How has the LORD covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in his anger, and cast down from heaven to the earth the beauty of Israel…
It will be noticed that the words "anger" and "wrath" occur again and again in these first three verses. Figure is heaped upon figure in order to bring out the practical effects of this anger. We need not pursue these figures into detail; each of them speaks for itself. Let us rather notice -
I. HOW THEY INDICATE THE EXTENT OF PAST FAVOUR. The very fact that, in order to show the character of Jehovah's anger, such strong figurative expressions are possible proves that in former days there had been many indications of his complacency with Israel. Not that Israel had been really better in the past than in the present, but she had to be dealt with in a long suffering way, and the long suffering of Jehovah is a quality which shows itself by abundance of most positive favours. God looked upon Israel according to the bright possibilities of excellence that lie in human nature. Israel did sink very low, but that was because she had the capacity of rising very high. Thus God heaped upon Israel favours, as if to show that he would not entertain any doubt as to her willingness to respond to his requests. And so the black anger cloud resting on Israel's present looks blacker still when contrasted with the Divine brightness and clearness of Israel's past. God has cast down the beauty of Israel, and that casting is as from heaven to earth. That which God has not remembered in the day of his anger is something which he had reckoned useful to himself, even as the footstool is useful to the king seated on his throne. Thus the extent of present anger measures the extent of past favour.
II. HOW THESE FIGURES INDICATE THE REALITY OF JEHOVAH'S WRATH. The very heaping up of these strong figures should make us feel very deeply that God's wrath is not itself a figure. God's anger is not to be reduced to a mere anthropomorphism. We are misled in this matter, because human anger is never seen without selfish and degrading elements. An angry man, in all his excitement and violence, is a pitiable sight, but nevertheless it is possible for a man to be angry and sin not. The man who cannot understand the reality of God's anger will never comprehend the ideal of humanity. The sensitive musician would laugh to scorn any one who told him that, while he was pleased with harmony, he should not be disturbed by discord. Again and again Jesus was really and righteously angry, showing in this, not least, how he was partaker of the Divine nature. When we are m wrong ways and God is consequently against us, his opposition and displeasure must be shown in ways that cannot be mistaken. - Y.
Parallel VersesKJV: How hath the Lord covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in his anger, and cast down from heaven unto the earth the beauty of Israel, and remembered not his footstool in the day of his anger!
WEB: How has the Lord covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in his anger! He has cast down from heaven to the earth the beauty of Israel, And hasn't remembered his footstool in the day of his anger.