And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every slave…
I. THE HORROR OF THE REPROBATES.
1. The persons thus amazed with terror are described in the precedent verse, "The kings of the earth," etc. The greatness of man, when it comes to encounter with God, is weakness and vanity. Is he great? Be he never so high, there is One "higher than he, and the Highest of all regardeth it" (Ecclesiastes 8:5), and will subject it. Is he rich? Were he the eldest son of Mammon, and sole heir to all the usurers in the world, can his gold save him? Is vengeance afraid to strike his vessel because his sails be of silk and it is ballasted with refined ore? Shall he buy out his damnation with coin? No, heaven will never take bribes. Is he a chief captain? Be his looks never so stern, his speech never so imperious, impetuous, he may command here and go without. "Man is not saved by the multitude of an host."
2. "They said." They open their lips to confess the invincible and inevitable power of Christ.
(1) The sense of present misery takes away atheism. The day of judgment, when it comes, shall find no atheist.
(2) The saying that comes from them is desperate; whence note that, in God's just punishment, desperation is the reward of presumption. They that erst feared too little shall now fear too much. Before they thought not of God's justice, now they shall not conceive His mercy.
3. These necessary occurrences thus considered, let us pass to their invocation, wherein is exemplified their error. Here we must observe, To what; For what they call.
(1) To what. They are mountains and rocks, unreasonable, yea, insensible creatures.
(a) Negatively, it is clear that they have no acquaintance with God, therefore know not how to direct their prayers unto Him.
(b) Affirmatively, this presents a soul amazed with fear and folly. They call to the mountains that can neither hear nor answer.
(2) For what. The benefit that they would have the rocks and the mountains do them is to fall on them and hide them.
(a) Despair is ever wishing for death, often impatiently snatching at it in this world; but when the last day comes, so greedily longing for it, that to be sure of it, they desire the mountains to dispatch them.
(b) Observe that rocks and mountains are far lighter than sin. Such a weight bore our Saviour that He groaned under it.
(c) Observe that before these wicked were lords of nations and countries; now they would be glad of one hole to hide them. Of all their dominions they beg but the barrenest parcel, a rock or mountain; and that to do them a poor office, to conceal them. How much doth man's avarice and ambition covet here, how little contents him hereafter! Nothing helps when God will smite; mountains and rocks are no defence when God pursues (Jeremiah 22:15). God hath a hand that can strike through forts, rocks, and bulwarks. The heavens "melt at the presence of the Lord; if He touch the mountains, they smoke" for it.
II. THE JUDGE, FROM WHOM THEY DESIRE TO BE HIDDEN.
1. "From the face." It was ever the fashion of guiltiness to fly from the presence of God. Adam had no sooner sinned, but he thrusts his head in a bush. Sin's inevitable effect is shame. "Of Him that sitteth." Christ now sits in glory. While He was on earth how little rested He! Hast thou laboured? thou shalt have ease: hast thou travelled in the ways of grace? thou shalt sit on the seat of glory. "On the throne." Christ at this day shall appear in His true majesty.
2. "From the wrath." The wrath of Christ in His justice.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;