9:8-21 Those are ripening apace for ruin, whose hearts are unhumbled under humbling providences. For that which God designs, in smiting us, is, to turn us to himself; and if this point be not gained by lesser judgments, greater may be expected. The leaders of the people misled them. We have reason to be afraid of those that speak well of us, when we do ill. Wickedness was universal, all were infected with it. They shall be in trouble, and see no way out; and when men's ways displease the Lord, he makes even their friends to be at war with them. God would take away those they thought to have help from. Their rulers were the head. Their false prophets were the tail and the rush, the most despicable. In these civil contests, men preyed on near relations who were as their own flesh. The people turn not to Him who smites them, therefore he continues to smite: for when God judges, he will overcome; and the proudest, stoutest sinner shall either bend or break.
12. Syrians—Though now allies of Ephraim, after Rezin's death they shall join the Assyrians against Ephraim. "Together," in Isa 9:11, refers to this. Conquering nations often enlist in their armies the subject races (Isa 22:6; compare 2Ki 16:9; Jer 35:11), [Aben Ezra, Gesenius]. Horsley less probably takes "Syrians before," as the Syrians to the east, that is, not Rezin's subjects, but the Assyrians: "Aram" being the common name of Syrians and Assyrians.
behind—from the west: in marking the points of the compass, Orientalists face the east, which is before them: the west is behind. The right hand is the south: the left, the north.
devour—as a ravenous beast (Isa 1:20; Jer 10:25; 30:16; Nu 14:9).
For all this, &c.—The burden of each strophe.