talaiporhesate (2PAAM) kai penthesate (2PAAM) kai klausate (2PAAM):
(Jas 5:1,2; Ps 119:67,71,136; 126:5,6; Eccl 7:2, 3, 4, 5; Isa
22:12,13; Jer 31:9,13,18, 19, 20; Ezek 7:16; 16:63; Zech 12:10, 11,
12, 13, 14; Mt 5:4; Luke 6:21; 2Co 7:10,11)
Hiebert feels that here
James is calling for open repentance explaining that...
without any modifiers, "grieve, mourn and wail," unite to form
an urgent demand for open and thorough repentance. The intensity of
the demand is startling, intended to shake these double-minded
Edmond Hiebert - James)
-- To the commands cleanse and
purify themselves James
adds this triad of commands (all
aorist imperatives) which
call for decisive, obvious, and perhaps even public acts of contrition
reflective of genuine repentance (See
discussion of repentance).
Spurgeon adds that...
If the previous verses have rightly
accused you of sin, confess your guilt with shame and sorrow, and so
come to Christ imploring pardon.
The Amplified Version
[As you draw near to God] be deeply
penitent and grieve, even weep [over your disloyalty].
Bible - Lockman)
John Stott writes...
I fear that we evangelical
Christians, by making much of grace, sometimes thereby make light of
sin. There is not enough sorrow for sin among us (2Co 7:10). We should
experience more ‘godly grief’ of Christian penitence (Stott, J. The
Message of the Sermon on the Mount: Inter-varsity Press)
The psalmist speaks of the
positive effect of affliction in the context of sin...
Psalm 119:67-note Before I was afflicted
I went astray, but now I keep Thy word.
Psalm 119:71-note It is good for me that
I was afflicted, that I may learn Thy statutes.
Lenski adds that...
again have three imperatives (Jas 4:7), but they are now entirely
unmodified and together demand true repentance but do so in a concrete
way, for all three refer to the evidences of repentance, since where
these truly appear, repentance will fill the heart (Lenski, R. C. H.
The Interpretation of the Epistle to the Hebrews and of the Epistle of
James. Page 633. 1938)
Expositor's Greek Testament writes that
was a recognized tenet in Jewish theology that self-inflicted
punishment of any kind was a means of reconciliation.
oft, alas! this wretched heartHow
Has wandered from the Lord,
How oft my roving thoughts depart,
Forgetful of His Word.
Yet sovereign mercy calls, “Return”;
Dear Lord, and may I come?
My vile ingratitude I mourn;
O take the wanderer home.
is a verb
which Vine says "is derived from tlaō, to bear, undergo, and
pōros, a hard substance, a callus, which metaphorically came to
signify that which is miserable". Other sources say the root word is
talas = suffering, wretched.
Talaiporeo means first to do
hard work, and then to endure hardship or experience distress. The
idea primarily denotes going through hardship and distressing
circumstances which came to be used of the feeling of misery and
wretchedness because of the outward circumstances.
To be afflicted. To be sorrowful
over wretched circumstances. It speaks of the emotions that emanate
from torment, whether external or internal.
In the present context (the only NT
use), it describes the expression of this person's grief and sense of
brokenness. James commands them to "suffer misery, be
sorrowful, be devastated, feel afflicted and miserable" over
their sins (worldliness, double-mindedness, etc).
Hiebert makes the important
distinction that there is no indication...
that James is calling for ascetic
practices, such as fasting in sackcloth and ashes, to induce this
feeling. Mayor holds that, since James was known for his asceticism,
this imperative "is best understood of voluntary abstinence from
comforts and luxuries." Well aware that such practices were no
satisfactory substitute for inner penitence, James is best understood
as calling for a deeper inner feeling of wretchedness and shame
because of their sins. The aorist imperative is probably ingressive:
"become wretched." When a true realization of their sinfulness strikes
home, the feeling of wretchedness and grief will follow. (Ibid)
Martin observes that...
The demands to cleanse oneself are
followed quickly by the resounding call to an overt and explicit
repentance. To be miserable, (a hapax legomenon = only
NT use) is not an invitation to or a sanction of asceticism (so Mayor,
147). In prophetic language...James urges his readers to change their
ways. The opening verb (talaiporeo)...in
the sense of “be devastated”) is a favorite with Jeremiah (in LXX,
e.g., Jer 6:26).... The day of the Lord is near (Jas 5:8) and God’s
people must return to him (Joel 2:12). There is no allowance made for
Christians to take a casual attitude toward sin (1Pe 4:17). Mourning
and wailing are the accompaniments of repentance, not the substitutes
for it (see 2Sa 19:1; Neh 8:9; Mt 5:5; Lk 6:21, 25; Acts 18:11, 15,
19; 2Co 7:10). What James is implying is that (while there is still
time) genuine repentance is needed or else those who are unrepentant
face the eschatological wrath of God. (Martin, R. P. Vol. 48: Word
Biblical Commentary : James. Dallas: Word, Incorporated)
There are 13 uses of talaiporeo
(Where we have
meanings such as to endure distress,
suffer misery, be in ruin, to trouble of afflict someone). It is
notable that talaiporeo is used by the OT Prophets who
generally convey news of a time of great and imminent danger.
Keeping this thought it mind, his Jewish readers (who would be
familiar with the OT prophets) would understand that in using this
verb (the only use in the NT) James has placed before his hearers a
matter which is not trifle but conversely quite serious. Similarly,
the idea of changing laughter to mourning was used in
Amos 8:10 to spark a sudden awareness of guilt and repentance. By
proclaiming such signs the OT prophets warned of sudden catastrophe
that the people of Israel had brought on themselves by their
indifference to the poor and therefore to God Himself!
Psalm 17:9 From the wicked who
despoil me, My deadly enemies, who surround me.
Psalm 38:6 I am bent over (Heb
= avah = bent; twisted; bewildered; Lxx = talaiporeo) and
greatly bowed down; I go mourning all day long.
Hosea 10:2 Their heart is faithless; Now they must bear their guilt.
The LORD will break down their altars And destroy (Heb =
shadad = despoil, devastate; Lxx = talaiporeo) their sacred
Micah 2:4 "On that day they will take up against you a taunt And utter
a bitter lamentation and say, 'We are completely destroyed
(Heb = shadad = despoil, devastate; Lxx = talaiporeo)!
He exchanges the portion of my people; How He removes it from me! To
the apostate He apportions our fields.'
Joel 1:10 The field is ruined (Heb = shadad = despoil,
devastate; Lxx = talaiporeo), The land mourns, For the grain is
ruined (Heb = shadad = despoil, devastate; Lxx =
talaiporeo), The new wine dries up, Fresh oil fails.
(Heb = yalal = command to howl; Lxx = hololuzo [onomatopoetic verb] =
make loud an inarticulate cries in context because of the painful
circumstances associated with God's judgment), O cypress, for the
cedar has fallen, Because the glorious trees have been
destroyed (Heb = shadad = despoil, devastate; Lxx
= talaiporeo); Wail,
O oaks of Bashan, For the impenetrable forest has come down.3 There is
a sound of the shepherds' wail, For their glory is ruined
(Heb = shadad = despoil, devastate; Lxx = talaiporeo);
There is a sound of the young lions' roar, For the pride of the Jordan
is ruined (Heb = shadad = despoil, devastate;
Lxx = talaiporeo).
Isaiah 33:1 Woe to you, O destroyer, While you were not
destroyed (Heb = shadad = despoil, devastate; Lxx =
talaiporeo); And he who is treacherous, while others did not deal
treacherously with him. As soon as you shall finish destroying, you
shall be destroyed; As soon as you shall cease to deal treacherously,
others shall deal treacherously with you.
Jeremiah 4:13 "Behold, he goes up like clouds, And his chariots like
the whirlwind; His horses are swifter than eagles. Woe to us, for we
are ruined (Heb = shadad = despoil, devastate;
Lxx = talaiporeo)!"...20 Disaster on disaster is proclaimed, For
the whole land is devastated (Heb = shadad =
despoil, devastate; Lxx = talaiporeo); Suddenly my tents are
devastated (Heb = shadad = despoil, devastate; Lxx
= talaiporeo), My curtains in an instant. (In this context
Jeremiah like James gives a charge to "get right with God"
-- Jeremiah 4:14
your heart from evil [cp Jer 4:4], O Jerusalem, that you may be
saved. How long will your wicked thoughts Lodge within you?)
Jeremiah 9:19 "For a voice of wailing is heard from Zion, 'How are
we ruined (Heb = shadad = despoil, devastate; Lxx
= talaiporeo)! We are put to great shame, For we have left the land,
Because they have cast down our dwellings.'"
Jeremiah 10:20 My tent is destroyed (Heb = shadad =
despoil, devastate; Lxx = talaiporeo), And all my ropes are
broken; My sons have gone from me and are no more. There is no one to
stretch out my tent again Or to set up my curtains.
Jeremiah 12:12 "On all the bare heights in the wilderness Destroyers (Heb
= shadad = despoil, devastate; Lxx = talaiporeo) have come, For
a sword of the LORD is devouring From one end of the land even to the
other; There is no peace for anyone.
The Lord wants us to mourn our sin,
To grieve what brings Him pain;
And if the sorrow changes us,
Our tears won't be in vain. —Sper
from pénthos =
mourning) means to mourn for, lament. Mourning is grief and
sorrow caused by profound loss, and is often associated with death or
great tragedy (as would or should occur as an outward manifestation of
James' readers sense of wretchedness!)
Trapp says that pentheo here
in James 4:9 speaks of a "funeral grief" which is not a bad thought
considering the fact that sin kills our fellowship with God! This is a
grief so deep and so profound that it simply cannot be contained nor
concealed. Beloved, a
true awareness of our sinful state should optimally always have such a
deep impact on our psyche!
Mourning can reflect an outward expression of sorrow.
It is to experience sadness or grief as the result of depressing
circumstances or the condition of persons and so to be sad, to grieve,
to bewail or to lament.
Pentheo is the word which is
used for mourning for the dead, for the passionate lament for
one who was loved. This is the quality of mourning Jesus is calling
for as we see our sins the way God sees them and His Spirit convicts
us of sin. (cp John 16:8, Acts 2:37, Zech 12:10)
In Classical Greek in most uses of
pentheo, it expresses a sorrow which is outwardly expressed in
some way, such as by tear or laments. Among the Greeks the verb and
noun (penthos) were used especially for public mourning. Not
surprisingly, pentheo is often connected with the term "weep"
and it describes the mourning which cannot be hidden. It describes not
only a grief which brings an ache to the heart, but also a grief which
brings tears to the eyes.
Weary of wandering from my God,Weary
of Wandering from My God)
And now made willing to return
I hear and bow me to the rod
For thee, not without hope, I mourn:
I have an Advocate above
A Friend before the throne of love.
Pentheo - 10x in 10v in the NT - Mt 5:4; 9:15; Mark 16:10; Lk
6:25; 1Co 5:2; 2Co 12:21; Jas 4:9; Rev 18:11, 15, 19.
Matthew 5:4 (note)
Blessed are those who mourn (present
speaks one exhibiting a lifestyle of mourning!), for they shall be
A W Pink explains
that the mourning in Mt 5:4...
is by no means to be confined unto
the initial experience of conviction and contrition, for observe the
tense of the verb: it is not “have mourned,” but “mourn”—a present
and continuous experience. The Christian himself has much to mourn
over. The sins which he now commits—both of omission and
commission—are a sense of daily grief to him, or should be, and will
be, if his conscience is kept tender. An ever-deepening discovery of
the depravity of his nature, the plague of his heart, the sea of
corruption within—ever polluting all that he does—deeply exercises
him. Consciousness of the surgings of unbelief, the swellings of
pride, the coldness of his love, and his paucity of fruit, make him
cry, “O wretched man that I am.” (Ro 7:24-) (Matthew
5:3-4: The Beatitudes)
MacArthur notes that in
Greek there are nine words that express sorrow, but that...
of the nine terms used for sorrow,
the one used here (pentheo, mourn) is the strongest, the
most severe. It represents the deepest, most heart-felt grief, and
was generally reserved for grieving over the death of a loved
one...The word carries the idea of deep inner agony, which may or may
not be expressed by outward weeping, wailing, or lament.
When David stopped hiding his
sin and began mourning over it and confessing it (Ps. 32:3, 4,
5), he could declare, “How blessed is he whose transgression is
forgiven, whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the
Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no
deceit!” (vv. 1–2). (MacArthur,
J: Matthew 1-7 Chicago: Moody Press)
interesting to note that the Greek Stoics regarded such mourning as
something to be avoided and the pointlessness (from a natural man's
[1Co 2:14] or secular view) was a popular theme in Greek philosophy.
One imagines what their shock must have been to read Jesus' words
which can be paraphrased as
"Happy those who continually mourn
as one laments over a loved one who had died"! (Mt 5:4)
Trench says that
to grieve with a grief which so
takes possession of the whole being that it cannot be hid. (Trench, R.
C. Synonyms of the New Testament)
Barclay comments that
It is defined as the kind of grief
which takes such a hold on a man that it cannot be hid. It is not only
the sorrow which brings an ache to the heart; it is the sorrow which
brings an ache to the heart; it is the sorrow which brings the
unrestrainable tears to the eyes. Here then indeed is an amazing kind
of bliss: Blessed is the man who mourns like one mourning for the
dead. (Barclay, W: The Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed.
Philadelphia: The Westminster Press)
is found 45 times in the
Septuagint or LXX.
- Gen 23:2; 37:34f; 50:3; Num 14:39; 1 Sam 6:19; 15:35; 16:1; 2 Sam
13:37; 14:2; 19:1; 1Chr 7:22; 2Chr 35:24; Ezra 10:6; Neh 1:4; 8:9; Job
14:22; Ps 35:14; 78:63; Isa 3:26; 16:8; 19:8; 24:4, 7; 33:9; 61:2f;
66:10; Jer 4:28; 12:4; 14:2; 16:5; 23:10; 31:21; Lam 1:4; 2:8; Ezek
31:15; Dan 10:2; Hos 4:3; 10:5; Joel 1:9f; Amos 1:2; 8:8; 9:5
The first use
of pentheo in the Septuagint or LXX
describes the mourning of Abraham for his wife Sarah (Ge
23:2). Pentheo describes Jacob mourning for his son Joseph whom
he thought had been killed (Ge 37:34, 35). Samuel grieving over Saul
and his failure to obey (1Sa 15:35, 16:1). David for his son Absalom
(2Sa 13:37, 19:1). All Judah and Jerusalem for King Josiah (2Chr
35:24). Ezra mourning over the unfaithfulness of the exiles in
marrying foreign women. Ezra 10:6, cf Ezra 10:1, 2). Nehemiah mourning
over the great distress of the remnant who were back in Jerusalem (Neh
1:4). The people weeping and mourning upon hearing the Words of the
Law read (Neh 8:9). Figuratively of Zion or Jerusalem's gates mourning
over the coming destruction (Isa 3:6). When Messiah returns to comfort
all who mourn (Isa 61:2, 3). Daniel mourned for 3 entire weeks (Da
10:1) Several verses refer to "the land" (the land of Israel) mourning
over the sin of the chosen people (cf Jer 23:10 because of the curse,
Hos 4:3, Joel 1:10)
“Lord, let me weep for naught
And after none but thee;
And then I would-oh, that I might-
A constant mourner be!”
C H Spurgeon
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a
contrite (English = bruised, brokenhearted for sin, deeply
affected with grief and sorrow for having offended God; humble)
heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.
sacrifices of God are a broken spirit.
All sacrifices are presented to
thee in one, by the man whose broken heart presents the Saviour's
merit to thee. When the heart mourns for sin, thou art better
pleased than when the bullock bleeds beneath the axe.
"A broken heart" is an expression
implying deep sorrow, embittering the very life; it carries in it the
idea of all but killing anguish in that region which is so vital as to
be the very source of life.
So excellent is a spirit humbled
and mourning for sin, that it is not only a sacrifice, but it has a
plurality of excellences, and is preeminently God's sacrifices.
A broken and a contrite heart, O
God, thou wilt not despise.
A heart crushed is a fragrant heart. Men contemn (view with contempt)
those who are contemptible in their own eyes, but the Lord sees not as
man sees. He despises what men esteem, and values that which they
despise. Never yet has God spurned a lowly, weeping penitent, and
never will He while God is love, and while Jesus is called the man who
receives sinners. Bullocks and rams He desires not, but contrite
hearts He seeks after; yea, but one of them is better to Him than all
the varied offerings of the old Jewish sanctuary.
The Puritan writer Thomas
Watson in his exposition of Mt 5:4 (Beatitudes)
has a treatise on mourning which is too lengthy to quote
in its entirety.
Here are a few snippets to entice you to read his sobering
exposition on an all too seldom contemplated subject...
We have in our hearts the seed of
the unpardonable sin. We have the seed of all those sins for which the
damned are now tormented! And shall we not mourn? He who does not
mourn, has surely lost the use of his reason....
There is a fivefold
mourning which is false and spurious.
A despairing kind of
mourning. Such was Judas' mourning. He saw his sin, he was sorry,
he made confession, he justifies Christ, he makes restitution (Matthew
27). Judas, who is in hell, did more than many nowadays! He confessed
A hypocritical mourning. The
heart is very deceitful. It can betray as well by a tear—as by a kiss.
Saul looks like a mourner, and as he was sometimes 'among the
prophets' (1 Samuel 10:12)
...The true penitent labors to
make the worst of his sin. Saul labors to make the best of sin...
A forced mourning. When
tears are pumped out by God's judgments, these are like the tears of a
man who has the stone, or that lies upon the rack. Such was Cain's
mourning. (Genesis 4:13). His punishment troubled him more than
his sin! To mourn only for fear of hell is like a thief that weeps for
the penalty, rather than the offence. The tears of the wicked are
forced by the fire of affliction!
An external mourning; when
sorrow lies only on the outside. 'They disfigure their faces' (Matthew
The eye is tender—but the heart is hard. Such was Ahab's mourning. 'He
tore his clothes and put sackcloth on his flesh, and went softly' (1Ki
21:27). His clothes were torn—but his heart was not torn. He had
sackcloth but no sorrow. He hung down his head like a bulrush—but his
heart was like granite. There are many who may be compared to weeping
marbles, they are both watery and flinty.
A vain fruitless mourning.
Some will shed a few tears—but are as bad as ever. They will deceive
and be unclean. Such a kind of mourning there is in hell. The damned
weep—but the continue to blaspheme God.
What is the RIGHT
gospel-mourning?...It is spontaneous and free. It must come as
water out of a spring, not as fire out of a flint. Tears for sin must
be like the myrrh which drops from the tree freely without cutting or
forcing. Gospel-mourning is spiritual; that is, when we mourn for sin
more than suffering. Pharaoh says, "Take away the plague!" He never
thought of the plague of his heart. A sinner mourns because judgment
follows at the heels of sin—but David cries out, 'My sin is ever
before me' (Psalm 51:3-note).
God had threatened that the sword should ride in circuit in his
family—but David does not say, 'The sword is ever before me'—but 'My
sin is ever before me'. The offence against God troubled him. He
grieved more for his treason against God—than the bloody axe.
In particular, our mourning
for sin, if it is spiritual, must be under this threefold
1. We must mourn for sin, as it is an act of hostility and enmity
against God. Sin not only makes us unlike God—but contrary to God:
'They have walked contrary unto me' (Leviticus 26:40). Sin affronts
and resists the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51). Sin is contrary to God's
nature; God is holy; sin is an impure thing. Sin is contrary to his
will. If God be of one mind—sin is of another. Sin does all it can to
spite God. The Hebrew word for 'sin' signifies 'rebellion'. A sinner
fights against God (Acts 5:39). Now when we mourn for sin as it is a
walking contrary to heaven, this is a gospel-mourning.
2. We must mourn for sin,
as it is the highest ingratitude against God. It is a kicking
against the breasts of mercy. God sends his Son to redeem us, his
Spirit to comfort us. We sin against the blood of Christ, the grace of
the Spirit—and shall we not mourn? We complain of the unkindness of
others, and shall we not lay to heart our own unkindness against God?
Caesar took it unkindly that his son, Brutus, should stab him—'and
you, my son!' May not the Lord say to us, 'These wounds I have
received in the house of my friend!' (Zechariah 13:6). Israel took
their jewels and earrings and made a golden calf of them. The sinner
takes the jewels of God's mercies and makes use of them to sin.
Ingratitude is a 'crimson sin' (Isaiah 1:18-note).
Sins against gospel-love are worse in some sense, than the sins of the
devils, for they never had an offer of grace offered to them. Now when
we mourn for sin as it has its accent of ingratitude upon it, this is
an evangelical mourning.
3. We must mourn for sin as it
is a privation; it keeps good things from us; it hinders our
communion with God. Mary wept for Christ's absence. 'They have taken
away my Lord!' (John 20:13). So our sins have taken away our Lord.
They have deprived us of his sweet presence. Will not he grieve, who
has lost a rich jewel? When we mourn for sin under this notion, as it
makes the Sun of Righteousness withdraw from our horizon; when we
mourn not so much that peace is gone, and trading is gone—but God is
gone, 'My beloved had withdrawn himself' (Song 5:6); this is a holy
mourning. The mourning for the loss of God's favor—is the best way to
regain His favor. If you have lost a friend, all your weeping will not
fetch him again—but if you have lost God's presence, your mourning
will bring your God again. (cp Jas 4:8-note)
Gospel-mourning sends the
soul to God. When the prodigal son repented, he went to his
father. 'I will arise and go to my father' (Lk 15:18). Jacob wept and
prayed (Hosea 12:4). The people of Israel wept and offered sacrifice
(Jdg 2:4,5). Gospel-mourning puts a man upon duty. The reason is, that
in true sorrow there is a mixture of hope, and hope puts the soul upon
the use of means. That mourning which like the 'flaming sword' keeps
the soul from approaching to God, and beats it off from duty—is a
sinful mourning. It is a sorrow hatched in hell. Such was Saul's
grief—which drove him to the witch of Endor (1Sa 28:7). Evangelical
mourning is a spur to prayer. The child who weeps for offending his
father goes to his presence and will not leave until his father is
reconciled to him. Absalom could not be quiet 'until he had seen the
king's face' (2Sa 14:32, 33).
Gospel-mourning is for sin
in particular. The deceitful man is occupied with generalities. It
is with a true penitent as it is with a wounded man. He comes to the
surgeon and shows him all his wounds. Here I was cut with the sword;
here I was shot with a bullet. So a true penitent bewails all his
particular sins. 'We have served Baal' (Judges 10:10). They mourned
for their idolatry. And David lays his fingers upon the sore—and
points to that very sin which troubled him (Psalm 51:4-note).
'I have done this evil!' He means his blood-guiltiness. A wicked man
will say he is a sinner—but a child of God says, 'I have done this
evil!' Peter wept for that particular sin of denying Christ. It is
reported that Peter never heard a rooster crow—but he fell a-weeping.
There must be a particular repentance, before we have a general
Gospel tears must drop from
the eye of faith. 'The father of the child cried out with tears,
'Lord, I believe' (Mark 9:24). Our disease must make us mourn—but when
we look up to our Physician, who has made a remedy of his own blood,
we must not mourn without hope. Believing tears are precious. When the
clouds of sorrow have overcast the soul, some sunshine of faith must
break forth. The soul will be swallowed up of sorrow, it will be
drowned in tears—if faith does not keep it up from sinking. Though our
tears drop to the earth—yet our faith must reach heaven. After the
greatest rain, faith must appear as the rainbow in the cloud. The
tears of faith are bottled as precious wine. 'You keep track of all my
sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have
recorded each one in your book' (Ps 56:8-note).
Gospel-mourning is joined with self-loathing. The sinner admires
himself. The penitent loathes himself. 'You shall loath yourselves in
your own sight for all your evils' (Ezekiel 20:43). A true penitent is
troubled not only for the shameful consequence of sin—but for the
loathsome nature of sin; not only the sting of sin—but the deformed
face of sin. How did the leper loathe himself! (Leviticus 13:45). The
true mourner cries out, O these impure eyes! this heart which is a
conclave of wickedness! He not only leaves sin—but loathes sin. He who
has fallen in the dirt loathes himself (Hosea 14:1).
Gospel-mourning must be purifying. Our tears must make us more holy.
We must so weep for sin, as to weep out sin. Our tears must drown our
sins. We must not only mourn—but turn. 'Turn to me with weeping' (Joel
2:12). What good is it, to have a watery eye and a whorish heart? It
is foolish to say it is day, when the air is full of darkness; so to
say you repent, when you draw dark shadows in your life. It is an
excellent saying of Augustine, 'He truly bewails the sins he has
committed, who never commits the sins he has bewailed'. True mourning
is like the 'water of jealousy' (Nu 5:12-22). It makes the thigh
of sin to rot. 'You broke the heads of the monster in the waters.'
(Ps 74:13-note). The heads of our sins, these monsters, are broken in
the waters of true repentance. True tears are cleansing. They are like
a flood that carries away all the rubbish of our sins away with it.
The waters of holy mourning are like the river Jordan wherein Naaman
washed and was cleansed of his leprosy (2Ki 5:11, 12, 13, 14). It is reported that there is a
river in Sicily where, if the blackest sheep are bathed, they become
white; so, though our sins be as scarlet—yet by washing in this river
of repentance, they become white as snow (Isaiah 1:18-note). Naturalists say of the
serpent, before it goes to drink it vomits out its poison. In this 'be
wise as serpents'. Before you think to drink down the sweet cordials
of the promises, cast up the poison that lies at your heart. Do not
only mourn for sin—but break from sin.
Gospel-mourning must be joined with hatred of sin. 'What indignation!'
(2Cor 7:11). We must not only abstain from sin—but abhor sin.
The dove hates the least feather of the hawk. A true mourner hates the
least motion to sin. A true mourner is a sin-hater. Amnon hated Tamar
more than ever he loved her (2Sa 13:15). To be a sin-hater
implies two things: first, to look upon sin as the most deadly evil—as
the essence of all evil. It looks more ghastly than death or hell.
Second, to be implacably incensed against it. A sin-hater will never
admit of any terms of peace. The war between him and sin is like the
war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam. 'There was war between Rehoboam and
Jeroboam all their days' (1Ki 14:30). Anger may be
reconciled—hatred cannot. True mourning begins in the love of God—and
ends in the hatred of sin.
Gospel-mourning in some cases is joined with restitution. It is as
well a sin to violate the name of another—as the chastity of another.
If we have eclipsed the good name of others, we are bound to ask them
for forgiveness. If we have wronged them in their estate by unjust,
fraudulent dealing, we must make them some compensation. Thus Zacchaeus, 'If I have taken anything from any man by false accusation,
I restore him fourfold' (Luke 19:8), according to the law of Ex
22:1. James bids us not only look to the heart but the hand: 'Cleanse
your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts' (Jas 4:8-note). If you
have wronged another, cleanse your hands by restitution. Be assured,
without restitution—no remission.
Gospel-mourning must be a speedy mourning. We must take heed of
adjourning our repentance, and putting it off until death. As David
said, 'I will pay my vows now' (Psalm 116:18-note), so should a Christian
say, 'I will mourn for sin now.' 'Blessed are you that weep now' (Lk
6:21). God has encircled us in the compass of a little time, and
charges us immediately to bewail our sins. 'Now God calls all men
everywhere to repent' (Acts 17:30). We know not whether we may have
another day granted us. Oh let us not put off our mourning for sin
until the making of our will. Do not think holy mourning is only a
deathbed duty. You may seek the blessing with tears, as Esau when it
is too late. How long shall I say that I will repent tomorrow? Why not
at this instant? 'Delay brings danger'. Caesar's deferring to read his
letter before he went to the Senate-house, cost him his life. The true
mourner makes haste to meet an angry God, as Jacob did his brother;
and the present he sends before, is the sacrifice of tears.
Gospel-mourning for sin is perpetual. There are some who at a sermon
will shed a few tears—but they are soon dried up. The hypocrite's
sorrow is like a vein opened and presently stopped. The Hebrew word
for 'eye' signifies also 'a fountain', to show that the eye must run
like a fountain for sin and not cease; but it must not be like the
Libyan fountain which the ancients speak of—in the morning the water
is hot, at midday cold. The waters of repentance must not overflow
with more heat in the morning, at the first hearing of the gospel; and
at midday, in the midst of health and prosperity, grow cold and be
ready to freeze. No! it must be a daily weeping. As Paul said, 'I die
daily' (1Cor 15:31), so a Christian should say, 'I mourn
daily'. Therefore keep open an outflow of godly sorrow, and be sure it
is not stopped until death. 'Let your tears flow like a river. Give
yourselves no rest from weeping day or night' (Lam 2:18). It
is reported of holy John Bradford that scarcely a day passed him
wherein he did not shed some tears for sin. Daily mourning is a good
antidote against backsliding. I have read of one that had an epilepsy,
and being dipped in seawater, was cured. The washing of our souls
daily in the brinish waters of repentance is the best way both to
prevent and cure the falling into relapses.
the preceding is only a "snippet" of Thomas Watson's treatise on
Mourning - highly recommended)
points out that James' use of pentheo and klaio...
picture the emotional expressions
of penitence, as Peter sobbing in shame when seized with a realization
of his sin in denying Jesus (Mk 14:72).
[word study]) means to cry with emphasis upon noise accompanying the
weeping. Loud or audible weeping. Klaio expresses mourning and
sorrow of all kinds. The picture is a person who laments with sobbing.
There is shedding of tears accompanied by external expression. Klaio
was used of wailing over the dead (Mt 2:18; Ge 37:34; Lxx = Dt 34:8).
Indeed, an outflow of tears is a healthy sign that one is broken over
40x in 34v in the NT and is always translated weep(18),
weeping(18), wept(4) - Mt 2:18; 26:75; Mk 5:38, 39; 14:72;
16:10; Lk 6:21, 25; 7:13, 32, 38; 8:52; 19:41; 22:62; 23:28; Jn 11:31,
33; 16:20; 20:11, 13, 15; Acts 9:39; 21:13; Ro 12:15-note;
1Co 7:30; Php 3:18-note;
Jas 4:9; 5:1; Rev 5:4-note,
Re 18:9, 11,
94x in the Non-apocryphal
- Gen 21:16; 27:38;
29:11; 33:4; 37:35; 42:24; 43:30; 45:14f; 46:29; 50:1, 17; Ex 2:6; Lev
10:6; Nu 11:4, 10, 13, 18, 20; 14:1; 20:29; 25:6; Deut 1:45; 21:13;
34:8; Jdg 2:4; 9:7; 11:37f; 14:16f; 15:18; 16:28; 20:23, 26; 21:2; Ru
1:9, 14; 1Sa 1:7f, 10; 11:4f; 13:16; 20:41; 24:16; 30:4; 2 Sa 1:12,
24; 3:16, 32, 34; 12:21f; 13:36; 15:23, 30; 18:33; 19:1; 1Ki 18:45;
21:27; 2Ki 8:11f; 13:14; 20:3; 22:19; 2Chr 34:27; Ezra 3:12; 10:1; Neh
1:4; 8:9; Job 2:12; 30:25; 31:38; Ps 78:64; 95:6; 126:6; 137:1; Eccl
3:4; Isa 15:2, 5; 16:9; 22:4; 30:19; 33:7; 38:3; Jer 9:1; 13:17;
22:10, 18; 34:5; 41:6; 48:5; 50:4; Lam 1:1f, 15; Ezek 24:16, 23; Hos
12:4; Joel 1:5, 18; 2:17; Mic 2:6.
Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint has the following entry for
Ge 21:16; 27:38; 29:11; 33:4; 37:35
to cry, to weep, to wail, to lament [abs.] Ge 21:16; to weep for, to
lament for, to bewail. Ge 37:35; id. Nu 11:13; id. Lv 10:6 he
wept bitterly (semit., rendering 2Ki 20:3; cpr. Ge 46:29, Jdg 21:2,
2Sa 13:36, Is 30:19, Jer 22:10
Chambers writes that...
Repentance always brings a
man to this point: ‘I have sinned.’ The surest sign that God is at
work is when a man says that and means it. Anything less than this is
remorse for having made blunders, the reflex action of disgust
at himself. The entrance into the Kingdom is through the panging pains
of repentance crashing into a man’s respectable goodness; then the
Holy Ghost, Who produces these agonies, begins the formation of the
Son of God in the life. The new life will manifest itself in conscious
repentance and unconscious holiness, never the other way about. The
bedrock of Christianity is repentance. Strictly speaking, a man
cannot repent when he chooses; repentance is a gift of God.
Puritans used to pray for
gift of tears.’
If ever you cease to know the
virtue of repentance, you are in darkness. Examine yourself and see if
you have forgotten how to be sorry.
Thomas Watson a great Puritan writer adds that...
must have tears. While we carry the fire of sin about with us—we must
carry the water of tears to quench it! (Ezekiel 7:16). 'They are not
blessed' (says Chrysostom) 'who mourn for the dead—but rather those
who mourn for sin.' And indeed it is with good reason we mourn for
sin, if we consider the GUILT of sin, which binds over to wrath. Will
not a guilty person weep, who is to be bound over to the penalty?
Every sinner is to be tried for his life and is sure to be cast
away—if sovereign mercy does not become an advocate for him. (Beatitudes)
Issac H. A. Ababio...
amazing it is that we have so few tears these days when there is so
much to weep about! (From
John Blanchard's highly recommended
collection - The Complete Gathered Gold- A Treasury of Quotations)
John Vance Cheney
soul would have no rainbow had the eyes no tears. (Ibid)
LET THE TEARS
FLOW - A DEVOTIONAL
- It isn't good to brood about our
sins nor to lament constantly over our shortcomings. But neither should
we take them too lightly. To disobey the moral law of a holy God is a
serious thing. Although as Christians we bask in the warm glow of divine
forgiveness, we must never minimize the awful reality of sin.
A young pastor visited Dundee, Scotland, shortly after Robert Murray
McCheyne died at age thirty. Many people had come to Christ because of
McCheyne's ministry, and the visitor wanted to know the secret of his
great influence. The old sexton of McCheyne's church led the preacher
into the rectory and showed him some of McCheyne's books lying on a
table. Then he motioned to the chair the evangelist had used, and said,
"Sit down and put your elbows on the table." The visitor obeyed. "Now
put your head in your hands." He complied. "Now let the tears flow;
that's what McCheyne did." Next he led him into the church and said,
"Put your elbows on the pulpit." The visitor did. "Now put your face in
your hands." He obeyed. "Now let the tears flow; that's what McCheyne
used to do."
Robert Murray McCheyne cried freely over his sins and over those of his
people. By contrast, our emotions are often hardened toward sin. We need
to be more sensitive to the convicting voice of God's Spirit and more
determined to live a separated life. We may rejoice in God's
forgiveness, but we should never be afraid to mourn for our sins.—D. C. Egner
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
Calvary proves that sin troubles God—
Does it trouble you?
DRY EYES - A DEVOTIONAL - I read a news report about a woman who
hadn't shed a tear in 18 years. The reason for her dry eyes was
physical, not emotional. Doctors said she was a victim of a rare
condition called Sjogren's syndrome. For some unknown reason,
antibodies attacked her tear glands as if they were undesirable
This reminds me of a spiritual problem among the people of God—people
who should and could cry, but don't. They need to learn what Jesus
meant when He said, "Blessed are those who mourn" (Mt 5:4-note).
Sometimes we think tears are a sign of weakness. But if this were the
case, why did Jesus cry? (Lk 19:41). Why did James tell Christians to
weep over their sins? (James 4:9).
True, people differ in the way they express their emotions. But
literal tears aren't the real issue. What's important is the attitude
of the heart. The real issue is how deeply we sense the implications
of our sins. Are we filled with Godly sorrow? Are we pained by the
tragic consequences our sin creates in our relationships with others?
I'm not talking about putting on a phony show of sorrow, but do we
feel some of the same sorrow God feels about evil? Are we willing to
turn from it? Or do we have dry eyes? — Mart De Haan (Our
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
The Lord wants us to mourn our sin,
To grieve what brings Him pain;
And if the sorrow changes us,
Our tears won't be in vain. —Sper
Indifference to evil is a great evil.
A GODLY MAN WEEPS
from Thomas Watson's
The Godly Mans Picture
David sometimes sang with his harp;
and sometimes the organ of his eye wept: "I water my couch with my
tears" (Psalm 6:6). Christ calls his spouse his "dove" (Song 2:14).
The dove is a weeping creature. Grace dissolves and liquefies the
soul, causing a spiritual thaw. The sorrow of the heart, runs out at
the eye (Psalm 31:9).
The Rabbis report that the same night on which Israel departed from
Egypt towards Canaan, all the idols of Egypt were broken down by
lightning and earthquake. Just so, at that very time at which men go
forth from their natural condition towards heaven, all the idols of
sin in the heart must be broken down by repentance! A melting heart is
the chief branch of the covenant of grace (Ezek. 36:26), and the
product of the Spirit: "I will pour upon the house of David the spirit
of grace, and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they
shall mourn for him" (Zech. 12:10).
Question: But why is a godly man a weeper? Is not sin pardoned, which
is the ground of joy? Has he not had a transforming work upon his
heart? Why, then, does he weep?
Answer: A godly man finds enough reasons for weeping:
1. He weeps for indwelling sin, the law in his members (Ro 7:23),
the outbursts and first risings of sin. His nature is a poisoned
fountain. A regenerate person grieves that he carries with him, that
which is enmity to God! His heart is like a wide sea in which there
are innumerable creeping things (Ps 104:25)—vain, sinful thoughts.
A child of God laments hidden wickedness; he has more evil in him than
he knows of. There are those windings in his heart which he cannot
trace—an unknown world of sin. "Who can understand his errors?" (Ps
2. A godly man weeps for clinging corruption. If he could get rid of
sin, there would be some comfort—but he cannot shake off this viper!
Sin cleaves to him like leprosy! Though a child of God forsakes his
sin—yet sin will not forsake him. "Concerning the rest of the beasts,
they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for
a season" (Da 7:12). So though the dominion of sin is taken away—yet
its life is prolonged for a season; and while sin lives, it molests!
The Persians were daily enemies to the Romans and would always be
invading their frontiers. So sin "wars against the soul" (1Pe.
2:11). And there is no cessation of war—until death. Will not this
3. A child of God weeps that he is sometimes overcome by the
prevalence of corruption. "For I do not do the good that I want to do,
but I practice the evil that I do not want to do." (Ro 7:19). Paul
was like a man carried downstream. How often a saint is overpowered by
pride and passion! When David had sinned, he steeped his soul in the
brinish tears of repentance. It cannot but grieve a regenerate person
to think he should be so foolish as, after he has felt the smart of
sin—still to put this fire in his bosom again!
4. A godly heart grieves that he can be no more holy. It troubles him
that he shoots so short of the rule and standard which God has set. "I
would", says he, "love the Lord with all my heart. But how defective
my love is! How far short I come of what I should be; no, of what I
might have been! What can I see in my life—but either blanks or
5. A godly man sometimes weeps out of the sense of God's love. Gold is
the finest and most solid of all the metals—yet it is soonest melted
in the fire. Gracious hearts, which are golden hearts, are the soonest
melted into tears by the fire of God's love. I once knew a holy man,
who was walking in his garden and shedding plenty of tears, when a
friend came on him accidentally and asked him why he wept. He broke
forth into this pathetic expression: "Oh, the love of Christ! Oh, the
love of Christ!" Thus have we seen the cloud melted into water, by the
6. A godly person weeps because the sins he commits are in some sense
worse than the sins of other men. The sin of a justified person is
(i) The sin of a justified person is odious—because he acts contrary
to his own principles. He sins not only against the rule—but against
his principles, against his knowledge, vows, prayers, hopes,
experiences. He knows how dearly sin will cost him—yet he adventures
upon the forbidden fruit!
(ii) The sin of a justified person is odious, because it is a sin of
unkindness (1 Kings 11:9). Peter's denying of Christ was a sin against
love. Christ had enrolled him among the apostles. He had taken him up
into the Mount of Transfiguration and shown him the glory of heaven in
a vision. Yet after all this dazzling mercy—it was base ingratitude,
that he should deny Christ! This made him go out and "weep bitterly"
(Matt. 26:75). He baptized himself, as it were, in his own tears! The
sins of the godly go nearest to God's heart. The sins of others anger
God; the sins of the godly grieve him! The sins of the wicked pierce
Christ's side! The sins of the godly wound his heart! The unkindness
of a spouse, goes nearest to the heart of her husband.
(iii) The sin of a justified person is odious, because it reflects
more dishonor upon God. "By this deed you have given great occasion to
the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme" (2Sa 12:14). The sins of
God's people put black spots on the face of piety. Thus we see what
cause there is why a child of God should weep even after conversion.
"Can whoever sows such things refrain from tears?"
Now this sorrow of a godly man for sin, is not a despairing sorrow. He
does not mourn without hope. "Iniquities prevail against me" (Ps
65:3)—there is the holy soul weeping. "As for our transgressions, you
shall purge them away"—there is faith triumphing.
Godly sorrow is excellent. There is as much difference between the
sorrow of a godly man, and the sorrow of a wicked man—as between the
water of a spring which is clear and sweet, and the water of the sea
which is salt and brackish. A godly man's sorrow has these three
(a) Godly sorrow is INWARD. It is a sorrow of soul. Hypocrites
"disfigure their faces" (Matt. 6:16). Godly sorrow goes deep. It is a
"pricking at the heart" (Acts 2:37). True sorrow is a spiritual
martyrdom, therefore called "soul affliction" (Lev. 23:29).
(b) Godly sorrow is SINCERE. It is more for the evil that is in
sin—than the evil which follows after sin. It is more for the
spot—than the sting. Hypocrites weep for sin only as it brings
affliction. Hypocrites never send forth the streams of their tears,
except when God's judgments are approaching.
(c) Godly sorrow is INFLUENTIAL. It makes the heart better: "by the
sadness of the countenance, the heart is made better" (Eccles. 7:3).
Divine tears not only wet—but wash; they purge out the love of sin!
Use 1. How far from being godly are those who scarcely ever shed a
tear for sin! If they lose a near relation—they weep. But though they
are in danger of losing God and their souls—they do not weep. How few
know what it is to be in an agony for sin, or what a broken heart
means! Their eyes are not like the "fishpools in Heshbon", full of
water (Song 7:4)—but rather like the mountains of Gilboa, which had
"no dew" upon them (2 Sam. 1:21). It was a greater plague for Pharaoh
to have his heart turned into stone—than to have his rivers turned
The wicked, if they sometimes shed a tear—are never the better. They
go on in wickedness, and do not drown their sins in their tears!
Use 2: Let us strive for this divine characteristic. Be weepers! This
is "a repentance not to be repented of" (2Co 7:10). It is reported
of Bradford, the martyr, that he was of a melting spirit; he seldom
sat down to his meal but some tears trickled down his cheeks. There
are two lavers to wash away sin: blood and tears. The blood of Christ
washes away the guilt of sin; our tears wash away the filth of sin.
Repenting tears are precious. God puts them in his bottle (Psalm
56:8). Repenting tears are beautifying. To God—a tear in the eye,
adorns more than a ring on the finger. Oil makes the face shine (Ps
104:15). Tears make the heart shine. Repenting tears are comforting. A
sinner's mirth turns to melancholy. A saint's mourning turns to music!
Repentance may be compared to myrrh, which though it is bitter to the
taste—is comforting to the spirits. Repentance may be bitter to the
flesh, but it is most refreshing to the soul. Wax which melts is fit
for the seal. A melting soul is fit to take the stamp of all heavenly
blessing. Let us give Christ the water of our tears—and he will give
us the wine of his blood! (Read the entire book
The Godly Mans Picture)
your laughter be turned
into mourning and your joy to gloom: o gelos humon eis penthos
metatrapheto (3SAPM) kai e chara eis katepheian:
(Job 30:31; Pr 14:13; Eccl 2:2; 7:6; Lam 5:15; Lk 6:25; 16:25; Rev
James is calling for a striking
reversal of their emotional expression.
The Amplified Version
Let your laughter be turned to
grief and your mirth to dejection and heartfelt shame [for your sins].
Bible - Lockman)
The sorrow being described in this
verse is not a public show. We should not attempt to impress God with
elaborate displays of repentance. There may be a time of public
confession, but the grief-work over sin is largely private and
interior. The presence of close friends may help, for sometimes they
know us better than we know ourselves. They can also hold us
accountable to our confession. But the outcome of this entire process
must result in submission to God.
B. B., et al. Life Application Bible Commentary. Romans: Tyndale House
Hughes writes that there are
who are so insensitive and
superficial that they are laughing when they ought to be weeping! Some
laughter indicates a sickness of soul which only tears can cure. Have
we wept over our sins?
R. K. James : Faith that works. Preaching the Word. Crossway Books
(metastrepho from meta = change + strepho = to
twist, turn around or reverse; Note some more modern
transcripts have the verb metatrepo = turn around, change the
mind) means literally to turn about and
figuratively to cause a change from one state to another. In some
secular contexts the idea of metastrepho was to change one's mind. The idea is to cause a
change of state, with emphasis upon the difference in the resulting
Hiebert says that the verb
metastrepho is in the...
third person singular (which) points to a force outside of
producing the reversal, whereas the
their will to let it work. The change will occur as Spirit-wrought
conviction seizes them. The demanded reversal relates to their past
sinful pleasures. This does not mean that laughter in itself is evil
(cf. Ps. 126:2-note),
nor is James prohibiting future laughter for his readers. "James is no
killjoy," Moo asserts and then points out, "But `laughter' in the Old
Testament and Judaism is often the scornful laughter of the fool (Eccl
7:6) who blithely refuses to take sin seriously." (Ibid)
Metastrepho is used to
translate the warning by the OT prophet Amos issued against faithless
Israel (primarily directed at the northern 10 tribes but some
prophecies included the southern nation of Judah)...
Amos 8:10 "Then I shall turn
your festivals into mourning and all your songs into
lamentation; And I will bring sackcloth on everyone's loins And
baldness on every head. And I will make it like a time of mourning for
an only son, And the end of it will be like a bitter day.
As someone has well said joys are
our wings; sorrows are our spurs and every lock of sorrow has a key of
promise to fit it.
from geláo = to laugh) means laughter and by metonymy
merrymaking, rejoicing. Gelos was used of the leisurely, merry
laughter of "gods" and men in their pleasures. This laughter is that
of the fool who rejects God as the One Who determines reality and
believes man to be an autonomous being.
The verb gelao is used in Lk
6:21, 25 where it signifies loud laughter in contrast to demonstrative
weeping. In the account of Jairus’ daughter, the related verb
katagelao describes the scornful, superior laughter of those who
ridiculed Jesus, believing that he could do nothing about someone
already dead (Mt. 9:24, cp Sarah's scornful laughter in Ge
Luke 6:21 "Blessed are you who
hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now,
for you shall laugh.
Luke 6:25 "Woe to you who are
well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh
now, for you shall mourn and weep.
John MacArthur makes the
James is not condemning legitimate
laughter or joy but rather the flippant, trivial, worldly,
self-centered, sensual kinds that unbelievers revel in, despite, and
often because of, their sinful pleasures. It corresponds to Jesus’
warning: “Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep”
(Lk 6:25), and is the opposite of a beatitude given a few verses
earlier that is recorded only in Luke: “Blessed are you who weep now,
for you shall laugh” (Lk 6:21). In both verses Jesus used a verb
form of the noun that in the present text is rendered laughter.
NIDNTT notes that...
The word group as a whole was in
use in Greek literature from the time of Homer onwards and covered a
whole range of meanings from free and joyous laughter to ridicule and
scorn. The compound katagelao is an intensification, meaning either
laugh loudly or sneer. The words were not only applied to men but also
to the gods. K. H. Rengstorf (TDNT I 661) notes that for the Romans
and the Greeks merry laughter was a divine characteristic which
featured in the theophanies (cf. Virgil, Eclogues 4, 60 ff. where
laughter following the birth of a child denoted its divine character).
“gelos is a mark of deity which also spreads gelos in
the world around” (K. H. Rengstorf, ibid.).
Colin, Editor. New International Dictionary of NT Theology. 1986.
There are 14 uses of gelos
in the Septuagint - Gen 21:6; Job 8:21; 17:6; Pr 10:23; Eccl
2:2; 7:3, 6; 10:19; Jer 20:7; 48:26, 39; Lam 3:14; Amos 7:9; Mic 1:10
Genesis 21:6 And Sarah said, "God
has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me."
Ecclesiastes 2:2 I said of
laughter, "It is madness," and of pleasure, "What does it accomplish?"
Ecclesiastes 7:3 Sorrow is better
than laughter, For when a face is sad a heart may be happy.
As Ryrie says...
Laughter is sometimes desirable (cp
but not when it reflects worldly frivolity.
Martin observes that
laughter to mourning while negative in one sense...
should not be construed as though
the preacher were a kill-joy. What the writer is saying is that the
actions of (foolish) laughing and (senseless) rejoicing hold no place
for Christians who refuse to turn to God’s paths. (Martin, R. P. Vol.
48: Word Biblical Commentary : James. Dallas: Word, Incorporated)
Thomas Manton writes that...
In this context he describes them
as being worldly and as glorying in oppressing one another; he means
here the sort of joy and laughter by which complacent sinners please
themselves in their present success, putting off all thoughts of
Zodhiates comments that...
Somebody said, “If you want to know
whether a man’s life is made up of frivolous or serious things, watch
what he laughs at.” If the Christian has to look at the same things as
the worldly and unconverted people in order to laugh, then there is
something radically wrong with his Christianity. A Christian believer
cannot laugh at sin; he rather mourns because of it. The things that
caused him to laugh before he became a Christian ought to cause him to
mourn now after his repentance and regeneration. The laughter of his
sinful life ought to become the mourning of his Christian life. The
unconverted will not enjoy the believer’s company in their ungodly
mirth, and he should not be able to enjoy the company of the
unconverted. A Christian will enjoy laughter, probably even more than
the unconverted, because he is really happy, but he will not laugh at
the same things or with the same persons. (Zodhiates, S. Faith, Love,
& Hope: An Exposition of the Epistle of James. Exegetical Commentary
Series. Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers)
journal on October 18, 1740 has
"In my morning devotions my soul
was exceedingly melted, and bitterly mourned over my exceeding
sinfulness and vileness."
The KJV is picturesque - rendering it as "your joy to
heaviness". Heaviness means having a great weight, tending strongly to
the center of attraction; sad; sorrowful; dejected; depressed in mind;
grievous; afflictive; depressing to the spirits
My soul before Thee prostrate lies;My
Soul Before Thee Prostrate Lies)
To Thee, her Source, my spirit flies;
My wants I mourn, my chains I see;
O let Thy presence set me free.
(penthos) means grief or sorrow. Our English noun mourning
describes an outward sign of grief (such as wearing of black clothing)
or a period of time during which such signs of grief are shown. As
someone has well said we should mourn over sin as long as we have sin
to mourn over!
Penthos occurs 5x in 4v in
James 4:9 Be miserable and mourn
and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy to
Revelation 18:7 (note)
"To the degree that she (Mystery
Babylon) glorified herself and lived sensuously, to the
same degree give her torment and mourning; for she says in her
heart, 'I sit as a queen and I am not a widow, and will never see
mourning.' 8 "For this reason in one day her plagues will come,
pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with
fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong.
Revelation 21:4 (note)
and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no
longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or
crying, or pain; the first things have passed away."
Penthos - 28v in the
(Most of these uses are in the context of
death) - Ge 27:41;
35:8; 50:4, 10, 11; Deut 34:8; 2Sa 11:27; 19:2; Esther 4:3, 17; 9:22;
Pr 10:6; 14:13; Eccl 5:17; 7:2, 4; Isa 16:3; 17:14; 60:20; Jer 6:26;
16:7; 31:13; La 5:15; Ezek 24:17; Hos 9:4; Amos 5:16; 8:10; Mic 1:8
Lamentations 5:15 The joy of our
hearts has ceased; Our dancing has been turned into mourning. (Comment:
The sins of Jerusalem led to God's destruction and thus the "death" of
the city, and as a consequence the people mourned.)
Jeremiah 31:13 "Then (Ed:
When is then? When the
Deliverer, the Messiah, comes from Zion to ransom captive Israel [cp
Ro 11:26, 27-note]
and inaugurate the glorious
ennium Part 3
for Biblical descriptions
of the Messianic Age] ) the virgin shall rejoice in the dance, And the
young men and the old, together, For I will turn their mourning into
joy, And will comfort them, and give them joy for their sorrow.
George Barlow was right when
There is no progress possible to
the man who does not see and mourn over his defects.
John R. W. Stott spoke of
the value of mourning when he said that
We can stand before the cross only
with a bowed head and a broken spirit.
J C Ryle writes that those
who turn laughter to mourning refers to
those who sorrow for sin, and
grieve daily over their own shortcomings. These people are more
concerned about sin than about anything on earth: the remembrance of
it is grievous to them; the burden of it is intolerable. Blessed are
all such! “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit” and a contrite
heart (Ps 51:17). One day they will weep no more: “they will be
comforted.” (Mt 5:4-note)
(Ryle, J. C. Matthew)
MacArthur has an excellent discussion of "How can I truly mourn
over sin?" The following discussion summarizes his thoughts. On
the "negative side" you need to remove the things which hinder you
from mourning, especially "the things that make us content with
ourselves, that make us resist God’s Spirit and question His Word, and
that harden our hearts. A stony heart does not mourn. It is
insensitive to God". One of greatest hindrances is a failure to let
go of our love for a pet sin. Be assured that this will turn your
heart to stone. Puritan Thomas Watson writes that the love of
sin “makes sin taste sweet and this sweetness in sin bewitches the
heart”. (cp Heb 3:13-note)
also mentions other hindrances including despair, conceit,
presumption, procrastination ("one of these days I'll take a look at
my sins"...sure you will! Not! Delays do not make Christianity easier.
The folly of taking your time when you stand under divine judgment
makes less sense than purposely sleeping in a house that you know is
on fire), and excessive merriment (click
Happy are the Sad
and scroll down).
On the positive
side we can cultivate a heart soil that is fertile for the growth of
genuine mourning over sins (and those in our church, our community,
our country) by getting a fresh glimpse of the holiness of God,
especially as demonstrated in His sacrifice for sins on the Cross.
(e.g., 1Pe 1:14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 -see notes
One has to be
careful that their mourning is not just an emotional reaction
but that there is true confession, repentance and genuine mourning.
John MacArthur addresses this question of how one can know they
are mourning as Christ teaches...
Knowing whether or not we have
godly mourning is not difficult. First, we need to ask ourselves
if we are sensitive to sin. If we laugh at it, take it lightly, or
enjoy it, we can be sure we are not mourning over it and are outside
the sphere of God’s blessing. (see for example Saul's regret not
mourning over his sin in 1Sa 15:30)...The godly mourner will have true
sorrow for his sins. His first concern is for the harm his sin does to
God’s glory, not the harm its exposure might bring to his own
reputation or welfare. If our mourning is godly we will grieve for the
sins of fellow believers and for the sins of the world. We will cry
with the psalmist, “My eyes shed streams of water, because they do
not keep Thy law” (Ps. 119:136). We will wish with Jeremiah that
our heads were fountains of water that we could have enough tears for
weeping (Jer. 9:1; cf. Lam. 1:16). With Ezekiel we will search
out faithful believers “who sigh and groan over all the abominations
which are being committed” around us (Ezek. 9:4; cf. Ps. 69:9).
We will look out over the community where we live and weep, as Jesus
looked out over Jerusalem and wept (Luke 19:41). The second way to
determine if we have genuine mourning over sin is to check our sense
of God’s forgiveness. Have we experienced the release and freedom of
knowing our sins are forgiven? Do we have His peace and joy in our
life? Can we point to true happiness He has given in response to our
mourning? Do we have the divine comfort He promises to those who have
forgiven, cleansed, and purified lives? The godly mourners “who sow
in tears shall reap with joyful shouting. He who goes to and fro
weeping, carrying his bag of seed, shall indeed come again with a
shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him” (Ps 126:5–6)." (MacArthur,
J: Matthew 1-7 Chicago: Moody Press)
Pastor Phil Newton also
has some practical thoughts on how mourning functions (or
should function) in a person's life...
In conversion - Spiritual
mourning begins in conversion; it is the pathway to repentance. It
comes as a gift of God’s grace that enables us to see our sin as an
offense against God, and to understand the judgment of God that weighs
against us. This is where the promise, “for they shall be comforted,”
shines. When a person faces his own lost condition before God, and
sees his unworthiness of forgiveness, and yet God in His mercy saves
him, then you can be assured that he is “comforted!” The word implies
that God comes near to him with great consolations (Ed: Compare
James' call to "draw near to God and He will draw near to you" Jas
It is not a comfort that leads to cockiness as though he deserved what
God did, but a comfort that humbles him, that spills forth in
continual gratitude as he is converted to Christ.
In Sanctification - Spiritual mourning continually operates in
the life of the Christian. For as he sins it brings grief, and grief
causes him to turn to Christ and the sufficiency of His death; then he
is comforted again. “Whenever the Christian is conscious of his own
sin,” writes Ferguson, “he will be grieved by it” . Grief leads to
repentance, and comfort. Watson adds, “The soul of the Christian is
most eased when it can vent itself by holy mourning” . It was this
same idea that Martin Luther put at the top of his Ninety-five Theses
that he nailed to the church door at Wittenberg. “When our Lord and
Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent” (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire
life of believers to be one of repentance.” Jeremiah Burroughs,
another Puritan, offers us great insight on why mourning is part of
As weeds grow very rank in summer
time, now in the winter the frost nips the weeds and keeps them under;
but if it be a long frost it kills them. And so doth a mournful
condition; if it be sanctified, it kills the vermin, it kills our
lusts, and is a special means of mortification in the soul; and
therefore blessed are they that do mourn, and carry themselves
graciously in a mourning condition [The Saints’ Happiness, 38].
In glorification - You can
easily see the progress, going from conversion—and the justification
that takes place, to sanctification, and finally to glorification. It
is not that spiritual mourning follows into glorification, but it is
the pathway to it. For the ultimate comfort promised by Christ, “for
they shall be comforted,” has a future dimension that points to that
time of glorification forever in the Lord’s presence. It is that
blessed hope of the Christian, that time in which the mortal shall put
on immortality, death will no longer be in the pictured; sin and death
will have long been put asunder as enemies under the feet of Christ.
And who can describe the measure of Christ’s eternal comfort? (See
Matthew 5:4:The Blessing of
Spurgeon describes the
vital role of a contrite spirit in mourning writing that this
the man that feels his sin and
hates it, that mourns that he should have rebelled against God, and
mercy. Now, God will come to such, because there is purity in that
heart. “Oh,” saith the contrite spirit, “I do not see any purity in
my heart.” No, but what do you see, then? “Oh, I see all manner of
sin and evil, and I hate myself because it is so.” There is purity in
that hatred; at any rate there is a something that God loves in that
hatred in your soul, of the sin that is within, and He will come to
you, for there is something there that is akin to His own holiness: He
has put it there. You have begun to appeal for mercy. Oh, then, God’s
mercy will come, for mercy delights to visit misery. Mercy is always
at home where there is a sinner confessing sin. (From his sermon on
Isa 66:1,2 -
Living Temples for the Living God)
A W Pink comments on the
blessing of mourning (from his comments on the parallel passage Mt
5:4) writing that...
Mourning is hateful and
irksome to poor human nature: from suffering and sadness our spirits
instinctively shrink. It is natural for us to seek the society of the
cheerful and joyous. The verse (Ed:
Again Pink is referring to Mt 5:4 in this note but most of his
comments are very apropos to the mourning referred to in James 4:9)
now before us presents an anomaly to the unregenerate, yet is it sweet
music to the ears of God’s elect: if “blessed” why do they “mourn?” If
they mourn, how can they be blessed? Only the child of God has the key
to this paradox, for “happy are they who sorrow” is at complete
variance with the world’s logic. Men have, in all places and in all
ages, deemed the prosperous and the gay to be the happy ones, but
Christ pronounces blessed those who are poor in spirit and who mourn.
Now it is obvious that it is not
every species of mourning which is here referred to. There are
thousands of mourners in the world today who do not come within the
scope of our text: those mourning over blighted hopes, over financial
reverses, over the loss of loved ones. But alas, so far from many of
them coming beneath this Divine benediction, they are under God’s
condemnation; nor is there any promise that such shall ever be
There are three kinds of
“mourning” referred to in the Scriptures:
a natural, such as we have
just referred to above;
a sinful, which is a
disconsolate and inordinate grief, refusing to be comforted, or a
hopeless remorse like that of Judas;
and a gracious, a “godly
sorrow,” of which the Holy Spirit is the Author.
The “mourning” of our text is a
spiritual one. The previous verse indicates clearly the line of
thought here: ”Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the
kingdom of heaven.” Yes,” Blessed are the poor,” not the poor in
purse, but the poor in heart: those who realize themselves to be
spiritual bankrupts in themselves, paupers before God. That felt
poverty of spirit is the very opposite of the Laodiceanism which is so
rife today, that self-complacency which says, “I am rich, and
increased with goods, and have need of nothing.” In like manner it is
spiritual mourning which is in view here. Further proof of this is
found in the fact that Christ pronounces these mourners “blessed.”
They are so because the Spirit of God has wrought a work of grace
within them, and hence they have been awakened to see and feel their
lost condition. They are “blessed” because God does not leave them at
that point: “they shall be comforted.”
“Blessed are they that mourn.”
The first reference is to that initial mourning which ever precedes a
genuine conversion, for there must be a real sense of sin before the
remedy for it will even be desired. Thousands acknowledge that they
are sinners, who have never mourned over the fact.
Take the woman of Luke 7:36-50, who
washed the Saviour’s feet with her tears: have you ever shed any over
Take the prodigal in Luke 15:
before he left the far country he said, “I will arise and go unto my
Father and say unto Him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and
before Thee, And am no more worthy to be called Thy son “ (Luke
15:21)—where shall we find those today with this sense of their
Take the publican of Luke 18: why
did he “smite upon his breast” and say “God be merciful to me a
sinner?” (Luke 18:13) Because he felt the plague of his own heart.
So of the three thousand converted
on the day of Pentecost: they were “pricked in their heart, and cried
out.” (Acts 2:37)
This “mourning” springs from a
sense of sin, from a tender conscience, from a broken heart. It
is a godly sorrow over rebellion against God and hostility to His
will. In some cases it is grief over the very morality in which
the heart has trusted, over the self-righteousness which has caused
such complacency. This “mourning” is the agonizing realization that it
was my sins which nailed to the Cross the Lord of glory. When Israel
shall, by faith, see Christ, “they shall mourn for Him” (Zech. 12:10).
It is such tears and groans which prepare the heart to truly welcome
and receive the “balm of Gilead,” (Jer 8:22, 46:11) the comfort of the
Gospel. It is, then, a mourning over the felt destitution of our
spiritual state, and over the iniquities that have separated between
us and God. Such mourning always goes side by side with conscious
poverty of spirit.
CLOSER LIVES TO GOD,
THE MORE ONE WILL MOURN!
But this “mourning” is by no means
to be confined unto the initial experience of conviction and
contrition, for observe the tense of the verb (in Mt 5:4 - mourn =
pentheo in the
it is not “have mourned,” but “mourn”—a present and continuous
experience. The Christian himself has much to mourn over. The sins
which he now commits—both of omission and commission—are a sense of
daily grief to him, or should be, and will be, if his conscience is
kept tender (Ed: I must
ask, dear reader, how is your conscience? Are you keeping it tender by
cultivating it with communion, with time in His Holy presence in His
Holy Word and in prayer?).
An ever-deepening discovery of the depravity of his nature, the plague
of his heart, the sea of corruption within—ever polluting all that he
does—deeply exercises him. Consciousness of the surgings of unbelief,
the swellings of pride, the coldness of his love, and his paucity of
fruit, make him cry, “O wretched man that I am.” (Ro 7:24-note)
A humbling recollection of past offences: “Wherefore remember that ye
being in time past” (Eph. 2:11-note).
Yes, “Ourselves also, which have
the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within
ourselves” (Romans 8:23-note).
Does not the Christian groan under the disciplining rod of the Father:
“No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous”
And is he not deeply grieved by the awful dishonour which is now done
to the Lord Jesus on every hand? The fact is that the closer the
Christian lives to God, the more will he mourn overall that dishonours
Him: with the Psalmist he will say, “Horror hath taken hold upon
me because of the wicked that forsake Thy law” (Psalm 119:53), and
with Jeremiah, “My soul shall weep in secret places for your pride;
and mine eyes shall weep sore and run down with tears, because the
Lord’s flock is carried away captive” (Jer 13:17). But blessed be God,
it is written, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of
Jerusalem, and seta mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and
that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof”
(Ezek. 9:4). So too there is a sympathetic mourning over the
sufferings of others: “Weep with them that weep” (Romans 12:15).
But let us return to the primary
thought of our verse: “Blessed are they that mourn” has immediate
reference to the convicted soul sorrowing over his sins. And here it
is most important to note that Christ does not pronounce them
“blessed” simply because they are mourners, but because they are such,
mourners as “shall be comforted.” There are not a few in Christendom
today who glory in their grief and attempt to find comfort in their
own inward wretchedness—as well seek health from our sicknesses. True
comfort is not to be found in anything in self—no, not in perceiving
our own vileness—but in Christ alone. Distress of soul is by no means
always the same thing as evangelical repentance, as is clear from the
case of Cain (Gen. 4:13). But where the Spirit produces in the heart a
godly sorrow for sin, He does not leave him there, but brings him to
look away from sin to the Lamb of God, and then he is “comforted.” The
Gospel promises no mercy except to those who forsake sin and close
with Christ. (Pink,
A. W. An Exposition of the Sermon on the Mount)
Spurgeon's devotional "The Mourner Comforted"...
BY the valley of weeping we come to Zion. One would have thought
mourning and being blessed were in opposition, but the infinitely wise
Saviour puts them together in this beatitude. What He has joined
together let no man put asunder. Mourning for sin—our own sins, and the
sins of others—is the Lord’s seal set upon His faithful ones. When the
Spirit of grace is poured upon the house of David, or any other house,
they shall mourn. By holy mourning we receive the best of our blessings,
even as the rarest commodities come to us by water. Not only shall the
mourner be blessed at some future day, but Christ pronounces him blessed
even now. The Holy Spirit will surely comfort those hearts which mourn
for sin. They shall be comforted by the application of the blood of
Jesus, and by the cleansing power of the Holy Ghost. They shall be
comforted as to the abounding sin of their city and of their age by the
assurance that God will glorify Himself, however much men may rebel
against Him. They shall be comforted with the expectation that they
shall be wholly freed from sin before long, and shall soon be taken up
to dwell forever in the glorious presence of their Lord. (Faith's
F B Meyer wrote that...
It is better to mourn for sin than for its consequences. It is not
difficult to do the latter. When we are reaping the bitter penalty of
mistake and crime, it is easy to be regretful. "Oh, that I had not done
this! Would that I had been more thoughtful and careful! Might I but
have my chance again!" So we all exclaim often enough. But this is not
sorrow for sin.
That is deeper, nobler mourning far. Its tears are purer. In it is no
taint of selfishness or dread of penalty. The convicted sinner weeps
with unfeigned anguish, as he sees what his sin has meant to God, to
Divine Love and human, to those who have passed beyond his recall, or
must forever be influenced for the worse by his irrevocable past. And
God carefully gathers up these tears, puts them in His bottle, writes
them in His book.
Thomas Brooks writes (1662) in his book
The Crown and Glory of Christianity
or, HOLINESS, the Only Way to Happiness
"Turn to the Lord with weeping and with mourning." Joel 2:12
The best way to be holy is to accuse, indict, arraign, and condemn
yourself for your unholiness. Greatly lament and mourn over your own
unholiness, over your own wickedness. Go to your closet, and fall down
before the most high and holy God, and mourn bitterly over . . .
the unholiness of your nature,
the unholiness of your heart,
the unholiness of your affections,
the unholiness of your intentions,
the unholiness of your thoughts,
the unholiness of your words,
the unholiness of your life.
Oh, who can look upon sin . . .
as an offence against a holy God,
as the breach of a holy law,
as the wounding and crucifying of a holy Savior,
as the grieving and saddening of a holy Sanctifier,
and not mourn over it?
Oh, who can cast a serious eye . .
upon the heinous nature of sin,
upon the exceeding sinfulness of sin,
upon the aggravations of sin—
and not have . . .
his heart humbled,
his soul grieved,
his spirit melted,
his mouth full of penitential confessions,
his eyes full of penitential tears, and
his heart full of penitential sorrow?
The Christian mourns that he has sinned against . . .
a God so great,
a God so gracious,
a God so bountiful,
a God so merciful.
Oh, how should a sinner fall a-weeping when he looks upon the greatness
of his wickedness, and his lack of holiness! As ever you would be holy,
mourn over your own unholiness. Those who weep not for sin here—shall
weep out their eyes in hell hereafter! It is better to weep bitterly for
your sins on earth, than to weep eternally for your folly in hell. (The
Crown and Glory of Christianity or, HOLINESS, the Only Way to Happiness)
a feeling of inner gladness, delight or rejoicing. Secular
dictionaries define joy as the emotion evoked by well-being,
success, or good fortune or the emotion evoked by the prospect of
possessing what one desires. The world's definition of joy is
therefore virtually synonymous with the definition of happiness, for
both of these "emotions" are dependent on what "happens".
Joy is that inner feeling which
often expresses itself in laughter. James is calling for an about face
reversal from joy to gloom or dejection!
from kata = down + phaino = shine) means
downcast in look or the condition of one whose eyes are cast down. It
pictures a dejected, sorrowful countenance that reflects a heavy
Although katepheia is not
used by our Lord in His description of the tax collector in Luke 18,
his description of this man gives us an good sense of the meaning of
But the tax-gatherer, standing some
distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven,
but was beating his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, the
VGNT writes that of a
secular use of katepheia that...
the context suggests...“with eyes
cast down for shame” and the same reference to the outward expression
of the countenance underlies the only occurrence in Jas 4:9.
You learn your theology most where
your sorrows take you. (From
John Blanchard's highly recommended
collection - The Complete Gathered Gold- A Treasury of Quotations)
Chrysostom put it well when
he said that...
Sorrow is given us on purpose to
cure us of sin.