n exhortation to repentance. (1-3) Israel's instability and
breach of the covenant. (4-11)
Verses 1-3: Those who have gone from God by consent, and in a body,
drawing one another to sin, should, by consent and in a body,
return to him, which will be for his glory, and their good. It
will be of great use for support under afflictions, and to
encourage our repentance, to keep up good thoughts of God, and
of his purposes and designs concerning us. Deliverance out of
trouble should be to them as life from the dead. God will revive
them: the assurance of this should engage them to return to him.
But this seems to have a further reference to the resurrection
of Jesus Christ. Let us admire the wisdom and goodness of God,
that when the prophet foretold the deliverance of the church out
of her troubles, he should point out our salvation by Christ;
and now these words are fulfilled in the resurrection of Christ,
it confirms our faith, that this is He that should come and we
are to look for no other. Here is a precious blessing promised;
this is life eternal, to know God. The returns of the favour of
God are secured to us as firmly as the return of the morning
after a dark night. He shall come to us as the latter and former
rain unto the earth, which refreshes it, and makes it fruitful.
The grace of God in Christ is both the latter and the former
rain; and by it the good work of our fruit-bearing is begun and
carried on. And as the Redeemer was raised from the grave, so
will He revive the hearts and hopes of all that trust in him.
The feeblest glimpse of hope in his word, is a sure earnest of
increasing light and comfort, which shall be attended with
purifying, comforting grace that makes fruitful.
Verses 4-11: Sometimes Israel and Judah seemed disposed to repent under
their sufferings, but their goodness vanished like the empty
morning cloud, and the early dew, and they were as vile as ever.
Therefore the Lord sent awful messages by the prophets. The word
of God will be the death either of the sin or of the sinner. God
desired mercy rather than sacrifice, and that knowledge of him
which produces holy fear and love. This exposes the folly of
those who trust in outward observances, to make up for their
want of love to God and man. As Adam broke the covenant of God
in paradise, so Israel had broken his national covenant,
notwithstanding all the favours they received. Judah also was
ripe for Divine judgments. May the Lord put his fear into our
hearts, and set up his kingdom within us, and never leave us to
ourselves, nor suffer us to be overcome by temptation.