|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:1-7 The earth is called upon, with all that are therein, to hear the prophet. God's holy temple will not protect false professors. Neither men of high degree, as the mountains, nor men of low degree, as the valleys, can secure themselves or the land from the judgments of God. If sin be found in God's people he will not spare them; and their sins are most provoking to him, for they are most reproaching. When we feel the smart of sin, it behoves us to seek what is the sin we smart for. Persons and places most exalted, are most exposed to spiritual diseases. The vices of leaders and rulers shall be surely and sorely punished. The punishment answers the sin. What they gave to idols, never shall prosper, nor do them any good. What is got by one lust, is wasted on another.
Verse 3. - Here follows a grand description, in figurative language, of the course of Divine judgment, and of God's awful majesty and resistless power. Out of his place. It is as though the sins of Israel had roused him to action. God is hidden except when he displays his power in judgment and mercy (see note on Zechariah 14:3). Will come down. An anthropomorphic expression, as Genesis 18:21. The high places. As though descending from heaven, God first came upon the tops of the mountains (see note on Amos 4:13; comp. Deuteronomy 32:13). The phrase would imply God's absolute sovereignty over the universe.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place,.... Out of heaven, the place of the house of his Shechinah or Majesty, as the Targum; where his throne is prepared; where he keeps his court, and displays his glory; from whence he removes, not by local motion, since he is everywhere; but by some manifest exertion of his power, either on the behalf of his people, or in taking vengeance on his and their enemies; or on them sinning against him, in which sense it is probably to be understood. It signifies not change of place, but of his dispensations; going out of his former customary method into another; removing, as Jarchi has it, from the throne of mercies to the throne of judgment; doing not acts of mercy, in which he delights, but exercising judgment, his strange work. So the Cabalistic writers (q) observe on the passage, that
"it cannot be understood of place properly taken, according to Isaiah 40:12; for God is the place of the world, not the world his place; hence our wise men so expound the text, he cometh forth out of the measure of mercy, and goes into the measure of justice;''
or property of it. Some understand this of his leaving the temple at Jerusalem, and giving it up into the hands of the Chaldeans; but the former sense is best:
and will come down, and tread upon the high places of the earth; which are his footstool; Samaria and Jerusalem, built on mountains, and all other high towers and fortified places, together with men of high looks and haughty countenances, who exalt themselves like mountains, and swell with pride: these the Lord can easily subdue and humble, bring low and tread down like the mire of the street; perhaps there may be an allusion to the high places where idols were worshipped; and which were the cause of the Lord's wrath and vengeance, and of his coming forth, in this unusual way, in his providences.
(q) Kabala Denudata, par. 1. p. 408.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3. tread upon the high places of the earth—He shall destroy the fortified heights (compare De 32:13; 33:29) [Grotius].
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