The Heavy Hand of God - John Calvin
For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me. Psalm 32:4
The greatest of all afflictions is to be so heavily pressed with the hand of God, that the sinner feels he has to do with a Judge whose indignation and severity involve in them many deaths, besides eternal death. David, accordingly, complains that his moisture was dried up, not merely from simply meditating on his sore afflictions, but because he had discovered their cause and spring. The whole strength of men fails when God appears as a Judge and humbles and lays them prostrate by exhibiting the signs of his displeasure. Then is fulfilled the saying of Isaiah, “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth, because the Spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it.” (Isaiah 40:7)
The Psalmist, moreover, tells us, that it was no common chastisement by which he had been taught truly to fear the divine wrath; for the hand of the Lord ceased not to be heavy upon him both day and night. From a child, indeed, he had been inspired with the fear of God, by the secret influence of the Holy Spirit, and had been taught in true religion and godliness by sound doctrine and instruction. And yet so insufficient was this instruction for his attainment of this wisdom, that he had to be taught again like a new beginner in the very midst of his course. Yea, although he had now been long accustomed to mourn over his sins, he was every day anew reduced to this exercise, which teaches us, how long it is ere men recover themselves when once they have fallen; and also how slow they are to obey until God, from time to time, redouble their stripes, and increase them from day to day. Should any one ask concerning David, whether he had become callous under the stripes which he well knew were inflicted on him by the hand of God, the context furnishes the answer; namely, that he was kept down and fettered by perplexing griefs, and distracted with lingering torments, until he was well subdued and made meek, which is the first sign of seeking a remedy. And this again teaches us, that it is not without cause that the chastisements by which God seems to deal cruelly with us are repeated, and his hand made heavy against us, until our fierce pride, which we know to be un-tameable, unless subdued with the heaviest stripes, is humbled.
John Calvin – Commentary on the Psalms