I AM the man that has seen affliction by the rod of his wrath.…
I. CONSIDER THE GENERALITY OF AFFLICTION IN THE NATURE THEREOF. We met all generally in the first treason against ourselves in Adam's rebellion; and we met all, too, in the second treason — the treason against Jesus Christ. All our sins were upon His shoulders. All the evils and mischiefs of life come for the most part from this — that we think to enjoy those things which God has given us only to use.
II. CONSIDER AFFLICTION AS BEARING ON MAN. "I am the man that hath seen affliction." Man carries the spawn and seed and eggs of affliction in his own flesh, and his own thoughts make haste to hatch them and bring them up. We make all our worms snakes, all our snakes vipers, all our vipers dragons, by our murmuring.
III. CONSIDER AFFLICTION IN ITS SPECIAL APPLICATION TO ONLY MAN. That man the prophet Jeremiah, one of the best of men. As he was submitted to these extraordinary afflictions, we see that no man is so necessary to God as that God cannot come to His ends without that man. God can lack and leave out any man in His service. The best of our wages is adversity, because that gives us a true fast, and a right value of our prosperity.
IV. CONSIDER THIS WEIGHT AND VEHEMENCE OF AFFLICTIONS.
1. They are aggravated in that they are the Lord's. They are inevitable; they cannot be avoided; they are just, and cannot be pleaded against; nor can we ease ourselves with any imagination of our innocency, as though they were undeserved.
2. They are in HIS rod. Our murmuring makes a rod a staff, and a staff a sword, and that which God presented for physic, poison.
3. They are inflicted by the rod of His wrath. It is the highest extent of affliction that we take God to be angrier than He is.
V. CONSIDER THE COMFORTS WE HAVE IN AFFLICTIONS.
1. That we see our afflictions, we understand, consider them. We see that affliction comes from God, and that it is sent that we may see and taste the goodness of God.
2. That, though afflicted, we still retain our manhood. God may mend thee in marring thee; He may build thee up in dejecting thee; He may infuse another manhood into thee, so that thou canst say, "I am that Christian man; I am the man that cannot despair since Christ is the remedy."
3. That the rod of God's wrath is also the rod of His comfort and strength (Micah 7:14; Psalm 45:6; Psalm 23:4).
(J. Donne, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath.