|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
66:8-12 The Lord not only preserves our temporal life, but maintains the spiritual life which he has given to believers. By afflictions we are proved, as silver in the fire. The troubles of the church will certainly end well. Through various conflicts and troubles, the slave of Satan escapes from his yoke, and obtains joy and peace in believing: through much tribulation the believer must enter into the kingdom of God.
Verse 12. - Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads. See the Egyptian and Assyrian sculptures passim, where the king in his chariot gallops over the bodies of his dead and wounded enemies. We went through fire and through water; i.e. through dangers of every kind - a proverbial expression (comp. Isaiah 43:2). But thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place; or, "a place of refreshment" (εἰς ἀναψυχήν, LXX.). Dr. Kay renders, "a place of rich comfort;" Professor Cheyne, "a place of liberty" (comp. Psalm 23:4 and Jeremiah 31:25).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads,.... Jarchi and Kimchi interpret it of the kings and nations of the world ruling over Israel; and may very well design the Heathen powers and antichristian states tyrannizing over Christian people. The word in the original text is singular, "a man" (c), a frail mortal man; and may be understood of the man of sin and son of perdition; who rides upon the heads of men, exalts himself above all that is called God, and has exercised dominion over the saints in a most lawless and tyrannical manner. Vitringa, on Isaiah 43:2 interprets it of Antiochus Epiphanes, who was a type of antichrist, and supposes the following clause to refer to the persecution of the church in his time. The Targum renders it, "a lord of rebuke"; that is, either one worthy of rebuke, as antichrist is; or one that gives rebukes, delivers out anathemas and excommunications, as he does: though some translate the words of the Targum, "lords of usury", or "usurers"; a title not unfit for the creatures of antichrist;
we went through fire and through water; through afflictions, compared to fire and water; through fiery trials and overwhelming providences, though not destroyed by them, because the Lord was with them; see Isaiah 43:2; therefore they are said to go through them, not to abide in them; nor to sink under them, and perish by them: they went cheerfully through them for Christ's sake, even the greatest hardships and difficulties, which this phrase may be expressive of. It may have a particular reference to the sufferings of the saints in Gospel times; to the burning of the martyrs with fire and faggot, who, like Elijah, went up to heaven in a fiery chariot; and to the flood of waters cast out after the woman, the church, by the dragon; see Revelation 1:15;
but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place; the Targum is, into largeness; or into a large place; see Psalm 18:19. This may intend either the state of the church upon the Reformation, or rather as it will be in the latter day glory; when there will be a large spread of the Gospel, and of the interest of Christ, everywhere; when the church will be enlarged with converts, and the members of it with the gifts and graces of the Spirit; and which will be a state of great liberty and freedom in the worship of God, both inward and outward. The Septuagint version renders it, "into refreshment": so the Tigurine version, and Piscator; as those times will be times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord, which will be everywhere among his people, in his word and ordinances, and to a great degree; see Acts 3:19. The Arabic version, "unto rest"; from adversity, from persecution; for, after this state takes place, there will be no more persecution; no more fines, imprisonment, racks, and torturing deaths, for the sake of Christ and his Gospel. The word used signifies a well watered place (d) or land; such as was the land of Canaan, Deuteronomy 8:7; and such will be the state of the church in the latter day: the Spirit will be poured down like floods of water upon the dry ground; the doctrines of the Gospel will drop as the rain, and as showers upon the grass: the ordinances of it will be as green pastures beside the still waters; and every believer will be as a watered garden, whose springs fail not; it will be a time of great plenty and prosperity in spiritual things. Ainsworth renders it, "to an abundant place"; so Gejerus: a place abounding with all good things: a "wealthy" one, as we translate it. And even in a literal sense this will be the wealthy time of the church; when kings shall come into it, and bring their riches and honour there, and use them for the good of it, Isaiah 49:23; and then also will the saints be enriched with every gift, and be rich in grace and in all good works.
(c) "hominem", Pagninus, Montanus. (d) "ad irrignam", Pagninus, Montanus.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
12. men to ride over our heads—made us to pass.
through fire, &c.—figures describing prostration and critical dangers (compare Isa 43:2; Eze 36:12).
wealthy—literally, "overflowing," or, "irrigated," and hence fertile.
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