Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the city where David dwelled! add you year to year; let them kill sacrifices.
The city where David dwelt was undoubtedly Jerusalem, the "city of God." It is here called Ariel; i.e., according to some, the hearth or altar of God. This fact, taken with the prophecy itself, may remind us -
I. THAT THE CITY OF GOD IS THE PLACE WHERE GOD DWELLS. It is where his hearth is - the "place of his abode" where he is at home with his people, where they are "at home" with him. The true Church of Christ, the ideal Christian family or society, is that company which feels that God is with it of a truth, which realizes and rejoices in his presence.
II. THAT THE CITY OF GOD IS THE PLACE OF SACRIFICE. The "altar" of Old Testament times has forever disappeared now that the great Sacrifice has been presented, now that the way into the holiest is open, now that nothing stands between the Divine mercy and the penitent and believing soul. But still the city of God is the place of sacrifice; for still every true servant of Christ is continually engaged in offering up "spiritual sacrifices" unto God. These are the offerings of praise (Hebrews 13:15), of consecration (Romans 12:1), of kindness (Hebrews 13:16); - these and such as these are "acceptable to God" (1 Peter 2:5).
III. THAT THE CITY OF GOD IS A PLACE OF REVERENT AND JOYOUS COMMUNION. "Add ye year to year," etc. (ver. 1); i.e. let the festivals go round from year to year. The prophet is thought to have spoken ironically, as if he would say, "Go on with your solemnities, but they will avail you nothing." However this may be, we may be sure that when Jerusalem was what Jehovah meant it to be, it was a city in which sacred festivals brought the people of God into holy and happy communion with one another and with their Divine Ruler. And when that which is now the counterpart of the city of God is what its Lord meant it to be, it is a place where human souls mingle in sacred fellowship, and where they all unite in reverent and happy intercourse with the Father of their spirits, with the Savior of their souls.
IV. THAT THE CITY OF GOD MAY RE A PLACE OF DIVINE JUDGMENT. "Yet I will distress Ariel, and there shall be heaviness and sorrow," etc. (vers. 2-4). When the Church, the society, the family, or the individual soul needs Divine correction, Goal will send his chastisements. The Author of its peace will be the Source of its sorrow.
1. It (he) will be as a besieged city, as a city against which the agents of God are encamped, shut in, circumscribed, reduced to privation and distress, made to feel its feebleness, driven to cry out for help.
2. It (he) will be humiliated. "Thou shalt be brought down," etc. (ver. 4). Nothing so much offends God as pride, haughtiness of heart, presumption; and when this is manifested by his people, they may expect to be abased to the very dust, until their spirit has been renewed and they have learned humility under his correcting hand.
V. THAT THE CITY OF GOD IS THE OBJECT OF THE DIVINE DELIVERANCE. (Vers. 5-9.) When God arises to deliver his people, his visitation may be:
1. Unexpected. (Ver. 5.) When the Son of man cometh, will he find his people expecting his appearance (Luke 18:8)?
2. Overwhelming. (Vers. 6, 7.) It will (may) be as if all the elements conspired to work his will.
3. Attended with bitterest disappointment to his foes. (Ver. 8.)
1. See to it that this severe correction be not called for; that it is not brought down by worldliness, by formality, by selfishness, by pride, by discord, by indulgence.
2. If the hour of correction should arrive, let immediate repentance bring on at once the time of deliverance. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the city where David dwelt! add ye year to year; let them kill sacrifices.