God Works Amongst the Nations in the Interests of His People
Zechariah 9:13-17
When I have bent Judah for me, filled the bow with Ephraim, and raised up your sons, O Zion, against your sons, O Greece…

When I have bent Judah for me, etc. "The double recompense which the Lord will make to his people will consist in the fact that he not only liberates them out of captivity and bondage, and makes them into an independent nation, but that he helps them to victory over the powers of the world, so that they will tread it down, i.e. completely subdue it. The first thought is not explained more fully because it is contained implicite in the promise of return to a strong place, the 'double' only is more distinctly defined, namely, the victory over Javan. The expression, 'I stretch,' etc., implies that the Lord will subdue the enemies by Judah and Ephraim, and therefore Israel will carry on this conflict in the power of its God" (Keil). Referring our readers for minute criticisms on this passage to such authors as Henderson, Hengstenberg, Pusey, and Keil we note the great facts which it contains.

I. THAT GOD WORKS AMONGST THE NATIONS OF THE EARTH. God is here represented as raising up Zion against. Greece. "And raised up thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons. O Greece." The literal reference, it may be, is to the help which he would render the Maccabees, as the heroic leaders of the Jews, to overcome the successors of the Grecian Alexander, Antiochus Epiphanes, and the other Grecian oppressors of Judah. He works with the Jew and the Greek, or Gentile - the two great divisions of mankind. He is in their conflicts and their battles. Three remarks are suggested concerning his work amongst men.

1. He works universally amongst men. He works with the "sons" of Zion and the "sons" of Greece. He operates with all, with the remote and the distant, with the little and the great, with the good and the bad; he is in all human history. All good he originates, all evil he overrules.

2. He works by human agency amongst men. "When I have bent Judah for me, filled the bow with Ephraim." Ephraim and Judah, which here represent the whole Jewish people, are, by a strong figure of speech, spoken of as the bows and arrows of Jehovah, the military weapons which he would employ in crushing the Grecians under Antiochus Epiphanes. God carries out his purposes with man by the agency of man; wicked kings are his tools, obscure saints are his ministers of state.

3. He works manifestly amongst men. "And the Lord shall be seen over them;" or, as Keil renders it, "Jehovah will appear above them." What thoughtful student of human history has not felt disposed to exclaim, as he has passed from page to page, "This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes"? We say, "thoughtful student;" for it is only manifest to the spiritually thoughtful. The hearts of others are so thickly veiled with depravity and wickedness that they see him not; they neither recognize ills hand nor hear his voice.

4. He works terribly amongst men. "And his arrow shall go forth as the lightning: and the Lord God shall blow the trumpet, and shall go with whirlwinds of the south." "Like the lightning will his arrow go forth, and the Lord Jehovah will blow the trumpets, and will pass along in storms of the south" (Keil). "Is there evil in the city, and the Lord hath not done it?" (Amos 3:6) - done it by permission? He is in the crashings of conflagrating cities, in the booming thunders of contending armies, in the wild whirlwinds of battling kingdoms; with him there is "terrible majesty" as he proceeds on his march in human history.


1. He works for their defence. "The Lord of hosts shall defend them;" or, "shelter them." He guards his saints; they are as the apple of his eye; he is their Shield and Defence.

2. He works for their victory. "They shall devour, and subdue with slingstones," etc. "Jehovah of hosts shall protect them, and they shall devour and tread down the slingstones, they shall drink, they shall be noisy, as those who drink wine; they shall be full as the bowl, as the corners of the altar" (Henderson). The idea is their complete triumph over their enemies. Hengstenberg observes that there is not the least indication that a spiritual conflict is intended. Quite true, but a spiritual conflict it may illustrate, and its victory too. In such a conflict we are all engaged, and God has promised, if we are faithful, to make us more than conquerors.

3. He works for their salvation. "And the Lord their God shall save them in that day as the flock of his people." They shall be restored to the fold and guarded by Jehovah as their Shepherd. God works for the entire salvation of his people - salvation from all evil, salvation to all good.

4. He works for their glory. "They shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon his land;" or, as Hengstenberg renders it, "For crowned jewels shall they be rising up upon his land." There is true glory awaiting the good. There is a crown of glory laid up in heaven, etc.

5. He works for their perfection. "For how great is its goodness, and how great is its beauty! Corn shall make the young men cheerful, and new wine the maids." We accept the rendering of Keil here, which is not only faithful to the original, but in harmony with the context. The prophet is speaking of the high privileges of God's people, and not of the excellences of the Supreme. It is an exclamation of admiration of the high privileges of the godly.

CONCLUSION. As much of the writings of this prophet admit of so many interpretations, and are perhaps impossible fully to understand, we have thought, not only the most useful, but the safest way of treatment to be the employment of statements and phrases to illustrate those spiritual realities which are important to man in all times and places. It is true that God works amongst men, and it is true that he works amongst men in the interests of those who love and serve him. May we be of that number, and thus realize in our experience the fact that "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose"! - D.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: When I have bent Judah for me, filled the bow with Ephraim, and raised up thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Greece, and made thee as the sword of a mighty man.

WEB: For indeed I bend Judah as a bow for me. I have filled the bow with Ephraim; and I will stir up your sons, Zion, against your sons, Greece, and will make you like the sword of a mighty man.

God Works Amongst the Nations in the Interests of His People
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