10:1-5 Spiritual blessings had been promised under figurative allusions to earthly plenty. Seasonable rain is a great mercy, which we may ask of God when there is most need of it, and we may look for it to come. We must in our prayers ask for mercies in their proper time. The Lord would make bright clouds, and give showers of rain. This may be an exhortation to seek the influences of the Holy Spirit, in faith and by prayer, through which the blessings held forth in the promises are obtained and enjoyed. The prophet shows the folly of making addresses to idols, as their fathers had done. The Lord visited the remnant of his flock in mercy, and was about to renew their courage and strength for conflict and victory. Every creature is to us what God makes it to be. Every one raised to support the nation, as a corner-stone does the building, or to unite those that differ, as nails join the different timbers, must come from the Lord; and those employed to overcome their enemies, must have strength and success from him. This may be applied to Christ; to him we must look to raise up persons to unite, support, and defend his people. He never will say, Seek ye me in vain.
3. against the shepherds—the civil rulers of Israel and Judah who abetted idolatry.
punished—literally, "visited upon." The same word "visited," without the upon, is presently after used in a good sense to heighten the contrast.
goats—he-goats. As "shepherds" described what they ought to have been, so "he-goats" describes what they were, the emblem of headstrong wantonness and offensive lust (Isa 14:9, Margin; Eze 34:17; Da 8:5; Mt 25:33). The he-goats head the flock. They who are first in crime will be first in punishment.
visited—in mercy (Lu 1:68).
as his goodly horse—In Zec 9:13 they were represented under the image of bows and arrows, here under that of their commander-in-chief, Jehovah's battle horse (So 1:9). God can make His people, timid though they be as sheep, courageous as the charger. The general rode on the most beautiful and richly caparisoned, and had his horse tended with the greatest care. Jehovah might cast off the Jews for their vileness, but He regards His election or adoption of them: whence He calls them here "His flock," and therefore saves them.