Verse 23. "He hath done evil to this people" - Their misery is increased instead of being diminished.
"Neither hast thou delivered thy people at all." - The marginal reading is both literal and correct: And delivering thou hast not delivered. Thou hast begun the work by giving us counsels and a commission, but thou hast not brought the people from under their bondage. Thou hast signified thy pleasure relative to their deliverance, but thou hast not brought them out of the hands of their enemies.
1. IT is no certain proof of the displeasure of God that a whole people, or an individual, may be found in a state of great oppression and distress; nor are affluence and prosperity any certain signs of his approbation. God certainly loved the Israelites better than he did the Egyptians; yet the former were in the deepest adversity, while the latter were in the height of prosperity. Luther once observed, that if secular prosperity were to be considered as a criterion of the Divine approbation, then the grand Turk must be the highest in the favour of God, as he was at that time the most prosperous sovereign on the earth. An observation of this kind, on a case so obvious, was really well calculated to repress hasty conclusions drawn from these external states, and to lay down a correct rule of judgment for all such occasions.
2. In all our addresses to God we should ever remember that we have sinned against him, and deserve nothing but punishment from his hand. We should therefore bow before him with the deepest humiliation of soul, and take that caution of the wise man, "Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God; for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth; therefore let thy words be few," Eccles. v. 2. There is the more need to attend to this caution, because many ignorant though well-meaning people use very improper, not to say indecent, freedoms in their addresses to the throne of grace. With such proceedings God cannot be well pleased; and he who has not a proper impression of the dignity and excellence of the Divine Nature, is not in such a disposition as it is essentially necessary to feel in order to receive help from God. He who knows he has sinned, and feels that he is less than the least of all God's mercies, will pray with the deepest humility, and even rejoice before God with trembling. A solemn AWE of the Divine Majesty is not less requisite to successful praying, than faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. When we have such a commission as that of Moses, we may make use of his freedom of speech; but till then, the publican's prayer will best suit the generality of those who are even dignified by the name of Christian-Lord, be merciful to ME, a SINNER!