|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:7-17 The prophet saw a dark, shady grove, hidden by hills. This represented the low, melancholy condition of the Jewish church. A man like a warrior sat on a red horse, in the midst of this shady myrtle-grove. Though the church was in a low condition, Christ was present in the midst, ready to appear for the relief of his people. Behind him were angels ready to be employed by him, some in acts of judgment, others of mercy, others in mixed events. Would we know something of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, we must apply, not to angels, for they are themselves learners, but to Christ himself. He is ready to teach those humbly desirous to learn the things of God. The nations near Judea enjoyed peace at that time, but the state of the Jews was unsettled, which gave rise to the pleading that followed; but mercy must only be hoped for through Christ. His intercession for his church prevails. The Lord answered the Angel, this Angel of the covenant, with promises of mercy and deliverance. All the good words and comfortable words of the gospel we receive from Jesus Christ, as he received them from the Father, in answer to the prayer of his blood; and his ministers are to preach them to all the world. The earth sat still, and was at rest. It is not uncommon for the enemies of God to be at rest in sin, while his people are enduring correction, harassed by temptation, disquieted by fears of wrath, or groaning under oppression and persecution. Here are predictions which had reference to the revival of the Jews after the captivity, but those events were shadows of what shall take place in the church, after the oppression of the New Testament Babylon is ended.
Verse 15. - The heathen; the nations, who were God's instruments in punishing Israel. That are at ease. Living in proud security and self-enjoyment (Isaiah 32:9, 11; Amos 6:1; comp. ver. 11). Septuagint, τὰ συνεπιτιθέμενα, "which join in attacking her;" Vulgate, opulentas, "wealthy," their riches giving them self-confidence. I was but a little displeased. God had been angry with his people, it is true, but only in measure, chastising them, like a parent, for their good. Others take "a little" (parum, ὀλίγα) to mean "for a little time," in allusion to the seventy years' captivity. And they helped forward the affliction; or, in the LXX., συνεπέθεντο εἰς κακὰ, "helped for evil; "Vulgate, adjuverunt in malum. They exceeded their part as mere instruments in God's hands, and wished to destroy Israel altogether, or to oppress them beyond the purposed period of their chastisement. A similar complaint is made against the Assyrians (Isaiah 10:5, etc.) and the Babylonians (Isaiah 47:6).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And I am very sore displeased with the heathen that are at ease,.... The Chaldeans and Persians, and other nations, enemies of the Jews, who were now free from war, and enjoyed great prosperity, when the state and condition of the Jews was very low and discouraging:
for I was but a little displeased: that is, with his people the Jews, for their ingratitude, idolatry, and immorality; and which displeasure he showed by suffering them to be carried into captivity; see Isaiah 54:8,
and they helped forward the affliction; that is, the heathens, among whom the Jews were carried captive; they added to their affliction; they oppressed them more than they ought to have done, and more than was agreeable to the will of God and right in his sight; and they insulted them in their misery, and rejoiced over them. The word in the Arabic language, signifies to "abound" (u); and the meaning is, that they abounded in bringing evil upon the people of the Jews; they multiplied their afflictions and distresses.
(u) "abundavit, multiplicavit", Golius, col. 1705. Castel. col. 2721. "Jazar, cum punctato, exuberavit, abundavit, multus fuit", Schindler. Lex. Pentaglot. col. 1307.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
15. very sore displeased with the heathen—in contrast with "I was but a little displeased" with My people. God's displeasure with His people is temporary and for their chastening; with the heathen oppressors, it is final and fatal (Jer 30:11). God's instruments for chastising His people, when He has done with them, He casts into the fire.
are at ease—carnally secure. A stronger phrase than "is at rest" (Zec 1:11). They are "at ease," but as I am "sore displeased" with them, their ease is accursed. Judah is in "affliction," but as I love her and am jealous for her, she has every reason to be encouraged in prosecuting the temple work.
helped forward the affliction—afflicted My people more than I desired. The heathen sought the utter extinction of Judah to gratify their own ambition and revenge (Isa 47:6; Eze 25:3, 6; Ob 10-17).
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