|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:1-14 The priests were to alarm the people with the near approach of the Divine judgments. It is the work of ministers to warn of the fatal consequences of sin, and to reveal the wrath from heaven against the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. The striking description which follows, shows what would attend the devastations of locusts, but may also describe the effects from the ravaging of the land by the Chaldeans. If the alarm of temporal judgments is given to offending nations, how much more should sinners be warned to seek deliverance from the wrath to come! Our business therefore on earth must especially be, to secure an interest in our Lord Jesus Christ; and we should seek to be weaned from objects which will soon be torn from all who now make idols of them. There must be outward expressions of sorrow and shame, fasting, weeping, and mourning; tears for trouble must be turned into tears for the sin that caused it. But rending the garments would be vain, except their hearts were rent by abasement and self-abhorrence; by sorrow for their sins, and separation from them. There is no question but that if we truly repent of our sins, God will forgive them; but whether he will remove affliction is not promised, yet the probability of it should encourage us to repent.
Verses 10, 11. - These verses picture the dreadful consequences of the then present and temporary visitation of the locusts, and of the future and final judgment of which it was a type. The earth shall quake before them;
(1) the locusts. The heavens tremble. The alighting of the locusts on the earth would make it quake, and their flight through the heavens would make it tremulous. As applied to the visitation o! locusts, the language would be hyperbolical, unless we accept Jerome's explanation as follows: "It is not that the strength of the locusts is so great that they can move the heavens and shake the earth, but that to those who suffer from such calamities, from the amount of their own terror the heavens appear to shake and the earth to reel."
(2) Before him; i.e. Jehovah himself amid the storm; and all in accordance with fact. But a greater judgment than that of the locusts is typified by the language of the prophet. Kimchi observes on this (tenth)verse that "all the expressions are parabolical, or figurative, to set forth the greatness of a calamity; for this is the usage of Scripture, as, 'The sun shall be darkened in his going forth,' and the like." So also Abarbauel on this verse: "Which all is a parabolical expression of the calamities of the Jews." Aben Ezra understands it differently: "Men of the earthquake." Rashi: "The heavens quake and tremble because of the punishment that comes upon Israel." The second part of the verse, as also the verse following, appear to us to indicate this. The sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining: and the Lord shall utter his voice before his army. That a storm succeeded and put an end to the plague of locusts, and that the darkening of the sun and moon and stars signified the obscuration of the heavenly luminaries by the storm-clouds that overspread the heavens and darkened the face of day, would fall short of expressions of such solemn grandeur as are here employed by the prophet, Besides, our Lord applies language of the same import to the last judgment in the Gospels: "The sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven." Thunder, no doubt, is the voice of the Lord, which he utters while marching at the head of his army to execute judgment and manifest his wrath against his enemies. For his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it? Three reasons are here assigned for the preceding sublime description of Jehovah coming to judgment at the head of his hosts. These are the following: the greatness of his army in number and might; the power with which his army executes his word of command; and the terrible character of the day of judgment when the vials of Divine wrath shall be poured forth.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The earth shall quake before them,.... The inhabitants of it, because of the desolating judgments they bring with them, and those enemies that are signified by them:
the heavens shall tremble; being obscured by them:
the sun and moon shall be dark; the locusts sometimes come in such large numbers as to intercept the rays of the sun. Pliny (t) says they sometimes darken it; and though some thought they did not fly in the night, because of the cold; this he observes is owing to their ignorance, not considering that they pass over wide seas to distant countries; and this will account for it how the moon also may be darkened by them, and the stars, as follows:
and the stars shall withdraw their shining; though all this may be understood in a figurative sense of the great consternation that all sorts of persons should be in at such calamities coming upon the land, either by locusts, or by enemies; as the king, queen, nobles, and the common people of the land, signified by sun, moon, and stars, heaven and earth.
(t) Ibid. (Nat. Hist. l. 11. c. 29.)
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
10. earth … quake before them—that is, the inhabitants of the earth quake with fear of them.
heavens … tremble—that is, the powers of heaven (Mt 24:29); its illumining powers are disturbed by the locusts which intercept the sunlight with their dense flying swarms. These, however, are but the images of revolutions of states caused by such foes as were to invade Judea.
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