The opening of the words, with the several doctrines in this Text
But for a more particular handling of this verse, I shall first give a short paraphrase of it; secondly, shew the several doctrinal conclusions contained in it.
[He chose] Choice notes a comparing of one thing with another, and the deliberating of the mind about the things compared, and at the last a free determination of the will which way to go. Thus Moses compares the estate of Gods people, and the pleasures of sin, one with another; he deliberates in his mind, which is the safest, and the best way for him to go, and at last freely, yet thoroughly and fully determines the case; He chose rather to suffer affliction: he did not choose affliction absolutely, for affliction in itself is an evil, but rather than the pleasures of sin, afflictions are to be chosen: Job 36:21. Elihu charges Job that he chose sin rather than affliction; this choice is an ill choice; Moses his choice was a wise and gracious choice; he chooses affliction rather than sin.
[Affliction] that is, any affliction, not this or that affliction, but whatsoever affliction God should think fit: Many think themselves willing to suffer affliction in the general until they be called unto some particular affliction, and then they think, Oh if it were any other we could bear it, but this we know not how to bear; whereas the true subjection of the heart to God, is to bear what God himself shall appoint. He chose [to suffer affliction,] not to bring affliction upon himself: Religion teaches no man, rashly and headily to bring himself into misery.
[To suffer affliction with the people of God:] That is, either in joining with the people of God in the ways of godliness, in which they were; or in appearing for them; or in joyning in communion with them.
[Than to enjoy the pleasures of sin.] The words are in the Original, Then the enjoyment of sin.
[The pleasures of sin;] that is, either such pleasures as are in themselves sinful: or secondly, such as cannot be enjoyed, or maintained but in a way of sin: or thirdly, such us would be means to draw the heart unto sin.
[The pleasures of sin for a season:] that is, either for a short season or for an uncertain season.
The doctrinal Conclusions in the words are these:
First, the usual condition of God’s people in the world, it is an afflicted condition.
Secondly, when God’s people in God’s way are under grievous afflictions, wicked men in the way of sin have much pleasure.
Thirdly, afflicted godliness is to be chosen rather than pleasant wickedness.
Fourthly, a spiritual eye can see an excellency in God’s people, though they be in never such a low afflicted condition.
Fifthly, a gracious heart is willing to appear for God’s people, to be on their side, although it be with much hazard to its self.
Sixthly, there is so much good to be had with God’s people that it is worth enduring hard things to be with them.
Seventhly, nothing that is but for a season can satisfy a gracious heart; that which must satisfy it must be beyond any temporary thing. It must be an eternal good.
Jeremiah Burroughs, Moses His Choice, with His Eye Fixed upon Heaven: Discovering the Happy Condition of a Self-Denying Heart, (London: John Field, 1650), 7–9.