. "The putting forth of the finger" is the spirit that speaks in the, "Thou fool!"(3) "And speaking vanity" — evil speaking generally.
2. The duties.(1) "And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul" — i.e. give, serve, minister, according as men about you have need, and according as you have ability and opportunity.(2) "And satisfy the afflicted soul" — i.e. visit the widow and fatherless in their affliction — comfort those that mourn — endeavour according to your power to wipe away the tears from the eyes of all the sorrowful.
1. Especially where men employ each other, and take advantage of each other's skill, and of each other's strength. It is a national sin — seen more or less in all rulers; and an international sin — seen in the conduct of nations to each other. Manifestly, therefore, a very common sin is this putting on of the yoke — seen where men have no right to put on the yoke at all; and seen in a heavy yoke where men have only the right to put on a light yoke, and they impose a heavy yoke; and seen in thus keeping on of the yoke after the yoke should be removed.
2. There is an eternal connection between righteousness and blessedness.
3. The true state of individual saints and of congregations of saints is light, not obscurity; brightness, not dulness; happiness, not misery; spiritual health, not moral sickness; usefulness, not sterility and barrenness; continuance, not declension.
(S. Martin.)digitus infamis.
(J. A. Alexander.)
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