According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so my spirit remains among you: fear you not.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)According to the word.—Better, with the word. The clause is connected with the closing words of Haggai 2:4. Jehovah is present with them, and so is His Promise made by solemn covenant in the days of old.
So my spirit.—Better, and my spirit. Besides such promises of God’s abiding favour as Exodus 29:45-46, they have among them the abiding presence of His Holy Spirit. Having these, let them not be afraid. The evidence of the Divine Presence was the mission of inspired prophets, such as Haggai and Zechariah, and the Targum and the Rabbis are perhaps right in referring the words “and my spirit” exclusively to the “spirit of prophecy.” It may be noticed that the later Jews held that the Holy Spirit left the Church after the deaths of Zechariah and Malachi.
It is an exclamation which cannot be forced into any grammatical relation with the preceding. The more exact idiom would have been "Remember," "take to heart." But the prophet points to it the more energetically, because he casts it, as it were, into the midst, not bound up with any one verb. This would be the rather done in speaking to the people, as David to his followers (1 Samuel 30:23, which Ewald compares, Lehrb. n. 329. a. p. 811, ed. 8. and in his Die Proph. iii. 183. Only he, not very intelligibly, makes it a sort of oath, By the word, By that which the Lord hath given us. But he suggests the like broken sentence Zechariah 7.7), "That which the Lord hath given us and hath preserved us and given the company against us into our hands!" i. e., "Would you deal thus with it?" The abrupt form rejects it as shocking. So here, "The word which I covenanted with you," i. e. this, "I will be with you," was the central all-containing promise, to which God pledged Himself when He brought them out of Egypt. He speaks to them as being one with those who came up out of Egypt, as if they were the very persons. The Church, ever varying in the individuals of whom it is composed, is, throughout all ages, in God's sight, one; His promises to the fathers are made to the children in them. So the Psalmist says, "There" (at the dividing of the Red Sea and the Jordan) "do we rejoice in Him," as if present there; and our Lord promises to the Apostles, Matthew 28:20. "I am with you always even to the end of the world," by an ever-present presence with them and His Church founded by them in Him.
My Spirit abideth among you, - as the Psalmist says Psalm 102:27, "they (the heavens) perish and Thou abidest" Psalm 33:11, "The counsel of the Lord standeth forever" Psalm 111:3, "His righteousness endureth forever." The Spirit of God is God the Holy Spirit, with His manifold gifts. Where He is, is all good. As the soul is in the body, so God the Holy Spirit is in the Church, Himself its life, and bestowing on all and each every good gift, as each and all have need. As Paul says of the Church of Christ 1 Corinthians 12:4, 1 Corinthians 12:6, 1 Corinthians 12:11, "There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God, who worketh all in all. All these worketh one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will." But above and beyond all gifts He is present as the Spirit of holiness and love, making the Church and those in whom He individually dwells, acceptable to God. Special applications, such as "the Spirit of wisdom and might;" a spirit such as He gave to Moses to judge His people; the spirit of prophecy; or the spirit given to Bezaleel and Aholiab for the work of the sanctuary - these recognize in detail the one great truth, that all good, all wisdom, from least to greatest, comes from God the Holy Spirit; though one by one they would exclude more truth than they each contain.
my Spirit remaineth among you—to strengthen you for the work (Hag 1:14; Zec 4:6). The inspiration of Haggai and Zechariah at this time was a specimen of the presence of God's Spirit remaining still with His people, as He had been with Moses and Israel of old (Ezr 5:1; Isa 63:11).The word; either the word of promise to give them his presence, and to carry them through all opposition, or, the Word, the Son of God, promised to them and us; so it refers to Christ, in whom all the promises are yea and amen.
That I covenanted with you; in solemnest manner reduced to the form and model of a covenant, that it might be sure and firm to you, as to your fathers, in whose time I made this covenant, and with you in them.
When ye came out of Egypt; when I brought you out of Egypt, the house of bondage.
My spirit, of strength and courage, of wisdom and understanding, of zeal and fervency, to carry you through this work, remaineth among you; still doth dwell in you, shall be continued to you, and give direction and success.
Fear ye not; let no discouraging surmises settle in your mind or weaken your hands. There were as many improbabilities lay in bar to your getting out of Egypt, yet my word, covenant, and Spirit overcame all; fear not therefore, I am the same, and with you, as with your father’s. Deuteronomy 18:15 and in whom all the promises are, and the covenant of grace itself; and which covenant was indeed made with him from eternity, but was made manifest, or more clearly manifest, to the Jewish ancestors, when they came out of Egypt: now it is here promised, for the encouragement of the Jews to go in the work of the Lord in building the temple, that this divine Word should be with them also, to counsel, assist, strengthen, and protect them; even he who went before their fathers in the wilderness in a pillar of cloud by day, and of fire by night; the Angel of God's presence, that redeemed, saved, and carried them all the days of old; the Word that was in the beginning with God, and was God; and by whom all things were created at first; and who would, as since he has, become flesh, and dwell among them, and appear in this very temple they were now building; and who will be with all his churches, ministers, and people, unto the end of the world:
so my Spirit remaineth among you: or rather, "and", or "also, my Spirit standeth", continueth "in the midst of you" (h); not only Jehovah the Father, and his divine Logos or Word, were with them; but his Spirit also, his Holy Spirit, the third Person in the Trinity, of which these words are a proof; the same Spirit which was in Moses and others in his time, for the building of the tabernacle, is now promised unto, and should continue with, the builders of this temple; as a Spirit of wisdom and counsel to direct them, and as a Spirit of might and power to strengthen and assist them: and so he is, and will be, in the churches of Christ, and in the midst of his people, to assist the ministers of the word in preaching, the people in hearing, praying, and praising; to carry on his own work in them; to be the Comforter of them, and the seal, earnest, and pledge of their future glory; nor does he, nor ever will he, depart from them; see Isaiah 59:21,
fear ye not: succeeding in the work, and finishing it; nor be dismayed at what the ancient people had said; nor be afraid of enemies, who did all they could to hinder and discourage them from going on with their work; and indeed there is no reason to fear, let the service be what it will the Lord employs his people in; if he, Father, Son, and Spirit, are with them; see Isaiah 41:10.
(g) "cum verbo quo pepigeram", Junius & Tremellius; "cum verbo illo quo pepigi", Varenius; approved of by Reinbeck, Append. Doctrin. de Accent. p. 76, 77. (h) "et Spiritus meus stat in medio vestri", Pagninus, Cocceius; "stana", Montanus; "Spiritus quoque meus stabit in medio vestrum", Vatablus.According to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)5. According to the word] The words “according to” are wanting in the Hebrew, but are properly supplied in A. V. and R. V. It has been proposed to regard the last clause of ver. 4 as parenthetical, and make the beginning of this verse grammatically dependent on the word “do” in ver. 4. It would then read: “Be strong and do (for I am with you, saith the Lord of Hosts) the word that I covenanted with you,” &c. But such a construction is harsh and the meaning elicited unsatisfactory. The first clause of ver. 5 is thrown out in the abrupt forcible style of Haggai, and gives the ground both of the foregoing and of the following assurance. The ancient covenant with their fathers is as it were called up before them as a witness to the truth of the present promises: “I am with you saith the Lord of Hosts—(‘see,’ ‘remember,’ or ‘there stands’) the word which I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt!—and my spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not.” The student of the Greek Testament will be reminded of a somewhat similar construction in St Peter’s address to Cornelius and his company, (τὸν λόγον, κ.τ.λ. Acts 10:36).
so my spirit remaineth] Or, and my spirit abode, R. V. Comp. Isaiah 63:11; Zechariah 4:6.Verse 5. - According to the word that I covenanted. The Hebrew is simply, "the word that I," etc. Hence some have connected it with the verb "do" in the preceding verse, the intervening words being parenthetical. But there is intended no injunction respecting the observation of the old covenant, but a consolatory message under present despondency. Others take it with the verb that fallows: "the word and my Spirit remain among you." but it is best to leave the clause in the abrupt fashion in which it is introduced: "(Here is, here stands) the word that I covenanted with you." If anything is supplied, we might insert, "I will confirm." The promise of present help is confirmed by the remembrance of God's former covenant with Israel, that they should be his peculiar people and possess the right of access to him and a claim on his help (Exodus 19:5, 6; Exodus 29:45, 46; Deuteronomy 7:6; Jeremiah 7:23). This clause is entirely omitted by the Septuagint. So my Spirit remaineth among you; Revised Version, and my Spirit abode among you. But the clause refers to God's presence among them now, which was shown by the revelations made to the prophets, as Haggai and Zechariah, and which exhibits itself in his providential ordering of events, the removal of obstacles, the furthering of the good work. Wordsworth notes that "Christ was with the ancient Church in the wilderness (see 1 Corinthians 10:9; Hebrews 11:26); and now, when the eternal Word became incarnate, and when the Holy Spirit was sent to be in the midst of God's faithful people, then this prophecy was fulfilled. Fear ye not. If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31; and comp. Zechariah 4:6). Nahum 2:11. "Where is the dwelling of the lions and the feeding-place of the young lions, where the lion walked, the lioness, the lion's whelp, and no one frightened? Nahum 2:12. The lion robbing for the need of his young ones, and strangling for his lionesses, and he filled his dens with prey, and his dwelling-places with spoil. Nahum 2:13. Behold, O come to thee, is the saying of Jehovah of hosts, and I cause her chariots to turn in smoke, and thy young lions the sword devours; and I cut off thy prey from the earth, and the voice of thy messengers shall be heard no more." The prophet, beholding the destruction in spirit as having already taken place, looks round for the site on which the mighty city once stood, and sees it no more. This is the meaning of the question in Nahum 2:11. He describes it as the dwelling-place of lions. The point of comparison is the predatory lust of its rulers and their warriors, who crushed the nations like lions, plundering their treasures, and bringing them together in Nineveh. To fill up the picture, the epithets applied to the lions are grouped together according to the difference of sex and age. אריה is the full-grown male lion; לביא, the lioness; כּפיר, the young lion, though old enough to go in search of prey; גּוּר אריה, catulus leonis, the lion's whelp, which cannot yet seek prey for itself. וּמרעה הוּא, lit., "and a feeding-place is it," sc. the dwelling-place (הוּא pointing back to מעון) in this sense: "Where is the dwelling-place which was also a feeding-place for the young lions?" By the apposition the thought is expressed, that the city of lions was not only a resting-place, but also afforded a comfortable living. אשׁר is to be taken in connection with the following שׁם: in the very place where; and hâlakh signifies simply to walk, to walk about, not "to take exercise," in which case the kal would stand for piel. The more precise definition follows in ואין מחריד, without any one terrifying, hence in perfect rest and security, and undisturbed might (cf. Micah 4:4; Leviticus 26:6; Deuteronomy 28:26, etc.). Under the same figure Nahum 2:12 describes the tyranny and predatory lust of the Assyrians in their wars. This description is subordinate in sense to the leading thought, or to the question contained in the previous verse. Where is the city now, into which the Assyrians swept together the booty of the peoples and kingdoms which they had destroyed? In form, however, the verse is attached poetically in loose apposition to Nahum 2:12. The lion, as king of the beasts, is a very fitting emblem of the kings or rulers of Assyria. The lionesses and young lions are the citizens of Nineveh and of the province of Assyria, the tribe-land of the imperial monarchy of Assyria, and not the queens and princes, as the Chaldee explains it. Gōrōth with the o-inflection for gūrōth, as in Jeremiah 51:38. Chōrı̄m, holes for hiding-places, or caves, not only applies to the robbers, in which character the Assyrians are exhibited through the figure of the lion (Hitzig), but also to the lions, which carry their prey into caves (cf. Bochart, Hieroz. i. 737). This destruction of Nineveh will assuredly take place; for Jehovah the Almighty God has proclaimed it, and He will fulfil His word. The word of God in Nahum 2:13 stamps the foregoing threat with the seal of confirmation. הנני אליך, behold I((will) to thee (Nineveh). We have not to supply אבוא here, but simply the verb. copul., which is always omitted in such sentences. The relation of the subject to the object is expressed by אל (cf. Nahum 3:5; Jeremiah 51:25). הבערתּי בעשׁן, I burn into smoke, i.e., so that it vanishes into smoke (cf. Psalm 37:20). רכבּהּ, her war-chariots, stands synecdochically for the whole of the apparatus of war (Calvin). The suffix in the third person must not be altered; it may easily be explained from the poetical variation of prophetic announcement and direct address. The young lions are the warriors; the echo of the figure in the previous verse still lingers in this figure, as well as in טרפּך. The last clause expresses the complete destruction of the imperial might of Assyria. The messengers of Nineveh are partly heralds, as the carriers of the king's commands; partly halberdiers, or delegates who fulfilled the ruler's commands (cf. 1 Kings 19:2; 2 Kings 19:23). The suffix in מלאככה is in a lengthened form, on account of the tone at the end of the section, analogous to אתכה in Exodus 29:35, and is not to be regarded as an Aramaeism or a dialectical variation (Ewald, 258, a). The tsere of the last syllable is occasioned by the previous tsere. Jerome has summed up the meaning very well as follows: "Thou wilt never lay countries waste any more, nor exact tribute, nor will thy messengers be heard throughout thy provinces." (On the last clause, see Ezekiel 19:9.)
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