|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:1-11 Observe the sin of the Jews, after their return from captivity in Babylon. Those employed for God may be driven from their work by a storm, yet they must go back to it. They did not say that they would not build a temple, but, Not yet. Thus men do not say they will never repent and reform, and be religious, but, Not yet. And so the great business we were sent into the world to do, is not done. There is a proneness in us to think wrongly of discouragements in our duty, as if they were a discharge from our duty, when they are only for the trial of our courage and faith. They neglected the building of God's house, that they might have more time and money for worldly affairs. That the punishment might answer to the sin, the poverty they thought to prevent by not building the temple, God brought upon them for not building it. Many good works have been intended, but not done, because men supposed the proper time was not come. Thus believers let slip opportunities of usefulness, and sinners delay the concerns of their souls, till too late. If we labour only for the meat that perishes, as the Jews here, we are in danger of losing our labour; but we are sure it shall not be in vain in the Lord, if we labour for the meat which lasts to eternal life. If we would have the comfort and continuance of temporal enjoyments, we must have God as our Friend. See also Lu 12:33. When God crosses our temporal affairs, and we meet with trouble and disappointment, we shall find the cause is, that the work we have to do for God and our own souls is left undone, and we seek our own things more than the things of Christ. How many, who plead that they cannot afford to give to pious or charitable designs, often lavish ten times as much in needless expenses on their houses and themselves! But those are strangers to their own interests, who are full of care to adorn and enrich their own houses, while God's temple in their hearts lies waste. It is the great concern of every one, to apply to the necessary duty of self-examination and communion with our own hearts concerning our spiritual state. Sin is what we must answer for; duty is what we must do. But many are quick-sighted to pry into other people's ways, who are careless of their own. If any duty has been neglected, that is no reason why it should still be so. Whatever God will take pleasure in when done, we ought to take pleasure in doing. Let those who have put off their return to God, return with all their heart, while there is time.
Verse 4. - For you, O ye; for you, yourselves; such as ye are (see Zechariah 7:5). He appeals to their consciences. You can make yourselves comfortable; you have time and means and industry to expend on your own private interests, and can you look with indifference on the house of God lying waste? Your cieled houses; your houses, and those cieled - wainscoted and roofed with costly woods (1 Kings 7:3, 7; Jeremiah 22:14), perhaps with the very cedar provided for the rebuilding of the temple (Ezra 3:7). Septuagint, ἐν οἴκοις ὑμῶν κοιλοστάθμοις, "your vaulted houses," or, as St. Cyril explains, "houses whose doorposts were elaborately adorned with emblems and devices." They had naught of the feeling of David (2 Samuel 7:2), "I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your panelled houses,.... They could not only find time, leisure, and convenience to build houses to dwell in; but to wainscot them, and line them with boards of cedar, as the Targum; as bad as the times were complained of; and could sit in them, indulging themselves in luxury, ease, and sloth; and why then was it not a fit and convenient time as well to build the house of the Lord in?
and this house lie waste? or, "and shall this house lie waste?" or, "when this house lies waste?" (o) not indeed in its rubbish and ruins, as it was demolished by the Chaldeans, and left; but with a bare foundation, laid some years ago; and ever since neglected; the superstructure not carried on, and much less built up to be fit for service; and therefore might be said with propriety to lie waste and desolate, being unfinished, unfit for use, and no regard had unto it. David was of another mind, 2 Samuel 7:2 and truly religious persons will be more concerned for the house of God than for their own houses.
(o) "et domus ista deserta manebit?" Drusius; "quum domus haec vasta est?" Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "dum domus haec desolata est?" Cocceius.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
4. Is it time—It is not time (Hag 1:2), ye say, to build Jehovah's house; yet how is it that ye make it a fit time not only to build, but to "dwell" at ease in your own houses?
you, O ye—rather, for "you, you"; the repetition marking the shameful contrast between their concern for themselves, and their unconcern for God [Maurer]. Compare a similar repetition in 1Sa 25:24; Zec 7:5.
ceiled—rather, "wainscoted," or "paneled," referring to the walls as well as the ceilings; furnished not only with comfort but luxury, in sad contrast to God's house not merely unadorned, but the very walls not raised above the foundations. How different David's feelings (2Sa 7:2)!
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