1. O Jehovah! hear my prayer, and let my cry come to thee. 2. Hide not thy face from me in the day of my affliction; incline thy ear to me: in the day when I cry make haste, answer me.
1. O Jehovah! hear my prayer. This earnestness shows, again, that these words were not dictated to be pronounced by the careless and light-hearted, which could not have been done without grossly insulting God. In speaking thus, the captive Jews bear testimony to the severe and excruciating distress which they endured, and to the ardent desire to obtain some alleviation with which they were inflamed. No person could utter these words with the mouth without profaning the name of God, unless he were, at the same time, actuated by a sincere and earnest affection of heart. We ought particularly to attend to the circumstance already adverted to, that we are thus stirred up by the Holy Spirit to the duty of prayer in behalf of the common welfare of the Church. Whilst each man takes sufficient care of his own individual interests, there is scarcely one in a hundred affected as he ought to be with the calamities of the Church. We have, therefore, the more need of incitements, even as we see the prophet here endeavoring, by an accumulation of words, to correct our coldness and sloth. I admit that the heart ought to move and direct the tongue to prayer; but, as it often flags or performs its duty in a slow and sluggish manner, it requires to be aided by the tongue. There is here a reciprocal influence. As the heart, on the one hand, ought to go before the words, and frame them, so the tongue, on the other, aids and remedies the coldness and torpor of the heart. True believers may indeed often pray not only earnestly but also fervently, while yet not a single word proceeds from the mouth. There is, however, no doubt that by crying the prophet means the vehemence into which grief constrains us to break forth.
2. Hide not thy face from me in the day of my affliction. The prayer, that God would not hide his face, is far from being superfluous. As the people had been languishing in captivity for the space of nearly seventy years, it might seem that God had for ever turned away his favor from them. But they are, notwithstanding, commanded, in their extreme affliction, to have recourse to prayer as their only remedy. They affirm that they cry in the day of their affliction, not as hypocrites are accustomed to do, who utter their complaints in a tumultuous manner, but because they feel that they are then called upon by God to cry to him.
Make haste, answer me. Having elsewhere spoken more fully of these forms of expression, it may suffice, at present, briefly to observe, that when God permits us to lay open before him our infirmities without reserve, and patiently bears with our foolishness, he deals in a way of great tenderness towards us. To pour out our complaints before him after the manner of little children would certainly be to treat his Majesty with very little reverence, were it not that he has been pleased to allow us such freedom. I purposely make use of this illustration, that the weak, who are afraid to draw near to God, may understand that they are invited to him with such gentleness as that nothing may hinder them from familiarly and confidently approaching him.