|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:7-17 The same almighty power can, for repenting sinners, easily turn affliction and sorrow into prosperity and joy, and as easily turn the prosperity of daring sinners into utter darkness. Evil times will not bear plain dealing; that is, evil men will not. And these men were evil men indeed, when wise and good men thought it in vain even to speak to them. Those who will seek and love that which is good, may help to save the land from ruin. It behoves us to plead God's spiritual promises, to beseech him to create in us a clean heart, and to renew a right spirit within us. The Lord is ever ready to be gracious to the souls that seek him; and then piety and every duty will be attended to. But as for sinful Israel, God's judgments had often passed by them, now they shall pass through them.
Verse 9. - That strengtheneth, etc. Translate, That causeth destruction to flash forth upon the strong, so that destruction cometh upon the fortress. The idea is that God, as with a lightning flash, smites the strongest man, and no fortress is a refuge from him. Septuagint, Ὁ διαιρῶν συντριμμὸν ἐπὶ ἰσχύν, "Who divideth destruction unto strength." The Vulgate, taking the Hebrew verb balag in the sense of lighting up the countenance, renders, Qui subridet vastitatem super robustum, which means that the Lord smiles while he brings desolation on the mighty - a figurative expression denoting his anger at man's pride, and the ease with which he punishes. We may add that Rosenmuller agrees with the Authorized Version in the first clause: "Who strengtheneth the weak against the strong, and giveth the plunderers power over the fortresses of the strong."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
That strengtheneth the spoiled against the strong,.... Such as have been taken by an enemy, who have been stripped of their armour, and spoiled of all their goods and substance, and have no friends nor allies, nor anything to help themselves with; the Lord can supply them with strength, furnish them with weapons, and send them helpers, so that they shall rise up against their conquerors and spoilers, and in their turn subdue them. The Targum is,
"that strengthens the weak against the strong;''
or causes the weak to prevail over the strong. A learned man, from the use of the word in the Arabic language, chooses to render it, "who intends", or "designs, destruction to the strong" (d); that is, in his secret purposes, and which he brings about in providence; though he is doubtful whether it may not have the signification of recreation and refreshment, and whether the construction and circumstances will admit of it; and some do so translate it, "who refreshes himself with destruction against the strong" (e); takes delight and pleasure in it; it is a recreation to him:
so that the spoiled shall come against the fortress: lay siege to it and take it, in which the spoiler thought himself secure with the spoil and substance he had taken from the spoiled; such sudden changes and vicissitudes can God bring upon men when he pleases. Some apply this to the Romans strengthened against the Jews, and besieging their fortified city Jerusalem; but not very aptly.
(d) "qui intendit destinat destructionem forti", Hottinger, Smegma Orientale, l. 1. c. 7. p. 129. (e) "Qui recreat se vastatione contra fortem sive robustum", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Tarnovius. So Stockius, p. 136.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
9. strengtheneth the spoiled—literally, "spoil" or "devastation": hence the "person spoiled." Winer, Maurer, and the best modern critics translate, "maketh devastation (or destruction) suddenly to arise," literally, "maketh it to gleam forth like the dawn." Ancient versions support English Version. The Hebrew is elsewhere used, to make, to shine, to make glad: and as English Version here (Ps 39:13), "recover strength."
the spoiled shall come—"devastation," or "destruction shall come upon" [Maurer]. English Version expresses that, strong as Israel fancies herself after the successes of Jeroboam II (2Ki 14:25), even the weakest can be made by God to prevail against the strong.
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