The Lord GOD has sworn by himself, said the LORD the God of hosts, I abhor the excellency of Jacob, and hate his palaces…
The Lord God hath sworn by himself, saith the Lord the God of hosts, I abhor the excellency of Jacob, and hate his palaces: therefore will I deliver up the city with all that is therein. In order to show the voluptuous debauchees referred to in the preceding verses the terrible judgments that would overtake them, Jehovah is here represented as making a solemn oath. Whether the city here refers to Samaria or Jerusalem, or both, is of little moment. The subject is national depravity, and we infer from the words -
I. THAT DEPRAVITY MAY EXIST IN A NATION WHERE THERE IS MUCH THAT IS MAGNIFICENT. Here is a reference to the "excellency" - or, as some render it, the splendour - "of Jacob;" and here is a reference to "palaces," the homes of princes, There was much that was magnificent amongst the Jewish people of old in their own land. Great cities and their palaces, and, above all, the temple at Jerusalem, beautiful in architecture and situation, with an organized priesthood and gorgeous ceremonies. Still, its depravity at this time was wide and deep and hideous. A nation may have much that is magnificent, and yet be deeply sunk in moral corruption. Witness ancient Greece and Rome; witness England today. The arts, sculpture, painting, architecture, music, have reached their perfection, and abound. On all hands our eyes are attracted by grand churches, splendid mansions, marts, banks, museums, colleges, and galleries of art. Albeit was depravity ever more rife in any age or country than this? Greed, ambition, selfishness, sensuality, fraud, falsehood, and self-indulgence, - these, the elements of depravity and the fountains of crime, abound in all directions. It is true they do not appear in their naked deformity, as in barbaric lands. Our civilization not only spreads a veil over them, but paints and decorates them, and thus conceals their native hideousness. Still, though the devil robes himself in the garb of an angel, he is yet the devil. Poison is poison, however much you may flavour it.
II. THAT DEPRAVITY UNDER THE MOST MAGNIFICENT FORM IS UTTERLY ABHORRENT TO THE GREAT GOD. "I abhor the excellency of Jacob, and hate his palaces." No veil can cover it from his eye; his glance pierces through all its decorations; to his view its ornamentations add to its ugliness. The same vices displayed in the hut of a savage chief, are more hideous to him when developed in the gorgeous palaces of Christian sovereigns. "I abhor the excellency [splendour] of Jacob." God has moral sensibility. He has not only a sensibility for the beautiful in form and the perfect in arrangement, but for the moral. He loves the true, the beautiful, and the good; he loathes the false, the selfish, and the corrupt. "Oh, do not this abominable thing, which I hate" (Jeremiah 44:4).
III. THAT DEPRAVITY, WHICH IS EVER ABHORRENT TO GOD, MUST BRING RUIN ON ITS SUBJECTS. "Therefore will I deliver up the city with all that is therein." Observe:
1. The completeness of the ruin. "All that is therein" - utter destruction.
2. The certainty of the ruin. "The Lord God hath sworn by himself."
CONCLUSION. What an argument does this subject furnish for national seriousness and investigation! The progress of civilization is not the true progress of humanity. A nation may advance in the arts, and go back in morals; may be robed in artistic beauty, and yet be loathsome in moral corruption. Heaven will not smile on a nation because it is externally grand, but only when it is internally good. - D.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: The Lord GOD hath sworn by himself, saith the LORD the God of hosts, I abhor the excellency of Jacob, and hate his palaces: therefore will I deliver up the city with all that is therein.