|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
44:1-31 This chapter contains ordinances relative to the true priests. The prince evidently means Christ, and the words in ver. 2, may remind us that no other can enter heaven, the true sanctuary, as Christ did; namely, by virtue of his own excellency, and his personal holiness, righteousness, and strength. He who is the Brightness of Jehovah's glory entered by his own holiness; but that way is shut to the whole human race, and we all must enter as sinners, by faith in his blood, and by the power of his grace.
Verse 8. - Instead of having exercised a holy solicitude for the purity of the temple and the regularity of its rites, by keeping strict watch over the holy things of Jehovah, the house of Israel had set keepers; literally, had set them, i.e. the uncircumcised "strangers" above referred to, as keepers of Jehovah's charge in his sanctuary for themselves, i.e. to please themselves, irrespective altogether of Jehovah's enactments. From this it has been argued, by Wellhausen, Smend, Driver, and others, that the "strangers" above mentioned had been not only allowed access to the outer court as spectators or as worshippers while the priests were offering sacrifice, but admitted to the inner court as assistants to the priests in their altar duties, that this, the employment of these heathen hierodules, had been the special wickedness of which Israel had been guilty, and that henceforward these "foreign ministers" were to be thrust out from their offices, and their places supplied by the about-to-be-degraded Levites. It is, however, doubtful if the phrase, keepers of my charge in the sanctuary, can be made to signify more than has already been expressed by the clause, "to be in my sanctuary... when ye offer my bread" (ver. 7), by which, as Kliefoth and Keil explain, Israel had practically made these strangers "keepers of Jehovah's charge," i.e. observers of the rites of worship prescribed by him, though observers in their way, not in his; if more can be extracted from the words, then the most they can be legitimately made to affirm (as there is no mention of the inner court) is that these "strangers," in addition to obtaining access to the outer court to witness the sacrifices, or perhaps offer such for themselves, had been more or less frequently employed in performing subordinate offices towards the Levites, who were the proper priests' assistants, like the Gibeonites, whom Joshua (Joshua 9:27) made "hewers of wood and drawers of water for the congregation and for the altar of the Lord unto this day," and like the Nethinim, whom, according to Ezra (Ezra 8:20), David and the princes had given for the service of the Levites (see Delitzsch, Luthardt's 'Zeitschrift fur kirchliche Wissenschaft,' 1880, p. 283). (On the phrase, "to keep the charge of Jehovah," as signifying to follow his directions or comply with his prescriptions, see Numbers 9:23.) "In the sanctuary" explains that the prescriptions alluded to were those pertaining to the sanctuary or to the worship of Jehovah.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And ye have not kept the charge of mine holy things,.... That is, have not kept and retained the holy doctrines of the Gospel; nor observed the holy ordinances of it, as they were first delivered:
but ye have set keepers of my charge in my sanctuary for yourselves; meaning either, that such as were in public office did not attend to it; but were idol shepherds, and left the flock, their care and charge, to others, to surrogates and curates, to do their work for them; while they indulged themselves in sloth and idleness: or that the members and hearers set up preachers for themselves, according to their lusts, agreeable to their own carnal sentiments, without any regard to the will and glory of God.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
8. keepers … for yourselves—such as you yourselves thought fit, not such as I approve of. Or else, "Ye have not yourselves kept the charge of My holy things, but have set others as keepers of My charge in My sanctuary for yourselves" [Maurer].
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