The Psalmist’s horror (A. V.) and grief is not for any contempt or injury of himself,* but because God’s law is forsaken, and his sorrow is for those who so forsake it, because they die to God. So an affectionate father of a delirious child, when abused, struck, and insulted by him, does not grieve for his own trouble, but the patient’s, and so far as he laments the foul language, does so not because it is heaped on himself, but because the sick child knows not what he is doing in his frenzy.
And in like manner a good man laments over a sinner as at the point of death, and like one given over by the physicians, and stays by him just as a wise physician would do, heedless of any bad treatment he may receive from the patient, if only he may help him in his need, with knowledge as well as skill.
Therefore a righteous man when ill-treated by a sinner, does not abandon him, but if injured, sets the act down to insanity, not to wickedness, and is zealous to apply some healing remedy to the wound, thinking that if his foe were in his right mind he would have acted very differently. And thus the Apostle speaks, “I have great sorrow and continual weariness in my heart for my brethren.” (Cd.) It is as though the Psalmist, looking round on the sea of life, saw men rejecting the guidance of right reason, throwing the Divine Pilot overboard, and drifting rapidly with the tide of iniquity towards the rocks and sands, and as he gazes, the thick darkness of horror falls on him, and he faints away.*
The sinner looks on godliness as subject matter for amusement, but the godly man looks on sin as a frightful thing, because he foresees the terrible nature of its punishment;* and we ought therefore to grieve over our erring brethern.
Again, (D. C.) the righteous man may well feel [horror when he thinks on his own frailty, and bears in mind that he is even as his fellow men, as likely to sin, as open to be tempted as they. He listens to the Apostle’s warnings, “Be not high-minded, but fear,”* and “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”* For that is a true saying of the wise man, “Happy is the man that feareth alway.”* And so it is told of one who had a zeal for God, though not according to knowledge, that one day seeing] a malefactor led to execution, he exclaimed, “But for the grace of God, there goes John Bradford.”
A Commentary on the Psalms form Primitive and Medieval Writers