|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
3:12-20 See God's readiness to pardon sin, and the blessings reserved for gospel times. These words were proclaimed toward the north; to Israel, the ten tribes, captive in Assyria. They are directed how to return. If we confess our sins, the Lord is faithful and just to forgive them. These promises are fully to come to pass in the bringing back the Jews in after-ages. God will graciously receive those that return to him; and by his grace, he takes them out from among the rest. The ark of the covenant was not found after the captivity. The whole of that dispensation was to be done away, which took place after the multitude of believers had been greatly increased by the conversion of the Gentiles, and of the Israelites scattered among them. A happy state of the church is foretold. He can teach all to call him Father; but without thorough change of heart and life, no man can be a child of God, and we have no security for not departing from Him.
Verse 15. - Pastors. In Jeremiah 23:4, the same word is rendered in the Authorized Version "shepherds," which would he less open to misunderstanding here than "pastors," civil and not spiritual authorities being intended (see on Jeremiah 2:8). The prophecy is, of course, not inconsistent with passages like Jeremiah 23:5, but as the national continuance of Israel was guaranteed, it was natural to refer to the subordinate civil authorities. According to mine heart; better, according to my mind; for here, as also in 1 Samuel 13:14, it is something very far from perfection which is ascribed to the chosen rulers. "Heart" is sometimes equivalent to "understanding."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And I will give you pastors according to mine heart,.... Which is to be understood not of political rulers and governors, but ministers of the word; who are "pastors" or "shepherds" under Christ the great Shepherd, and are "gifts" of his to the churches, and "according to his heart"; or "conformable to his mind", as the Arabic version; whom he calls, qualifies, puts into the ministry, and sends forth; whom he holds in his right hand, and keeps as the apple of his eye; who do his will, as the Targum, and feed men according to his heart: and as this prophecy belongs to Gospel times, as appears both by what goes before and by what follows, the apostles of Christ and first ministers of the Gospel are chiefly designed; though it might have some accomplishment in Nehemiah and Ezra, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, at and after the Jews return from Babylon; but a more complete one in the times mentioned: so Kimchi says, these are they that shall be with the King Messiah, according to Micah 5:5,
which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding; with things worthy to be known and understood; with the solid and substantial truths of the Gospel, and by faithfully administering the ordinances of it; and in all directing to Christ the bread of life: or, "shall rule you" (f) not in an arbitrary way, according to their own ills, but according to the laws of Christ: these words, with knowledge and understanding, may either intend the matter with which these pastors should feed the church; which is what tends to spiritual knowledge and understanding, and an increase thereof; and which is blessed of God to such a purpose, though they themselves cannot give it: or else the manner in which they should feed or rule; that is, wisely and "prudently", as the Arabic version renders it: they feed wisely and prudently when they rightly divide the word of truth, and give to every one their portion of meat in due season; and feed them in proportion to their age and capacity, give milk to babes, and meat to strong men: and they rule with wisdom and prudence when they govern according to the laws of Christ, and take care that they are put in execution; and do all things decently and in order; and, as David, feed the flock according to the integrity of their hearts, and guide them by the skilfulness of their hands, Psalm 78:72.
(f) "regent", Gataker.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
15. pastors—not religious, but civil rulers, as Zerubbabel, Nehemiah (Jer 23:4; 2:8).
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