|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:7-13 God's day is at hand; the punishment of presumptuous sinners is a sacrifice to the justice of God. The Jewish royal family shall be reckoned with for their pride and vanity; and those that leap on the threshold, invading their neighbours' rights, and seizing their possessions. The trading people and the rich merchants are called to account. Secure and careless people are reckoned with. They are secure and easy; they say in their heart, the Lord will not do good, neither will he do evil; that is, they deny his dispensing rewards and punishments. But in the day of the Lord's judgment, it will clearly appear that those who perish, fall a sacrifice to Divine justice for breaking God's law, and because they have no interest by faith in the Redeemer's atoning sacrifice.
Verse 12. - The third class which shall be smitten, viz. the profligate and riotous. I will search Jerusalem with candles (lights). No evil doer shall escape. The enemy whom God summons to execute his wrath shall leave no corner unsearched where the debauchees hide themselves (comp. Luke 15:8). Jerome and commentators after him refer to Josephus's account of the last siege of Jerusalem for a parallel to these predicted proceedings of the Chaldeans. Here we read how princes and priests and chieftains were dragged from sewers, and pits, and caves, and tombs, where they had hidden themselves in fear of death, and were mercilessly slain wherever they were found (Josephus, 'Bell. Jud.,' 6:09). The men that are settled on their lees; i.e. confirmed, hardened, and inveterate in their evil habits. The metaphor is derived from old wine not racked off; which retains all its flavour and odour, and becomes thick and viscid (see Isaiah 25:6; Jeremiah 48:11). The LXX. paraphrases, Υοὺς καταφρονοῦντας ἐπὶ τὰ φυλάγματα αὐτῶν, which Jerome renders, qui contemnunt custodias suas. That say in their heart. They do not openly scoff at religion, but think within themselves these infidel thoughts. The Lord will not do good, ere. Just what God says of idols (Isaiah 41:23). These "fools" (Psalm 14:1) deny God's moral government of the world; they will not see the working of Divine providence in all that happens, but, secure and careless in their worldly prosperity, they assign all events to chance or natural law, placing Jehovah in the same category as the idols worshipped by heathens (comp. Job 22:12, etc.; Psalm 10:4, etc.; Psalms 94:7).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles,.... To find out the sins of the inhabitants of it, and the authors of them, and punish them for them, however hid and concealed from the eyes of others, or thought to be: this must be understood consistent with the omniscience of God, who knows all persons and things; nothing is hid from him; men may fancy their sins are hid, being privately and secretly committed; but all will be manifest, sooner or later; if not now, yet at the day of judgment; and sometimes they are made manifest by God in this life, as here; for what the Lord here says he would do, he did it by instruments, by the Chaldeans, whom he sent to Jerusalem; and to whom the gates of the city, the doors of houses, and the innermost recesses of them, were opened and plundered by them; and all for the sins of the people, which were hereby exposed. So the Targum,
"and it shall be at that time that I will appoint searchers, and they shall search Jerusalem, as they that search with candles;''
and no doubt but this was literally true of the Chaldeans, who with candles might search vaults and cellars, and such like dark places, where they supposed goods and riches were concealed. The allusion may be to the searching with lamps for leaven on the fourteenth of Nisan, when the passover began, in every corner of a house, and, when they found it, burnt it (u); or in general to searching for anything which lies concealed in dark places, where the light of the sun comes not, and can only be discovered by the light of candles; and denotes that nothing should escape the sight and knowledge of God, by whom a full discovery would be made of their persons and sins, and cognizance taken of them in a vindictive way, as follows:
and punish the men that are settled on their lees; like wine on the lees, quiet and undisturbed; in a good outward estate and condition, abounding in wealth and riches, and trusting therein; and which, as the Targum paraphrases it, they enjoy in great tranquillity; Moab like, having never been emptied from vessel to vessel, Jeremiah 48:11 and so concluded they should ever remain in the same state, and became hardened in sin, or "curdled", and thickened, as the word (w) signifies; and were unconcerned about the state of religion, or the state of their own souls; and fearless and thoughtless of the judgments of God; but should now be visited, disturbed in their tranquil state, and be troubled and punished:
that say in their heart; not daring to express with their lips the following atheism and blasphemy; but God, who searched and tried their hearts, knew it:
The Lord will not do good, neither will he do evil; which is a flat denial of his providence; saying that he takes no notice of what is done by men on earth, whether good or bad; and neither rewards the one, nor punishes the other. So the Targum, as Kimchi quotes it,
"it is not the good pleasure of God to do good to the righteous, or to do evil to the wicked;''
than which nothing is more false! the Lord does good to all in a providential way, and to many in a way of special grace; and rewards with a reward of grace all good men, both here and hereafter; and though he does not do any moral evil, yet he executes the evil of punishment in this world, and in that to come, on evildoers.
(u) Vid. Misn. Pesachim, c. 1. sect. 1, 4. (w) "concreti sunt", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "congelati", Calvin; "coagulatos", Montanus, Cocceius; "qui concreverunt glaciei, vel casei ad instar", Burkius.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
12. search … with candles—or lamps; so as to leave no dark corner in it wherein sin can escape the punishment, of which the Chaldeans are My instruments (compare Zep 1:13; Lu 15:8).
settled on their lees—"hardened" or crusted; image from the crust formed at the bottom of wines long left undisturbed (Jer 48:11). The effect of wealthy undisturbed ease ("lees") on the ungodly is hardening: they become stupidly secure (compare Ps 55:19; Am 6:1).
Lord will not do good … evil—They deny that God regards human affairs, or renders good to the good; or evil to the evil, but that all things go haphazard (Ps 10:4; Mal 2:17).
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