by John Calvin
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. Those who are wandering in desert places are often pinched with hunger and thirst in consequence of finding no place in which to lodge; and who, when all hope of deliverance fails them, then cry unto God. There may be not a few whose hope does not center on God, who, nevertheless, are constrained, by some invisible disposition of mind, to come to him, when under the pressure of dire necessity. And this is the plan which God sometimes pursues, in order to extort from such persons the acknowledgement that deliverance is to be sought for from no other quarter than from himself alone; and even the ungodly, who, while living voluptuously, scoff at him, he constrains, in spite of themselves, to invoke his name. It has been customary in all ages for heathens, who look upon religion as a fable, when compelled by stern necessity, to call upon God for help. Did they do so in jest? By no means; it was by a secret natural instinct that they were led to reverence God’s name, which formerly they held in derision. The Spirit of God, therefore, here narrates what frequently takes place, namely, that persons destitute of piety and faith, and who have no desire to have anything to do with God, if placed in perilous circumstances, are constrained by natural instinct, and without any proper conception of what they are doing, to call on the name of God. Since it is only in dubious and desperate cases that they betake themselves to God, this acknowledgement which they make of their helplessness is a palpable proof of their stupidity, that in the season of peace and tranquillity they neglect him, so much are they then under the intoxicating influence of their own prosperity; and notwithstanding that the germ of piety is planted in their hearts, they nevertheless never dream of learning wisdom, unless when driven by the dint of adversity; meaning, to learn the wisdom of acknowledging that there is a God in heaven who directs every event.
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John Calvin, A Heart Aflame: Daily Readings from Calvin on the Psalms, is copyright © 1999 by P & R Publishing Company, all rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise—except for brief quotations for the purpose of review or comment, without the prior permission of the publisher, P & R Publishing Company, P.O. Box 817, Phillipsburg, New Jersey 08865-0817.
Unless marked by an asterisk, italic Scripture excerpts preceding Calvin's exposition are from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society, used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House, all rights reserved. Phrases of Scripture within Calvin's exposition are based on an unidentified older translation, or in rare instances modified to conform to the NIV excerpts preceding Calvin's exposition.
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