Ask you of the LORD rain in the time of the latter rain; so the LORD shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain…
The rainfall in Palestine is normally periodical; occasional showers and even storms of rain may occur at any season, but as a rule it is at the time of the autumnal and that of the vernal equinox that the rain for the year falls. These two periodic seasons of rain the Hebrews spoke of as the early and the latter ram; and on the occurrence of them the fruitfulness of the field and the return of the harvest depended. In other passages both the former and the latter rain are referred to as indispensable to this. At an early period God promised to Israel that He would give the rain of their land in due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that they might gather in their corn, manifestation of special regard for His people by Jehovah (comp. Hosea 6:3; Joel 2:23; Isaiah 30:23; Jeremiah 5:24). The latter rain only is mentioned here, probably because this was the more important for the fructification of the grain; and possibly also, because, being this, it might be regarded as including or representing temporal blessing generally. This the prophet here exhorts the people to ask of the Lord "at the time of the latter rain," s.c., at the season when it was due; though God had promised it to His people, it was fitting and needful that they should pray to Him for it at the time when it was required. This "direction to ask" does not "simply express the readiness of God to grant their request"; it does this, for when God enjoins on men the asking for blessing, He implicitly engages to give the blessing asked for; but besides this, and even more than this, there is intimated here that the obtaining of promised blessing is conditioned by its being specially asked of God in the season of need. God's promises are given not to supersede prayer, but rather to encourage and stimulate to prayer.
(W. L. Alexander, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Ask ye of the LORD rain in the time of the latter rain; so the LORD shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field.