Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the city where David dwelled! add you year to year; let them kill sacrifices.
I. VICISSITUDES OF ARIEL. The name is symbolic, perhaps signifying "God's lion." It was the city where David dwelt. The prophet bids the city enter upon the new year, and run the round of the feasts. The distress will come, and the city, true to her name, will be mourning like a wounded lioness; and yet her prowess will be seen. She will be beleaguered, the mound for the battering-ram will be set up; she will be abased, and her low voice will be like the muttering of a ghost from the under-world. Then a sudden change will occur, and the multitude of foes will be dispersed like dust or chaff in the wind. After the noise as of thunder and earthquake and hurricane, menacing absolute extinction of the city, the vast host will disappear like a dream and vision of the night. They too will dream of conquest, as a hungry and thirsty man dreams of meat and drink; and their hope will melt with the morning light.
II. THE BLINDNESS OF THE PEOPLE. Those who listen are astonished at a prophecy which nothing in the past appears to warrant. The prophet takes occasion to explain the cause of their blindness and stupefaction, and to warn them that they may find this their fixed condition. They are responsible for this state, he seems to imply when he says, "Astonish yourselves!" "Blind yourselves!" Some strange prepossession causes them to act like men intoxicated; their reason reels and staggers. A deep sleep is poured upon them; their eyes are closed, and their hands wrapped up in Oriental fashion. The result is they cannot see the truth. The "vision and the faculty divine," so bright and eminent in the prophet, is not recognized for what it is. His words are like a sealed book in the hands of a reader. He can read, but cannot loose the seals of the book, which is so far like that described in Revelation 5:2. Or again, if a book, though open and legible, be handed to one that cannot read, the result is the same. It may be a large tablet, with large characters, like that in Isaiah 8:1, so that the passer-by, if he can read, may catch the meaning; but what if he cannot read? It is the same as if the writing were non-existent.
1. Seeing truth is like seeing the meaning of what we read. All see something in the book - some little more than that it is a book; some can extract a certain superficial sense from the signs, and are asleep towards the deeper and central meaning. That meaning must be lived out by the whole effort of the reason, the conscience, the heart. It requires an intense effort of will to see any object as it ought to be seen.
2. Absence of spiritual intelligence infers guilt. Men will not see, because the sight is too painful, or some other sight is more pleasurable and more easy to take in. Moral obtuseness is another word for want of conscience, or for inertness of conscience. - J.
Parallel VersesKJV: Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the city where David dwelt! add ye year to year; let them kill sacrifices.