|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
9:1-12 Upon sounding the fifth trumpet, a star fell from heaven to the earth. Having ceased to be a minister of Christ, he who is represented by this star becomes the minister of the devil; and lets loose the powers of hell against the churches of Christ. On the opening of the bottomless pit, there arose a great smoke. The devil carries on his designs by blinding the eyes of men, by putting out light and knowledge, and promoting ignorance and error. Out of this smoke there came a swarm of locusts, emblems of the devil's agents, who promote superstition, idolatry, error, and cruelty. The trees and the grass, the true believers, whether young or more advanced, should be untouched. But a secret poison and infection in the soul, should rob many others of purity, and afterwards of peace. The locusts had no power to hurt those who had the seal of God. God's all-powerful, distinguishing grace will keep his people from total and final apostacy. The power is limited to a short season; but it would be very sharp. In such events the faithful share the common calamity, but from the pestilence of error they might and would be safe. We collect from Scripture, that such errors were to try and prove the Christians, 1Co 11:19. And early writers plainly refer this to the first great host of corrupters who overspread the Christian church.
Verse 7. - And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; rather, the likenesses of the locusts; that is to say, the general appearance. This similarity is brought out in Joel 2, and is alluded to in Job 39:20. The parallel is worked out at some length in Tristram's 'Natural History of the Bible,' p. 314. In what way they appeared "prepared unto battle," is shown in ver. 9. And on their heads were as it were crowns like gold; crowns like unto gold. The language is carefully guarded so as to make it understood that this feature is altogether supernatural. The crowns of gold probably denote the conquering nature of the locusts, and thus they add to the power with which the locusts have already been invested. They may also signify the exalted temporal position of those symbolized by the locusts. Some writers believe the helmets of soldiers are typified, and others the turbans of the Mohammedans. And their faces were as the faces of men. Notwithstanding the general resemblance of the locusts to horses, which resemblance is most clearly shadowed forth in the structure of the head, yet their faces gave the seer the idea of the human countenance. How this was brought about we are not told. Probably St. John himself in his vision received the impression without knowing by what means. The circumstance seems to point decidedly to the fact that human agents are denoted by the locusts..
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses,.... The heads of locusts, especially of some of them, are very much like the heads of horses: and here they are compared to horses
prepared unto battle; as they are in Joel 2:4. The horse is a warlike creature, swift, strong, and courageous, Job 39:21. Locusts sometimes have appeared in the form of armies, and have marched in great order with their leaders before them, and have pitched their camps very regularly; see Joel 2:7; of which we have lately had an account from Transylvania in our public papers. (This was published in 1747, Ed.) This part of their description may denote the wars of the Saracens, and the rapidity, force, and power with which they overran great part of the empire; and as it may be applied to the western locusts, the disputes, contentions, and quarrels raised by the Romish clergy.
And on their heads were, as it were, crowns like gold; and in this shape some locusts have appeared, to which the allusion seems to be in, Nahum 3:17, "thy crowned men are as the locusts". In the year 1542, it is said (l), that locusts came out of Turkish Sarmatia, into Austria, Silesia, and other places, which had on their heads "little crowns"; see Ezekiel 23:42. And the Arabians, as Pliny observes, go "mitrati" (m), with mitres, turbans like crowns, on their heads. This may design the several victories and conquests which the Saracens obtained in Arabia, Persia, Syria, Egypt, Africa, Spain, and many other places; and supposing this to have any reference to the western locusts, it may respect the triple crown of the head of then, the caps of the cardinals, the mitres of the bishops, and the shaven pates of the priests, in form of crowns.
And their faces were as the faces of men; which may be expressive of the affable carriage of Mahomet, and his followers, especially to the Christians, and of his great pretensions to holiness and religion, and of the plausible and insinuating ways, and artful methods, used by him, to gain upon men; and being applied to the clergy of the church of Rome, may denote their show of humanity, and their pretended great concern for the welfare of the souls of men, their flatteries, good words, and fair speeches, with which they deceive the simple and unwary.
(l) Vid. Frentz. Hist. Animal. sacr. p. 5. c. 4. p. 799. (m) Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 28.
Wesley's Notes on the Bible
9:7 And the appearances - This description suits a people neither throughly civilized, nor entirely savage; and such were the Persians of that age. Of the locusts are like horses - With their riders. The Persians excelled in horsemanship. And on their heads are as it were crowns - Turbans. And their faces are as the faces of men - Friendly and agreeable.
Revelation 9:7 Parallel Commentaries
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