Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth.…
I. THAT A NEGLECTED WORSHIP IS OFTEN CONSEQUENT UPON THE FAILURE OF THE TEMPORAL RESOURCE OF A PEOPLE. To the Jews the suspension of the daily sacrifice was the suspension of the appointed sign indicating that they were in covenant with God, and therefore the last of evils. And so there is ever an intimate connection between temporal resource and the worship of God; a desolated commerce will probably involve a neglected temple. When the harvests fail the offerings of the soul are not brought into the sanctuary.
1. That anything which tends to increase the temporal resource of a people gives them an increased power of temple-worship. It is the duty of man to give himself to industry and profitable labour that he may win the means which shall enable him to come into the sanctuary with the offering of the Lord.
2. That our temporal resources are not to be devoted merely to the secular needs of a people but also to the worship of God. The people of Judah were required not. merely to supply their own need with the fruit of the vine and of the field, they were required out of it to support the service of the temple and the worship of God. The fine flour and oil they gave to the priest they first received from God, and hence it was right that they should recognise the Divine beneficence. How many rich men amongst us would see the daily offering of the temple languish before they would aid it even by a small gift! Wealth can be consecrated to no higher service than that of the temple.
II. THAT A SUSPENDED WORSHIP CANNOT BUT BE REGARDED AS AN INDICATION OF THE DIVINE DISPLEASURE. Surely the announcement of the prophet, that the temple offerings were suspended, would run throughout the land of Judah, and would lead many souls to ask the reason why. Hence we gather —
1. That the agencies of Divine retribution are likely to prevent a sinful people from the enjoyment of secular prosperity. It is not improbable that the vines and fields Of a wicked people will be destroyed by the retributive hand of God. Secular prosperity is more dependent upon moral character than many are inclined to admit. Sin blights many harvests.
2. That a well-maintained temple-worship is an evidence of the Divine favour. A well-supported temple-worship is an index of sanctified wealth and of the Divine approval.
III. THAT A NEGLECTED WORSHIP CALLS FOR THE DEEP GRIEF OF ALL REFLECTIVE MINDS. The land of Judah waste lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth, who had been snatched from her when she was betrothed to him, but had not yet been taken to his house. The time of betrothal varied from a few days iii the Patriarchal age (Genesis 24:55) to a full year in later times. Hence the people of Judah were not to regard the judgments which had come upon them With indifference, with a mere conventional grief, but with an anguish akin to that experienced by a youthful wife bereaved of her husband. We see —
1. That a neglected worship should awaken deep grief of soul. Lamentation in the hour of bereavement is commended by men, but in the cause of God is regarded as a sign of mental weakness. Ought this to be so?
2. That a neglected worship should lead to outward tokens of the grief of the soul, Judah was not merely to lament like a bereaved virgin, but was to be girded with sackcloth.
IV. THAT A SUSPENDED WORSHIP WILL ESPECIALLY AWAKEN PAINFUL SOLICITUDE WITHIN THE HEART OF THE TRUE MINISTER. "The priests, the Lord's ministers, mourn."
1. That ministers of the truth are often the first to be affected by great calamities. The priests of Judah would pre-eminently feel the effect of the terrible devastation that had come upon the land; they would suffer through the, neglected worship of the temple, as they would cease to fulfil their office, and Would be deprived of their livelihood. He stands at the very heart of society, and the most deeply feels the woe inflicted by the retributive agencies of God.
2. That ministers of the truth ought to be the first to set an example of repentance In the hour of calamity. Lessons —
1. That all temporal resource should be regarded as the gift of God.
2. That the withdrawal of temporal prosperity is calculated to affect the worship of God.
3. That the suspension of the worship of the sanctuary is a token of the Divine displeasure.
(J. S. Exell, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth.