Page images

ed : and he shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging, and seeking judgment, and hasting to execute right

eousnesss. 6 We have heard of the pride of Moab ; al his neighbours knoqu

il ; (he is) very proud : [even) of his haughtiness, and his pride, and his wrath : (but] his lies (shall] not [be] so ; his

strength and power are not equal to his firide, he is deceived in them. 7 Therefore shall Moab howl for Moab, every one shall howl:

for the foundations of Kirhareseth shall ye mourn ; surely 8 (they are] stricken. For the fields of Heshbon languish, [and]

the vine of Sibmah : the lords of the heathen, the Assyrian 01.cers, have broken down the principal plants thereof, they are come [even) unto Jazer, they wandered [through] the wilderness : her branches are stretched out, they are gone over the

sea ; their fruitful country is wasted, so that they are obliged 10 9 flee. Therefore I will bewail thee with the weeping of Jazer,

or, with weeping bewail Jazer; the vine of Sibmah: I will water

thee with my tears, O Heshbon, and Elealeh : for the shouting 10 for thy summer fruits and for thy harvest is fallen. And glad

ness is taken away, and joy out of the plentiful field ; and in the vineyards there shall be no singing, neither shall there be shouting : the treaders shall tread out no wine in (their) presses; I have made [their vintage] shouting to cease ; there shall be

no more shouting and joy in harvest, or the vintage, berause all 11 shall be laid waste. Wherefore my bowels shall sound like an

harp for Moab, and mine inward parts for Kirharesh : the

prophet himself was deeply impressed with the prospect of their 12 calamities. And it shall come to pass, when it is seen that Moab

is weary on the high place, that he shall come to his sanctuary

to pray ; he shall first try his high places, then come to the temple 13 of Chemosh, his god, 10 pray ; but he shall not prevail. This

[is the word that the LORD hath spoken concerning Moab since 14 that time. But now the LORD hath spoken, saving. Within

three years, as the years of an hireling, that is, three praci yrar, and the glory of Moab shall be contemned, with all that great multitude ; their riches shall be lost, and their mullules become contemptible : and the remnant (shall be very small [and] feeble.*


[ocr errors]

THE dealings of God with the nations of the earth, are de

T signed for the establishment of the church. This was the pious answer Hezekiah and his people were to make to those who came to congratulate him on his success. God is still carrying on this as his grand scheme ; and, though we may not particularly see

• God had long ago determined on their destructing, but now, as their wickedness was increased, he fixed the time for it. Whether this prophecy Wissent avoch, or not, iscreer. tiin: it probably might be so, and it would servete contrithe ar plitesinlerelief at the divine foreknowledge and Providence, and strengthen this faith in the proteces To+11.8 to themselves.

how the means conduce to the end, the thought is very encouraging. And since God has such a regard to his church, and it is so firmly fixel, it is our wisdom to betake ourselves to it, to trust in it, and rejoice in its security amidst all the attempts of its enemies.

2. We are taught from the idolatrous Moabites to make prayer our refuge in the time of trouble. It is natural in distress for every man to cry unto his god. They cried to their idol gods; went up to their high places; wept and mourned there ; and when one god would not answer, thev tried another. How wretched is the case of idolaters! how happy the people, whose God is the Lord ! to whom they can go at all times, assured that their prayers will not be in vain.

3. We should lament the horrible desolations that war makes in the earth. What a dreadful description is here of the misery of Moab, from the incursions, ravages, and plunders of their enemies. The lords of the heathens devoured or carried away every thing. How should we pity our enemies, or our unkind and wicked neighbours, when they suffer such a calamity. Let us think tenderly of them; and for their sakes, as well as our own, and our allies, earnestly pray that war may cease. The servants of God, especially his prophets, should imitate the humanity and compassion of Isaiah, who speaks so feelingly of the distress of the enemies of God and Israel.

4. Let us learn to cultivate a readiness to help and relieve others in distress, whatever their character or behaviour to is has been. Whether we understand the prophet's advice to Moab as serious or ironical, it naturally suggests to us that we should help our fellow creatures under their sufferings, relieve the outcasts, shelter the oppressed from the cruelty of their oppressors, labour to promote justice, and show humanity and kindness to them that are in trouble ; then we may expect the same assistance should we be in like distress; and especially may we hope for the support and consolations of Christ, who sits upon his throne, judging righteously. Blessed ure the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy,

5. We see how uncertain the possessions of this world are, which should lead us not to set our hearts upon them. What the Moabites had gotten and laid up, their enemies carried away. Riches expose men to plunder and rapine, and thus often take away the lives of the owners thereof. Joy may soon cease out of the field ; and those who have no better or higher joy than such as the increase of wealth, corn and wine, and oil affords, will then be very miserable. But there is a treasure that cannot be taken away, a joy that cannot be lost, a treasure laid up in heaven, where neither moth nor rust can corrunt, nor thieves break through and steal ; a joy that springs from the light of God's countenance, in whose firesence there is fulness of joy, and at whose right hand there are pleasures for ever. more. This we should be chiefly concerned to secure. Let the language of our souls be, Lord, lift up upon us the light of thy countenance; and then, though the fig tree does not blossom, though there be no fruit on the vine, or calves in the stall, we may joy in the Lord, and rejoice in the God of our salvation,

CHAP. XVII, XVIII. As Syria and Israel had been confederates against Judah, the de.

struction of both of them is here foretold.

I THE burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is, or shall . 1 be, taken away from [being] a city, and it shall be a ruin.

ous heap ; it was soon after made so by the king of Assyria, see 2 2 Kings xvi. 9. The cities of Aroer (are] forsaken ; the province

of Suria shall be utterly desolate : they shall be for flocks which 3 shall lie down, and none shall make (them) afraid. The fortress also shall cease from Ephraim, and the kingdom from Damascus, and the remnant of Syria, which shall be no longer a kingdom, but a province 10 Assyria : they shall be as the glory of the chil

dren of Israel, saith the LORD of hosts ; they shall share in a com. 4 mon destruction. And in that day it shall come to pass, [that]

the glory of Jacob shall be made thin, and the fatness of his flesh

shall wax lean ; shall be wasted away, like a man in a consump5 tion. And it shall be as when the harvest man gathereth the

corn, and reapeth the ears with his arm ; and it shall be as he that gathereth ears in the valley of Rephaim, a fruitful valley near Jerusalem : he shall make clear riddance, so that none shall be left ; the Israclites shall be carried into captivity by the Assyrians,

(2 Kings xv. 29. xvii. 6.) with as much ease as a field of corn is 6 reaped and carried in. Yet gleaning grapes shall be left in it,

(the image of the harvest is still carried on,) as the shaking of an olive tree, two (or) three berries in the top of the uttermost bough, which were out of reach, four (or] five in the outmost

fruitful branches thereof, saith the Lord God of Israel ; a small 7 remnant shall be reformed, and saved, and return to Judah. At

that day shall a man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have

respect to the Holy One of Israel, and shall quorshin and serve 8 him. And he shall not look to the altars, the work of his hands,

neither shall respect [that] which his fingers have made, either

the groves or the images ; he shall no more trust in idols, or im. 9 ages in groves. In that day shall his strong cities be as a for

saken bough, and an uppermost branch,* which they left because of the children of Israel ; like the cilies which they, that is, the Canaanites, left to Israel: and there shall be desolation ; as the land cast them out, so it shall Israel ; or, as the Canaanites forsook their cities for fear of the children of Israel, when they came

to prossess the land, so they shall be forsaken again now for fear of 10 the Assyrians. Because thou hast forgotten the God of thy

salvation, and hast not been mindful of the rock of thy strength,

therefore shalt thou plant pleasant plants, and shalt set it with 11 strange slips : In the day shalt thou make thy plant to grow,

and in the morning shalt thou make thy seed to flourish ; [but) the harvest [shall be) a heap in the day of grief and of desperale

• The Seventy render it, As the Hiciles and Amorites.

sorrow ; they shall be greatly disappointed in their most sanguine expectations, as the husbandman, when, after great pains, the har. vest is ruined. We have then a prophecy of the destruction of the

Assyrian army, to the end of the next chapter. 12 Wo to the multitude of many people, to the many allies and

auxiliaries of the Assyrians, [which) make a noise like the noise of the seas ; and to the rushing of nations, [that] make a rush

ing like the rushing of mighty waters ! who come violently, as if 13 they would destroy my people at once. The nations shall rush

like the rushing of many waters ; but (God,] who is able to do it, but whom they do not think of, shall rebuke them, and they shall flee far off, and shall be chased as the chaff of the mountains be

fore the wind, and like a rolling thing before the whirlwind. 14 And behold at evening tide trouble ; [and] before the morning

he (is) not; referring to the destruction of the Assyrians in one night. This [is] the portion of them that spoil us, and the lot of them that rob us ; of other enemies as well as those.

CHAP. XVIII.* Wo to the land shadowing with wings, that strelches out its long wings or armies, which [is] beyond the 2 rivers of Ethiopia, or, which passes to the river of Ethiopia. That

sendeth ambassadors by the sea, as well as by land, even in vessels of bulrushes, or reeds, upon the waters, (saying,] Go, ye swift messengers, to a nation scattered and peeled, thus scornfully and contemptuously shall they speak of the Jews, to a people terrible from their beginning hitherto ; a nation meted out and trodden down, whose land the rivers, that is, the Assyrians, (ch. 3 xvii. 12.) have spoiled! All ye inhabitants of the world, and

dwellers on the earth, see ye when he lifteth up an ensign on the mountains ; and when he bloweth a trumpet, hear ye ; observe

the prediction and the accomplishment ; see what God will do. 4 For so the LORD said unto me, I will take my rest, and I will

consider in my dwelling place, or, regard my set dwelling place, like a clear heat upon herbs, [and] like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest ; though I seem to be asleep and unconcerned, yet

I will defend my dwelling place, will make it a safe and delightful 5 repose, and continually watch over it. For afore the harvest, when the bud is perfect, and the sour grape is ripening in the flower, he shall both cut off the sprigs with pruning hooks, and take away [and] cut down the branches ; when their schemes are

ripening, and they think themselves sure of success, the Assyrians shall 6 be utterly destroyed. They, that is, all the enemies of God's people,

shall be left together unto the fowls of the mountains, and to

the beasts of the earth : and the fowls shall summer upon them, 7 and all the beasts of the earth shall winter upon them. In that

time shall the present be brought unto the Lord of hosts of a people scattered and peeled, and from a people terrible from their beginning bitherto ; a nation meted out and trodden under

• The learned are much divided in opinion who this chmter refers to Some think the Egyptiaos; others. Tirhakth, king of Ethiopia or Arabia, who came to help the Israelite against the Assyrians, but were destroyed by them. I rather thu kit refers to the Assyrials.

foot, whose land the rivers have spoiled, to the place of the name of the Lord of hosts, the mount Zion. Here the prophet retorts upon the Assyrians : ambussadors shall be sent to congratulate Hezekiah on the destruction of their army ; presents shall be sent from Egypt and Echicpia, whom the Assyrians had conquered, to the mount Zion : or it may mean, thai the plunder of the Assyrian camp should be brought there..


1. It is very happy when affliction promotes reformation. The

1 Israelites had forsaken God, therefore he brought the Assyrians upon them. Some, foreseeing the trouble, repented and returned to God, and put away their idols. Providence intends, by national and personal troubles and dangers, to cure us of sin, of spiritual idolatry, of the love of money, of pleasure, and of trusting in man. They are designed to bring us to look to our Maker, the Holy One of Israel ; to acknowledge his providence ; to humble ourselves before him and pray to him : and it is a merciful afHiction that brings us to this; then shall we become objects of the divine care and favour, and he will provide for our security and happiness. Though there be but few of this character, they shall not be lost, but be as a brand plucked out of the burning.

2. We here see the source of sin and misery : it is forgetting God, being unmindful of him as our strong defence, and the author of all our mercies and deliverances ; and the consequence will be, disappointment where we most expected comfort and relief. Let us beware then lest we forger the Lord our God. To be continually mindful of him is a most important duty ; it is the support of all other duties, and will be the source of serenity and joy amidst all the changes of this mortal life.

9. Let us not think God has forsaken his church, though he may sometimes suffer it to be in adversity and danger; though he seems to say, I will take my rest, and appears like one asleep, or as an unconcerned spectator. Let us not entertain the thought that he is so because he does not immediately appear; he will regard his dwelling place, take care of his own interest, and his people shall find a safe and delightful repose in him. Let us never indulge unbelieving fears and suspicions, for the Lord is a God of judgment ; his church is built upon a rock, and the gates of hell shall never prevail against it. One or another of its strongest earthly pillars may fall, but God will raise up others, and add to the church daily of such as shall be saved.

« PreviousContinue »