Malachi 3:15
And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) And now means and so, consequently. In this verse the prophet gives the words of the murmurers. (See Note on Malachi 3:13.) The statements of Malachi 3:13 show that they were of a very different character from such faithful servants of Jehovah as were at times sorely tempted against their will to waver in their faith. We may observe here the seeds of sceptical Sadduceism, as in Malachi 3:14 of hypocritical Phariseism. (Comp. Psalms 37, 73, and the Books of Job and Eccl.)

Proud . . . they that work wickednessi.e., the heathen, who do not profess to serve Jehovah. (Comp. Isaiah 13:11.)

Proud is a common Biblical expression for presumptuous sinners; the same word is also used for ‘presumptuous sins (Psalm 19:13).

Tempt.—The same word is used which in Malachi 3:10 is translated “prove.” The difference in the two cases consists in the different nature of the actions. In Malachi 3:10 the Jews are exhorted to obey the Law faithfully, and prove whether God would not (i.e., experience that God certainly would) perform His part in the covenant. In Malachi 3:15 the heathen, by their pride and wickedness, tempt God to judgment.

3:13-18 Among the Jews at this time, some plainly discovered themselves to be children of the wicked one. The yoke of Christ is easy. But those who work wickedness, tempt God by presumptuous sins. Judge of things as they will appear when the doom of these proud sinners comes to be executed. Those that feared the Lord, spake kindly, for preserving and promoting mutual love, when sin thus abounded. They spake one to another, in the language of those that fear the Lord, and think on his name. As evil communications corrupt good minds and manners, so good communications confirm them. A book of remembrance was written before God. He will take care that his children perish not with those that believe not. They shall be vessels of mercy and honour, when the rest are made vessels of wrath and dishonour. The saints are God's jewels; they are dear to him. He will preserve them as his jewels, when the earth is burned up like dross. Those who now own God for theirs, he will then own for his. It is our duty to serve God with the disposition of children; and he will not have his children trained up in idleness; they must do him service from a principle of love. Even God's children stand in need of sparing mercy. All are righteous or wicked, such as serve God, or such as serve him not: all are going to heaven or to hell. We are often deceived in our opinions concerning both the one and the other; but at the bar of Christ, every man's character will be known. As to ourselves, we have need to think among which we shall have our lot; and, as to others, we must judge nothing before the time. But in the end all the world will confess that those alone were wise and happy, who served the Lord and trusted in Him.And now we call the proud happy (blessed) - This being so, they sum up the case against God. God had declared that all nations should "call them blessed" Malachi 3:12. if they would obey. They answer, using His words; And "now we (they lay stress on the word we,) pronounce blessed," in fact, those whom God had pronounced cursed: Psalm 119:21. "Thou hast rebuked the proud, who are cursed." Their characteristic, among other bad men, is of insolence Proverbs 21:24. arrogance, boiling over with self-conceit, and presumptuous toward God. The ground of Babylon's sentence was "she hath been proud toward the Lord, the Holy One of Israel;" Jethro says of the Egyptians, as a ground of his belief in God (Exodus 18:11. It is used of Egypt toward Israel. Nehemiah 9:16.) "for, in the thing that they dealt proudly," He was "above them." It describes the character of the act of Israel, when God bade them "not go up, neither fight, and they would not hear, and went up presumptuously into the battle" Deuteronomy 1:41, Deuteronomy 1:43 the contumacious act of those, who, appealing to the judgment of God, afterward refused it: Deuteronomy 17:12-13. of Johanan's associates, who accuse Jeremiah of speaking falsely in the name of God; Jeremiah 43:2. they are persons who rise up Psalm 86:14. forge lies against Psalm 119:69. dig pits for Psalm 119:85. deal perversely with, Psalm 119:78. hold in derision Psalm 119:51. oppress Psalm 119:122. the pious. Whether or no, they mean specifically the pagan, those, whom these pronounced blessed, were those who were contemptuous toward God.

Yea, the workers of wickedness - , those who habitually work it, whose employment it is, "are built up; yea, they have tried God and have escaped." God had promised that, if Jeremiah 12:16, "they will diligently learn the ways of My people, they shall be built up in the midst of My people;" these say, the workers of wickedness "had been built up:" God had bidden themselves Jeremiah 3:10, "make trial of Me in this;" these answer, the wicked had made trial of Him, and had been unpunished.

15. And now—Since we who serve Jehovah are not prosperous and "the proud" heathen flourish in prosperity, we must pronounce them the favorites of God (Mal 2:17; Ps 73:12).

set up—literally, "built up": metaphor from architecture (Pr 24:3; compare Ge 16:2, Margin; Ge 30:3, Margin.)

tempt God—dare God to punish them, by breaking His laws (Ps 95:9).

And now, or now therefore; on these false reasonings of these deceived ones, they proceed to further impiety and audacious blasphemy.

We call the proud happy; we (say they) see before our eyes, and must pronounce what we see, that the proud contemners of God and his law are the flourishing ones; they are at present happiest, and there appears no sign of any change of affairs to them. They do boldly and despitefully oppose God, and yet prosper. And could this be, say they, if there were a God of judgment to call men to account, and to deal with them according to their ways?

They that work wickedness are set up who contrive, and then work wickedness; who choose it, study it, and glory in it, as the whole of their life; are built up, are advanced to honours, and filled with riches, and have fair probability that all this will last to them and theirs. And could this be, say these priests and Jews, under the eye of a just and sovereign Judge? where is the God of judgment when such disorders are every where seen?

They that tempt God are even delivered; they that dare him to his very face, that do the highest affronts to God, purposely to prove whether he would or could punish the sinners amongst men. Those escape punishment though the law and prophets threaten them; and would you have us (say these men) believe there is such a God of judgment, when all is so disorderly carried in the world? Thus far the proud behaviour of these against God.

And now we call the proud happy,.... Or "therefore now" (q); since this is the case, that the worshippers of God are not regarded, and there is nothing got by serving him; they that are proud and haughty, that neither fear God nor regard men, are the happy persons; even presumptuous sinners, as the word (r) signifies, that stretch out their hands against God, and strengthen themselves against the Almighty; these enjoy all worldly happiness, while they that serve the Lord are mourning in sackcloth, and are in the utmost distress. The Targum explains it of the ungodly, and as it is explained in the following clause:

yea, they that work wickedness are set up: or "built up" (s); or "seeing, because", or "for they that work" (t), &c.; they are increased with children, by which their houses or families are built up; they are in a well settled and established condition; they abound in riches and honours; they are set in high places, and are in great esteem among men, even such who make it their constant business to commit sin:

yea, they that tempt God; or "yea, they tempt God" (u); by their wicked words and actions, and try whether he will cause his judgments to fall upon them, which he has threatened to such sinners; see Isaiah 5:18,

are even delivered; or, "and are delivered" (w); from the punishment threatened; they escape it, and go on with impunity; from which observations these persons reasoned that there was no God of judgment, or that judged in the earth; that there was no providence concerned about human affairs; and that there was nothing in religion; and these were the hard and stout words which they spoke against the Lord.

(q) "ergo nunc", V. L.; "igitur", Cocceius; "adeoque", Burkius. (r) "arrogantes", V. L.; "feroces", Cocceius. (s) "aedificati sunt", Pagninus, Montanus, Cocceius, Burkius; "aedificantur", Vatablus, Tigurine version, Calvin, Junius & Tremellius. (t) "siquidem", V. L.; "nam", Piscator, Noldius. (u) "etiam probaverunt", Pagninus, Montanus, Burkius. (w) "et evaserunt", Pagninus, Montanus; "et effugerunt", Cocceius.

And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even {n} delivered.

(n) They are not only preferred to honour, but also delivered from dangers.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
15. we call the proud happy] The word we is emphatic, and suggests a reference on the part of the speakers to Malachi 3:12 above: “Thou sayest that all nations shall call them that obey Thee happy; we, on the contrary, call the proud rebels against Thee happy.”

set up] Rather, built up, as A.V. margin, and R.V. Comp. Jeremiah 12:16; Job 22:23.

they that tempt, &c.] Rather, yea, they tempt God, and are delivered, as R.V. The persons are the same as in the preceding clause, “they that work wickedness”.

In this as in the earlier section of the prophecy the rebuke and denunciation of evil leads up to the prediction of impending judgment. In the earlier section the discriminating nature of the coming judgment is not lost sight of. It will purify as well as destroy (Malachi 3:3-4 with 5). But in this latter section this feature of discrimination becomes more prominent. And the thought is added, for the comfort of the godly, that the discriminating judgment exists already (Malachi 3:16-17), though its manifestation must be waited for till “the day” comes (Malachi 3:18). The day in which all men shall “discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not”, will be the day, not of the inception, but of “the revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Romans 2:5).

Verse 15. - We call the proud happy. This is still the speech of the murmurers. We, they say, do not reckon the humble and meek blessed; we consider that the only blessed ones are the arrogant heathen, or free thinkers, who meet with prosperity and happiness in this world. For the "proud," the LXX. has, ἀλλοτρίους, "strangers," which, doubtless, gives the meaning (comp. Isaiah 13:11). Are set up; literally, are built up - have wealth and families, and leave a name behind them (Psalm 17:14; see in the original, Genesis 16:2; Genesis 30:3; and comp. Exodus 1:21; Jeremiah 12:16, where the phrase, "being built," includes all temporal prosperity). They that tempt God are even delivered; they tempt God, and are delivered (ver. 10). They try and provoke God by their impiety, and yet escape punishment. Septuagint, Ἀντέστησαν τῷ Θεῷ καὶ ἐσώθησαν, "They resist God, and yet are safe." Malachi 3:15The impatient murmuring of the nation. - Malachi 3:13. "Your words do violence to me, saith Jehovah; and ye say, What do we converse against Thee? Malachi 3:14. Ye say, It is vain to serve God; and what gain is it, that we have kept His guard, and have gone about in deep mourning before Jehovah of hosts? Malachi 3:15. And now we call the proud blessed: not only have the doers of wickedness been built up, but they have also tempted God and have been saved." After the Lord has disclosed to the people the cause of His withholding His blessing, He shows them still further, that their murmuring against Him is unjust, and that the coming day of judgment will bring to light the distinction between the wicked and those who fear God. חזק with על, to be strong over any one, does not mean to be harsh or burdensome, but to do violence to a person, to overpower him (cf. Exodus 12:33; 2 Samuel 24:4, etc.). The niphal nidbar has a reciprocal meaning, to converse with one another (cf. Ezekiel 33:30). The conversations which they carry on with one another take this direction, that it is useless to serve God, because the righteous have no advantage over sinners. For שׁמר משׁמרתּו see the comm. on Genesis 26:5. Hâlakh qedōrannı̄th, to go about dirty or black, either with their faces and clothes unwashed, or wrapped in black mourning costume (saq), is a sign of mourning, here of fasting, as mourning for sin (cf. Psalm 35:13-14; Psalm 38:7; Job 30:28; 1 Maccabees 3:48). מפּני יהוה, from awe of Jehovah. The fasting, and that in its external form, they bring into prominence as a special sign of their piety, as an act of penitence, through which they make reparation for certain sins against God, by which we are not to understand the fasting prescribed for the day of atonement, but voluntary fasting, which was regarded as a special sign of piety. What is reprehensible in the state of mind expressing itself in these words, is not so much the complaint that their piety brings them no gain (for such complaints were uttered even by believing souls in their hours of temptation; cf. Psalm 73:13), as the delusion that their merely outward worship, which was bad enough according to what has already been affirmed, is the genuine worship which God must acknowledge and reward. This disposition to attribute worth to the opus operatum of fasting it attacked even by Isaiah, in Isaiah 58:1-14; but after the captivity it continued to increase, until it reached its culminating point in Pharisaism. How thoroughly different the persons speaking here are from the believing souls under temptation, who also appeal to their righteousness when calling upon God in their trouble, is especially clear from their further words in Malachi 3:15. Because God does not reward their fasting with blessing and prosperity, they begin to call the proud sinners, who have happiness and success, blessed. ועתּה is the particle of inference. The participle מאשּׁרים has the force of a futurum instans (cf. Ewald, 306, d), denoting what men prepare to do. Zēdı̄m, the haughty or proud, are the heathen, as in Isaiah 13:11, who are called עשׂי רשׁעה in the following clause. The next two clauses are placed in a reciprocal relation to one another by gam ... gam (cf. Jeremiah 12:16-17; Exodus 1:21), and also, notwithstanding the fact that they have tempted God, are delivered when they fall into misfortune. Bâchan Elohim, to prove or test God, i.e., to call out His judgment through their wickedness.
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