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James 5:13

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Is any among you afflicted? let him pray - The Jews taught that the meaning of the ordinance, Leviticus 13:45, which required the leper to cry, Unclean! unclean! was, "that thus making known his calamity, the people might be led to offer up prayers to God in his behalf," Sota, page 685, ed. Wagens. They taught also, that when any sickness or affliction entered a family, they should go to the wise men, and implore their prayers. Bava bathra, fol. 116, 1.

In Nedarim, fol. 40, 1, we have this relation: "Rabba, as often as he fell sick, forbade his domestics to mention it for the first day; if he did not then begin to get well, he told his family to go and publish it in the highways, that they who hated him might rejoice, and they that loved him might intercede with God for him."

Is any merry? let him sing psalms - These are all general but very useful directions. It is natural for a man to sing when he is cheerful and happy. Now no subject can be more noble than that which is Divine: and as God alone is the author of all that good which makes a man happy, then his praise should be the subject of the song of him who is merry. But where persons rejoice in iniquity, and not in the truth, God and sacred things can never be the subject of their song.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Is any among you afflicted? - By sickness, bereavement, disappointment, persecutions, loss of health or property. The word used here refers to suffering evil of any kind, ( κακοπαθεῖ kakopatheiLet him pray - That is, prayer is appropriate to trial. The mind naturally resorts to it, and in every way it is proper. God only can remove the source of sorrow; he can grant unto us “a happy issue out of all our afflictions;” he can make them the means of sanctifying the soul. Compare 2 Chronicles 33:12; Psalm 34:4; Psalm 107:6, Psalm 107:13, Psalm 107:28. It matters not what is the form of the trial, it is a privilege which all have to go to God in prayer. And it is an inestimable privilege. Health fails, friends die, property is lost, disappointments come upon us, danger threatens, death approaches - and to whom shall we go but to God? He ever lives. He never fails us or disappoints us if we trust in him, and his ear is ever open to our cries. This would be a sad world indeed, if it were not for the privilege of prayer. The last resource of millions who suffer - for millions suffer every day - would be taken away, if men were denied the access to the throne of grace. As it is, there is no one so poor that he may not pray; no one so disconsolate and forsaken that he may not find in God a friend; no one so broken-hearted that he is not able to bind up his spirit. One of the designs of affliction is to lead us to the throne of grace; and it is a happy result of trials if we are led by our trials to seek God in prayer.

Is any merry? - The word merry now conveys an idea which is not properly found in the original word here. It refers now, in common usage, to light and noisy pleasure; to that which is jovial; to that which is attended with laughter, or which causes laughter, as a merry jest. In the Scriptures, however, the word properly denotes “cheerful, pleasant, agreeable,” and is applied to a state of mind free from trouble - the opposite of affliction - happy, Proverbs 15:13, Proverbs 15:15; Proverbs 17:22; Isaiah 24:7; Luke 15:23-24, Luke 15:29, Luke 15:32. The Greek word used here ( εὐθυμεῖ euthumei) means, literally, “to have the mind well” ( εῦ euand θυμὸς ;) that is, to have it happy, or free from trouble; to be cheerful.

Let him sing psalms - That is, if anyone is happy; if he is in health, and is prospered; if he has his friends around him, and there is nothing to produce anxiety; if he has the free exercise of conscience and enjoys religion, it is proper to express that in notes of praise. Compare Ephesians 5:19-20. On the meaning of the word here rendered “sing psalms,” see the notes at Ephesians 5:19, where it is rendered “making melody.” It does not mean to sing psalms in contradistinction from singing hymns, but the reference is to any songs of praise. Praise is appropriate to such a state of mind. The heart naturally gives utterance to its emotions in songs of thanksgiving. The sentiment in this verse is well expressed in the beautiful stanza:

In every joy that crowns my days,

In every pain I bear,

My heart shall find delight in praise,

Or seek relief in prayer.

- Mrs. Williams.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The sin of swearing is condemned; but how many make light of common profane swearing! Such swearing expressly throws contempt upon God's name and authority. This sin brings neither gain, nor pleasure, nor reputation, but is showing enmity to God without occasion and without advantage It shows a man to be an enemy to God, however he pretends to call himself by his name, or sometimes joins in acts of worship. But the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. In a day of affliction nothing is more seasonable than prayer. The spirit is then most humble, and the heart is broken and tender. It is necessary to exercise faith and hope under afflictions; and prayer is the appointed means for obtaining and increasing these graces. Observe, that the saving of the sick is not ascribed to the anointing with oil, but to prayer. In a time of sickness it is not cold and formal prayer that is effectual, but the prayer of faith. The great thing we should beg of God for ourselves and others in the time of sickness is, the pardon of sin. Let nothing be done to encourage any to delay, under the mistaken fancy that a confession, a prayer, a minister's absolution and exhortation, or the sacrament, will set all right at last, where the duties of a godly life have been disregarded. To acknowledge our faults to each other, will tend greatly to peace and brotherly love. And when a righteous person, a true believer, justified in Christ, and by his grace walking before God in holy obedience, presents an effectual fervent prayer, wrought in his heart by the power of the Holy Spirit, raising holy affections and believing expectations and so leading earnestly to plead the promises of God at his mercy-seat, it avails much. The power of prayer is proved from the history of Elijah. In prayer we must not look to the merit of man, but to the grace of God. It is not enough to say a prayer, but we must pray in prayer. Thoughts must be fixed, desires must be firm and ardent, and graces exercised. This instance of the power of prayer, encourages every Christian to be earnest in prayer. God never says to any of the seed of Jacob, Seek my face in vain. Where there may not be so much of miracle in God's answering our prayers, yet there may be as much of grace.
Ellen G. White
Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 125

“If any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” TM 125.1

This is the word of the living God. The law is God's great moral looking glass. He is to compare his words, his spirit, his actions, with the word of God. If we decide that in these last days we have no work assigned to us that is out of the common course of the nominal churches, we shall meet with great disappointment. The great question to be investigated, weighed, and decided is, What can I do to reach souls that are lost? God calls for a work to be done by Seventh-day Adventists that I need not define. Unless the work is first done in their own hearts, all the specific directions that might be given to point out their course of action will be labor in vain. TM 125.2

Read the second chapter of James. Practice the truth in your daily life and you will know the work that the Lord has given you to do. Read also the fourth chapter, especially verses 5-12; and chapter 5, especially verses 13-20. These chapters are a dead letter to the larger number of those who claim to be Seventh-day Adventists. I am directed to point you to these scriptures, and to the seventh chapter of Matthew. You need to study every word as for your life. TM 125.3

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Ellen G. White
Spiritual Gifts, vol. 2, 143

At Utica we parted with Sr. B., my sister S. and our child, and went on our way to the East, while Bro. Abbey took them home with him. We had to make some sacrifice in our feelings to separate from those who were bound to us by tender ties; especially did our hearts cling to little Edson, whose life had been so much in danger. We could not be entirely free from anxious thoughts on his account. 2SG 143.1

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