Ask you of the LORD rain in the time of the latter rain; so the LORD shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain…
Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain; so the Lord shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field, etc. This chapter is a continuation of the subject with which the former concluded; and the words lead us to observe three facts in relation to the Almighty.
I. HE ATTENDS TO THE PRAYERS OF GOOD MEN. "Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain; so the Lord shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain." The abundance of corn promised in the last clause of the preceding chapter depends upon rain, and this rain God will give in answer to prayer. Observe:
1. God gives rain. A pseudo-science would ascribe "rain" and "clouds" and "showers" to what they call the laws of nature; but what these laws are, and how they operate, they cannot tell. The Bible, giving us at once an adequate and an intelligible cause, is more philosophical than any meteorological science. "He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is eatisfied with the fruit of thy works. He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; and wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart" (Psalm 104:18-15). "Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it: thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God, which is full of water: thou preparest them corn, when thou hast so provided for it. Thou waterest the ridges thereof abundantly: thou settlest the furrows tPsalm 65:9-11).
2. The God who gives rain attends to human prayer. This is wonderful, but not absurd. Wonderful, that the God who created nature, and presides over it, should condescend to listen to the supplications of such an insignificant creature as man. But it is not absurd, because:
(1) Man is greater than material nature.
(2) Prayer is a settled law of the Divine government. To cry to the Almighty in distress is an instinct of the soul. Prayer, instead of interfering with the laws of nature, is a law of nature.
II. HE ABOMINATES THE CHARACTER OF RELIGIOUS IMPOSTORS. "For the idols [the household gods] have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain: therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled, because there was no shepherd. Mine anger was kindled against the shepherds, and I punished the goats." This stands in contrast with the former verse, and is a reason for the duty there enjoined. Their false prophets - attaching themselves to idols and seducing the people to their worship, and those of them who, speaking in Jehovah's name, said, "Thus saith Jehovah," when Jehovah had not spoken, putting in his lips and clothing with his authority the "lies" and "false dreams" by which they sought to entice them from him and from his ways - had ever given promises and "vain comfort," all ending in bitterness and vexation of spirit. They had proved shepherds that only starved and scattered and exposed their flocks, instead of feeding and tending, gathering and protecting, them. "Thus, under such misleading guides, such selfish and unprincipled shepherds, the flock was driven about and 'troubled.' They had 'no shepherd,' no truly faithful shepherd, who took a concern in the well being of the flock" (Wardlaw). Now, against such impostors, Jehovah says, "Mine anger was kindled." "That the shepherds and the goats," says Hengstenberg, "are the heathen rulers who obtained dominion over Judah when the native government was suppressed, is evident from the contrast so emphatically pointed out in the fourth verse, where particular prominence is given to the fact that the new rulers whom God was about to appoint would be taken from the midst of the nation itself." Are there no religious impostors now, no false teachers, no blind leading the blind, no shepherds fleecing the flocks?
III. HE WORKS IN ALL FOR HIS PEOPLE. "Out of him came forth the corner, out of him the nail, out of him the battle bow, out of him every oppressor together." The words teach that all their help came from him. "Out of him came forth the corner," or cornerstone, that upon which the whole building stands firmly. It means that from him comes stability. All stability in moral character, in social order, and political prosperity, is from God. "Out of him the nail." With us a nail is a small thing; but with the Orientals it is not so. It is a large peg in the inside of the room, wrought into the wall when the house was built, and on which are hung the utensils of the household. It means, therefore, support. "Out of him the battle bow." This word is used synecdochically, to represent all effective weapons of war; power to conquer comes from him. "Out of him every oppressor together," or, as Keil renders it, "from him will every ruler go forth at once." Thus God is all in all to the true. Whatever we need comes from him. "Every good and every perfect gift cometh down from the Father."
CONCLUSION. What a sublime view of the Almighty have we here! He is over all nature, yet listening to the prayers of the true; indignant with religious imposters, yet tolerating their existence and permitting their pernicious influence; sending out from himself all that true souls require to fight bravely and triumphantly the great moral battle of life. - D.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Ask ye of the LORD rain in the time of the latter rain; so the LORD shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field.