|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:21-31 Neither holy cities nor royal ones are faithful to their trust, if religion does not dwell in them. Dross may shine like silver, and the wine that is mixed with water may still have the colour of wine. Those have a great deal to answer for, who do not help the oppressed, but oppress them. Men may do much by outward restraints; but only God works effectually by the influences of his Spirit, as a Spirit of Judgment. Sin is the worst captivity, the worst slavery. The redemption of the spiritual Zion, by the righteousness and death of Christ, and by his powerful grace, most fully accord with what is here meant. Utter ruin is threatened. The Jews should become as a tree when blasted by heat; as a garden without water, which in those hot countries would soon be burned up. Thus shall they be that trust in idols, or in an arm of flesh. Even the strong man shall be as tow; not only soon broken, and pulled to pieces, but easily catching fire. When the sinner has made himself as tow and stubble, and God makes himself as a consuming fire, what can prevent the utter ruin of the sinner?
Verse 29. - The oaks which ye have desired are, primarily, the "green trees" under which images were set up (2 Kings 17:10), but perhaps represent also any worldly attractions which draw the soul away from God - as wealth, or power, or honors. In the day of suffering, sinners are ashamed of having been led away by such poor temptations as those to which they have yielded (comp. Romans 6:21, "What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed?"). The gardens. Kay suggests "idolatrous pleasure-gardens as those at Daphne, near Antioch, "which is a reasonable exegesis. Such were probably to be found wherever Astarte, or the "Dea Syra," was worshipped.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For they shall be ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired,.... Though there is a change of persons in the words, the same are intended; and design such, who being convinced of the idolatries of the church of Rome they have been fond of, and delighted in, will be ashamed of them, and relinquish them, and come out of Babylon a little before the destruction of it; for under oaks, and such like green trees, idolatry used to be committed, to which the allusion is; see Jeremiah 2:20 and so the Targum interprets it of "trees of idols"; that is, under which idolatry was practised:
and ye shall be confounded for the gardens ye have chosen; where also idolatrous practices were used, see Isaiah 65:3 and so the Targum paraphrases it,
"and ye shall be ashamed of the gardens of idols, from whom ye have sought help.''
The sense is the same as before; unless both clauses should rather be understood of the destruction of sinners, before spoken of, who at that time will be filled with shame and confusion, they in vain praying to their idols for help; which sense the following words incline to.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
29. ashamed—(Ro 6:21).
oaks—Others translate the "terebinth" or "turpentine tree." Groves were dedicated to idols. Our Druids took their name from the Greek for "oaks." A sacred tree is often found in Assyrian sculpture; symbol of the starry hosts, Saba.
gardens—planted enclosures for idolatry; the counterpart of the garden of Eden.
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