From the desolations about to come upon the land of Judah, by
the ravages of locusts and other insects, the prophet Joel
exhorts the Jews to repentance, fasting, and prayer. He notices
the blessings of the gospel, with the final glorious state of
plague of locusts. (1-7) All sorts of people are called to
lament it. (8-13) They are to look to God. (14-20)
Verses 1-7: The most aged could not remember such calamities as were
about to take place. Armies of insects were coming upon the land
to eat the fruits of it. It is expressed so as to apply also to
the destruction of the country by a foreign enemy, and seems to
refer to the devastations of the Chaldeans. God is Lord of
hosts, has every creature at his command, and, when he pleases,
can humble and mortify a proud, rebellious people, by the
weakest and most contemptible creatures. It is just with God to
take away the comforts which are abused to luxury and excess;
and the more men place their happiness in the gratifications of
sense, the more severe temporal afflictions are upon them. The
more earthly delights we make needful to satisfy us, the more we
expose ourselves to trouble.
Verses 8-13: All who labour only for the meat that perishes, will,
sooner or later, be ashamed of their labour. Those that place
their happiness in the delights of sense, when deprived of them,
or disturbed in the enjoyment, lose their joy; whereas spiritual
joy then flourishes more than ever. See what perishing,
uncertain things our creature-comforts are. See how we need to
live in continual dependence upon God and his providence. See
what ruinous work sin makes. As far as poverty occasions the
decay of piety, and starves the cause of religion among a
people, it is a very sore judgment. But how blessed are the
awakening judgments of God, in rousing his people and calling
home the heart to Christ, and his salvation!
Verses 14-20: The sorrow of the people is turned into repentance and
humiliation before God. With all the marks of sorrow and shame,
sin must be confessed and bewailed. A day is to be appointed for
this purpose; a day in which people must be kept from their
common employments, that they may more closely attend God's
services; and there is to be abstaining from meat and drink.
Every one had added to the national guilt, all shared in the
national calamity, therefore every one must join in repentance.
When joy and gladness are cut off from God's house, when serious
godliness decays, and love waxes cold, then it is time to cry
unto the Lord. The prophet describes how grievous the calamity.
See even the inferior creatures suffering for our transgression.
And what better are they than beasts, who never cry to God but
for corn and wine, and complain of the want of the delights of
sense? Yet their crying to God in those cases, shames the
stupidity of those who cry not to God in any case. Whatever may
become of the nations and churches that persist in ungodliness,
believers will find the comfort of acceptance with God, when the
wicked shall be burned up with his indignation.