|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
6:1-8 This vision may represent the ways of Providence in the government of this lower world. Whatever the providences of God about us are, as to public or private affairs, we should see them all as coming from between the mountains of brass, the immoveable counsels and decrees of God; and therefore reckon it as much our folly to quarrel with them, as it is our duty to submit to them. His providences move swiftly and strongly as chariots, but all are directed and governed by his infinite wisdom and sovereign will. The red horses signify war and bloodshed. The black, signify the dismal consequences of war, famines, pestilences, and desolations. The white, signify the return of comfort, peace, and prosperity. The mixed colour, signify events of different complexions, a day of prosperity and a day of adversity. The angels go forth as messengers of God's counsels, and ministers of his justice and mercy. And the secret motions and impulses upon the spirits of men, by which the designs of Providence are carried on, are these four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from God, and fulfil what the God of the spirits of all flesh appoints. All the events which take place in the world spring from the unchangeable counsels of the Lord, which are formed in unerring wisdom, perfect justice, truth, and goodness; and from history it is found that events happened about the period when this vision was sent to the prophet, which seem referred to therein.
Verse 5. - The four spirits of the heavens. Both the Septuagint and Vulgate render, "the four winds of heaven;" and this is doubtless correct. It was a familiar symbol to the Jews. The winds are often introduced in executing God's will on sinners (comp. Psalm 104:4; Psalm 148:8; Jeremiah 49:36; Daniel 7:2). Which go forth from standing before the Lord (comp. Job 1:6; Job 2:1). The winds are supposed to be God's servants, waiting his pleasure to be sent forth on his errands. The Septuagint and Vulgate translate, "which go forth to stand before the Lord." This denotes merely their usual obedience; but the text implies that the prophet sees them moving from their usual expectant attitude, and hastening forth to do God's commands.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the angel answered and said unto me,.... In order to grant him his request, and explain the vision of the chariots:
these are the four spirits of the heavens; or, "the four winds of the heavens"; the apostles and ministers of the Gospel may be compared to "the winds", because their ministry is the ministration of the Spirit, which is like wind that blows invisibly, powerfully, and where it listeth; and because in and by it the Spirit breathes life and comfort into the souls of men; and because of the powerful efficacy and penetrating nature of the word preached by them, and their swiftness and readiness to do the will of God: angels are called "spirits" or "winds", Psalm 104:3 they are created spirits, and so differ from God; are incorporeal ones, and so differ from men; and are immaterial and immortal, and so die not: they are spiritual subsistences, and spirits of the heavens, or heavenly spirits; heaven being the place of their abode and residence; and they may be compared to "winds", for their invisibility, wonderful penetration into places and things, their very great swiftness, and prodigious power and strength. The Targum paraphrases the words thus,
"these are the four kingdoms, which are as the winds of heaven;''
and so the same are signified by the four winds in Daniel 7:2 to which they may be compared for their swift and forcible carrying all before them, and for their fickleness and changeableness; and to which, the several parts of the world, into which they went, agree:
which go forth, from standing before the Lord of all the earth: so the apostles of Christ, and ministers of the Gospel, stood before him in his eternal purposes and decrees from everlasting; and went forth, having their commission from him in time; and were sent by him into the several parts of the world he is the Lord of; and by whom they were filled with gifts, grace, and courage, fitting them for their work. Angels also stand before him, ministering unto him; always behold him; are in his presence, and enjoy his favour; and go forth from him, being sent forth by him on various accounts into all the parts of the world; which Jehovah is the Creator, Upholder, and Governor of: moreover, this is applicable to the four monarchies; these stood before the Lord in his vast and infinite mind; in the secret decrees of it, before the world was; and the sending and going forth of them from him show that they were powers ordained of God, who has the government of the whole world in his hands.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. four spirits of the heavens—heavenly spirits who "stand before Jehovah" to receive God's commands (Zec 4:14; 1Ki 22:19; Job 2:1; Lu 1:19) in heaven (of which Zion is the counterpart on earth, see on Zec 6:1), and proceed with chariot speed (2Ki 6:17; Ps 68:17) to execute them on earth in its four various quarters (Ps 104:4; Heb 1:7, 14) [Pembellus]. Or, the secret impulses of God which emanate from His counsel and providence; the prophet implies that all the revolutions in the world are from the Spirit of God and are as it were, His messengers or spirits [Calvin].
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