THE SECOND BURDEN.
In vs. 1-9, the prophet proceeds to announce
heathen powers. Hostile nations gather together against Jerusalem, but
shall themselves be overthrown; for the people and their leaders, trusting
in the Lord, overcome all opposition.
1 “The burden of the word of the LORD for
which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the
earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him.”
burden of the word of the Lord for (concerning)
This is the title of the second oracle, corresponding to that at the head of
ch. 9. Though the literal Israel has been rejected, as we saw in the last
“burden,” a new people of God. arises (Hosea 1:10), the Messianic
theocracy, which is also called
delineates, describing its probation, its contests, triumph, and development.
The body is like its Head; as the good Shepherd, Christ, was persecuted
and rejected, so His members, the true Israelites, suffer at the hand of the
world and Satan, before they are finally glorified. Some critics suppose that
Jeremiah 23:6 (see note on ch. 1:19). It is best to put a full
stop after “
or “The saying of Jehovah.” Which stretcheth forth the heavens, etc.
(compare Isaiah 42:5; Amos 4:13). The attributes of God. are
mentioned here that all may believe that what He has promised, that He is
able to perform. He is not only the Creator, but also the Preserver of all
things (Psalm 104:2-4; Hebrews 1:10. Formeth the spirit of man
within him. God creates the souls of men, and molds and guides them. In
life and death men work out His purposes (Numbers 16:22; Hebrews 12:9).
The Universe (v. 1)
“The burden of the word of the Lord for
stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and
formeth the spirit of man within him.” This chapter, and on to v. 6 of the
following, most expositors regard as referring to
victory, conversion and ultimate holiness. The first verse announces how
OF ALL ENEMIES! The passage before us suggests a few thoughts
concerning the universe.
MATTER AND OF MIND. The phrase “heavens” and “earth” is used
here and elsewhere to represent the whole creation.
Ø It includes matter. Of the essence of matter we know nothing; but
by the word we mean all that comes within the cognizance of our
senses, all that can be felt, heard, seen, tasted. HOW EXTENSIVE
IS THIS MATERIAL DOMAIN! Science shows that it baffles all
efforts and methods of mensuration.
Ø It includes the mind. Indeed, mind is here specified. “And formeth
the spirit of man within him.” Man has a spirit. Of this he has
stronger evidence than he has of the existence of matter. He is
conscious of the phenomena of mind, but not conscious of the
phenomena of matter. Man’s mind is only an insignificant part
and a humble representative of THE IMMEASURABLE
UNIVERSE OF THE SPIRIT!
BEING. “The Lord, which stretcheth forth the heavens,” etc. It had an
origin; it is not eternal. The idea of its eternity involves contradictions. It
had an origin; its origin is not fortuitous; it is not the production of chance.
The idea of its springing from chance may live in the region of speculation,
but never in the realm of INTELLIGENT CONVICTION! It had an origin;
its origin is not that of a plurality of creators; it has one, and only one —
“THE LORD!” This is the only philosophic account of its origin, “Thou,
Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the
heavens are the works of thy hands.” (Hebrews 1:10)
CONCERNING THE HUMAN RACE. “The burden of the word of the
Lord for Israel, saith the Lord.” This may mean, “the sentence of the word
of the Lord concerning
portion of the Bible — purports to be A REVELATION OF HIS PURPOSE
TO MANKIND! He has not created us without an object, nor placed us on
this earth without an object; both in OUR CREATION and PRESERVATION
HE HAS A PURPOSE! This being so:
Ø No events in human history are accidental.
Ø The grand purpose of our life should be the fulfillment of His will.
“Not my will, but thine be done.”
ABLE TO ACCOMPLISH. His creative achievements are here mentioned
as a pledge of the purposes hereafter announced. EVERY PURPOSE OF
THE LORD WILL BE PERFORMED! Has He purposed that all mankind
shall be converted to His Son? It shall be done. “There is nothing too hard
for the Lord.” (Jeremiah 32:17; Luke 1:37)
2 “Behold, I will make
people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against
a bowl whose contents cause staggering and reeling, ὡς πρόθυρα σαλευόμενα –
hos prothura saleuomena - as tottering porticoes (Septuagint); superliminare
crapulae (Vulgate). This Jerome explains to mean that any one who crosses the
and type of the Messianic theocracy; the hostile powers of the world crowd
round her, like thirsting men round a bowl of wine; but they find the
drought is fatal to them; they stagger back discomfited and destroyed. The
figure of the cup and drunkenness is often employed to denote the
judgment of God upon transgressors, which makes them incapable of
defence or escape (compare Isaiah 51:17; Jeremiah 25:15, etc.; 51:39,
57; Habakkuk 2:16). The people; the peoples (so vs. 3-4, 6). The
heathen nations who war against God’s people. When they shall be in the
siege, etc. This gives a good sense, but the Hebrew will not allow it.
Septuagint, Ἐν τῇ Ἰουδαίᾳ ἔσται περιοχὴ ἐπὶ Ἱερουσαλήμ – En Ioudaia
estai periochae epi Ierousalaem - In
Cheyne, “And also on [or, ‘over ‘]
implied in the first clause of the verse] shall be, in the siege,” etc. Any
interpretation of the passage which makes
suitable. Lowe (‘Hebr. Stud. Comm.’) renders, “And also on Judah [shall
fall this reeling] during the siege [which is to take place] against
Jerusalem.” It seems best to render, with Alexander, “Also against Judah
shall it be in the siege against
all the country, shall be exposed to hostile invasion. This suits v. 5, where
3 “And in that day will I make
people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces,
though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.”
that attack it a weight not only too heavy to lift, but one which, itself
remaining unhurt, shall wound and injure those who attempt to carry it.
Jerome supposes here an allusion to a custom in the towns
which prevailed to his day (and, indeed, in
round stones of great weight at certain distances, by lifting which the
youths tested their bodily strength. But we do not know that this custom
existed in Zechariah’s time, and the nations are not gathered together for
amusement or display of strength, but for hostile attack. Septuagint,
λίθον καταπατούμενον – lithon katapatoumenon - a stone trodden down,
which reminds one of Luke 21:24, Ἱερουσαλὴμ ἔσται πατουμένη ὑπὸ ἐθνῶν –
Ierousalaem estai patoumenae hupo ethnon –
down by nations; by the Gentiles - Shall be cut in pieces; i.e. by the sharp
edges of the stone, or, as the Revised Version, shall be sore wounded. Though;
rather, and; Septuagint, καὶ ἐπισυναχθήσονται – kai episunachthaesontai –
: Vulgate, et colligentur. All the people (peoples) of the earth. This indicates
that the struggle spoken of is no mere local conflict, waged in Maccabean or
other times, but the great battle of the world against the Church, which shall
rage in the Messianic era.
Sin Self-Punishment (vs. 2-3)
“Behold, I will make
round about, when they shall be in the siege both against
all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though
all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.” There is in this
passage a principle by which the Governor of the world punishes malicious
men. That principle is this — the reaction of their efforts to injure others
causing injury of
themselves. It is here said that
confusion and destruction to the men who sought it, ruin. It is here said
render it, “a cup of intoxication.” It does not say that
forth any active efforts to wreak vengeance on its enemies, but that its
effect upon the enemies would be as an intoxicating cup; it will make them
reel and stagger in confusion. The thought of their own malicious conduct
towards it would produce an effect upon their own minds that would make
them tremble and become confused. (Once Christianized America should
know better! – CY – 2015)
that, in their endeavors to injure
I make three remarks in relation to this punishment by reaction.
Ø It is attested by every man’s consciousness. Every man who
attempts to injure another feels sooner or later that he has injured
himself. There is a recoil and a regret. In truth, the malign passion
itself is its own punishment. A man who cherishes anger towards
another injures himself more than he can by any effort injure the
object of his displeasure. In every malign emotion there is misery.
Ø It is attested by universal history. It is a law that runs through all
history, that the “mischief” of a man “shall return upon his own head,
and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate” (Psalm
7:16). The conduct of Joseph’s brethren and of Haman may be cited as
illustrations; but the conduct of the Jews towards THE MESSIAH is an
example for all times, most mighty and impressive. The blows which the
old Jewish nation struck on Him rebounded on their own heads and
ruined them. “Whoso diggeth the pit,” says Solomon, “shall fall therein;
and whoso rolleth the stone, it will return on him” (Proverbs 26:27).
the righteousness of his sufferings? He must feel, and feel deeply, that he
has deserved all and even more than he endures. Indeed, it is true that the
punishment of the sinner is self-punishment; it is the fruit of his own
doings. Witness Cain, Belshazzar, Judas, etc. (I recommend
Ø To guard men from the injuries of others.
Ø To restrain the angry passions of men.
· CONCLUSION. Let us in all our conduct to our fellow men practically
recognize the principle that with what measure we mete it shall be
measured to us again. (Matthew 7:2) “He that rolleth the stone, it shall
return upon him.” – as above. The stone of revenge and malice which
you have rolled at another shall come back upon the head of you that
rolled it — come back with a terrible momentum, come back to crush you.
4 “In that day, saith the LORD, I will smite every horse with
astonishment, and his rider with madness: and I will open mine
eyes upon the house
people with blindness.” I will smite every horse with astonishment
(consternation). Cavalry represents the forces of the enemy. Astonishment,
madness, and blindness
are threatened against
here they arc inflicted on the enemy. Madness. The riders should be so panic
stricken that they knew not what they did, and shall turn their arms against
each other (Haggai 2:22). Open mine
eyes upon the house of
i.e. will regard with favor and protect (Deuteronomy 11:12; I Kings 8:29;
Psalm 32:8). With blindness. They shall be blinded with terror.
The previous threat is repeated with this emphatic addition.
A Wonderful Siege. (vs. 1-4)
“The burden of the word of the Lord for Israel, saith the Lord,” etc. These
three concluding chapters seem to refer to one principal topic (“the burden
of the Lord for
times repeated expression, “in that day” – vs. 3,4,6,8,9,11: ch. 13:1,2,4;
ch. 14:6,8,9,13,20,21). The general preface or introduction to the special
succession of wonders which they announce to us is contained in v. 1,
setting forth, as it does, the wonder working nature of the God who foretells
them, in regard:
(1) to all above (the “heaven”);
(2) all beneath (the “earth”); and
(3) all within (the “spirit of man”).
See somewhat similar preface to a somewhat similar announcement of
wonderful doings in Revelation 21:5. After this introduction, in vs. 2-4,
we have described to us, as the opening wonder of all, a certain future
wonderful “siege.” In which description we may notice three principal
(1) the many enemies of the city besieged;
(2) its one Defender; and
(3) its complete defense.
peculiarity of this “siege” of
investment, “all the people” being “round about” (v. 2; see also Luke
19:43), but it is also to be an investment by an exceedingly large
assemblage of “peoples… gathered together” from all parts of the world.
Considering, indeed, the frequent use in these verses (some six times in all)
of the expressions “all” and “every,” and the apparent definiteness of
comprehension of the language in the end of v. 3, we seem justified in
believing that every separate Gentile nation or people will be employed in
this siege. All the rest of the world against
beginnings of this prophecy with Barak Obama, snubbing the prime minister
CY – 2015) Such is what we seem to see here. Such is what we seem to see
also in such passages as Ezekiel 38:1-16 (where note special mention, as in
v. 4 here, of “horses” and “horsemen”); Joel 3:9-17; Revelation 16:14-16;
20:8-9. Whether or not we consider all these passages to refer to exactly the
same times and events, at any rate they illustrate, if they do not apply to,
the universal league described here.
not to be on that account without a defender. On the contrary, they will
have the best of all, even JEHOVAH HIMSELF! Five times over, and
in two separate ways He gives them to understand this. He declares:
Ø That God will give heed to their case. “I will open mine eyes upon the
“perpetually” - I Kings 9:3; Daniel 9:18; and ch. 9:8 above).
Ø That He will give help in their need. He will give help by “making”
EXTREMITY! God will give help also by “smiting” those many
enemies (v. 4) who are leagued together for their destruction, and who,
therefore, require to be “SMITTEN” on their behalf; and what, of its
kind, could be more satisfactory than this double assistance? this
weakening of their enemies? this concurrent strengthening of
themselves (compare II Samuel 3:1)?
in degree as well as satisfactory in nature. What it proposed to do, that it
did. In particular, God, in this manner:
Bewildered the minds of all the enemies of
slumber that they were not able, and did not dare, in many respects, to
attack them. (There is such a demand for drugs in our culture and in
many of the nations of the world, where individuals desire to get
stoned out of their minds, how ironical, that this could be one of
God’s ways of taking man in his own craftiness [I Corinthians 3:19],
a la – supernatural hallucination in their minds????!!!!! – CY – 2015)
Completely as they seemed, by being “round about” the city,
to have it in their power, they were like men appalled and stupefied, and
left it alone (compare Genesis 35:5; II Kings 6:13-20).
Ø Also, when these enemies did find themselves able to devise measures
their strength by endeavoring to lift a heavy stone from the ground, the
only result being to crush themselves by its weight. So
be made to do thus to its foes — to all its foes, however numerous. It
would not only bruise, but destroy them, as though the sword had
“cut” them “in pieces.”
Ø Besides which, so we may perhaps understand v. 4, God would
Himself overwhelm their spirits. Having failed so fatally in their efforts,
those who survived, and their agents also, in utter panic, folly, and
ignorance, would be so far from being able to do further injury that they
would themselves be in need of defense. So surpassingly well can that
One Defender do for those that are His.
We learn something here, in conclusion:
1. As to the possibilities of the future. Who can say that such a gigantic
conspiracy of evil against a literally restored and renovated
such a triumphant delivery from it, may not MARK THE END OF THIS
AGE? Certainly far greater things, both in the way of manifested evil and
good, than have ever been witnessed hitherto, may yet be seen on this earth.
2. As to the true character of the present. This last conflict will be but the
fully developed result of a long previous conflict of a similar kind.
Compare the conspiracy and deliverance in long ago days described in
Psalm 83. (compare also, on the one side, Acts 28:22; and on the other,
5 “And the governors of
The governors (chieftains) of
The leaders of Judah have a profound, settled conviction that Jehovah is on
His people’s side. The inhabitants
strength. When they see the enemy discomfited (vs. 2-4) each of them
shall have confidence in the Divine election of
former jealousy, and see in her success a token of God’s protection and
their own final victory.
6 “In that day will I make the governors of
among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall
devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the
complete. The chieftains of Judah shall be like a chafing dish full of fire set
among dry faggots (compare Obadiah 1:18; Nahum 1:10). In a sheaf;
shall yet again dwell.
the attacks of the enemy, who tried to destroy and remove her, she shall
remain firm and unshaken in her own place. In
the theocracy where God has set her. So against the Church the gates of
hell shall not prevail, and the persecutions which she suffers increase her
stability and add to her numbers.
7 “The LORD also shall save the tents of
the house of David
and the glory of the inhabitants of
Instead of “first,” a preferable reading, supported by the Greek, Latin, and Syriac
Versions, is “as in the beginning,” or “as in former days.” The prophet declares
that the open towns and villages
enemy like the fortified city
GOD as so often has happened in old time. If “first” be the genuine reading, the
meaning is that the country people shall first be saved in order to prevent
against (be not magnified above)
save the chosen nation in such a manner that each part shall have its share
in the glory and honor. The leaders, represented by “the house of David”
fortified city, shall not be able to exalt themselves as more favored than
the rest of the people. BY GOD’S HELP ALONE is the victory won, and all
alike share in this.
8 “In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of
and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and
the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD
before them.” He that is feeble (literally, that stumbleth) among them ...
shall be as David. God shall endue the inhabitants of
marvelous strength and courage, so that the weakest among them shall be
a hero such as David, who killed the lion and bear and overcame the giant
(compare Psalm 18:32). The house of David shall be as God (Elohim).
The chiefs of the theocracy shall be endowed with supernatural might, the
expression, “as God,” being explained in the next clause. Septuagint,
ὡς οϊκος Θεοῦ - hos oikos Theou - as the house of God, as if it were of the
heavenly family. The translators seem to have thought the genuine expression
too unqualified. As the angel of the Lord before them. Even as the angel of
the Lord, who led the Israelites in all their wanderings (compare Exodus 14:19;
23:20; 32:34; Joshua 5:13-15). We see in this description an intimation of the graces
endowments bestowed upon every faithful member of the
A Wonderful People (vs. 5-8)
“And the governors of
Jerusalem shall be my strength,” etc. In the preceding verses the dominant
idea is that of
as a city inhabited (note end of v. 6, and the thrice-recurring expression,
“the inhabitants of
so regarded, we seem called upon to admire it, viz.
(1) as perfectly safe;
(2) as properly humble; and
(3) as amazingly strong.
In the end of v. 6, how
this condition of safety is described.
is spoken of as “inhabited again;” not deserted, i.e. as previously,
because of the attacks of its foes. Also as “inhabited again in her own
belonging to any but those who had been identified with it for so many
Ø How this description of safety is justified.
o It is so if we take v. 5 as it stands, by the thorough confidence
of the “governors” in the people of
this people to be their “strength” not with their lips only, but in
o Such confidence is a great element of safety, especially when
combined, as in this instance, with an equal amount of confidence,
on the part of both rulers and ruled, in Jehovah Himself (see end
of v. 5).
o For such a combination renders those rulers, like that famous
general who spoke of his well tried army as “able to go anywhere
and do anything,” an amazing power to their city in the way of
protection and defense. At any rate, so it was God made them to
be in this instance. Like flame when applied to things most
inflammable, so would He make them amidst the foes of His
people, viz. equally sure and equally swift to consume. How
safe a city when all those who threaten it can thus effectually
Ø Why this humility was secured; viz. because of its vital importance. If
either the leaders (“the house of David”) or the people should begin to
“magnify themselves” on account of those effectual means of defense
just described, they would at once be in danger again (Proverbs 28:26;
Jeremiah 17:5-6, etc.).
Ø How this humility was secured. The beginning of deliverance was to be
in something apart from
at first sight she might be inclined to despise. Such deliverance will,
therefore, be like a “soldiers’ victory” in its way. Rather, like that
deliverance we read of in II Kings 7, which began with certain
despised outsiders, and was clearly not their work, BUT GOD’S!
“The Lord shall save the tents
emphasis in these words.
Ø Because of the gracious continuance of God’s care, Whatever He had
already done for His people, so long as they are enabled to remain truly
humble and trustful, that He will go on to do still (see Hosea 13:1;
Proverbs 18:12; Isaiah 66:2).
Ø Because of the abundant results of God’s blessing. The very feeblest
amongst them should be made, in desire and intention, like the very
strongest, in that way, previously known (I Samuel 13:14; I Kings
9:4-5; 15:3, etc.). The leaders amongst them should be leaders indeed —
persons deserving to be followed as closely and fully as the
Angel-Jehovah, of whom we afterwards read, as in I Peter 2:21-22;
John 13:15; Philippians 2:5; I Corinthians 11:1, etc. This state of things
(apparently) the complete fulfillment of Deuteronomy 33:29.
These passages, though often obscure, serve to teach us the
three great Christian duties of:
o patience before God,
o humility as to ourselves, and
o forbearance towards others.
So far as plain, they are fitted to animate our hope and sustain our courage and
direct both our faith and our walk (II Thessalonians 3:5; II Peter 3:14;
Romans 15:4, etc.).
9 “And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all
the nations that
care to destroy the enemies of the Church, that they shall never prevail against it.
The words cannot apply to the literal Jerusalem, against which no such
confederacy of nations was ever formed.
His control. If so, there is no such thing as chance. Then whatsoever God
has promised He will certainly perform. Then to trust and to obey God
must be THE GREAT END OF OUR BEING! God’s friends are
blessed (vs. 2, 4). His enemies, intoxicated by pride, muster for the fight.
They are discomfited and driven back in headlong rout.
Ø Blindness seizes them,
Ø terror overpowers them;
Ø THEY PERISH
as at the Red Sea (I recommend arkdiscovery.com
and see the
Crossing) and in Midian’s evil day (compare Psalm 132:18).
commanding the confidence of the people. Bound together by their
common faith in God and devotion to the highest interests of humanity.
source, various in degree, adequate for every emergency, making the
weak strong, and the strong stronger. A united people, with settled
government, equal laws, courageous and faithful for the
united can stand against every assault, but divided becomes the prey
of her enemies. (Like
see I Kings 16:21 - CY – 2015) “Pray for the peace of
A Good Time for Good People (vs. 4-9)
“In that day, saith the Lord, I will smite every horse with astonishment, and
with madness: and I will open mine eyes upon the house of
and will smite every horse of the people with blindness,” etc. These words,
which are confessedly difficult if not impossible to interpret correctly (for
some say they are to be taken literally, others spiritually; some historically,
others prophetically), may be fairly used to illustrate a good time for good
people. In relation to this good time, I observe:
“In that day, saith the Lord, I will smite every horse with astonishment, and
his rider with madness: and I will open mine eyes upon the
and wilt smite every horse of the people with blindness.” Here the overthrow
of the enemies of
spirit of the military force of the enemy into such confusion that, instead of
Horses and riders individualize the warlike forces of the enemy. The rider,
smitten with madness, turns his sword against his own comrades in battle.
other hand, Jehovah will open His eyes upon
(I Kings 8:29; Nehemiah 1:6; Psalm 32:8). This promise is strengthened by
the repetition of the punishment to be inflicted upon the enemy. Not only
with alarm, but with blindness, will the Lord smite their horses. We have an
example of this in II Kings 6:18, where the Lord smote the enemy with
blindness in answer to Elisha’s prayer, i.e. with mental blindness, so that,
instead of seizing the prophet, they fell into the hands of
plagues, timmahon, shigga’on, and ‘ivvaron, are those with which rebellious
are threatened in Deuteronomy 28:28. The house of
the covenant nation, the population of
refers to the triumphs of the Maccabees, or to some wonderful victories of
the Jews in some future times, one thing is clear to us, that the time will
come for all good people when their enemies shall be entirely destroyed.
To every good man this victory is promised. “Be thou faithful unto death,
and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10)
The power here promised is:
The power of unity. “The governors of
The inhabitants of
their God” Observe here the confidence of the leaders in the people.
Without the people’s concurrent aid, their counsels and plans
and directions could, of course, be of little avail This the rulers should
feel, and should exult in seeing what ground they had for full reliance
on them in time of pressure and danger, which implies unanimity and
intrepid valor, combined with persevering effort, on the part of the
inhabitants. This union and valor would be the ‘strength’ of their leaders,
without which they must find themselves utterly powerless. A divided,
dispirited. heartless, dastardly soldiery or populace, is weakness,
disappointment, and discomfiture to the best-conceived plans of the
most bold, prudent, and experienced leaders. All good people over all
the earth will one day be thoroughly united — united, not in opinion,
for this would be, if possible, undesirable; but in devotion to Christ,
the common Center. This union is strength, Divine strength, “strength
in the Lord of hosts.” “Strong in the Lord and in the power of His
might.” (Ephesians 6:10)
Ø The power of conquest. “In that day will I make the governors of
fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about,
on the right hand and on the left.” As the fire consumes the wood
and the sheaf of straw, so would the men of
to conquer all the people “round about, on the right hand and on
the left.” God invests all good men with power to conquer their
spiritual foes; this is the power of faith — faith that overcometh
the world. (I John 5:4) This power, though weak in most, is
triumphant in many (see Hebrews 11.). It shall be all-conquering
second instance for the city or the country. It means, therefore, that in this
good time — whether it is past or to come — some, if not all, the Jews
that were scattered abroad will return and settle in their own home. The
language expresses re-occupancy and permanent possession. Those who
return — whether from
settle down in their old home. A time comes for all good people when they
shall settle down in a permanent dwelling place. Here they are “strangers
and pilgrims,” and have “no abiding city.” (Hebrews 13:14) But a glorious
country awaits them, an “inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that
fadeth not away.” (I Peter 1:4)
Ø They were to have equal honor. “The Lord also shall save the tents of
Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the
Ø They were to have equal protection. “In that day shall the Lord defend
the inhabitants of
day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the
angel of the Lord Before them. And it shall come to pass in that day,
that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come
feeble among them at that day shall be as David.” To the Jew, David
was the highest type of strength and glory on earth (II Samuel 17:8),
a man of war (ibid. ch.18:3);
such shall the weakest citizen of
become (Joel 3:10). “And the house of David shall be as God, as the
angel of the Lord before them.” The Divine Angel that went before
them through the desert, the highest type of strength and glory in heaven
(Exodus 23:20-22; 32:34). The house of David is the prince and his
family sprung from David (Ezekiel 45:7, 9). David’s house was then in a
comparatively weak state. Now, there is a time coming when all good
people shall have distinguished honor and complete protection. They
shall settle down in the heavenly
(see Revelation 21)!
be a satisfactory interpretation of these words, or attempted to give to
them a spiritual signification, I trust that, in using them as an illustration of
the good time coming for the good, I have presented a legitimate and a
useful application. A glorious time awaits all good men, in all lands,
Churches, nations — a time when they shall be delivered from all evil and
be put in permanent possession of all good. Seeing we look for such things,
“what manner of persons ought we to Be in all holy conversation and
godliness?” (II Peter 3:11)
ensue an outpouring of God’s Spirit upon
produce A GREAT NATIONAL REPENTANCE. (vs. 10-13)
10 “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants
look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for
him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for
him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” I will pour. The word
implies abundance (compare Ezekiel 39:29; Joel 2:28). The house of David, etc.
The leaders and the people alike, all orders and degrees in the
is named as the capitol and representative of the nation. The spirit of grace and of
supplications. The spirit which bestows grace and leads to prayer.
“Grace” here means the effects produced in man by God’s favor, that
which makes the recipient pleasing to God and delighting in His
commandments (Hebrews 10:29). They shall look upon me whom
they have pierced. The Speaker is Jehovah. To “look upon or unto”
implies trust, longing, and reverence (compare Numbers 21:9; II Kings 3:14;
Psalm 34:5; Isaiah 22:11). We may say generally that the clause intimates that the
people, who had grieved and offended God by their sins and ingratitude, should
repent and turn to Him in faith. But there was a literal fulfillment of this piercing,
i.e. slaying (ch.13:3; Lamentations 4:9), when the Jews crucified the Messiah, Him
who was God and Man, and of whom, as a result of the hypostatic union, the
properties of one nature are often predicated of the other. Thus Paul
says that the Jews crucified “the Lord of glory” (I Corinthians 2:8),
bids the Ephesian elders “feed the
purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28; for the reading Θεοῦ, see
the critics). John (John 19:37) refers to these words of Zechariah as
a prophecy of the Crucifixion (compare Revelation 1:7). The Septuagint
renders, Ἐπιβλέψονται πρὸς μὲ ἀνθ ῶν κατωχρήσαντο – Epiblepsontai
pros me anth on katochraesanto - They shall look to me because they
insulted, either reading the last verb differently, or understanding it figuratively
in the sense of assailing with cutting words; but there is no doubt about the
true reading and interpretation. Vulgate, Aspicient ad me quem confixerunt.
“Me” has been altered in some manuscripts into “Him:” but this is an evident
gloss received into the text for controversial purposes, or to obviate the supposed
impropriety of representing Jehovah as slain by the impious. That John seems to
sanction this reading is of no critical importance, as he is merely referring
to the prophecy historically, and does not profess to give the very wording
of the prophet. A suffering Messiah was not an unknown idea in
Zechariah’s time. He has already spoken of the Shepherd as despised and
ill-treated, and a little further on (ch.13:7) he intimates that He is
stricken with the sword. The prophecies of Isaiah had familiarized him with
the same notion (Isaiah 53., etc.). And when he represents Jehovah as
saying, “Me whom they pierced,” it is not merely that in killing His
messenger and representative they may be said to have killed Him, but the
prophet, by inspiration, acknowledges the two natures in the one Person of
Messiah, even as Isaiah (Isaiah 9:6) called Him the “Mighty God,” and
the psalmists often speak to the same effect (Psalm 2:7; 45:6-7; 110:1, etc.;
compare Micah 5:2). The “looking to” the stricken Messiah began
when they who saw that woeful sight smote their breasts (Luke 23:48);
it was carried on by the preaching of the apostles; it shall continue till all
whom they have crucified by their sins. They shall mourn for Him. There
is a change of persons here. Jehovah speaks of the Messiah as distinct in
Person from Himself. As one mourneth for his only son… for his
firstborn. The depth and poignancy of this mourning are expressed by a
double comparison, the grief felt at the loss of an only son, and of the
firstborn. Among the Hebrews the preservation of the family was deemed
of vast importance, and its extinction regarded as a punishment and a
curse, so that the death of an only son would be the heaviest blow that
could happen (see Isaiah 47:9; Jeremiah 6:26; Amos 8:10). Peculiar privileges
belonged to the firstborn, and his loss would be estimated accordingly (see
Genesis 49:3; Exodus 4:22; Deuteronomy 21:17; Micah 6:7). The mention
of “piercing,” just above, seems to connect the passage with the Passover
solemnities and the destruction of the firstborn of the Egyptians.
11 “In that day shall there be a great mourning in
mourning of Hadadrimmon in the
As if the above comparisons were not strong enough, the
prophet presents a new one, referring to an historical event, which
occasioned a universal mourning in
Hadadrimmon in the
refer to the death of King Josiah of a wound received at
battle with Pharaoh-Necho (B.C. 609), and to the national lamentation
made for him and long observed on the anniversary of the calamity (see
II Kings 23:29; II Chronicles 35:20-25). This universal and perennial
mourning is a figure of the continual remembrance of the death of Christ in
the Church. There is a difficulty about the identification of Hadadrimmon.
St. Jerome says it was a place in the Plain of Megiddo, near Jezreel, and
known in his day by the name of Maximianopolis. This is supposed to be
Rummaneh, seven miles northwest of Jezreel, on the southern edge of the
city about three miles south of Bethshean.
12 “And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the
house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house
of Nathan apart,
and their wives apart;” The land. Not
whole country. Every family apart. The mourning should extend to every
individual of every family (compare Ezekiel 24:23). David… Nathan. First
the royal family is mentioned generally, to show that no one, however, high
in station, is exempted from this mourning; and then a particular branch is
named to individualize the lamentation. Nathan is that son of David from
whom descended Zerubbabel (I Chronicles 3:5; Luke 3:27, 31). Their
wives apart. In private life the females of a household dwelt in apartments
separate from the males, and in public functions the sexes were equally
kept distinct (see Exodus 15:20; Judges 11:34; I Samuel 18:6; II Samuel 6:5).
13 “The family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the
family of Shimei apart, and their wives apart;” Levi… Shimei. As before,
the priestly family is first mentioned generally, and then individualized by
naming Shimei, the son of Gershon, and grandson of Levi, of whom was the
family of the Shimeites (Numbers 3:17-18, 21). In one sense, this prophecy
began to be fulfilled when a great company of priests were converted by the
preaching of the apostles (Acts 6:7).
14 “All the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives
apart.” All the families that have not been mentioned already.
Wonderful Sorrow (vs. 9-14)
“And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the
nations,” etc. There is much that is striking in the apparent connection of
this passage with that before. Just when God shall be seen by His people to
be “seeking” and bringing about (see v. 9) the overthrow and destruction
of their many enemies, they, on the other hand, will be seen to be
overwhelmed with sorrow of heart. Their souls, as it were, will be plunged
into darkness at the very breaking of day. The very thing they have hoped
for seems close at hand; and, lo! they are as men in despair. Equally
remarkable, next, with the time of this sorrow, is its character. So we shall
find, whether we consider:
(1) its peculiar origin; or
(2) its peculiar magnitude.
bring about the ordinary “sorrow of the world” (II Corinthians 7:10).
On the contrary, being sorrow which is “according to God” (II Corinthians
7:10), it has the “things of God” as its cause. In other words, it is occasioned:
Ø By the action of God on the hearts of his people. He “pours on” them:
o “The spirit of grace.” He gives them, i.e., in overflowing
abundance, those gracious influences of the Spirit of holiness
by which men are enabled to believe in Him as “the God of
all grace” (I Peter 5:10) and so are encouraged to pray
(Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6).
o The spirit of supplications.” He gives them, i.e., in similar
abundance, those other gracious influences of that same
Holy Spirit by which He is pleased both to guide men and
also to assist men in their prayers (Romans 8:26; Ephesians
6:18; Jude 1:20).
Ø By the consequent thoughts of God’s people about Him.
o They think of Him as having been “pierced” by their sins. This is
an especial feature, we know, in “godly sorrow” — its horror at
having sinned against God (Psalm 51:4; Genesis 39:9; II Samuel
12:13; perhaps also Isaiah 43:24, end; Ephesians 4:30).
o They think of Him as having been alienated by their folly. They
“mourn for Him” like those mentioned in I Samuel 7:2. After
their privileges are gone from them, they see, with sorrow, how
much they have lost. From none of these sources, we repeat,
is man’s natural sorrow found to flow forth.
deep waters are seldom broad; but here we have both.
Ø Peculiar depth. On the one hand,
o there is only one known kind of sorrow equally deep. As the
shades of life’s afternoon thicken around us, it is to our children
we look to give us comfort and hope, and to keep up the interest
of life in our hearts (Genesis 5:28-29; John 16:21). How peculiarly
great, therefore, the sorrow of losing a firstborn and only son
(Genesis 22:2; 49:3; Proverbs 4:3-4; Luke 7:12)! The loss
bewailed here is like that — loss of all! On the other hand,
o there had never been but one previous example of sorrow equally
deep, viz. the sorrow felt on the death of Josiah, almost the very
best (II Kings 23:25; 18:5), and certainly the last real, king among
the descendants of David — a sorrow the memory of which, in
the prophet’s own day, had not at all been forgotten, and the
sound of which is to be heard still by the world in the
Lamentations of Jeremiah (II Chronicles 35:25; Lamentations
Ø Peculiar diffusion. We find this sorrow described as pervading not the
city only, but all the “land.” We find it affecting every separate “house”
amongst the houses of
David [?]), whether well known or only little known (David and Nathan),
whether with good antecedents or evil ones (Levi and Shimei; see
Deuteronomy 33:8; II Samuel 16:5-13); also affecting every “family”
of every separate “house;” also every adult member of every family,
whether male or female. At once, therefore, in this tempest of sorrow,
they were all united, yet all “apart.” Even so, with their separate roots,
are the “trees of the wood,” when all moved by one wind (see Isaiah 7:2).
We see, in all this, something:
o To give us comfort and hope. Without attempting to dogmatize
on such a subject, we cannot but see, from this analysis of the
passage, what it seems to foretell, viz. the future conversion of
the whole people
CHRIST! (compare II Corinthians 3:13-16 with Romans
11:25-27; see also John 19:37; Revelation 1:7; and, in addition
to all that has been noted above, see how accurately this
application of the passage to a future national recognition of
viz. from “me” to “him” in v. 10, something the same as in
that other passage where the Angel-Jehovah is speaking, viz.
Genesis 22:12; and note, finally, as to the peculiar time and
character of this sorrow, the very remarkable language of
Hosea 3:5, end; while as to the joyful importance of such
an interpretation, see again Romans 11:12, 15).
o To give us instruction and warning. Equally great, for
example, ought to be our sorrow for sin (Romans 3:9, 29).
Equally, also, ought it to be founded on our thoughts about
Christ (John 16:9; Acts 9:4-5; Matthew 25:40, etc.). And
equally, finally, can we only hope to receive it as a gift
FROM ABOVE! (Acts 5:31; II Timothy 2:25).
The Great Mourning (vs. 11-14)
The scene depicted has reference first of all to the Jews. Already partially
fulfilled. But the principles involved are of universal application. Take it to
illustrate true repentance.
acting on our spirit. “The spirit of grace.”
of their fall, but never of their rising again. For them there seems no place
for repentance. Not the righteous. If man were innocent, there would be no
need for penitence. But sinners, as all have sinned, repentance is required
hand, how can the sense of sin be brought home to man’s conscience? On
the other, how can God, consistently with His righteousness, show mercy
to the sinner? The answer is found IN THE CROSS! Here we see, and
Ø The exceeding sinfulness of sin.
Ø The exceeding greatness of God’s love to sinners. “God
commendeth His own love towards us, in that, while we
were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
Ø Intensity. Thought and feeling. Sorrow deep and bitter.
Ø Thoroughness. Goes to the very root of the matter; real and abiding.
Society is made up of individuals. Change them, and you change all. The
whole lump will be leavened. When there is peace with God, purity of life,
brotherly kindness and charity, the old glory of the land will be restored.
Penitential Sorrow (vs. 10-14)
“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of
me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one
mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is
in bitterness for his firstborn,” etc. To whatever particular event this
passage refers, the subject is obvious and most important, viz. that of
penitential sorrow. And five things in connection with it are noteworthy.
and not Gentiles. “The house of David,
and the inhabitants of
— expressions which designate the whole Israelitish people. The Jewish
people had often been reduced to this state of sorrow. When in Babylonian
captivity they wept when they “remembered
bears a very close resemblance to those recorded to have taken place on the
to return to Himself, and to set their faces, with longing desire, to the land
of their fathers, inclined their hearts, when thus gathered home, to social and
collective acts of humiliation and prayer. The prayers of Ezra (Ezra 9:5-15),
Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1:5-11) and the Levites (ibid. ch.9:4-38), on those
occasions might be taken as models, in the ‘spirit and even the matter’
of them, for the supplications of
from their wider and more lasting dispersions.
Prophet Joel (Joel 2:28) refers to this outpouring of Divine influence.
“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all
flesh.” All genuine repentance for sin originates with God. He sends down
into human souls the spirit of grace and of supplications. The spirit of
grace is the spirit that produces in the mind of man the experience of the
grace of God; and this experience works repentance and inspires prayer.
shall look upon me whom they have pierced.” The expression, “upon
me,” is very remarkable. According to v. 1, the Speaker is the Lord, the
Creator of heaven and earth. But it is evident from what follows that we
are not to confine our thoughts exclusively to an invisible God who is
beyond the reach of suffering, for the same Jehovah presently represents
Himself as pierced by the Israelites, and afterwards lamented by them
with bitter remorse. The enigma is solved by the Old Testament doctrine
of the Angel and Revealer of the Most High God, to whom the prophet
attributes even the most exalted names of God, on account of His
participation in the Divine nature, who is described in ch.11 as undertaking
the office of Shepherd over His people, and who had been recompensed
by them with base ingratitude. “They shall look upon me whom they
have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him.” The “me” and
the “Him” are the same Person, and that Person He who says, in v. 10,
“I will pour upon the house of David.” In the first clause He is speaking of
Himself; in the second clause the prophet is speaking of Him. The Messiah
was pierced, and pierced by the Jews: “They pierced my hands and my
feet.” A believing sight of Christ produces this penitential sorrow.
“Alas! and did my Saviour bleed,
And my Redeemer die?
Did He devote His sacred head
For such a worm as I?”
shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in
bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” There are
few states of deeper and acuter sorrow than this — that which is felt by
affectionate parents when bereft of those objects of their fondest affections;
the one solitary object of their concentrated parental love; or the firstborn
and rising support and hope of their household. As to the poignancy of
this grief, it is further said, “In that day shall there be a great mourning in
Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon,”
(v. 11) Perhaps the greatest sorrow ever known amongst the Jews was the
sorrow in the
(II Chronicles 35:24). Jeremiah composed a funeral dirge on the
occasion, and other odes and lamentations were composed, and were sung
by males and females. But true penitential sorrow is far more poignant than
that occasioned by the death of an only son or a noble king. It is tinctured
with moral remorse.
land shall mourn, every family apart,” etc. All the families of the land shall
mourn, and all shall mourn “apart.” Deep sorrow craves loneliness.
CONCLUSION. There is one event in history — whether such an event is
referred to here or not — that answers better to the description here of
penitential sorrow than any other in the chronicles of the world; it is the
Day of Pentecost. Thousands of Jews assembled together on that day from
all parts of the known world. Peter preached to the vast assembly and
charged them with having crucified the Son of God. The Holy Spirit came
down upon the vast congregation, and the result was that, “When they
heard this, they were pricked in their heart” (Acts 2:37-40). Far on in the
future, it may be, a period will dawn in Jewish history when such
penitential sorrow as is here described will be experienced by all the
descendants of Abraham.
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