I will punish their sin with the rod, their iniquity with flogging. Since God does not adopt us as his children to encourage us to take liberty to commit sin with the greater boldness, mention is here made at the same time of chastisement, by which he shows that he hates the sins of his children, and, warning them of what they have deserved in offending him, invites and exhorts them to repentance. This fatherly chastisement then, which operates as medicine, holds the medium between undue indulgence, which is an encouragement to sin, and extreme severity, which precipitates persons into destruction. God speaks of his chastising his people after the manner of men, either because the anger of a father in correcting his children proceeds from love,—for he sees that otherwise he would fail in promoting their good; or it contains a contrast between God and men, implying, that in the task of chastising he will with moderation and gentleness; for, were he to put forth his strength, he would immediately bring us to nothing, yes, he could do this simply by moving one of his fingers. Whenever God punishes the sins of true believers, he will observe a wholesome moderation; and it is therefore our duty to take all the punishments which he inflicts upon us, as so many medicines.
God has nothing else in view than to correct the vices of his children, in order that, after having thoroughly purged them, he may restore them anew to his favour and friendship; according to the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:33, which affirm that the faithful "are chastened of the Lord, that they should not be condemned with the world." For this reason, lest they should be overwhelmed with the weight of chastisement, he restrains his hand, and makes considerate allowance for their infirmity. Thus the promise is fulfilled, That he does not withdraw his loving-kindness from his people, even when he is angry with them; for, while he is correcting them for their profit and salvation, he does not cease to love them. God then in this passage leads us further; promising that his covenant shall be stedfast and effectual, not only because he will be faithful on his part, but also because he will keep his people from falling away through their own inconstancy.
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