The Duty and Dignity of Magistrates
Zechariah 10:4
Out of him came forth the corner, out of him the nail, out of him the battle bow, out of him every oppressor together.…

Laws are in Scripture called the foundations of the commonwealth. Magistrates are the pillars. When the Lord returns to a people in mercy, He doth give them righteous laws and gracious rulers. In this chapter you have the Lord returning unto His own people in mercy. There is a double visitation of God: one of His enemies in wrath; the other of His people in mercy. Though the appearances of God in this visitation were glorious, yet He makes themselves to be the instruments of it. God doth it, but He doth it by themselves, The text sets forth a glorious promise that God makes unto His people when they are delivered.

1. "Out of Him shall come forth the comer." The word employed in the Hebrew is commonly a metaphor used for magistrates and governors. There are three things wherein the analogy doth lie.

(1) The cornerstone laid in the foundation. It upholds the building. The main weight of the building lies in the cornerstone.

(2) The cornerstone joins and couples the wall. It is a uniting stone.

(3) The cornerstone adorneth the building. More labour is spent in polishing the cornerstone than in the ordinary stones of a building.

2. "Out of Him shall come forth the nail." This also is a metaphor used for governors. There is a double proposition in this metaphor.

(1) The beams of the building are fastened and united by nails one to another. So that the cornerstone unites the foundation, and the nails unite the roof.

(2) Upon the nails all the vessels hang: all the necessary utensils of the house. Upon the magistrate, as a nail, all the building of the commonwealth shall hang, even from the highest to the lowest.

3. "Out of Him shall come forth the battle bow." The bow was an instrument of war much in use in ancient times, and therefore is here put for all the weapons of war, all their ammunition for, and all their discipline of war. When the Lord returns unto them in mercy, for their deliverance, they should have strength of their own against all the neighbour nations. They should be successful in war, because the Lord is with them.

4. "Out of Him every oppressor, or exactor, which I put both together." The word means tax gatherer. Some make it signify, to exact a man's work. An exactor of labour and of tribute are both fitly to be understood here; for God doth not only deliver His people from the power of the enemy, but doth also put the enemies into their power; so that they shall rule over the nations. This shall be the glorious condition of the Church.You have then, in these words, the state of the people set forth after their deliverance.

1. In reference to their political state. They shall never want a governor, a faithful magistrate.

2. In their polemical state. They shall have all sorts of warlike provisions in themselves, and shall be very successful in war. Doctrine — When the Lord returns to His people in mercy, He will give them governors that shall be for the supporting, uniting, and adorning of the commonwealth.


1. Magistrates are called the foundations of the earth.

2. The breath of your nostrils.

3. The shoulders upon which all the weight is borne.

4. The arms of the people.But how may magistrates support the commonwealth?

(1) He must take care that he uphold religion. Peace without godliness is but a vain, mock peace. Every magistrate ought to rule with God.

(2) He must so rule that God may not break in in judgment upon the people.

(3) He must so rule as not to destroy the foundation of his authority.

(4) He must uphold the laws.

(5) Magistrates must uphold their own authority.

(6) They must uphold the people's liberties.

(7) They must defend and preserve the property of the people.

II. TO UNITE THE COMMONWEALTH. HOW can rulers aid in uniting a people?

1. Religion is the great bond of union; let it be your great care that there be a unity in religion.

2. Let magistrates take heed to agree among themselves.

3. Labour for union amongst the ministers.

4. Take away all oppression and partiality in judgment.

(W. Strong.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Out of him came forth the corner, out of him the nail, out of him the battle bow, out of him every oppressor together.

WEB: From him will come forth the cornerstone, from him the nail, from him the battle bow, from him every ruler together.

God's Visits to His People
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