For a small moment have I forsaken you; but with great mercies will I gather you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)For a small moment.—Historically the words point to the seventy years of exile, as being but a transient interruption of the manifestation of the everlasting mercies. Spiritually they have wider and manifold fulfilments in the history of individuals, of the Church, of mankind.2 Corinthians 4:17).
But with great mercies - The contrast here is not that of duration but of magnitude. The forsaking was 'little,' the mercies would be 'great.' It would be mercy that they would be recalled at all after all their faults and crimes; and the mercy which would be bestowed in the enlargement of their numbers would be inexpressibly great.
gather thee—to Myself from thy dispersions.For a small moment; for the space of some few years, as seventy years in Babylon, and some such intervals, which may well be called a small moment in comparison of God’s everlasting kindness mentioned in the next verse.
Forsaken thee; withdrawn my favour and help from thee, and left thee in thine enemies’ hands.
With great mercies, such as are most precious and sweet for quality, as is here said, and such as are of long continuance, as is said in the following verse,
will I gather thee from all the places where thou art dispersed, from all the parts of the world.
but with great mercies will I gather thee; they had been scattered about by persecution, but now should be gathered together in bodies, and have their public assemblies, and worship God openly, none making them afraid; which was fulfilled in Constantine's time, when Paganism was abolished, and Christianity established throughout the Roman empire; when public places for Christian worship were opened everywhere, the Gospel was freely preached, and multitudes were gathered by effectual calling, and brought into the Gospel church, which was now in a very flourishing condition; for this is not to be understood of the gathering of the captive Jews from Babylon, nor of the calling of the Gentiles by the ministry of the apostles, nor of the restoration and conversion of the Jews in the latter day, though this is more eligible than the former, and much less of the gathering of the saints at the last day.For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)7, 8. Jehovah’s anger was but a momentary interruption of His kindness to Israel; His mercy is everlasting. Comp. Psalm 30:5.
will I gather thee] can hardly mean “draw thee to myself”; it denotes the gathering together of the scattered children of Zion.Verses 7, 8. - For a small moment have I forsaken thee. The sixty or seventy years of the Captivity were but as a moment of time compared with the long ages during which God had tenderly watched over and protected his Church, and, still more, compared with the eternity during which he was now about to show himself her constant Guardian and Protector. There had been a little wrath; or rather, one burst of wrath; and then Mercy had resumed her sway. The face hid for a moment had been allowed once more to shine upon the afflicted people; and the momentary indignation would be followed by, and swallowed up in, ever-lasting kindness (compare above, Isaiah 26:20 and Psalm 30:5, "His anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning"). Isaiah 54:1 : "Exult, O barren one, thou that didst not bear; break forth into exulting, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for there are more children of the solitary one than children of the married wife, saith Jehovah." The words are addressed to Jerusalem, which was a counterpart of Sarah in her barrenness at first, and her fruitfulness afterwards (Isaiah 41:1-3). She is not תלד לא עקרה (Job 24:21), but ילדה לא עקרה (Judges 13:2); not indeed that she had never had any children, but during her captivity and exile she had been robbed of her children, and as a holy city had given birth to no more (Isaiah 49:21). She was shōmēmâh, rendered solitary (2 Samuel 13:20; the allusion is to her depopulation as a city), whereas formerly she was בּעוּלה, i.e., enjoyed the fellowship of Jehovah her husband (ba‛al). But this condition would not last (for Jehovah had not given her a divorce): she was therefore to exult and shout, since the number of children which she would now have, as one desolate and solitary, would be greater than the number of those which she had as a married wife.
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