Zephaniah 3:18
I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly, who are of you, to whom the reproach of it was a burden.
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Zephaniah 3:18-20. I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly — I will collect together those Israelites who are dispersed in their several captivities, both that of Babylon, and those of following times; who mourn for the loss of the public ordinances, and are grieved at the reproaches wherewith their enemies upbraid them, as if they were utterly forsaken of God. Behold — Mark well; at that time I will undo all that afflict thee — I will break the power, and dissolve the kingdom of thy enemies and oppressors, particularly of the Babylonians. And I will save her that halteth — Who is in trouble, and ready to fall; and gather her that was driven out — Into remote countries. And I will get them praise, &c., where they have been put to shame — I will cause them to have fame, even in those places where they have been scoffed at and held in contempt. I will make you a name, &c., when I turn back your captivity — When I cause you to return out of captivity, I will make your name great, and ye shall be the subject of men’s praise among all the nations around. So the Christian Church was, when it was made to flourish in the world, for there is that truth and grace, that piety and virtue in it, which may justly recommend it to the value and esteem of all the people of the earth; and so the universal church of the firstborn will be in the great day, when the saints shall be brought together to Christ, that he may be admired and glorified in them, and they admired and glorified in and through him, before angels and men. Then will God’s Israel be a name and a praise to all eternity. 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.I will gather them that are sorrowful - for the solemn assembly, in which they were to "rejoice" Leviticus 23:40; Deuteronomy 12:12, Deuteronomy 12:18; Deuteronomy 16:11; Deuteronomy 27:7 before God and which in their captivity God made to cease. "They were of thee" Lamentations 1:4; Lamentations 2:6, the true Israel who were "grieved for the affliction of Joseph; to whom the reproach of it was a burden" Amos 6:6 (rather , 'on whom reproach was laid'): for this "reproach of Christ is greater riches than the treasures of Egypt," and such shall inherit the blessing, "Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you and east out your name as evil, for the Son of Man's sake; rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy, for, behold your reward is great in heaven" Luke 6:22-23. 18. sorrowful for the solemn assembly—pining after the solemn assembly which they cannot celebrate in exile (La 1:4; 2:6).

who are of thee—that is, of thy true citizens; and whom therefore I will restore.

to whom the reproach of it was a burden—that is, to whom thy reproach ("the reproach of My people," Mic 6:16; their ignominious captivity) was a burden. "Of it" is put of thee, as the person is often changed. Those who shared in the burden of reproach which fell on My people. Compare Isa 25:8, "the rebuke of His people shall He take away from off all the earth."

This promise removes an objection which might be made by dispersed ones: How can we return? I will gather you, saith God.

That are sorrowful for the solemn assembly; mourn in their distance from the solemn worship of God, as David, Psalm 42; that are troubled more for want of God’s ordinances than for any thing; which three times every year in great solemnity they celebrated, but now for seventy years had wanted them.

Are of thee; these longing mourners are thy children indeed, Israelites in whom is no guile.

The reproach; the taunts of enemies and triumphs over God and religion, such as Psalm 42:3,10.

A burden; heaviest burden, or a sword in their bowels. I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly,.... Who are grieved and troubled, because they cannot meet at the time and place of religious worship, or attend the word and ordinances of the Lord; either through distance of place, or infirmity of body; or through the menaces and persecutions of men: and to be prevented the use of the means of grace, upon any account, is a great concern of mind to truly gracious souls: or who are filled with grief and sorrow "for the appointed time" (u); for the time of the Jews' deliverance from their present exile, and return to their own land, which seems to be delayed, and thought long; and so it may seem to some of them in distant parts, after they are converted; and for whose encouragement this is said, that the Lord will in his own due time and way gather such out of all places where they are, into his church, and among his people, to join with them in religious worship, and partake of all the ordinances and privileges of his house; and also gather them into their own land, and comfortably settle them there:

who are of thee; belong to the church of Christ; or however have a right to, and meetness for, a place in it; are her true and genuine children, being born again; and which appears by the taste they have for, and their desire after, the word and ordinances:

to whom the reproach of it was a burden; it being grievous and burdensome to them to hear the enemy reproach them with their exile and dispersion; with their distance from the place of worship, and their want of opportunity of attending to it: this was intolerable, a burden too heavy for them; it was like a sword in their bones, when they were asked, where is your God? and where are the ordinances of divine worship? and when will it ever be that you will attend them? see Psalm 42:1.

(u) "propter tempus, sub. diuturnum exsilii", Vatablus; "ex tempore statuto judiciorum poenarumque", Burkius.

I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly, who are of thee, to whom the reproach of {o} it was a burden.

(o) That is, those that were held in hatred and reviled for the Church, and because of their religion.

18. The language is very obscure. Perhaps: I will gather (lit. have gathered) those sorrowing far away from the solemn assembly, who are of thee (belong to thee), thou on whom reproach lay heavy. The term “sorrowing” is found Lamentations 1:4. The sense, those removed away from the solemn assembly, might be supported by 2 Samuel 20:13. The reference in any case is to the dispersed among the nations, far from the sanctuary and the feasts. The “reproach” is just that arising from the national calamities and humiliation. Isaiah 54:4, “the reproach of thy widowhood (the time of exile) shalt thou remember no more.”Verse 18. - The love which God feels he shows in action. He cares for the exiled and dispersed, and will gather them again and comfort them for all their sorrows. I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly; or, far removed from the solemn, assembly. Those who grieve because by their exile from the Holy Land they are debarred from duly attending the periodical festivals, these God will restore, and enable them again to participate in the sacred feasts. The above version and explanation are undoubtedly right, as the Latin Version is certainly wrong, Nugas, qui a lege recesserant, congregabo; that is, the light and fickle persons, who have estranged themselves from the Law, God will reclaim, and join them to the congregation of the true Israel; and this, quia ex te erant, for their origin's sake, because they are descendants of the chosen people. Who are of thee; they are of thee, O Zion. These are the true Israelites; this is why they mourn for the cessation of the festivals, and why they shall be restored to the Holy Land. To whom the reproach of it was a burden; i.e. who felt the desolation of Zion and the reproaches uttered against her by enemies (Psalm 137.) as a burden grievous to be borne. The Vulgate has, Ut non ultra habeas super eis opprobrium; i.e. "That they may be no more a disgrace to thee;" the LXX. reads somewhat differently, Οὐαὶ τίς ἔλαβεν ἐπ αὐτὴν ὀνειδισμόν; "Alas! who took up a reproach against her?" "He threateneth the sea, and drieth it up, and maketh all the rivers dry up. Bashan and Carmel fade, and the blossom of Lebanon fadeth. Nahum 1:5. Mountains shake before Him, and the hills melt away; the earth heaveth before Him, and the globe, and all the inhabitants thereon. Nahum 1:6. Before His fury who may stand? and who rise up at the burning of His wrath? His burning heat poureth itself out like fire, and the rocks are rent in pieces by Him." In the rebuking of the sea there is an allusion to the drying up of the Red Sea for the Israelites to pass through (cf. Psalm 106:9); but it is generalized here, and extended to every sea and river, which the Almighty can smite in His wrath, and cause to dry up. ויּבּשׁהוּ for וייבּשׁהוּ, the vowelless י of the third pers. being fused into one with the first radical sound, as in ויּדּוּ in Lamentations 3:53 (cf. Ges. 69, Anm. 6, and Ewald 232-3). Bashan, Carmel, and Lebanon are mentioned as very fruitful districts, abounding in a vigorous growth of vegetation and large forests, the productions of which God could suddenly cause to fade and wither in His wrath. Yea more: the mountains tremble and the hills melt away (compare the similar description in Micah 1:4, and the explanation given there). The earth lifts itself, i.e., starts up from its place (cf. Isaiah 13:13), with everything that dwells upon the surface of the globe. תּשּׂא from נשׂא, used intransitively, "to rise," as in Psalm 89:10 and Hosea 13:1; not conclamat s. tollit vocem (J. H. Michaelis, Burk, Strauss). תּבל, lit., the fertile globe, always signifies the whole of the habitable earth, ἡ οἰκουμένη; and יושׁבי בהּ, not merely the men (Ewald), but all living creatures (cf. Joel 1:18, Joel 1:20). No one can stand before such divine wrath, which pours out like consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:24), and rends rocks in pieces (1 Kings 19:11; Jeremiah 23:29; cf. Jeremiah 10:10; Malachi 3:2).
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