|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 16. - Therefore they sacrifice unto their net. This is spoken metaphorically, implying that the Babylonians recognized not God's hand, but attributed their success to the means which they employed (comp. ver. 11; Isaiah 10:13 etc.). There is no trace in the monuments of the Chaldeans paying divine honours to their weapons, as, accord-lug to Herodotus (4:62), the Scythians and other nations did (see Justin, 'Hist.,' 43:3; and Pusey's note here). What a man trusts in becomes a god to him. Their portion is fat; his portion is rich. He gains great wealth. Their meat plenteous; his meat dainty. He is prosperous and luxurious.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Therefore they sacrifice unto their net, and burn incense unto their drag,.... Either to their idols, to fortune and the stars, as Aben Ezra; imagining they gave them success, and prospered them in the arts and methods they used: or to their arms, as the Targum; nor was it unusual with the Heathens to worship their spears, sacrifice to them, and swear by them (g). So Justin says (h), originally the ancients worshipped spears for gods, in memory of whose religion spears are still added to the images of the gods. Lucian (i) asserts that the Scythians sacrificed to a scimitar; and Arnobius (k) says the same; and Ammianus Marcellinus (l) reports, that the Quadi worship their swords or daggers instead of gods; and that it was usual to swear by the spear is evident from others (m). Or else the sense is, they sacrificed to their own valour and courage, skill and conduct.
Because by them their portion is fat, and their meat plenteous: that is, by their angle, net, and drag; or by those things signified by them, the arts and methods they used to subdue nations, conquer kingdoms, and bring them into subjection to them; they enlarged their dominions, increased their riches and revenues, and had plenty of everything that was desirable for food and raiment, for pleasure and profit; or to gratify the most unbounded ambition, having everything that heart could wish for and desire: the allusion is to making sumptuous feasts, and rich banquets, on occasion of victories obtained.
(g) Vid. Doughtaei Analect. Sacra, p. 494, 495. (h) E Trogo, l. 43. c. 3, 4. (i) In Jupiter Tragoedus. (k) Adv. Gentes, l. 6. p. 232. (l) Hist. l. 17. (m) ', Aeschylus.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
16. sacrifice unto their net—that is, their arms, power, and military skill, wherewith they gained their victories; instead of to God. Compare Hab 1:11, Maurer's interpretation. They idolize themselves for their own cleverness and might (De 8:17; Isa 10:13; 37:24, 25).
by them—by their net and dragnet.
their portion—image from a banquet: the prey which they have gotten.
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