Zephaniah 3:15
The LORD has taken away your judgments, he has cast out your enemy: the king of Israel, even the LORD, is in the middle of you: you shall not see evil any more.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
3:14-20 After the promises of taking away sin, follow promises of taking away trouble. When the cause is removed, the effect will cease. What makes a people holy, will make them happy. The precious promises made to the purified people, were to have full accomplishment in the gospel. These verses appear chiefly to relate to the future conversion and restoration of Israel, and the glorious times which are to follow. They show the abundant peace, comfort, and prosperity of the church, in the happy times yet to come. He will save; he will be Jesus; he will answer the name, for he will save his people from their sins. Before the glorious times foretold, believers would be sorrowful, and objects of reproach. But the Lord will save the weakest believer, and cause true Christians to be greatly honoured where they had been treated with contempt. One act of mercy and grace shall serve, both to gather Israel out of their dispersions and to lead them to their own land. Then will God's Israel be made a name and a praise to eternity. The events alone can fully answer the language of this prophecy. Many are the troubles of the righteous, but they may rejoice in God's love. Surely our hearts should honour the Lord, and rejoice in him, when we hear such words of condescension and grace. If now kept from his ordinances, it is our trial and grief; but in due time we shall be gathered into his temple above. The glory and happiness of the believer will be perfect, unchangeable, and eternal, when he is freed from earthly sorrows, and brought to heavenly bliss.The Lord hath taken away thy judgments - Her own, because brought upon her by her sins. But when God takes away the chastisements in mercy, He removes and forgives the sin too. Else, to remove "the judgments" only, would be to abandon the sinner. "He hath cast out," literally, "cleared quite away" , as a man clears away all hindrances, all which stands in the way, so that there should be none whatever left - "thine enemy;" the one enemy, from whom every hindrance to our salvation comes, as He saith, "Now shall the prince of this world be cast out. The King of Israel, even the Lord" John 12:31, Christ the Lord, "is in the midst of thee," of whom it is said, "He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them" Revelation 7:15, and who Himself saith, "Lo I am with you always unto the end of the world" Matthew 28:20. "Where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of you" Matthew 18:20.

He who had removed "from the midst of her" the proud, Who had left "in the midst of her" those with whom He dwelleth, shall Himself dwell "in the midst of her" in mercy, as He had before in judgment Matthew 18:11-12, Matthew 18:15, Matthew 18:5. He cleanseth the soul for His indwelling, and so dwelleth in the mansion which He had prepared for Himself. "Thou shalt not see evil anymore." For even the remains of evil, while we are yet in the flesh, are overruled, and "work together to good to those who love God" Romans 8:28. They cannot separate between the soul and Christ. Rather, He is nearer to her in them. We are bidden to "count it all joy when we fall into divers temptations" James 1:2, for all sorrows are but medicine from a father's hand. : "And truly our way to eternal joy is to suffer here with Christ, and our door to enter into eternal life is gladly to die with Christ, that we may rise again from death and dwell with Him in everlasting life."

So in the Revelation, it is first said that God should dwell with His people, and then that all pain shall cease. "Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them and be their God. And God shall wipe all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be anymore pain, for the former things are passed away" Revelation 21:3-4. Cyril: "In the inmost meaning of the words, he could not but bid her rejoice and be exceeding glad and rejoice with her whole heart, her sins being done away through Christ. For the holy and spiritual Zion, the Church, the multitude of believers, is justified in Christ alone, and we are saved by Him and from Him, escaping the harms of our invisible enemies, and having in the midst of us the King and God of all, Who appeared in our likeness, the Word from God the Father, through whom we see not evil, that is, are freed from all who could do us evil. For He is the worker of our acceptableness, our peace, our wall, the bestower of incorruption, the dispenser of crowns, Who lighteneth the assaults of devils, Who giveth us to 'tread on serpents and scorpions and all the power of the enemy' Luke 10:19 - through whom we are in good hope of immortality and life, adoption and glory, through whom we shall not see evil anymore."

15. The cause for joy: "The Lord hath taken away thy judgments," namely, those sent by Him upon thee. After the taking away of sin (Zep 3:13) follows the taking away of trouble. When the cause is removed, the effect will cease. Happiness follows in the wake of holiness.

the Lord is in the midst of thee—Though He seemed to desert thee for a time, He is now present as thy safeguard (Zep 3:17).

not see evil any more—Thou shalt not experience it (Jer 5:12; 44:17).

The Lord; who kills and makes alive, acquits or condemns, and none can reverse the judgment.

Hath taken away thy judgments; abolished and put an end to thy sufferings, the judgments thy sins brought upon thee; he hath pardoned thy sins and ended thy sorrows.

He hath cast out; cast the Babylonian out of the throne, and placed the Persian in it.

Thine enemy; the Babylonian who held thee captive; and placed in his room Cyrus mine anointed, and thy friend, who shall let thee go free, Ezra 1:1.

The King of Israel, even the Lord, is in the midst of thee: thus it is evident that the Lord, who is thy King, O Israel, is with thee; that he taketh thy part, is returned to redeem and govern thee.

Thou shalt not see evil any more; no more such great evil as thou hast seen; whilst thy carriage is as becometh thy mercy received, and my presence with thee, thou shalt neither fear nor feel like evils. The Lord hath taken away thy judgments,.... Both outward and inward; not only exile, poverty, contempt and reproach among the nations of the earth; but hardness of heart, blindness of mind, impenitence and unbelief, to which the Jews are now given up, in a judicial way; but at this time these shall be removed, through the goodness of God unto them, and the power of divine grace upon them: they will be brought to a sense of sin, and an acknowledgment of it; their iniquities will be pardoned; and, the cause being removed, the effects will cease; and all calamities, corrections and punishment, will end; and they will be put into the possession of their own land, and enjoy all the privileges of the church of God; and so will have just reason to sing, shout, and rejoice:

he hath cast out thine enemy; that is, the Lord has removed the enemy that was in possession of their land, and so made way, and prepared it for them; he has swept him away, as the word (p) signifies, with great force, with much ease, and like so much dirt and filth; he stood in their way, nor could they have easily removed him; but the Lord did it, or will do it; though it may be by instruments, by means of the Christian princes. This is to be understood of the eastern antichrist, the Turk, now in possession of the land of Israel (o); but shall be obliged to depart from it, when this prophecy shall take place, for a reason following:

the King of Israel, even the Lord, is in the midst of thee; that is, the Lord Jesus Christ, the true Messiah; one of whose titles is the King of Israel, of the spiritual Israel, King of saints, both Jews and Gentiles; in whose hearts he rules by his Spirit and grace; and to this passage the Jews in Christ's time seem to have respect, allowing this to be the character of the Messiah, Matthew 27:42 and also Nathanael, John 1:49 now at this time Christ will be in the midst of the converted Jews, by his spiritual and gracious presence, as their King, to reign over them, to whom they will be subject; and to protect and defend them, and deliver them out of the hands of all their enemies; and so he is in all his churches, and will be to the end of the world:

thou shalt not see evil any more; the evil of affliction or punishment; the evil of captivity, disgrace, and contempt. This shows that this prophecy does not respect the Babylonish captivity, and deliverance from that; for, since that time, they have seen evil by Antiochus Epiphanes, in the times of the Maccabees; and by the Romans; and have had a large and long experience of it; but when they are converted, and returned to their own land in the latter day, all their afflictions and troubles will be at an end, they will know them no more. The Vulgate Latin version renders it, "thou shalt not fear evil any more". So the Targum,

"thou shalt not be afraid from before evil any more.''

In the same sense Aben Ezra understands it,

"thou shalt not be afraid of the enemy any more;''

taking the word to come from another root (q).

(o) Written about 1750. Editor. (p) "everrit", Drusius; so Ben Melech; see Genesis 24.31. "evacuerit", Cocceius. (q) A "timuit", so V. L. "non timebis", Pagninus, Piscator; "fore ut non timeas", Junius & Tremellius; "hinc non erit quod timeas amplius quicquam mali", Burkius.

The LORD hath taken away thy {k} judgments, he hath cast out thine {l} enemy: the king of Israel, even the LORD, is in the midst of {m} thee: thou shalt not see evil any more.

(k) That is, the punishment for your sin.

(l) As the Assyrians, Chaldaeans, Egyptians, and other nations.

(m) To defend you, as by your sins you have put him away, and left yourself naked, as in Ex 32:25.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
15. taken away thy judgments] The prophet transports himself and his people forward into the time of their final restoration and blessedness. The “judgments” of Zion are all those that have fallen on her during her chequered history; her warfare is accomplished, her iniquity pardoned (Isaiah 40:2).

The king of Israel] Isaiah 41:21, “produce your cause, saith the Lord, bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob.” Comp. Isaiah 6:5; Isaiah 44:6.Verse 15. - In this and following verses the prop. hot gives the reasons why Zion should rejoice. Thy judgments. The chastisements inflicted on thee in judgment, rendered necessary by thy iniquity (Ezekiel 5:8). These God has removed; this is the first ground for rejoicing. Septuagint, τὰ ἀδικήματα σου, "thine iniquities." When God removes the punishments, he forgives the sin. He hath cast out (cleared quite away) thine enemy. The enemies who executed the judgment are utterly dispersed. The King of Israel, even the Lord, is in the midst of thee (Obadiah 1:21). The theocracy is restored. Under the judgments which fell upon Israel, Jehovah seemed to have left his people; now he is in the midst of them as their icing (Isaiah 12:6; Isaiah 52:7; Hosea 11:9). The perpetual presence of Christ in the Church is here adumbrated. Thou shalt not see evil any more. So the Septuagint. Another reading adopted by Jerome is, "Thou shalt not fear." In view of the following verse, this seems rather tautological. With God in their midst, the people shall see, i.e. experience (Jeremiah 5:12), no evil (Revelation 21:3, 4). The description of the divine justice, and its judicial manifestation on the earth, with which Nahum introduces his prophecy concerning Nineveh, has this double object: first of all, to indicate the connection between the destruction of the capital of the Assyrian empire, which is about to be predicted, and the divine purpose of salvation; and secondly, to cut off at the very outset all doubt as to the realization of this judgment. Nahum 1:2. "A God jealous and taking vengeance is Jehovah; an avenger is Jehovah, and Lord of wrathful fury; an avenger is Jehovah to His adversaries, and He is One keeping wrath to His enemies. Nahum 1:3. Jehovah is long-suffering and of great strength, and He does not acquit of guilt. Jehovah, His way is in the storm and in the tempest, and clouds are the dust of His feet." The prophecy commences with the words with which God expresses the energetic character of His holiness in the decalogue (Exodus 20:5, cf. Exodus 34:14; Deuteronomy 4:24; Deuteronomy 5:9; and Joshua 24:19), where we find the form קנּוא for קנּא. Jehovah is a jealous God, who turns the burning zeal of His wrath against them that hate Him (Deuteronomy 6:15). His side of the energy of the divine zeal predominates here, as the following predicate, the three-times repeated נקם, clearly shows. The strengthening of the idea of nōqēm involved in the repetition of it three times (cf. Jeremiah 7:4; Jeremiah 22:29), is increased still further by the apposition ba'al chēmâh, possessor of the wrathful heat, equivalent to the wrathful God (cf. Proverbs 29:22; Proverbs 22:24). The vengeance applies to His adversaries, towards whom He bears ill-will. Nâtar, when predicated of God, as in Leviticus 19:18 and Psalm 103:9, signifies to keep or bear wrath. God does not indeed punish immediately; He is long-suffering (ארך אפּים, Exodus 34:6; Numbers 14:18, etc.). His long-suffering is not weak indulgence, however, but an emanation from His love and mercy; for He is gedōl-kōăch, great in strength (Numbers 14:17), and does not leave unpunished (נקּה וגו after Exodus 34:7 and Numbers 14:18; see at Exodus 20:7). His great might to punish sinners, He has preserved from of old; His way is in the storm and tempest. With these words Nahum passes over to a description of the manifestations of divine wrath upon sinners in great national judgments which shake the world (שׂערה as in Job 9:17 equals סערה, which is connected with סוּפה in Isaiah 29:6 and Psalm 83:16). These and similar descriptions are founded upon the revelations of God, when bringing Israel out of Egypt, and at the conclusion of the covenant at Sinai, when the Lord came down upon the mountain in clouds, fire, and vapour of smoke (Exodus 19:16-18). Clouds are the dust of His feet. The Lord comes down from heaven in the clouds. As man goes upon the dust, so Jehovah goes upon the clouds.
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