|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
17:1-11 Sin desolates cities. It is strange that great conquerors should take pride in being enemies to mankind; but it is better that flocks should lie down there, than that they should harbour any in open rebellion against God and holiness. The strong holds of Israel, the kingdom of the ten tribes, will be brought to ruin. Those who are partakers in sin, are justly made partakers in ruin. The people had, by sins, made themselves ripe for ruin; and their glory was as quickly cut down and taken away by the enemy, as the corn is out of the field by the husbandman. Mercy is reserved in the midst of judgment, for a remnant. But very few shall be marked to be saved. Only here and there one was left behind. But they shall be a remnant made holy. The few that are saved were awakened to return to God. They shall acknowledge his hand in all events; they shall give him the glory due to his name. To bring us to this, is the design of his providence, as he is our Maker; and the work of his grace, as he is the Holy One of Israel. They shall look off from their idols, the creatures of their own fancy. We have reason to account those afflictions happy, which part between us and our sins. The God of our salvation is the Rock of our strength; and our forgetfulness and unmindfulness of him are at the bottom of all sin. The pleasant plants, and shoots from a foreign soil, are expressions for strange and idolatrous worship, and the vile practices connected therewith. Diligence would be used to promote the growth of these strange slips, but all in vain. See the evil and danger of sin, and its certain consequences.
Verse 10. - Because thou hast forgotten; rather, because thou didst forget. The late repentance of a "remnant" which "looked to their Maker" (ver. 7) could not cancel the long catalogue of former sins (2 Kings 17:8-17), foremost among which was their rejection of God, or, at any rate, their complete forgetfulness of his claims upon them. The Rock of thy strength. God is first called "a Rock" in Deuteronomy 32:4, 15, 18, 30, 31. The image is caught up by the psalmists (2 Samuel 22:2, 32, 47; 2 Samuel 23:3; Psalm 16:1, 2, 31, 46; 19:14; 28:1, etc.), and from them passes to Isaiah (see, besides the present passage, Isaiah 26:4; Isaiah 30:29; and Isaiah 44:8). Among the later prophets only Habakkuk uses it (Habakkuk 1:12). Israel, instead of looking to this "Rock," had looked to their rock-fortresses (ver. 9). Therefore shalt thou plant pleasant plants; rather, dost thou plant, or hast thou planted. Forgetfulness of Jehovah has led to the adoption of a voluptuous religion - one of debased foreign rites. There is possibly, as Mr. Cheyne thinks, a special reference to the cult of Adonis. Shall set it; rather, settest it, or hast set it. "It" must refer to "field" or "garden" understood. The later Israelite religion has been a sort of pleasant garden, planted with exotic slips from various quarters - Phoenicia, Syria, Moab, etc. It has been thought permissible to introduce into it any new cult that took the fancy. Hence the multiplication of altars complained of by Hosea (Hosea 8:11; Hosea 10:1; Hosea 12:11).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Because thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation,.... Who had been the author of salvation to them many a time, in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in various instances since; and yet they had forgot his works of mercy and goodness, and had left his worship, and gone after idols; and this was the cause of their cities being forsaken, and becoming a desolation:
and hast not been mindful of the rock of thy strength; or strong Rock, who had supplied and supported them, protected and defended them:
therefore shalt thou plant pleasant plants; or "plants of pleasant fruit" (s), or "plants of Naamanim"; and so Aben Ezra takes it to be the proper name of a plant in the Arabic language, and which he says is a plant that grows very quick; perhaps he means "Anemone", which is so called in that language (t), and is near to it in sound; though rather, not any particular plant is meant, but all sorts of pleasant plants, flowers, and fruit trees, with which the land of Israel abounded:
and shall set it with strange slips; with foreign ones, such as are brought from other countries, and are scarce and dear, and highly valued; and by "plants" and "slips" may be meant false and foreign doctrines, inculcating idolatry and superstition, which are pleasing to the flesh (u).
(s) "plantas amaenorum fructuum", Piscator. (t) Alnaaman "Anemone", in Avicenna, l. 256. 1. "vel a colore sanguineo, vel quod ab illo adamaretur rege", Golius, col. 2409. Castel. col. 2346. (u) So Vitringa.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
10. forgotten … God of … salvation … rock—(De 32:15, 18).
plants—rather, "nursery grounds," "pleasure-grounds" [Maurer].
set in—rather, "set them," the pleasure-grounds.
strange slips—cuttings of plants from far, and therefore valuable.
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