|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
3:13-18 Among the Jews at this time, some plainly discovered themselves to be children of the wicked one. The yoke of Christ is easy. But those who work wickedness, tempt God by presumptuous sins. Judge of things as they will appear when the doom of these proud sinners comes to be executed. Those that feared the Lord, spake kindly, for preserving and promoting mutual love, when sin thus abounded. They spake one to another, in the language of those that fear the Lord, and think on his name. As evil communications corrupt good minds and manners, so good communications confirm them. A book of remembrance was written before God. He will take care that his children perish not with those that believe not. They shall be vessels of mercy and honour, when the rest are made vessels of wrath and dishonour. The saints are God's jewels; they are dear to him. He will preserve them as his jewels, when the earth is burned up like dross. Those who now own God for theirs, he will then own for his. It is our duty to serve God with the disposition of children; and he will not have his children trained up in idleness; they must do him service from a principle of love. Even God's children stand in need of sparing mercy. All are righteous or wicked, such as serve God, or such as serve him not: all are going to heaven or to hell. We are often deceived in our opinions concerning both the one and the other; but at the bar of Christ, every man's character will be known. As to ourselves, we have need to think among which we shall have our lot; and, as to others, we must judge nothing before the time. But in the end all the world will confess that those alone were wise and happy, who served the Lord and trusted in Him.
Verse 14. - It is vain. It brings no acknowledgment or reward. The Latin and Greek Versions have, "He is vain who serveth God." Have kept his ordinance (charge). Have done what he ordered. They are either wilfully deceiving themselves and others by pretending an obedience which they never really paid; or they think that the outward observance of certain legal requirements is all that is required. Some think that an interval of time separates this from the last section, and that meanwhile they had made some efforts at improvement, expecting, how. ever, immediate results in added blessings; and as these did not come as quickly as they hoped, they relapsed into their old distrust. Have walked mournfully; i.e. in mourning apparel, as if fasting and mourning for sin (Psalm 35:13, 14; Job 30:28). Septuagint, "Why went we as suppliants (ἱκέται)?" Before the Lord. Out of reverence and awe of Jehovah. They attributed a certain virtue to voluntary fasts, without any consideration of the spirit in which they were observed (see the reproof of such formal observances in Isaiah 58:4, etc.).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Ye have said, it is vain to serve God,.... This they said in their hearts, if not with their lips, that it was a vain thing for a man to serve God; he got nothing by it; he had no reward for it; it fared no better with him than the wicked; nay, the wicked fared better than he; and therefore who would be a worshipper of God? see Job 21:15. Abarbinel understands this also with respect to God, who is worshipped; to whom worship, say these men, is no ways profitable, nor does he regard it; see Job 35:7 and therefore it is in vain to serve him, since neither he, nor we, are the better for it:
and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance; or "his observation" (n); that is, have observed that which he commanded to be observed; this respects not any single and particular ordinance, but every ordinance of God: the Sadducees of those times seem designed, who denied the resurrection of the dead, and a future state of rewards and punishments, and so might well conclude it in vain to serve God:
and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts? or "in black" (o); which is the habit of mourners; see Psalm 38:6 with an humble spirit, as Jarchi interprets it; or with humiliation (or contrition) of spirit, as the Targum, which paraphrases the whole verse thus,
"ye have said, he gains nothing who worships before the Lord; and what mammon (or riches) do we gain because we have kept the observation of his word, and because we have walked in contrition of spirit before the Lord of hosts?''
Aben Ezra and Abarbinel seem to understand this last clause of their being afflicted and suffering for the sake of religion, and which they endured in vain, seeing they were not respected and rewarded for it; but the other sense is best, which represents them as sincere penitents, and humble worshippers of God in their own account, and yet were not taken notice of by him: it seems to describe the Pharisees, who disfigured their faces, and affected down looks and sorrowful countenances (p).
(n) "observationem ejus", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Drusius; "observantiam ejus", Cocceius. (o) "atrate", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; so Stockius, p. 926; "pullati", Tigurine version; "atrati", Cocceius. (p) The word is used by Josephus ben Gorion for sincere walking, l. 6. c. 20. p. 612. Vid. Not. Breithaupt. in ib.; it is interpreted "humbly" by R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel Moed, fol. 102. 2.
Malachi 3:14 Parallel Commentaries
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