Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both good and ill go forth?
We must see and acknowledge God’s hand in all the calamities that befall us at any time, whether personal or public. This fact and Christian duty is laid out here as the plain truth and as a great truth. It goes a long way to quieting our restless spirits under our afflictions and to sanctify these afflictions to us to acknowledge:
1. That, whatever men's actions are, it is God that overrules them.
2. That, whatever men's lot is, it is God that orders it.
We must not quarrel with God for any suffering that He lays upon us at any time. (v. 39)
1. We are human. Let remember that. And let us behave appropriately. We are men, not animals. We are reasonable creatures who should act with reason. We are men, and not children that cry about everything that hurts them or frustrates their happiness.
2. We are alive. Through God’s hand may be upon us, we are still alive, though dying daily. Should a living man complain when he has more reason to be thankful? Our lives may be frail, but we are still alive.
3. We are sinful men, and what we complain of is the just punishment of our sins. At any rate it is far less than we deserve. We have little reason to complain of our trouble since we have ourselves to thanks for it.
We must align ourselves to God's intention in afflicting us. This is none other than to bring sin to our remembrance and to bring us to Himself. (v. 40)
Our afflictions and troubles should cause us to reflect on these two things:
1. A serious consideration of ourselves and a reflection upon our past lives.
2. A sincere repentance. Let us turn again to the Lord, to Him who is turned against us and whom we have turned from; to Him let us turn by repentance and reformation, as to our owner and ruler.
Matthew Henry writes “We must offer up ourselves to God, and our best affections and services, in the flames of devotion.”
When we are in affliction, we must look to God as a God in the heavens, infinitely above us, and who has an incontestable dominion over us. He rules and is therefore not to be quarreled with, but submitted to. But also we must pray with a believing expectation to receive mercy from Him. That is what is implied in verse 41 when it tells us to lift our hands. Lifting our hands to Him (a gesture commonly used in prayer) signifies our request of mercy from Him and our readiness to receive that mercy.