The 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.
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