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how the means conduce to the end, the thought is very encouraging. And since God has such a regard to his church, and it is so firmly fixed, it is our wisdom to betake ourselves to it, to trust in it, and rejoice in its security amidst all the attempts of its enemies.
2. We are taught from the idolatrous Moabites 10 make prayer our refuge in the time of trouble. It is natural in distress for every nan to cry unto his god. They cried to their idol gods; went up to their high places; wept and mourned there; and when one god would not answer, they tried another. How wretched is the case of idolaters! how happy the people, whose Clod is the Lord I to whom they can go at all times, assured that their prayers will not be in vain.
3. We should lament the horrible desolations that war makes in the earth. What a dreadful description is here of the misery of Moab, from the incursions, ravages, and plunders of their enemies. The lords of the heathens devoured or carried away every thing. How should we pity our enemies, or our unkind and wicked neighbours, when they suffer such a calamity. Let us think tenderly of them; and for their sakes, as well as our own, and our allies, earnestly pray that war may cease. The servants of God, especially his prophets, should imitate the humanity and compassion of Isaiah, who speaks so feelingly of the distress of the enemies of God and Israel.
/ 4. Let us learn to cultivate a readiness to help and relieve others in distress, whatever their character or behaviour to i:s has been. Whether we understand the prophet's advice to Moab as serious or ironical, it naturally suggests to us that we should help our fellow creatures under their sufferings, relieve the outcasts, shelter the oppressed from the cruelty of their oppressors, labour to promote justice, and show humanity and kindness to them that are in trouble; then we may expect the same assistance should we be in like distress; and especially may we hope for the support and consolations of Christ, who aits upon his throne, judging righteously. Blessed ere the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
5. We see how .uncertain the possessions of this world are, which should lead us not to set our hearts upon them. What the Moabiies had gotten and laid up, their enemies carried away. Riches expose men to plunder and rapine, and thus often take away the lives of the owners thereof. Joy may soon cease out of the field; and those who have no better or higher joy than such as the increase of wealth, corn and wine, and oil affords, will then be very miserable. But there is a treasure that cannot be taken away, a joy that cannot be lost, a treasure laid up in heaven, where neither moth nor rust can corru1tt, nor thieves break throug'i and steal; a joy that springs from the light of God's countenance, in whose presence there is fulness of joy, and at whose right hand there are pleasures for evermore. This we should be chiefly concerned to secure. Let the language of our souls be, Lord, lift up u/tcn us the light of thy countenance; and then, though the fig tree does not blotsom, though there be no fruit on the vine, or calves in the stall, we may joy in the Lord, and rejoice in the God of our salvation.
CHAP. XVII, XVIII.
As Syria and Israel had been confederates against Judah, the destruction of both of them is here foretold.
1 r I MIE burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is, or shall
-L be, taken away from [being] a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap; it was soon after made so by the king of Assyria, see 2
2 Kings xvi. 9. The cities of Aroer [arc] forsaken; the province of Snria shall be utterly desolate: they shall be for flocks which
3 shall lie down, and none shall make [them] afraid. The fortress also shall cease from Ephraim, and the kingdom from Damascus, and the remnant of Syria, which shall be no longer a kingdom, but a province to Assyria: they shall be as the glory of the children of Israel, saith the Lord of hosts ; they shall share in a com*
4 mon destruction. And in that day it shall come to pass, [that] the glory of Jacob shall be made thin, and the fatness of his flesh shall wax lean ; shall be wasted away, like a man in a consump
5 tion. And it shall be as when the harvest man gathereth the corn, and reapeth the ears with his arm ; and it shall be as he that gathereth ears in the valley of Rephaim, a fruitful valley near Jerusalem : he shall make clear riddance, so that none shall be left; the Israelites shall be carried into captivity by the Assyrians, (2 Kings xv. 29. xvii. 6.) with as much ease as a field of corn is
6 reaped and carried in. Yet gleaning grapes shall be left in it, (the image of the harvest is still carried on,) as the shaking of an olive tree, two [or] three berries in the top of the uttermost bough, wluch were out of reach, four [or] five in the outmost fruitful branches thereof, saith the Lord God of Israel ; a small
7 remnant shall be reformed, and saved, and return to Judah. At that day shall a man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel, and shall worship and serve
8 him. And he shall not look to the altars, the work of his hands, neither shall respect [that] which his fingers have made, either the groves or the images ; he shall no more trust in idols, or im.
9 ages in groves. In that day shall his strong cities be as a forsaken bough, and an uppermost branch,* which they left because of the children of Israel; like the cities which they, that is, the Canaanites, left to Israel: and there shall be desolation ; as the land cast them out, so it shall Israel; or, as the Canaanites forsook their cities for fear of the children of Israel, when they cqme to possess the land, so they sha'.l be forsaken again now for fear of
10 the Assyrians. Because thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, and hast not been mindful of the^rock of thy strength, therefore shalt thou plant pleasant plants, and shalt set it with
11 strange slips: In the day shalt thou make thy plant to grow, and in the morning shalt thou make thy seed to flourish; [but] the harvest [shall be] a heap in the day of grief and of desperate
• Tht Seventy render it, Ai the Hh'ites and Ainerilcs.
sorrow; they shall be greatly disappointed in their most sanguine expectations, as the husbandman, when, after great pains, the harvest is ruined. We have then a prophecy of the destruction of the Assyrian army, to the end of the next chapter.
12 Wo to the multitude of many piople, to the many allies and auxiliaries of the Assyrians, [which] make a noise like the noise of the seas ; and to the rushing of nations, [that] make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters who come violently, as if
13 they would destroy my people at once. The nations shall rush like the rushing of many waters ; but [God,] who is able to do it, but whom they do not tliink of, shall rebuke them, and they shall flee far off, and shall be chased as the chaff of the mountains before the wind, and like a rolling thing before the whirlwind.
14 And behold at evening tide trouble ; [and] before the morning he [is] not; referring to the destruction of the Assyrians in one night. This [is] the portion of them that spoil us, and the lot of them that rob us; of other enemies as well as those.
1 Chap. XVfll.- Wo to the land shadowing with wings, that stretches out its long wings or armies, which [is] beyond the
2 rivers of Ethiopia, or, which passes to the river of Ethiopia. That sendeth ambassadors by the sea, as well as by land, even in vessels of bulrushes, or reeds, upon the waters, [saying,] Go, ye swift messengers, to a nation scattered and peeled, thus scornfully and contemptuously shall they speak of the Jews, to a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out ahd trodden down, whose land the rivers, that is, the Assyrians, (ch.
3 xvii. 12.) have spoiled! All ye inhabitants of the world, and dwellers on the earth, see ye when he lifteth up an ensign on the mountains ; and when he bloweth a trumpet, hear ye ; observe the prediction and the accomplishment ; see what God wilt do.
4 For so the Lord said unto me, I will take my rest, and I will consider in my dwelling place, or, regard my set dwelling place, like a clear heat upon herbs, [and] like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest; though I seem to be asleep and unconcerned, yet I will defend my dwelling place, willmake it a safe and delightful
5 repose, and continually watch over it. For afore the harvest, when the bifH is perfect, and the sour grape is ripening in the flower, he shall both cut off the sprigs with pruning hooks, and take away [and] cut down the branches ; when their schemes are ripening,and they think themselves sure ofsuccess, the Assyrians shall
6 be utterly destroyed. They, that is,all the enemies of God's people, shall be left together unto the fowls of the mountains, and to the beasts of the earth : and the fowls shall summer upon them,
7 and all the beasts of the earth shall winter upon them. In that time shall the present be brought unto the Loud of hosts of a people scattered and peeled, and from a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden under
• The learned are much divided in opinion who thU ch-iprrr refers to- Some think the Egyptiansothers. Tirhakih, kinp of Kthiopi:! c.r ArabU, who c;»nc to help rhe Iseartir'-* against the Assyrians, but were destrnye! by them. I rather ihmk it refer;. i0 thr Aisyi iana. foot, whose land the rivers have spoiled, to the place of the name of the Lord of hosts, the mount Zion. Here the prophet retorts .upon the Assyrians : ambassadors shall be sent to congratulate Hrzckiah on the destruction of their army ; presents shall be sent from Egypt and Ethiopia, whom the Assyrians had conquered, to the mount Zion: or it may mean, thai the plunder of the Assyrian ~ camp should be brought there. -•
I. TT is very happy when affliction promotes reformation. The JL Israelites had forsaken Gjd, therefore he brought the Assyrians upon them. Some, foreseeing the trouble, repented and returned to God, and put away their idols. Providence intends, by national and personal troubles and dangers, to cure us of sin, of spiritual idolatry, of the love of money, of pleasure, and of trusting in man. They are designed to bring us to look to our Maker, the Holy One of Israel ; to acknowledge his providence ; to humble ourselves before him and pray to him: and it is a merciful affliction that brings us lo this; then shall we become objects of the divine care and favour, and he will provide for our security and happiness. Though there be but few of this character, they shall not be lost, but be as a brand plucked out of the burning.
2. We here see the source of sin and misery: it is forgetting God, being unmindful of him as our strong defence, and the author of all our mercies and deliverances ; and the consequence will be, disappointment where we most expected comfort and relief. Let us beware then lest iue forget the Lord our God. To be continually mindful of him is a most important duty; it is the support of all other duties, and will be the source of serenity and joy amidst all the changes of this mortal life.
C. Let us not think God has forsaken his church, though he may sometimes suffer it to be in adversity and danger; though he seems to say, / wilt take my rest, and appears like one asleep, or as an unconcerned spectator. Let us not entertain the thought that he is so btcause he does not immediately appear; he will regard his dwelling place, take care of his own interest, and his people shall find a safe and delightful repose in him. Let us never indulge unbelieving fears and suspicions, for the Lord in a God of judgment ; his church is built upon a rock, and the gates of hell shall never prevail against it. One or another of its' strongest earthly pillars may fall, but Clod will raise up others, and add to the church daily of such as shall be •aved.
This chapter refera to the calamities brought tipon the Egyptians by intestine commotions. The Israelites were fond of an alliance ivith them, therefore their distress and inability to help their allies is here foretold; but it is difficult to determine to -what period of their history this prophecy refers.
1 r I ''HE burden of Egypt. Behold, the Lord rideth upon a
X. swift cloud, as a judge, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, shall be carried captive, and not be able to help their worshippers, and the Mart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it, the people shall lose
2 all their courage. And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians: and they shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbour; city against city, [andj
3 kingdom against kingdom.* And the spirit of Egypt, that it, their courage and wisdom, for both of which they were famous, shall fail in the midst thereof; and I will destroy the counsel thereof r and they shall seek to the idols, and to the charmers, and to
* .them that have familiar spirits, and to the wizards. And the Egyptians will I give over into the hand of a cruel lord; and a fierce king shall rule over them, saith the Lord, the Lord of
5 hosts.t And the waters shall fail from the sea, and the river shall be wasted and dried Up, that is, the JVtle which they worshipped, and on the rising of which in spring, and overftowing their land,
6 their harvest depended, as they had little or no rain. And they shall turn the rivers far away; [and] the brooks of defence shall
7 be emptied and dried up: the reeds and flags shall wither. The paper reedsf by the brooks, by the mouth, or aide, of the brooks, and every thing sown by the brooks, shall wither, be driven
8 away, and be no [more.] The fishers also shall mourn, and all they that cast angle into the brooks shall lament, and they that spread nets upon the waters shall languish : Egypt was famous for fish, and its inhabitants lived much upon it, as they scrupled to
9 kill many animals for food. Moreover they that work in fine flax, and they that weave net works, shall be confounded: it was also famous for fax and fine linen, for which Solomon traded with the
10 Egyptidns. And they shall be broken in the purposes thereof, all that make sluices [and] ponds for fish ; that is, they that were used to get their living by keeping fish in ponds, shall fail of their gain that way; all which intimates a general decay of trade and
11 prosperiiy. Surely the princes of Zoan, that most ancient city,
• AftT the deith of s ithon there were two year, anarchy; then twelve person, seized the kingdom, and divided it amonj; themselves. At length Ps unmrtxhus, ont of the twelve, by the h'-lp of the Greeks drove oat the other eleven, and reigned alone.
t This is understood of different persons, but is generally supposed to refer to Plainmetichus.
t This was the papyrus, a large reed that gr*w on the h^oks of their river and brooks, the broul leaves of which the Egyptians wrote upon, as we do on paper, which frjui hsucs took its name.
VOl. V. \V