he distress to come upon Israel. (1-6) The approach of the
day of trouble. (7-10) Judgments on Israel. (11-17)
Verses 1-6: Israel gave rewards to their idols, in the offerings
presented to them. It is common for those who are niggardly in
religion, to be prodigal upon their lusts. Those are reckoned as
idolaters, who love a reward in the corn-floor better than a
reward in the favour of God and in eternal life. They are full
of the joy of harvest, and have no disposition to mourn for sin.
When we make the world, and the things of it, our idol and our
portion, it is just with God to show us our folly, and correct
us. None may expect to dwell in the Lord's land, who will not be
subject to the Lord's laws, or be influenced by his love. When
we enjoy the means of grace, we ought to consider what we shall
do, if they should be taken from us. While the pleasures of
communion with God are out of the reach of change, the pleasant
places purchased with silver, or in which men deposit silver,
are liable to be laid in ruins. No famine is so dreadful as that
of the soul.
Verses 7-10: Time had been when the spiritual watchmen of Israel were
with the Lord, but now they were like the snare of a fowler to
entangle persons to their ruin. The people were become as
corrupt as those of Gibeah, (Jdg 19); and their crimes should be
visited in like manner. At first God had found Israel pleasing
to Him, as grapes to the traveller in the wilderness. He saw
them with pleasure as the first ripe figs. This shows the
delight God took in them; yet they followed after idolatry.
Verses 11-17.: God departs from a people, or from a person, when he
withdraws his goodness and mercy from them; and when the Lord is
departed, what can the creature do? Even though, for the
present, good things seem to remain, yet the blessing is gone if
God is gone. Even the children should perish with the parents.
The Divine wrath dries up the root, and withers the fruit of all
comforts; and the scattered Jews daily warn us to beware, lest
we neglect or abuse the gospel. Yet every smiting is not a
drying up of the root. It may be that God intends only to smite
so that the sap may be turned to the root, that there may be
more of root graces, more humility, patience, faith, and
self-denial. It is very just that God should bring judgments on
those who slight his offered mercy.