James 5:13: Prayers in Affliction; Psalms in Prosperity

Verse 13:[1] Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16) let him sing psalms.

[Is any sad, etc., κακοπαθεῖ, etc.] He had exhorted to patience; now he shows how it is to be acquired, and of what sort it ought to be, not conjoined with a gloomy silence, but what sets itself forth in holy exercises, etc. (Gataker). [They thus render it:] Is afflicted (or, suffereth any evil, whether in body or in soul [Menochius]: Is sorrowful in soul [Beza]) any among you? (Piscator, etc.). If anyone is pressed with adversities. See on James 5:10 (Grotius).

Is any among you afflicted? either troubled or afflicted in mind, as appears by the opposite being merry, or more generally afflicted any way. Not that we need not pray at other times, but when under afflictions God calls us more especially to it, and our own necessities put us upon it.

[Let him pray] So that thence he might carry back strength to bear evils, and some solace (Menochius); because he needs alleviation (Estius). You have examples in Matthew 26:39; Acts 21:5 (Grotius).

Let him pray; for support, patience, sanctification of afflictions, etc.

[Of equanimous mind, etc.; εὐθυμεῖ τις] Is any cheerful? (Castalio, thus Tremellius out of the Syriac, Arabic, Æthiopic). If any is cheerful on account of goods received from God. Thus εὔθυμοι δὲ γενόμενοι, they were of good cheer, Acts 27:36 (Grotius). Of a good (or, equanimous [Erasmus, Illyricus, Tigurinus, Pagnine, Beza, Montanus, Vulgate], that is, cheerful, peaceful, tranquil [Menochius, similarly Estius]) spirit is anyone? (Piscator), that is, if anyone rejoice in prosperity (Estius, similarly Piscator).

[Let him sing psalms] That is, let him give thanks to God also with singing (Grotius, similarly Menochius). See 1 Corinthians 14:15;[2] Ephesians 5:19.[3] Ψάλλειν is properly to sing with a stringed instrument, but it is taken more broadly among us (Grotius).

Is any merry? let him sing psalms; express his mirth in a holy manner, by praising God with psalms or spiritual songs for mercies received from him, 1 Corinthians 14:15; Ephesians 5:19; and so keep up his spiritual mirth by a spiritual exercise, lest his cheerfulness degenerate into vanity and frothiness.

[1] Greek: Κακοπαθεῖ τις ἐν ὑμῖν; προσευχέσθω. εὐθυμεῖ τις; ψαλλέτω.

[2] 1 Corinthians 14:15:  “What is it then?  I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also:  I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also (ψαλῶ τῷ πνεύματι, ψαλῶ δὲ καὶ τῷ νοΐ).”

[3] Ephesians 5:19:  “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs (ψαλμοῖς καὶ ὕμνοις καὶ ᾠδαῖς πνευματικαῖς), singing and making melody (ᾄδοντες καὶ ψάλλοντες) in your heart to the Lord…”

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