|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
3:1-8 The distinguishing favours of God to us, if they do not restrain from sin, shall not exempt from punishment. They could not expect communion with God, unless they first sought peace with him. Where there is not friendship, there can be no fellowship. God and man cannot walk together, except they are agreed. Unless we seek his glory, we cannot walk with him. Let us not presume on outward privileges, without special, sanctifying grace. The threatenings of the word and providence of God against the sin of man are certain, and certainly show that the judgments of God are at hand. Nor will God remove the affliction he has sent, till it has done its work. The evil of sin is from ourselves, it is our own doing; but the evil of trouble is from God, and is his doing, whoever are the instruments. This should engage us patiently to bear public troubles, and to study to answer God's meaning in them. The whole of the passage shows that natural evil, or troubles, and not moral evil, or sin, is here meant. The warning given to a careless world will increase its condemnation another day. Oh the amazing stupidity of an unbelieving world, that will not be wrought upon by the terrors of the Lord, and that despise his mercies!
Verse 4. - Will a lion roar, etc.? The lion roars when he has his pray in sight, and is about to spring upon it. So God makes the prophet utter his voice because he is ready to execute vengeance. The second clause expresses the same fact in different terms. The young lion (kephir) is not a whelp, but one able to provide for itself. He growls over the prey which he has in his lair. So Israel lies helpless as the words of God's threatenings strike upon him.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Will a lion roar in the forest when he hath no prey?.... He will not, unless he has it in his sight, or in his paws; he roars when he first sees it, whereby he terrifies the creature, that it cannot move till he comes up to it; and when he has got it in his paws, he roars over it, to invite others to partake with him. Now prophecy from the Lord is compared to the roaring of a lion, Amos 1:2; and this is never in a way of judgment without a cause; the sin of men, or of a nation, which makes them a prey to the wrath and fury of God;
will a young lion cry, or "give forth his voice";
out of his den, if he have taken nothing? that is, if the old lion has taken nothing, and brought nothing unto him; which signifies the same as before; unless by the young lion is meant the prophets of the Lord, who never prophesy but when they have a commission from him, and a people are pointed out to them as the just prey of his wrath and vengeance. All the images here used are very natural; the lion is for the most part in woods and forests, hence called the "lion out of the forest", Jeremiah 5:6; as he is by Theocritus (d); where his voice is heard, but not unless he is in sight of his prey, or has got it, even though ever so hungry; but when he has it in view, he roars so terribly, that, as Basil (e) observes, many animals that could escape him through their swiftness, yet are so frightened at his roaring, that they have no power to move; and they have their dens either in caves or in thickets, where are the she lioness and the young lions, to whom the prey is brought; see Nahum 2:11.
(d) , Theocrit. Idyll. 1.((e) In Hexaemeron, Homil. 9.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
4. The same idea as in Mt 24:28. Where a corrupt nation is, there God's instruments of punishment are sure also to be. The lion roars loudly only when he has prey in sight.
Will a young lion cry out … if he—the "lion," not the "young lion."
have taken nothing?—The young lion just weaned lies silent, until the old lion brings the prey near; then the scent rouses him. So, the prophet would not speak against Israel, if God did not reveal to him Israel's sins as requiring punishment.
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