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…
It is generally thought that none but the penitent really pray. And yet the day is coming when even impenitent people will throng together and hold a prayer meeting, and perhaps the most intensely earnest one ever upon record. Notice the time. It is future. It will be after the day of grace has passed, after the privilege for Christian prayer has ceased, and after human probation has been completed. Yes, when the righteous have ceased to pray, and are changing prayers on earth to praises in heaven, the impenitent will begin to pray as if they thought of it for the first time in their lives. It will be when Divine judgments are falling upon the earth. Where? In their homes? No, those prayerless houses will be shaking into ruins by an earthquake. In the churches? The day for churches will be gone. Why did they not hasten to them in the time of mercy? They will meet in the dens and caves, and among the rocks of the mountains. Who will be there? In ages when God's children were hunted down by foes, chiefly the lowly, the poor, met in such difficult retreats, but to this last prayer meeting kings will run, noblemen will hasten, courtiers and statesmen will speed, rich men and great captains will rush, and all who thought they could trust in the permanence of earthly things. No real Christians will be there. Mere professors and pretenders, deceived in heart or deceiving the very elect, and prayerless in their lives, may be expected; and when there they will contribute their part for the first time to the interest of a meeting, for they will pray voluntarily and with an earnestness they never knew before. What are to be the exercises, the services? No reading of the Word of God. None in that assembly will wish to hear it read or explained. They disowned it once, they dislike it still, for it must expose their sins and neglects. No preaching, because the day for that has passed. No psalms nor spiritual songs. To what will they pray? Not to God. At sea, when the tempest is raging, and all human control of the ship is lost, when the masts are torn away and the next wave that sweeps the deck may bury the company in the deep, the passengers and crew lift their entreaties, not to the storm, not to the waves, but to God, their only resort and refuge. But the prayer at this last meeting is not to God, nor is it to men. In their fears they call upon the mountains. Unwilling to call upon God in the day of prosperity, and disliking to have friends pray for them, their aversion clings to them as a fixed habit, and they are still determined not to cry unto the Lord. Nothing could once persuade them to do it, and now nothing can force them, for the human will is not converted by force, Rather than submit to God's way, they call upon everything else, idolising the deaf rocks and the dead mountains. These are their gods. Can anything else so portray impenitence and stubbornness of will? And why such a prayer for destruction? There are three reasons here given.
I. THEIR DREAD OF SEEING THE FACE OF GOD. Once that face was radiant with mercy. They might have been forgiven, but they would not seek His pardon. Oh, the lost opportunities, the rejected mercies! All gone for ever. They cannot bear the sight of Him whose offers of grace they so wilfully refused, and they ask the rocks to confer on them a merciless burial.
II. A FEAR OF THE JUSTICE OF CHRIST. Once He was the Lamb of sacrifice, the atoning Redeemer, the entreating Saviour, ready to save all that would call upon Him for salvation. But they would not call. Their day of redemption is past, and Christ is coming as their Judge. They see punishment awaiting them, and perdition before them as the just desert of their treatment of Christ.
III. THE KNOWLEDGE THAT THEY ARE WITHOUT EXCUSE. There is for them no apology, no availing plea, no justification, no righteousness, no hope of future grace.
(W. M. Blackburn, D. D.)
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;