Malachi 3:15
And now we call the proud happy; yes, they that work wickedness are set up; yes, they that tempt God are even delivered.
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(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.

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." This wrath is described in Zechariah 7:13, Zechariah 7:14. Zechariah 7:13. "It came to pass: as he cried and they did not hear, so will they cry and I shall not hear, said Jehovah of hosts. Zechariah 7:14. And I will scatter them with a whirlwind over all nations, who did not know them, and the land is laid waste behind them, so that no one passes to and fro. And thus they made the choice land a desert." The form of the address changes in Zechariah 7:13. Whereas in the protasis the prophet is still speaking of Jehovah in the third person, in the apodosis he introduces Jehovah as speaking (so will they cry, and I, etc.) and announcing the punishment, which He will inflict upon the rebellious and has already inflicted in their captivity. This address of God is continued in Zechariah 7:14 as far as וּמשּׁב. The opinion, that the address terminates with לא ידעוּם, and that והארץ commences the account of the accomplishment of the purpose to punish, is not so much at variance with the circumstance, that in that case the last two clauses of Zechariah 7:14 would say essentially the same thing, as with the fact that והארץ וגו cannot, from its very form, be taken as an account of the accomplishment of the divine purpose. The perfect nâshammâh in this clause does not preclude our connecting it with the preceding one, but is used to set forth the devastation as a completed fact: the land will be (not become) waste. The infliction of the punishment is expressed in Zechariah 7:13 in the form of a divine talio. As they have not hearkened to the word of God, so will God, when they call upon Him, namely in distress (cf. Hosea 5:15), also not hear (cf. Jeremiah 11:11), but whirl them like a tempest over the nations. The form אסערם is the first pers. imperf. piel for אסערם or אסערם, and Aramaic (cf. Ges. 52, 2, Anm. 2). On the nations whom they do not know, and who will therefore have no pity and compassion upon them, compare Jeremiah 22:28; Jeremiah 16:13. מעבר וּמשּׁב (cf. Zechariah 9:8), that not one goes to and fro in the desolate land; lit., goes away from a place and returns again (cf. Exodus 32:27). In the clause ויּשׂימוּ וגו the result of the stiff-necked obstinacy of the fathers is briefly stated: They have made the choice land a desert ('erets chemdâh, as in Jeremiah 3:19 and Psalm 106:24), so that they have brought upon the land all the calamity which is now bewailed upon the fast-days.
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