For wherever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
You know how in Eastern lands, if any beast of burden falls and dies, though the moment before the whole horizon may have been clear, with not a bird in sight, a stream of vultures suddenly appears to wrangle .over the unexpected feast. You know how on any tropical ocean, if a carcase be thrown overboard, though at the moment there may not be a speck in the sky, the albatross and other birds of mighty wing appear as if by magic, and scold and fight over the welcome repast. Our Lord, then applies this familiar image of the carcase and the birds of prey to the judicial and retributive forces of human history, and intends to illustrate some law or principle by which they are governed.
I. A certain order underlies the events of human history. Catastrophes do not come by chance, or spring from caprice. The effect always has a cause. Judgment only follows on the heels of offence.
II. This order is a sanitary and beneficent order. Unconsumed, the carcase would but rot and fester and infect the air. All the birds that prey on carrion are scavenger birds, and we owe them nothing short of health and life, for a world without scavengers would soon become a stinking sepulchre.
III. All the strifes and discords of time are parts of that great convict between good and evil in which the ultimate defeat of evil is assured. The calamities and miseries to which men lie open, are intended to remove only that which must be removed if we are to live in health and peace. Wherever there is evil, there also is good, to replace the evil as well as to overcome and destroy it. What greater consolation than to know that the very miseries of men are messengers of the Divine mercy, come to give health and life rather than to destroy, since they come only to destroy that which is fatal to life and health.
(S. Cox, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.