|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
51:17-23 God calls upon his people to mind the things that belong to their everlasting peace. Jerusalem had provoked God, and was made to taste the bitter fruits. Those who should have been her comforters, were their own tormentors. They have no patience by which to keep possesion of their own souls, nor any confidence in God's promise, by which to keep possession of its comfort. Thou art drunken, not as formerly, with the intoxicating cup of Babylon's idolatries, but with the cup of affliction. Know, then, the cause of God's people may for a time seem as lost, but God will protect it, by convincing the conscience, or confounding the projects, of those that strive against it. The oppressors required souls to be subjected to them, that every man should believe and worship as they would have them. But all they could gain by violence was, that people were brought to outward hypocritical conformity, for consciences cannot be forced.
Verse 19. - These two things. What are the "two things," it is asked, since four are mentioned - desolation, and destruction, and the famine, and the sword? The right answer seems to be that of Aben Ezra and Kimchi, that the two things are "desolation," or rather "wasting" within, produced by "famine;" and "destruction" without, produced by "the sword." Who shall be sorry for thee? rather, who will mourn with thee? Jerusalem is without friends; no man condoles with her over her misfortunes. God alone feels compassion; but even he scarce knows how to comfort. By whom? rather, how? (comp. Amos 7:2, 5).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
These two things are come unto thee,.... Affliction from the hand of God, though by means of enemies, and no friends to help, support, and comfort, as before hinted: or else this respects what follows, after it is said,
who shall be sorry for thee? lament or bemoan thee? they of the earth will rejoice and be glad, and others will not dare to show any concern outwardly, whatever inward grief may be in their breasts, Revelation 11:10,
desolation, and destruction, and the famine, and the sword; which may be the two things before mentioned, for though there are four words, they are reducible to two things, desolation, which is the sword, and by it, and destruction, which is the famine, and comes by that, as Kimchi observes: or the words may be rendered thus, "desolation, and destruction, even the famine and the sword"; so that there is no need of making these things four, and of considering them as distinct from the other two, as the Targum makes them, which paraphrases the whole thus,
"two tribulations come upon thee, O Jerusalem, thou canst not arise; when four shall come upon thee, spoiling and breach, and the famine and the sword, there shall be none to comfort thee but I.''
All this was literally true of Jerusalem, both at the destruction of it by the Chaldeans and by the Romans, and will be mystically true of the church at the slaying of the witnesses by the sword of antichrist; when there will be a famine, not of bread, nor of water, but of hearing the word of the Lord; and which will bring great devastation and desolation on the interest of Christ:
by whom shall I comfort thee? there being no ministry of the word, nor administration of the ordinances, the usual means of comfort, the witnesses being slain; see Lamentations 1:9.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
19. two—classes of evils, for he enumerates four, namely, desolation and destruction to the land and state; famine and the sword to the people.
who shall be sorry for thee—so as to give thee effectual relief: as the parallel clause, "By whom shall I comfort thee?" shows (La 2:11-13).
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