Because you were glad, because you rejoiced, O you destroyers of my heritage, because you are grown fat as the heifer at grass…
I. THE SPIRIT IN WHICH BABYLON SHOULD HAVE DONE ITS DESTROYING WORK. Jehovah meant Babylon for the chastisement and the humiliation of his own people, that they might be enlightened and purified through the losses they thus sustained. They lost many things they loved, but at the same time they lost things which tempted and ensnared. The description here, "Destroyers of mine heritage;" indicates sufficiently the spirit in which Babylon acted. What God wanted was the thorough purification of his heritage, not at all its destruction. Babylon cared nothing as to whether Israel was better or worse for its afflictions. It could only rejoice over another nation conquered, another territory acquired, and a fresh degree of brightness added to its military glory. It is surely a terrible thing when men do good work unconsciously and not meaning it to be good work at all. When we have to engage in any work that inflicts suffering, shame, and loss on others, it ought to be under the sternest pressure of necessity and as the sorrowing ministers of violated law. There are times when we cannot escape being the agents of suffering to wicked and foolish men; but if we only act in the right spirit, keeping our hearts free from all that is vengeful and exulting, we may even have some share in turning them from their wickedness. Everything that savours of our personal satisfaction and gain must be kept away when we have to make others suffer.
II. THE CERTAIN RETRIBUTION ON THOSE WHO REJOICE IN THE SUFFERINGS OF OTHERS. A disposition to rejoice in this way indicates, of course, a general iniquity of life which is sure to bring retribution. But retribution will take special forms according to the sin, and those who have gloated over the humiliations of others are taking a sure way to have others gloat over them in the day of their humiliation. Israel itself, which had been rejoiced over by Babylon, had first of all been rejoicing where it ought not to have rejoiced. If we exult and insult where we ought to pity, then nothing is more certain than that we shall meet with insult in turn.
III. A DIRECTION SUGGESTED IN WHICH THERE MAY BE GREAT REJOICING. Man was made to rejoice; the pity is that so often his rejoicing comes from individual and selfish considerations. When the right spirit is in our hearts, we too shall rejoice that so many are cast down, but it will be because of the opportunities given to lift them up. There should be the greatest of gladness in serving the lowly and the needy. Thus, while there never can be joy at suffering for its own sake, there can be much joy because of the opportunities given for glorifying Christ. - Y.
Parallel VersesKJV: Because ye were glad, because ye rejoiced, O ye destroyers of mine heritage, because ye are grown fat as the heifer at grass, and bellow as bulls;