|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:12-17 However matters may be, yet God is the Lord our God, our Holy One. We are an offending people, he is an offended God, yet we will not entertain hard thoughts of him, or of his service. It is great comfort that, whatever mischief men design, the Lord designs good, and we are sure that his counsel shall stand. Though wickedness may prosper a while, yet God is holy, and does not approve the wickedness. As he cannot do iniquity himself, so he is of purer eyes than to behold it with any approval. By this principle we must abide, though the dispensations of his providence may for a time, in some cases, seem to us not to agree with it. The prophet complains that God's patience was abused; and because sentence against these evil works and workers was not executed speedily, their hearts were the more fully set in them to do evil. Some they take up as with the angle, one by one; others they catch in shoals, as in their net, and gather them in their drag, their enclosing net. They admire their own cleverness and contrivance: there is great proneness in us to take the glory of outward prosperity to ourselves. This is idolizing ourselves, sacrificing to the drag-net because it is our own. God will soon end successful and splendid robberies. Death and judgment shall make men cease to prey on others, and they shall be preyed on themselves. Let us remember, whatever advantages we possess, we must give all the glory to God.
Verse 14. - The prophet appeals movingly to God by showing the indignity with which the people are treated. As the fishes of the sea. Dumb and helpless, swept off by the fisherman. That have no ruler ever them. None to guide and protect them (comp. Proverbs 6:7; Proverbs 30:27). So the Jews seem to be deprived of God's care, and left to be the prey of the spoiler, as if of little worth, and no longer having God for their King (comp. Isaiah 63:19, Revised Version). The "creeping things" are worms, or small fish (Psalm 104:25).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And makest men as the fishes of the sea,.... That is, sufferest them to be used as the fishes of the sea, which are easily taken in the net, and are common to everyone; whosoever will may take them up, and kill them, and use them for their food; and which also among themselves are often hardly used, the lesser being devoured by the greater; and in like manner the prophet suggests, that the people of the Jews, who were men made after the image of God, and made for society and usefulness, and moreover were God's covenant people; and it might have been expected, that a more special providence would have attended them, more than other men, and especially than what attended the fishes of the sea; yet it looked as if there were no more care taken of them than of these:
as the creeping things that have no ruler over them; not the creeping things of the earth, but of the water, the lesser sort of fishes that move in the water; or those that more properly creep, as crabs, prawns, and shrimps; see Psalm 104:25 who have none to protect and defend them, and restrain others from taking and hurting them: this may seem contrary to what Aristotle (d) and Pliny (e) say of some fishes, that they go in company, and have a leader or governor; but, as Bochart (f) observes, it is one thing to be a leader of the way, a guide and director, which way to steer their course in swimming; and another thing to be as the general of an army, to protect and defend, or under whose directions they might defend themselves; such an one the prophet denies they had: and so, the prophet complains, this was the case of the Jews; they were exposed to the cruelty of their enemies, as if there was no God that governed in the world, and no providence to direct and order things for the preservation of men, and to keep good men from being hurt by evil men; or those that were weak and feeble from being oppressed by the powerful and mighty; this he reasons with the Lord about, and was desirous of an answer to it.
(d) Hist. Animal. l. 8. c. 13. (e) Nat. Hist. l. 9. c. 15. (f) Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 1. c. 6. Colossians 39.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
14. And—that is, And so, by suffering oppressors to go unpunished, "Thou makest men as the fishes … that have no ruler"; that is, no defender. All may fish in the sea with impunity; so the Chaldeans with impunity afflict Thy people, as these have no longer the God of the theocracy, their King, to defend them. Thou reducest men to such a state of anarchy, by wrong going unpunished, as if there were no God. He compares the world to the sea; men to fishes; Nebuchadnezzar to a fisherman (Hab 1:15-17).
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