I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps, and will rend the lobe of their heart, and there will I devour them like a lion: the wild beast shall tear them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)1 Samuel 17:34, and even oxen . The fierceness of the she-bear, "bereaved of her whelps," became a proverb (2 Samuel 17:8; Proverbs 17:12; and here). : "They who have written on the nature of wild beasts, say that none is more savage than the she-bear, when she has lost her whelps or lacks food." It blends wonderfully most touching love and fierceness. It tenderly protects its wounded whelps, reckless of its life, so that it may bring them off, and it turns fiercely on their destroyer. Its love for them becomes fury against their injurer. Much more shall God avenge those who destroy His sons and daughters, leading and enticing them into sin and destruction of body and soul.
Rend the caul of - (what encloses) their heart that is, the pericardium. They had closed their hearts against God. Their punishment is pictured by the rending open of the closed heart, by the lion which is said to go instinctively straight to the heart, tears it out, and sucks the blood . Fearful will it be in the Day of Judgment, when the sinner's heart is laid open, with all the foul, cruel, malicious, defiled, thoughts which it harbored and concealed, against the will of God. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" Hebrews 10:31.
And there will I devour them - "There," where they sinned, shall they be punished. "The wild beast shall tear them." What God does, He does mostly through instruments, and what His instruments do, they do fulfilling His will through their own blind will or appetite. Hitherto, He had spoken, as being Himself their punisher, although laying aside, as it were, all His tenderness; now, lest the thought, that still it was He, the God of love who punished, should give them hope, He says, "the wild beast shall devour them." He gives them up, as it were, out of His own hands to the destroyer.
caul of … heart—the membrane enclosing it: the pericardium.
there—"by the way" (Ho 13:7).I will meet them; I know their haunts, their walks, I will not fail to meet them there.
As a bear bereaved of her whelps; robbed of her whelps, newly taken away, which makes her mad with rage; so great rage is proverbially expressed. Proverbs 17:12.
Will rend the caul of their heart; first kill, next tear in pieces, pull out the very heart: it is probable this fierce creature may by instinct hasten to tear up the prey, that it may drink the blood before it run to waste.
There will I devour them, where I find them and seize them, like the hungry and fearless lion, which feasts on his prey where he caught it, draws it not into his den, but devoureth it immediately.
Like a lion; an old lion, that hath his great teeth, his grinders, and hath still whelps, Genesis 49:9; fierce and terrible, that will either call in his whelps to divide the prey, or drag the prey to his den for them: and what hope of any thing to be spared, when you fall into such hands?
The wild beast shall tear them: it is said of the lion, that he calls by his roaring the wild beasts together to the prey when he hath taken it; so you shall be devoured by the whole troop of wild beasts. Or it may be a general threat added to those particular ones before, every wild beast shall prey upon them. All this God executed on them by the Assyrians, who in their fierceness, cruelty, greediness, and courage answered the character here given to them: the particular resemblances I leave to any, who may easily suit them. Proverbs 17:12;
and will rend the caul of their hearts: the pericardium, which is a membrane or skin that encloses the heart, and which when pierced is immediate death: perhaps some respect is had to the closing of their hearts to God, the hardness of them against him and his ways, and their inattention to his word; and now he will open them, not in a way of grace and mercy, but of wrath and fury; as a bear, when it seizes a man, sticks his claws in his breast, tears it open, and makes his way at once to the heart, fetches it out, and sucks his blood:
and there will I devour them like a lion; either in their cities and houses, when taken by the enemy; or in the way, in which they would be observed; or in their captivity: or there may be put for then, and so denotes the time when he would be all this to them before mentioned, and then he would utterly destroy them:
the wild beast shall tear them: which literally is one of God's sore judgments, but here figuratively designs the Assyrian, and who is meant as the instrument of God's vengeance in all the other expressions; and is sometimes compared to a lion, and that as concerned with Israel; see Jeremiah 50:17; which is much better than by these four sorts of creatures to understand the four monarchies which Israel suffered by. The Targum is,I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps, and will rend the caul of their heart, and there will I devour them like a lion: the wild beast shall tear them.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)8. as a dear] A striking but uncommon comparison. Comp. Lamentations 3:10.
the caul of their heart] Rather, the enclosure of their heart, i.e., not the pericardium, which is what the Authorized Version appears to have supposed, but the breast.
as a lion] Most render, as a lioness; but this is at any rate uncertain. There is nothing as in Job 4:11 specially to suggest the female. The masculine undoubtedly occurs in Psalm 57:5 (Hebr.). The root-idea is probably voracity; but unfortunately there is no cognate in Assyrian. The numerous words for lion in Hebrew are as trouble-some to express in English, as the translators of the Sept. found them in Greek (Sept. here has σκύμνοι δρυμοῦ).Verse 8. - I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps, and will rend the caul of their heart. The noun דֹב is epicene, that is, the one form serves for both genders, as here the masculine includes the feminine, and is used as such. Of all animals, Jerome says, the she-bear is the fiercest, either when robbed of her whelps or in want of food. Seghor being that which encloses the heart, is either the pericardium, the immediate and proper enclosure of the heart, or the breast itself. The reference is to a beast of prey which seizes its victim by the breast and tears it open, so that the heart is exposed. The verb פגש is akin to פגע, the meaning of the root-syllable פג, to meet, strike, being the same in both. Such is the continuation of the picture of the threatened punishment. The picture of the severity of the Divine judgment here presented is very terrible. Kimchi remarks on this picture: "A bear robbed, whose young ones they have slain, which is bereft and bitter in spirit, if it find man or beast rends it speedily." Some understand the verse figuratively, as though it meant "'I will rend their obstinate heart,' the enclosure of the heart being equivalent to a shut or obstinate heart, as, in ver. 5 of this same chapter, 'a land of drought' is pretty much the same as 'a dry or parched land.' Thus the Chaldee translates, 'I have broken the wickedness of their heart.'" And there will I devour them like a lion: the wild beast shall tear them. Sham there refers
(1) to 'al-derekh of the preceding verse; or,
(2) as Kimchi explains it, as referring to their cities: "There in their cities shall I destroy them by pestilence and by the sword of the enemy, like the lion that teareth without pity;" or,
(3) more simply still, "there on the spot." The ֵשחִת, equivalent to אתָּה, is the wild beast as opposed to בִי, domestic animals. While some were to be destroyed by famine and pestilence, others would perish by the wild beast of the field. "Also," says Kimchi, "shall the wild beast of the field rend them outside (i.e. outside their cities), as, ' I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number.'" Hosea 2:20. And I betroth thee to myself in faithfulness; and thou acknowledgest Jehovah." ארשׂ לו, to betroth to one's self, to woo, is only applied to the wooing of a maiden, not to the restoration of a wife who has been divorced, and is generally distinguished from the taking of a wife (Deuteronomy 20:7). ארשׂתּיך therefore points, as Calvin observes, to an entirely new marriage. "It was indeed great grace for the unfaithful wife to be taken back again. She might in justice have been put away for ever. The only valid ground for divorce was there, since she had lived for years in adultery. But the grace of God goes further still. The past is not only forgiven, but it is also forgotten" (Hengstenberg). The Lord will now make a new covenant of marriage with His church, such as is made with a spotless virgin. This new and altogether unexpected grace He now directly announces to her: "I betroth thee to myself;" and repeats this promise three times in ever fresh terms, expressive of the indissoluble character of the new relation. This is involved in לעולם, "for ever," whereas the former covenant had been broken and dissolved by the wife's own guilt. In the clauses which follow, we have a description of the attributes which God would thereby unfold in order to render the covenant indissoluble. These are, (1) righteousness and judgment; (2) grace and compassion; (3) faithfulness. Tsedeq equals tsedâqâh and mishpât are frequently connected. Tsedeq, "being right," denotes subjective righteousness as an attribute of God or man; and mishpât, objective right, whether in its judicial execution as judgment, or in its existence in actual fact. God betroths His church to Himself in righteousness and judgment, not by doing her justice, and faithfully fulfilling the obligations which He undertook at the conclusion of the covenant (Hengstenberg), but by purifying her, through the medium of just judgment, from all the unholiness and ungodliness that adhere to her still (Isaiah 1:27), that He may wipe out everything that can injure the covenant on the part of the church. But with the existing sinfulness of human nature, justice and judgment will not suffice to secure the lasting continuance of the covenant; and therefore God also promises to show mercy and compassion. But as even the love and compassion of God have their limits, the Lord still further adds, "in faithfulness or constancy," and thereby gives the promise that He will not more withdraw His mercy from her. בּאמוּנה is also to be understood of the faithfulness of God, as in Psalm 89:25, not of that of man (Hengstenberg). This is required by the parallelism of the sentences. In the faithfulness of God the church has a certain pledge, that the covenant founded upon righteousness and judgment, mercy and compassion, will stand for ever. The consequence of this union is, that the church knows Jehovah. This knowledge is "real." "He who knows God in this way, cannot fail to love Him, and be faithful to Him" (Hengstenberg); for out of this covenant there flows unconquerable salvation.
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