|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
31:1-5 God will oppose the help sought from workers of iniquity. Sinners may be convicted of folly by plain and self-evident truths, which they cannot deny, but will not believe. There is no escaping the judgments of God; and evil pursues sinners. The Lord of hosts will come down to fight for Mount Zion. The Lion of the tribe of Judah will appear for the defence of his church. And as birds hovering over their young ones to protect them, with such compassion and affection will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem. He will so defend it, as to secure its safety.
Verse 5. - As birds flying; rather, as birds hovering, or fluttering, ever their young, to protect them. A second simile, expressive of tenderness, as the former one was of power and strength. Defending, also, etc. Translate, defending and delivering, passing over and preserving. In the word "passing over" there seems to be a reference to the institution of the Passover, when the angel, sometimes identified with Jehovah himself, "passed ever" and spared the Israelites.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
As birds flying, so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem,.... As the preceding metaphor expresses the mighty power of God, this his tenderness and affection, as well as his speed and swiftness in the deliverance of his people. As birds in the air, at a distance, especially the eagle, have their eye upon their nests, and their young ones in them, and when in danger fly to their assistance, and hover over them, and about them, to keep off those that would hurt them, or carry them away; so the Lord, on high, sees his people when in distress, and hastens to help them, and does surround, protect, and defend them: thus the Lord did, when Sennacherib with his army besieged Jerusalem; who boasted, with respect to other nations, that he had "found as a nest the riches of the people", and that "there was none that moved the wing against him", Isaiah 10:14 to which it is thought the allusion is here:
defending also he will deliver it; from present distress, the siege of the Assyrian army:
and passing over he will preserve it; passing over the city of Jerusalem to the army of the king of Assyria, that lay encamped against it; and smiting that by an angel with a sudden destruction, preserved the city from the ruin it was threatened with. The allusion is rightly thought to be to the Lord's passing over the houses of the Israelites, when he destroyed the firstborn in Egypt, Exodus 12:23 where the same word is used as here, and nowhere else.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. As in the image of "the lion," the point of comparison is the fearless might of Jehovah; so in that of the birds, it is His solicitous affection (De 32:11; Ps 91:4; Mt 23:37).
flying—Rather, "which defend" their young with their wings; "to fly" is a secondary meaning of the Hebrew word [Maurer]. "Hovering over" to protect their young [G. V. Smith].
passing over—as the destroying angel passing over, so as to spare the blood-marked houses of the Israelites on the first passover (Ex 12:13, 23, 27). He passed, or leaped forward [Lowth], to destroy the enemy and to spare His people.
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