The burden of the valley of vision. What ails you now, that you are wholly gone up to the housetops?…
We have here a striking picture of that which, in distinction from "godly sorrow," Paul calls "the sorrow of the world."
I. THAT GOD SENDS SORROW TO HUMAN SOULS. These national distresses were to be of his sending; it was to be "a day of trouble... by the Lord of hosts" (ver. 5). The human instrumentality would be visible enough, and both those who inflicted the blow and those who endured it - their enemies and themselves - might fail to discern any Divine hand at work; nevertheless, it was a chastisement that came from heaven, it was sent of God. And to whatever second causes we may trace our troubles in the day of our "treading down and of perplexity," or in the day of our loss, or suffering, or bereavement, we may always go beyond the instrumentality to him "of whom are all things," and feel that what has happened to us is "by the Lord of hosts."
II. THAT HIS PURPOSE THEREIN IS OUR SPIRITUAL AMENDMENT. "In that day did the Lord God of hosts call to weeping," etc. (ver. 12). God would then invite to a general humiliation - he would draw their minds to a view of their guilt, and lead them to repentance and so to restoration and life. This is always the Divine purpose in adversity. God seeks our spiritual amendment. Other methods of instruction failing, he lays his hand upon us so that we must feel his touch; he speaks to us in tones it is difficult to disregard; and we know that the thing from which he calls us is sin - sin in one or other (or in some) of its many forms; we know also that the thing to which he summons us is rectitude - rightness of heart and life.
III. THAT THIS HIS DIVINE END IS SOMETIMES ENTIRELY DEFEATED. "Behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep," etc. (ver. 13). Both national history and the biography of individual men prove to us that affliction may produce the very opposite result to that for which it is sent. Never has the city been so abandoned to vice as when the plague was raging and the dead lay unburied in the streets. Many a man allows adversity to drive him to dissolute enjoyments or to ruinous crimes, instead of letting it allure him to a Divine Deliverer. Trouble that was intended to lead to heavenly wisdom and to the service of God only too often hardens a stony heart, makes still ungodlier the man who has forsaken the sanctuary, fastens the fetters of some enslaving vice on the limbs of its wretched victim.
IV. THAT UNSANCTIFIED SORROW LEADS TOWN TO SPIRITUAL DEATH. This iniquity would not be purged until they died (ver. 14). It would end, not only with, but in death. Death is the penalty of unsanctified sorrow: "The sorrow of the world worketh death" (2 Corinthians 7:10). It leads down inevitably to that utter estrangement from God, that unlikeness to God, and that condemnation by God, in which spiritual death is found here; it leads on to that final banishment from his presence and glory in which it will be found hereafter. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: The burden of the valley of vision. What aileth thee now, that thou art wholly gone up to the housetops?