Zephaniah 3:5
The just LORD is in the middle thereof; he will not do iniquity: every morning does he bring his judgment to light, he fails not; but the unjust knows no shame.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Zephaniah 3:5. The just Lord is in the midst thereof — Namely, of Jerusalem, and sees all these things. He will not do iniquity — He is just and holy, and will do nothing but what is right; nor will he suffer wickedness to pass unpunished. Every morning doth he bring his judgment to light — “The sense is, not a day passes but we see instances of his goodness to righteous men, and of his vengeance on the wicked.” — Newcome. The expression, every morning, alludes to the custom of the Jews and neighbouring nations, who passed judgment only in the morning. He faileth not — He never omits thus to act. But the unjust knew not shame — The wicked continue to be hardened in their sins, and will not be induced to forsake them by any consideration, either of the baseness and evil of their conduct, or of the judgments of God continually inflicted on transgressors.3:1-7 The holy God hates sin most in those nearest to him. A sinful state is, and will be, a woful state. Yet they had the tokens of God's presence, and all the advantages of knowing his will, with the strongest reasons to do it; still they persisted in disobedience. Alas, that men often are more active in doing wickedness than believers are in doing good.But, beside these "evening wolves in the midst of her," there standeth Another "in the midst of her," whom they knew not, and so, very near to them although they would not draw near to Him. But He was near, to behold all the iniquities which they did in the very city and place called by His Name and in His very presence; He was in her to protect, foster her with a father's love, but she, presuming on His mercy, had cast it off. And so He was near to punish, not to deliver; as a Judge, not as a Saviour. Dionysius: "God is everywhere, Who says by Jeremiah, 'I fill heaven and earth' Jeremiah 23:24. But since, as Solomon attesteth, 'The Lord is far from the wicked' Proverbs 15:29, how is He said here to be in the midst of these most wicked men? Because the Lord is far from the wicked, as regards the presence of love and grace; still in His Essence He is everywhere, and in this way He is equally present to all."

The Lord is in the midst thereof; He will not do iniquity - Dionysius: "Since He is the primal rule and measure of all righteousness; therefore from the very fact that He doeth anything, it is just, for He cannot do amiss, being essentially holy. Therefore He will give to every man what he deserves. Therefore we chant, 'The Lord is upright, and there is no unrighteousness in Him' Psalm 92:15." justice and injustice, purity and impurity, cannot be together. God's presence then must destroy the sinners, if not the sin. He was "in the midst of them," to sanctify them, giving them His judgments as a pattern of theirs; "He will not do iniquity:" but if they heeded it not, the judgment would fall upon themselves. It were for God to become "such an one as themselves" Psalm 50:21, and to connive at wickedness, were He to spare at last the impenitent.

Every morning - (Literally, in the morning, in the morning) one after the other, quickly, openly, daily, continually, bringing all secret things, all works of darkness, to light, as He said to David, "Thou didst it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun" 2 Samuel 12:12. Doth He bring His judgments to light," so that no sin should be hidden in the brightness of His Light, as He said by Hosea, "Thy judgments are a light which goeth forth." Cyril: "Morning by morning, He shall execute His judgments, that is, in bright day and visibly, not restraining His anger, but bringing it forth in the midst, and making it conspicuous, and, as it were, setting in open vision what He had foreannounced." Day by day God gives some warning of His judgments. By chastisements which are felt to be His on this side or on that or all around, He gives ensamples which speak to the sinner's heart. "He faileth not." As God said by Habakkuk, that His promises, although they seem to "linger," were not "behind" Habakkuk 2:3 the real time, which lay in the Divine Mind, so, contrariwise, neither are His judgments. His hand is never missing at the appointed time. "But the unjust," he, whose very being and character, "iniquity," is the exact contrary to what he had said of the perfection of God, "Who doth not iniquity," or, as Moses had taught them in his song, "all His ways are judgment, a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He" Deuteronomy 32:4. "Knoweth no shame," as God saith by Jeremiah, "Thou refusedst to be ashamed" Jeremiah 3:3. They were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush" Jeremiah 6:15; Jeremiah 8:12. Even thus they would not be ashamed of their sins, "that they might be converted and God might heal them" Isaiah 6:10.

5-7. The Jews regard not God's justice manifested in the midst of them, nor His judgments on the guilty nations around.

The just Lord—Why then are ye so unjust?

is in the midst thereof—He retorts on them their own boast, "Is not the Lord among us" (Mic 3:11)? True He is, but it is for another end from what ye think [Calvin]; namely, to lead you by the example of His righteousness to be righteous. Le 19:2, "Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy" [Maurer]. But Calvin, "That ye may feel His hand to be the nearer for taking vengeance for your crimes: 'He will not do iniquity' by suffering your sins to go unpunished" (De 32:4).

every morning—literally, "morning by morning." The time in the sultry East for dispensing justice.

bring … to light—publicly and manifestly by the teaching of His prophets, which aggravates their guilt; also by samples of His judgments on the guilty.

he faileth not—He is continually setting before you samples of His justice, sparing no pains. Compare Isa 5:4; 50:4, "he wakeneth morning by morning."

knoweth no shame—The unjust Jews are not shamed by His justice into repentance.

The just Lord is in the midst thereof: though unjust princes, judges, prophets, and priests do not think so, yet the Lord who is most just is in the midst of them; possibly the sanhedrim; he observeth all, condemneth their violence and injustice, he is sovereign as Lord, and just as Judge. lie will not do iniquity; to him it appertaineth to judge all, therefore the unjust shall be punished as well as the just approved.

Every morning doth he bring his judgment to light; daily he discovereth his displeasure against the wicked, and punisheth them.

He faileth not; lets not one fit season slip to convince and awaken secure sinners, by public and visible punishments, or judgments.

But the unjust knoweth no shame; but the wicked Jews proceed impudently, without shame, and without fear or amendment: there is no hope of better where is no shame for worst of doings, Jeremiah 3:3. The just Lord is in the midst thereof,.... In the midst of the city of Jerusalem, where those princes, judges, prophets and priests, were, that behaved so ill, and saw and observed all their evil actions; and yet they were not deterred from them by his presence, even though he is the "just" and Holy One, who loves righteousness, and hates iniquity, and will punish for it; nor were they directed and allured to do what is righteous and good by his example. This character of the just Lord well agrees with Christ, who is perfectly righteous in both his natures, and in the execution of his offices; and is the author of righteousness to his people; and this is to be understood of his incarnation and personal presence in human nature in Jerusalem, and in the temple, where he taught his doctrine, and wrought his miracles:

he will not do iniquity; Christ was holy in his nature, harmless in his life; he knew no sin; he did not commit any; no violence was done by him, or guile found in him; he was not guilty of sin against God, nor of doing any injury to men; and should have been imitated by the men of the age in which he lived, as well as by others; and should have been valued and esteemed, and not traduced and vilified as he was, as if he had been the worst of men:

every morning doth he bring his judgment to light; the doctrine of the Gospel, which he set in the clearest light, and preached with the greatest constancy, day after day, morning by morning, and very early in the morning, when the people came to hear him in the temple; and he continued in it all the day; he waking morning by morning to this service, as was predicted of him, Isaiah 1:4 see Luke 21:37,

he faileth not; in this work of preaching the word, with the greatest evidence and assiduity:

but the unjust knoweth no shame: those unjust persons, who aspersed the character of Christ, and traduced his doctrine and miracles; though there was nothing in his life, nor in his ministry, that could be justly blamed, yet they blushed not at their sin and wickedness; and though they were sharply reproved by him, and their errors in principle, and sins in practice, were exposed by him, yet they were not ashamed; such were the hardness and obduracy of their hearts.

The {c} just LORD is in the midst thereof; he will not do iniquity: every morning doth he bring his judgment to light, he faileth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame.

(c) The wicked thus boasted that God was ever among them, but the Prophet answers that that cannot excuse their wickedness: for God will not bear with their sins. Yet he did patiently abide and sent his Prophets continually to call them to repentance, but he profited nothing.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5. All these wrongs they practise undeterred and uninstructed by the presence and operations of the righteous Lord in the midst of them.

The just Lord is] Rather: The LORD is righteous in the midst of her. Jehovah dwells in the midst of Jerusalem and is seen to be righteous both by His word and works, but the people are insensible and receive no impression from His presence and nature. Jeremiah 11:20.

will not do iniquity] Or, doeth no unrighteousness; Deuteronomy 32:4.

Every morning … his judgment to light] Morning by morning, i.e. every morning, constantly, He brings His just judgment or justice to light; His moral rule is as constant and as visible as the material law that brings in the dawn. Cf. Hosea 6:5 (read: my judgment goeth forth like the light).

the unjust knoweth no shame] The unrighteous, untouched by the righteousness of God and receiving no impression from His rule, though exercised before his eyes, pursues his own unrighteous way with no feeling of shame. Jeremiah 3:3; Jeremiah 6:15; Jeremiah 8:12.Verse 5. - In the midst of this congregation of sinners God is continually manifesting his righteousness; he leaves not himself without witness; and therefore their iniquities are without excuse. The just Lord is in the midst thereof; or, the Lord in the midst of her is righteous (Deuteronomy 32:4). His presence was associated with the temple; his moral government was always being manifested. He would not be "just" if he left sinners unpunished. Every morning; Hebrew," in the morning, in the morning." The phrase is rightly explained in our version (comp. Exodus 16:21; Psalm 87:5). Doth he bring his judgment to light. His prophets proclaim his perfect justice; his judgments on the heathen manifest it (ver. 8; Hosea 6:5). It is not from ignorance of the Law that the people sin. He faileth not; or, it faileth not; Vulgate, non abscoudetur. God never ceases thus to act; or, his justice is clear as (lay. But the unjust knoweth no shame. In spite of this hourly manifestation of God's justice, and the enactments of the Law so well known, the perverse nation will not amend its ways, feels no shame at its backslidings (Jeremiah 3:3; Jeremiah 6:15). The Septuagint Version, according to the Vatican manuscript, is curious here, and in the latter part somewhat like St. Matthew's rendering of Isaiah 42:3, Καὶ οὐκ ἔγνω ἀδικίαν ἐν ἀπαιτήσει, καί οὐκ εἰς νεῖκος ἀδικίαν (comp. Matthew 12:20), which Jerome translates, "Nescit iniquitatem in exactione, nec insempiternum injustitiam," and explains, "When God exacts from every man the sum he has committed to him, he will not be unjust, nor allow injustice to prevail." The confident expectation rises in Micah 7:11 ff. into an assurance of the promise; the words of the prophet in the name of the church rising into an address to Zion, confirm its hope by the promise of the restoration of Zion, and the entrance of crowds of people into the city of God. Micah 7:11. "A day to build thy walls (cometh); in that day will the ordinance be far away. Micah 7:12. In that day will they come to thee from Asshur and the cities of Egypt, and from Egypt to the river, and (to) sea from sea, and (from) mountain to mountain. Micah 7:13. And the earth will become a desert because of its inhabitants, for the fruit of their doings." Micah 7:11 consists of two clauses; for we may easily supply to yōm "is" or "will be" equals come. The daughter Zion is addressed (cf. Micah 4:8) not as a church, but as a city, as the centre and representative of the kingdom of God. As such, she is compared to a vineyard, as in Isaiah 5:1-7; Isaiah 27:2-4; Psalm 80:9-10. The word gâdēr, which is generally used for the hedge or wall around a vineyard, points to this (see Isaiah 5:5; Numbers 22:24; Ecclesiastes 10:8). יון ההוּא is an adverbial accusative; in that day will חק be far away. The meaning of this word is very difficult to find, and can hardly be settled with any certainty. The explanation of chōq, as signifying the law imposed upon Israel by the heathen oppressors (Chald., Hengstenberg, etc.), cannot be sustained, as this meaning cannot be established from Psalm 104:20, and is not suggested by the context. So, again, the explanation, "On that day will the goal set (for Israel), or the boundary fixed (for it), be a far distant one (i.e., then will the boundaries of the land of Israel lie in the far distance, or be advanced to the remotest distance:" Hitzig, Caspari, and others), introduces a meaning into the words which they do not possess. Even if chōq does denote a fixed point or a limit of either space or time, it never signifies the boundary of a nation; and râchaq, to be far off, is not equivalent to being advanced to a great distance. Chōq is apparently used here for the ordinance or limit which God has appointed to separate Israel from the nations; not a land-boundary, but the law of Israel's separation from the nations.

This law will be far away, i.e., will be removed or set aside (yirach is only chosen for the sake of the assonance with chōq), inasmuch as numerous crowds, as is added in Micah 7:12 by way of explanation, will then stream to Zion, or come to the people of God, out of all lands (cf. Micah 4:1-2). For this is what Micah 7:12 refers to, and not the return to Zion of the Israelites who have been scattered in the heathen lands. יבוא (impersonal), one comes, they come: not "return," ישׁוּב, which must have been the expression used if the return of the Israelites out of their captivity had been meant. The heathen who cherish a desire for the God of Zion and His law (Micah 4:2) will come to Israel; not to Israel as still living in their midst (Caspari), but to the Israel that has already returned, and whose walls have been rebuilt (Micah 7:11). The building of the walls of Zion involves the gathering together of the dispersed nation, or rather presupposes it. Heathen will come "from Asshur and the cities of Egypt," i.e., from the two mightiest empires in the time of the prophet. Mâtsōr, the poetical name of Egypt, as in Isaiah 19:6; Isaiah 37:25; and "cities of Egypt," because that land or kingdom was especially rich in cities. The further definitions individualize the idea of the totality of the lands and provinces, the correlative members being transposed and incomplete in the last two sentences, so that the preposition עד must be supplied to וים, and the preposition מן to ההר. From Egypt to the river (Euphrates) includes the lands lying between these two terminal points; and in the expressions, "sea from sea, and mountain to mountain," seas and mountains are mentioned in the most general manner, as the boundaries of lands and nations; so that we have not to think of any particular seas and mountains, say the Western (or Mediterranean) Sea, and the Eastern (the Dead or the Galilean) Sea, as being the western and eastern boundaries of Palestine, and of Lebanon and Sinai as the northern and southern boundaries, but must adhere firmly to the general character of the expression: "from one sea and one mountain to another sea and mountain," i.e., from every land situated between seas and mountains, that is to say, from all the lands and provinces of the earth. The coming out of all lands is not to be understood as denoting simply passing visits to Canaan or Zion, but as coming to connect themselves with the people of God, to be received into fellowship with them. There is a parallel to this promise in the promise contained in Isaiah 19:18-25, that in the Messianic times Egypt and Asshur will turn to Jehovah. This takes place because the earth will become a desert, on account of the evil deeds of its inhabitants. Whilst Zion is rebuilt, and the people of God are multiplied, by the addition of the godly Gentiles out of all the countries of the earth, the judgment falls upon the sinful world. This statement of Micah 7:13 is simply attached to what precedes it by והיתה, in order to complete the promise of the restoration of Zion, by adding the fate which will befal the earth (i.e., the earth outside Canaan); but it actually contains the motive for the coming of the crowds to Zion. הארץ cannot be the land of Israel (Canaan) here, in support of which appeal has been made to Leviticus 26:33 and Isaiah 1:7; for the context neither leads to any such limitation as that הארץ could be taken in the sense of ארצכן (in Leviticus and Isaiah), nor allows of our thinking of the devastation of Canaan. When the day shall have come for the building of the walls of Zion, the land of Israel will not become a desert then; but, on the contrary, the devastation will cease. If the devastation of Canaan were intended here, we should have either to take והיתה as a pluperfect, in violation of the rules of the language, or arbitrarily to interpolate "previously," as Hitzig proposes. על ישׁביה is defined more precisely by מפּרי מעלליהם. The doings are of course evil ones, and the deeds themselves are the fruit (cf. Isaiah 3:10).

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