And they shall be as mighty men, which tread down their enemies in the mire of the streets in the battle: and they shall fight…
And they shall be as mighty men, etc. This paragraph is a continuation of the preceding portions of the chapter. The various statements bring under our notice subjects which, if we give them a spiritual application, are of great and permanent interest, viz. the subjects of victory, unification, and blessedness.
I. VICTORY. "And they shall be as mighty men, which tread down their enemies in the mire of the streets in the battle: and they shall fight, because the Lord is with them, and the riders on the horses shall be confounded." Or, as Hengstenberg renders it, "And they will be like heroes, treading street mire in the battle: and will fight, for Jehovah is with them, and the riders upon horses are put to shame." "Though the Jews were forbidden by the Law to multiply horses in battle (Deuteronomy 17:16), they themselves figuratively are made Jehovah's war horses (Psalm 20:7), and so on foot tread down the foe, with all his cavalry (Ezekiel 38:4; Daniel 11:40). Cavalry was the chief strength of the Syro-Grecian army." This victory was:
1. Complete. The enemies were trodden down as "mire in the streets," and were utterly discomfited.
2. Divine. "Because the Lord is with them." They became victorious through him.
3. Reinvigorating. "I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph, and I will bring them again to place them." They would be strengthened by their victory, not only in wealth and security, but in courage.
4. Extensive. "And they of Ephraim shall be like a mighty man, and their heart shall rejoice as through wine: yea, their children shall see it, and be glad; their heart shall rejoice in the Lord." "The prophet had," says Hengstenberg, "occupied himself first of all with Judah, the centre of the people of God. In ver. 6 he proceeds to speak of Judah and Ephraim together. In this verse, and those which follow, he fixes his attention peculiarly upon Ephraim, which looked in the prophet's day like a withered branch that had been severed from the vine. He first promises that descendants of the citizens of the former kingdom of the ten tribes will also take part in the glorious conflict, and then announces the return of the ten tribes from their exile, which was to be the condition of their participating in the battle. Now, all these facts connected with this victory apply to that victory the grandest of all - the victory of all true souls over error and wrong. That victory will be complete. "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." That victory will be Divine. It is the Almighty himself that bruises Satan under their feet. That victory will be reinvigorating. Some savages have the belief that the strength of the creature they destroy passes into themselves, and gives new vigour to their frames. Every victory we achieve in morals adds new energy to our souls. This victory will be extensive. Millions in heaven have achieved it; millions on earth are achieving it now; the moral conquerors will at last be more numerous than the stars of heaven, or perhaps the sands that gird old ocean's shores.
II. UNIFICATION. "I will hiss for them, and gather them," etc. There is no sufficient reason for regarding this regathering, recollecting of the world scattered Hebrews as pointing to that far distant period which some believe in, viz. the universal restoration of the Jews to their own country. Observe:
1. The ease with which the regathering will be effected. "I will hiss [or, 'whistle '] for them." The word is understood as referring to a particular whistle used by the shepherd for calling his scattered flock together, or by those who have the care of bees, to bring them into the hive. "As sheep flock together at the well known call of the shepherd, as bees follow in swarms the shrill note of the bee master, so should the Lord, by his own means, gather his scattered people from their dispersions, how widely soever distant, and bring them to himself and to their heritage." With what ease God does his work - a mere look, a breath, a word! "He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth; he toucheth the hills, and they smoke."
2. The regions to which the regathering will extend. "And I will sow them among the people [or, as some render it, 'Though I have scattered them among the nations']: and they shall remember me in far countries [distant regions]; and they shall live with their, children, and turn again." They had been scattered, not only through Egypt and Assyria. It does not say that all Jews shall return, but a great multitude is implied.
3. The scene at which the regathering will take place. "I will bring them again also out of the land of Egypt, and gather them out of Assyria," and I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon. This describes the whole of Palestine, with its two boundaries - the eastern, Gilead beyond Jordan; and the northern, that is, Lebanon. Large as that district is, there will not be room for all. "Place shall not be found for them."
4. The national catastrophes which the regathering will involve. "And he shall pass through the sea with affliction, and shall smite the waves in the sea, and all the deeps of the river shall dry up." There is evidently an allusion here to their first deliverance from Egypt; and it means that something similar to that event will occur in the course of their regathering (see Exodus 14:4-14). "And the pride of Assyria shall be brought down, and the sceptre of Egypt shall depart away." The idea probably is that as "the haughty boastings of Sennacherib and the sceptred power of Pharaoh proved alike feeble and unavailing against the might of Jehovah in former days, so should all the combined opposition of the most inveterate enemies prove in days to come. Before him - when he had a purpose to fulfil or promise to his people to accomplish - all pride should be abased, all power baffled, all counsel turned to foolishness." Now there is a unification, of which this is but a faint emblem - the unification of the good of all ages. "They shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down with Isaac and with Jacob." What a blessed union is this! What countless millions will it include, and what overturning of the kingdoms of the world will its full realization involve!
III. BLESEDNESS. Here is the highest strength. "And I will strengthen them in the Lord."
1. Whether this refers to their national strength, their security in their own country, or moral strength - strength of faith in him - or all, one thing is clear, that to be strengthened in the Lord is the highest strength we can have. The greatest blessing of life is strength: physical strength, to do with ease and to endure with patience; intellectual strength - strength to master with ease all the great problems of life, and to reach a theory of being in which the understanding can repose tree from all disturbing doubt. These strengths are blessings; but moral strength - strength to resist the wrong, to pursue, the right, to serve Almighty God with acceptance, and to bless the race of man with beneficent influences - this, indeed, is the perfection of our blessedness. This strength, which implies unbounded confidence in the procedure and an unconquerable love for the character of God, is the strength we all need. "Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might, says Paul. He giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might he increaseth strength."
2. Here is the highest exercise. "They shall walk up and down in his Name, saith the Lord,"
(1) All living men must walk the road that is "up and down" Human life is made up of "ups" and "downs;" the road is not smooth and level, but rugged and hilly, sometimes up and sometimes down; up today and down tomorrow.
(2) This road can only be walked happily by walking it in the "Name" of the Lord. A practical recognition of his presence, and of his claims to our supreme reverence and worship. Alas I how few walk this road in the Name of the Lord! They walk it in the name of pleasure, of greed, or of ambition, or, it may be, of intellectual research. Dreary and dangerous is this road without God.
CONCLUSION. Let us battle for this victory, cease not a stroke until the foe is beneath our feet; let us hail this grand unification of souls, hail the time when God shall meet and mingle with all noble and Heaven-born spirits. Meanwhile, let us walk this "up-and-down" road of life in the Name of the Lord. "For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, but we will walk in the Name of the Lord" (Micah 4:5). - D.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: And they shall be as mighty men, which tread down their enemies in the mire of the streets in the battle: and they shall fight, because the LORD is with them, and the riders on horses shall be confounded.