Obadiah 1:4 Commentaries: "Though you build high like the eagle, Though you set your nest among the stars, From there I will bring you down," declares the LORD.
Obadiah 1:4
Though you exalt yourself as the eagle, and though you set your nest among the stars, there will I bring you down, said the LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
1:1-16 This prophecy is against Edom. Its destruction seems to have been typical, as their father Esau's rejection; and to refer to the destruction of the enemies of the gospel church. See the prediction of the success of that war; Edom shall be spoiled, and brought down. All the enemies of God's church shall be disappointed in the things they stay themselves on. God can easily lay those low who magnify and exalt themselves; and will do it. Carnal security ripens men for ruin, and makes the ruin worse when it comes. Treasures on earth cannot be so safely laid up but that thieves may break through and steal; it is therefore our wisdom to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven. Those that make flesh their trust, arm it against themselves. The God of our covenant will never deceive us: but if we trust men with whom we join ourselves, it may prove to us a wound and dishonour. God will justly deny those understanding to keep out of danger, who will not use their understandings to keep out of sin. All violence, all unrighteousness, is sin; but it makes the violence far worse, if it be done against any of God's people. Their barbarous conduct towards Judah and Jerusalem, is charged upon them. In reflecting on ourselves, it is good to consider what we should have done; to compare our practice with the Scripture rule. Sin, thus looked upon in the glass of the commandment, will appear exceedingly sinful. Those have a great deal to answer for, who are idle spectators of the troubles of their neighbours, when able to be active helpers. Those make themselves poor, who think to make themselves rich by the ruin of the people of God; and those deceive themselves, who call all that their own on which they can lay their hands in a day of calamity. Though judgment begins at the house of God, it shall not end there. Let sorrowful believers and insolent oppressors know, that the troubles of the righteous will soon end, but those of the wicked will be eternal.Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle - (or, thy nest) The eagle builds its nest in places nearly inaccessible to man. The Edomites were a race of eagles. It is not the language of poetry or exaggeration; but is poetic, because so true. "And though thou set thy nest in the stars." This is men's language, strange as it is. "I shall touch the stars with my crown;" "I shall strike the stars with my lofty crown;" "since I have touched heaven with my lance." As Job says Job 20:6-7, "Though his excellency mount up to the heavens and his head reacheth unto the clouds," yet," he shall perish forever, like his own dung." And Isaiah to the king of Babylon, the type of Anti Christ and of the Evil one Isaiah 14:13, Isaiah 14:11, "Thou hast said in thy heart, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; thy pomp is brought down to the grave, the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee" . "The pagan saw this. AEsop, when asked, what doeth God? said, 'He humbles the proud and exalts the humble.' And another , 'whom morning's dawn beholdeth proud, The setting sun beholdeth bowed. '"

"They who boast of being Christians, and are on that ground self-satisfied, promising themselves eternal life, and thinking that they need not fear Hell, because they are Christians and hold the faith of the Apostles, while their lives are altogether alien from Christianity, are such Edomites, priding themselves because they dwell in clefts of the rocks. For it sufficeth not to believe what Christ and the apostles taught, unless thou do what they commanded. These spiritual Edomites, from a certain love or some fear of future torments, are moved by grief for sin, and give themselves to repentance, fastings, almsgiving, which is no other than to enter the clefts of the rocks; because they imitate the works of Christ and the Italy apostles who are called rocks, like those to whom John said, Matthew 3:7. "O ye generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?"

But, since they have no humility, they become thereby the more inflated with pride, and the more of such works they do, the more pleasures they allow themselves, and become daily the prouder and the wickeder. "The pride" then "of" their "heart deceiveth" them, because they seem in many things to follow the deeds of the holy, and they fear no enemies, as though they "dwelt in clefts of the rocks." They exalt their throne, in that, through the shadow of lofty deeds, they seem to have many below them, mount as high as they can, and place themselves, where they think they need fear no peril. But to them the Lord saith, "Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle - thence will I bring thee down." For, however exalted they be, and however they seem good and great, they are "brought down to the ground" and out from the caverns of the rocks, wherein they deemed that they dwelt securely, in that they lapse into overt shameful sin; from where all perceive, what they were then too, when they were thought to be righteous.

And striking is it, that they are compared to "eagles." For although the eagle fly aloft, yet thence, it looks to the earth and the carcasses and animals which it would devour, as Job writes of it Job 39:28-30, "She dwelleth and abideth upon the rock, upon the crag of the rock, and the strong place. From thence she seeketh the prey; her eyes behold afar off; her young ones also suck up blood, and where the slain are, there is she." So these, while they pretend perfection, never turn their eyes away from earthly goods, always casting them on honors, or wealth, or pleasure, without which they count life to be no life. Well, too, is it called their nest. For, toil how they may, in seeking an assured, restful, security of life, yet, what they build, is a nest made of hay and stubble, constructed with great toil, but lightly destroyed. This security of rest they lose, when they are permitted, by the just judgment of God, to fall into uncleanness, ambition or foulest sins, and are deprived of the glory which they unjustly gained, and their folly becomes manifest to all. Of such, among the apostles, was the traitor Judas. But the rich too and the mighty of this world, although they think that their possessions and what, with great toil, they have gained, when they have raised themselves above others, are most firm, it is but that nest which they have placed among the stars, soon to be dissipated by wind and rain."

4. exalt thyself—or supply from the second clause, "thy nest" [Maurer] (Compare Job 20:6; Jer 49:16; Am 9:2).

set … nest among … stars—namely, on the loftiest hills which seem to reach the very stars. Edom is a type of Antichrist (Isa 14:13; Da 8:10; 11:37).

thence will I bring thee down—in spite of thy boast (Ob 3), "Who shall bring me down?"

Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle: Edom boasted of his strength from the height of the rocks he dwelt on, Obadiah 1:3, but here he is answered, if he could build his nest as the eagles, which build and fly much higher than any other bird, neither the height of the nest should save the young ones, nor the height of his flight save the old one.

Though thou set thy nest among the stars; nay yet, in a more lofty strain, suppose you could lodge your brood among the stars for safety, and there fly above the reach of man, yet should you not be out of the reach of danger.

Thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord; God who is in the heavens would throw thee down; when men could not marshal armies against thee, stars should fight in their courses against thee. Nothing can stand which God will cast down. See Jeremiah 49:16,17. Though thou exaltest thyself as the eagle,.... That soars aloft, flies on high, even out of sight, higher than any other bird does: or, "exaltest thy habitation"; and makest it as high as the eagle's nest; see Jeremiah 49:16;

and though thou set thy nest among the stars; even higher than the eagle's; an hyperbolical expression, supposing that which never was or can be done; yet, if it was possible, would not secure from danger: or should their castles and fortresses be built upon the top of the highest mountains, which seem to reach the heavens, and be among the stars:

thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord; this is said in answer to the question put, or bold challenge made, in Obadiah 1:3; if men cannot do it, God will; and, if he employs instruments to effect it, it shall be done by them; all seeming difficulties are easily surmounted by an omnipotent Being; what are the heights of mountains, or the strength of fortresses, to him? thus the whore of Rome sits upon seven mountains, and mystical Babylon reigns over the kings of the earth; yet shall be thrown down and found no more, for the Lord is strong that judgeth her, Revelation 17:9.

Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. thou exalt thyself] There is no need to supply the word “thyself,” as is done by A.V. and others (“though thou wentest as high as the eagle.” Ewald). “Thy nest” is the subject of both clauses. The words as they stand give a perfectly clear sense in English, as in Hebrew: though thou exaltest as the eagle, and though among the stars thou settest thy nest. Comp. Numbers 24:21, Habakkuk 2:9.Amos 1:1 contains the heading, which has already been discussed in the Introduction; and אשׁר חזה ("which he saw") refers to דּברי עמוס (the words of Amos). Amos 1:2 forms the Introduction, which is attached to the heading by ויּאמר, and announces a revelation of the wrath of God upon Israel, or a theocratic judgment. Amos 1:2. "Jehovah roars out of Zion, and He utters His voice from Jerusalem; and the pastures of the shepherds mourn, and the head of Carmel withers." The voice of Jehovah is the thunder, the earthly substratum in which the Lord manifests His coming to judgment (see at Joel 3:16). By the adoption of the first half of the verse word for word from Joel, Amos connects his prophecy with that of his predecessor, not so much with the intention of confirming the latter, as for the purpose of alarming the sinners who were at east in their security, and overthrowing the delusive notion that the judgment of God would only fall upon the heathen world. This delusion he meets with the declaration, that at the threatening of the wrath of God the pastures of the shepherds, i.e., the pasture-ground of the land of Israel (cf. Joel 1:19), and the head of the forest-crowned Carmel, will fade and wither. Carmel is the oft-recurring promontory at the mouth of the Kishon on the Mediterranean (see the comm. on Joshua 19:26 and 1 Kings 18:19), and not the place called Carmel on the mountains of Judah (Joshua 15:55), to which the term ראשׁ (head) is inapplicable (vid., Amos 9:3 and Micah 7:14). Shepherds' pastures and Carmel individualized the land of Israel in a manner that was very natural to Amos the shepherd. With this introduction, Amos announces the theme of his prophecies. And if, instead of proceeding at once to describe still further the judgment that threatens the kingdom of Israel, he first of all enumerates the surrounding nations, including Judah, as objects of the manifestation of the wrath of God, this enumeration cannot have any other object than the one described in our survey of the contents of the book. The enumeration opens with the kingdoms of Aram, Philistia, and Tyre (Phoenicia), which were not related to Israel by any ties of kinship whatever.
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