When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
When thou passest through the waters; I will be with thee
The Targum and Jarchi apply this to the Israelites’ passage through the waters of the Red sea, as a thing past; and Kimchi to Sennacherib’s army, compared to the waters of a river strong and many, (Isaiah 8:7-8) . Jerom says, that the Jewish writers by “waters” would have the Egyptians understood; by the “rivers”, the Babylonians; by “fire”, the Macedonians; and by the “flame”, the Romans; which is not amiss; but rather the afflictions of God’s people in general are meant by waters, as by rivers also, in the next clause:
and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee;
because of the variety and multitude of them, as persecutions from men, those proud waves that go over them; the temptations of Satan, that enemy who comes in like a flood, and various others; and because of the rapidity and force of them, and their overflowing and overwhelming nature: now there are paths through which the people of God pass: their way lies through them to eternal glory; and though they are of some continuance, yet have an end, as paths have; and having a good guide, and sufficient strength given them, they wade through them safely; for they do not and shall not “overflow” them, so as to cause their faith utterly to fail, or to separate them from the love of God, or so as to destroy them; for though they come nigh them, and upon them, and may greatly affect and distress them, yet shall not hurt them, but turn to their advantage; for their God is with them, to sympathize with them, to comfort and revive them, to teach and instruct them by their afflictions, and to sanctify them to them, as well as to support and bear them up under them, and to deliver out of them:
when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burnt: neither shall the flame kindle upon thee;
afflictions are compared to fire and flames, because very grievous and troublesome to the flesh; and because of the apprehensions of God’s wrath in them sometimes; and because of their trying nature; grace is tried by them as gold and silver in the fire; but yet the saints are not consumed by them, they lose nothing but their dross; their principles and profession are tried, and they are supported through all; which has been abundantly verified in the martyrs of Jesus; see (Psalms 66:12) (Zechariah 13:9).
John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible