|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 5. - The thought here is that the punishment is deserved as well as certain. A bird is not caught unless a trap is set for it. The trap which the sinner sets for himself is sin. Can a bird fall in a snare (pach) upon the earth, where no gin (moqesh) is for him? i.e. is set for him? The "gin" is a net with a stick for a spring, which flew up when touched, carrying part of the net with it, and thus the bird was enclosed and caught (see Kitto, 'Cyclop.,' s.v. "Fowling," 2:36). The LXX. probably read yoqesh, as they translate, ἄνευ ἐξευτοῦ, "without a fowler." So the Vulgate, absque aucupe. The second clause should be, Shall a snare (pach) spring up from the ground without taking anything? The snare, or trap stick, would not rise if it had not caught something. The sin is there, and the sinners shall surely not escape. When God appoints retributive punishments for the guilty, and announces the same by his prophets, they may be expected with absolute certainty.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Can a bird fall in a snare upon the earth, where no gin is for him?.... No, there must be a snare set, or a bird can never be taken in it; and that is done, not by chance, but with the design of the fowler; yea, with the knowledge and will of God himself, Matthew 10:29; the design of this is to show, that no judgment or affliction comes upon a people, or they into one, by chance, or without the appointment of God; they are his nets and snares, which he on purpose spreads and sets for persons, to take them in; and unless he did do so, they would not fall into any; see Job 5:6;
shall one take up a snare from the earth; the Targum adds, out of its time:
and have taken nothing at all? when men set a snare to catch anything, do they take it up before anything is caught? they do not; they let it stand till something is ensnared in it, and so their end answered, and then they take it up, and not before. And thus when God denounces or brings a judgment, or an affliction, upon a people, does he remove it before the end is answered by it? he does not; if the end is to bring men to a sense of sin, and humiliation for it; or to bring near to God who have been wandering from him; or to try their graces, or take away their sin; when such an end is answered, then, and not till then, is the snare taken up, or the affliction removed; tilt such an end is brought about, the distress is continued, or the threatening of it; and of this Israel is hereby assured.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. When a bird trying to fly upwards is made to fall upon the earth snare, it is a plain proof that the snare is there; so, Israel, now that thou art falling, infer thence, that it is in the snare of the divine judgment that thou art entangled [Ludovicus De Dieu].
shall one take up a snare from the earth, and have taken nothing—The bird-catcher does not remove his snare off the ground till he has caught some prey; so God will not withdraw the Assyrians, &c., the instruments of punishment, until they have had the success against you which God gives them. The foe corresponds to the "snare," suddenly springing from the ground and enclosing the bird on the latter touching it; the Hebrew is literally, "Shall the snare spring from the earth?" Israel entangled in judgments answers to the bird "taken."
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