You who turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth,…
The herdsman of Tekoah was a true poet. His eyes were open to the beauty and to the splendour of nature; and his heart felt the presence of the Unseen and Eternal in all the works of his hands, in all his providential arrangements. More than this, the moral character and rule of the Omnipotent were very present and very real to him; he felt the force of the appeal made to the spiritual nature of man, and calling for a life of religious faith, of practical obedience. There is nothing strained or unnatural in the striking conjunction in this passage of poetic sensibility with ethical and religious exhortation.
I. A REPRESENTATION OF DIVINE GREATNESS AND GLORY.
1. Seen in the creation of the starry host. The Pleiades and Orion are mentioned as two of the most noticeable and most splendid of the constellations of the midnight sky.
2. In the alternations of day and night, in sunrise and sunset, in storm and in eclipse.
3. In the grandeur of the sea, in the torrents of rain, in the floods which pour their waters over the earth; in a word, in all the processes of nature.
4. In the providential interpositions and the righteous rule of the Most High, who does according to his will among the inhabitants of the earth.
II. AN INFERENCE AS TO HUMAN CONDUCT. The poet-prophet is more than a mirror to reflect the visible splendour, the awful forces of the universe. To him nature has a voice of authority, appealing to the understanding and to the conscience of the sons of men. There is a summons to the unrighteous and the irreligious to forsake their ways and to choose a better path. This summons will take a different form according to the character, the moral development, of those addressed.
1. There is what may be called the lower view - a God so great will not suffer iniquity to triumph, or injustice and disobedience to go unpunished. All are in the hands of the Almighty; and he whose power is so evidently revealed in the heavens above and on the earth beneath will not fail to assert his authority over all the creatures of his power. Although wickedness may prosper for a season, the law of righteousness shall be maintained and vindicated.
2. There is a higher view - not inconsistent with the other, but presenting itself to natures more morally cultivated and advanced. Great as God appears in nature, our conceptions of his excellence are enhanced when we reflect upon his glorious attributes and his righteous reign. The eternal law of righteousness administered by Omnipotence demands our lowly reverence, deserves our grateful obedience. - T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Ye who turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth,