2 Corinthians 12:7-11
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh…
I. DISCIPLINE (ver. 7).
1. It was painful in its nature.
2. It was Satanic in its agency — "The messenger of Satan sent to buffet me." The devil has been the opponent of the good in all ages. Adam. David. Peter. Good out of evil.
3. It was counteracting in its influence — "Lest I should be exalted above measure." Counteraction a great principle in the economy of God. In the moral realm — "goodness and severity" of God. Man is prone to the excesses of despair and pride. Paul's old sin was self. The "besetting sin" before conversion threatens to reassume its old power after conversion. The balloon requires the weight of sandbags. Paul learnt the lesson of humility. He speaks of himself as one "not worthy to be called an apostle"; "less than the least of all saints"; "the chief of sinners." "Only two safe places for the believer," says an old preacher, "the dust and heaven, and of the two, the dust is the safer; for the angels fell from heaven, but no one was ever known to fall from the dust." One way from the valley of humility — upward, and that ends in eternal honour.
II. PRAYER (ver. 8).
1. The prayer was Divine in its object — "the Lord." Throne of grace the best resort in trouble. Men are foolish to attempt to carry their own burdens.
2. The prayer was earnest in its spirit — "I besought the Lord thrice."
3. It was ignorant in its request — "That it might depart from me." The "thorn" was not pleasant, but it was profitable. Trials are blessings in disguise. Zigzag is often better than straight — though not so easy. Trials bring triumph, and losses gain. A forest in Germany was consumed by fire, but underneath a precious vein of silver was discovered.
III. SUPPORT (ver. 9).
1. Its nature — "My strength." Conscious weakness is God's instrumentality. Thus there is not the shadow of a doubt who the real worker is. God, not man, to have the glory. "Moses' rod" used to divide the Red Sea. A cannon in itself is a lifeless piece of iron; but when loaded with ball and powder and the spark applied, the ball becomes a thunderbolt, and the powder a flash of lightning, then the fortress comes crashing in ruins to the ground.
2. Its principle — "My grace." Trials of grace are supports of grace.
3. Its effect (ver. 10)."Rejoice in tribulation." Tunnel leads to the terminus. Why should we complain and despair? Let us remember the Master, whose brow was pierced with a crown of thorns.
(B. D. Johns.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
WEB: By reason of the exceeding greatness of the revelations, that I should not be exalted excessively, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, that I should not be exalted excessively.