|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 4. - The description of God's advent to judgment is founded on the idea of a terrible storm and earthquake, perhaps accompanied with volcanic eruption, though evidence of such eruptions in the historical period is not forthcoming. The description recalls the awful revelation at Sinai (Exodus 19.). Shall be molten; either by the lightning or the showers of rain that descend from heaven. The mountains, the type of stability and strength, fall away at the presence of the Judge. Septuagint, σαλευθήσεται, "shall be shaken;" Vulgate, consumentur (Judges 5:4, 5; Psalm 18:7, etc.; Psalms 68:8; 97:4, 5; Amos 9:5). Be cleft; Septuagint, τακήσονται, "shall melt." The valleys shall be hollowed out into channels by the force of the water, which falls in torrents. As wax (Psalm 68:2; Psalm 97:5). This belongs to the first clause, "the mountains," etc. As waters. This belongs to the second clause. The cloven plains shall melt away as waters disappear down a precipice. The idea that underlies this description is that the inanimate creation shares in the effects of the judgment on man, and is used as an instrument in his punishment.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the mountains shall be molten under him,.... As Sinai was when he descended on it, and as all nations will be at the general conflagration; but here the words are to be taken, not literally, but figuratively, for the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, and for the kings, and princes, and great men in them, that lifted up their heads as high, and thought themselves as secure, as mountains; yet when the judgments of God should fall upon them, their hearts would melt through fear under him; as well as all their glory and greatness depart from them, and they be no more what they were before, but levelled with the meanest subject:
and the valleys shall be cleft: have chasms made in them by the melting of the mountains, or by the flow of water from the hills: these may design the lower sort of people, who shall have their share in this calamity; the inhabitants of the valleys and country villages; who, though mean and low, shall be lower still, and lose that little substance, that liberty and those privileges, they had; as valleys may be cleft, and open, and sink into the lower parts of the earth; so it is signified that these people should be in a more depressed state and condition:
as wax before the fire; melts, and cannot stand the force of it; so the mountains should melt at the presence of the Lord; and kingdoms and states, and the greatest and mightiest of men in them, would not be able to stand before the fierceness of his wrath; see Psalm 68:2;
and as the waters that are poured down a steep place; that run with great swiftness, force, and rapidity, and there is no stopping them; so should the judgments of God come down upon the lower sort of people, the inhabitants of the valleys; neither high nor low would escape the indignation of the Lord, or be able to stand against it, or stand up under it.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
4. Imagery from earthquakes and volcanic agency, to describe the terrors which attend Jehovah's coming in judgment (compare Jud 5:5). Neither men of high degree, as the mountains, nor men of low degree, as the valleys, can secure themselves or their land from the judgments of God.
as wax—(Ps 97:5; compare Isa 64:1-3). The third clause, "as wax," &c., answers to the first in the parallelism, "the mountains shall be molten"; the fourth, "as the waters," &c., to the second, "the valleys shall be cleft." As wax melts by fire, so the mountains before God, at His approach; and as waters poured down a steep cannot stand but are diffused abroad, so the valleys shall be cleft before Jehovah.
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