Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
The burden of the word of the LORD for Israel, saith the LORD, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him.Confirmation
There are two great senses in which we may take the verse; both equally true: both very, though not perhaps equally, comforting.
I. 'He that is feeble among them shall be as David.' The promise is to you; and so it had need to be. You, in all your infirmity—you, so unequally matched with the prince of the power of this world—a feeble soldier on one side, on the other, principalities, and powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, spiritual wickedness in high places—you, to resemble the most glorious Victor of all? You to be like Him in the time of His greatest victory? Even so: and in one particular of that victory you must more especially resemble Him. How did He conquer? Not with Saul's armour: not by the outward show of defence and attack; but by the commonest of all weapons, the five smooth stones, and by the sling which he had so often used in the little incidents of his shepherd's life. So of you: in and by little things you must achieve this conquest; by the ordinary circumstances of your life, for the most part, and not in great and out-of-the-way efforts or trials.
II. 'He that is feeble among them shall be as David.' But of that same David I read in another place, 'David waxed faint'. And it was with no common faintness, no common exhaustion that He Whom we love was faint for our sakes. When the darkness of death was closing over His eyes, and the damp of death was resting upon His forehead, and His tongue had spoken the last words of earthly love, 'Behold thy Mother!' David waxed faint with that faintness which needed the three days' rest in the grave to turn it into everlasting strength. Then the promise is, He that is feeble among you, shall, in that weakness, by that weakness, not in spite of it, but by means of it, be as David. But here we must take in three little words that we have hitherto left out. It is not every weakness that will make us like Him, any more than it is all pain which will make us like Him. We may suffer with the impenitent thief, as well as with Christ: we may be weak like Reuben—'Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel'—as well as like Christ. So, to look at the text again: 'He that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David'. What day? When Jerusalem shall be on the one side, and the banded world against it on the other: when there is no thought of peace, no offer of quarter between the clean and the unclean, between the holy and the unholy: when the battle shall be as persevering and lengthened as it is earnest, then, 'he that is feeble among them shall be as David'. Now, take the condition, and you have the promise. Let your battle be like that of which the Prophet speaks.
—J. M. Neale, Occasional Sermons, p. 96.
References.—X. 11, 12.—J. M. Neale, Sermons on the Prophets, vol. ii. p. 192. X. 12.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxx. No. 1805. XI. 2.—P. M'Adam Muir, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxxi. 1907, p. 68. XI. 12, 13.—W. Hay M. H. Aitken, Mission Sermons (2nd Series), p. 204. XII.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. 1. No. 2901. XII. 1.—J. Leckie, Sermons Preached at Ibrox, p. 21. XII. 8.—J. M. Neale, Sermons on the Prophets, vol. ii. p. 201.
We are to offer to God the sacrifice of broken and contrite hearts. Where shall we gain this offering? Here, as ever, this is true: we can only give to God what God first gives to us; and the answer conies in the words of our text. In it there is given to us the revelation of the genesis of contrition. In a day of religious indifference Zechariah is privileged to look upon a vision that kindles hope. He sees the people turning from their sins to God with deep contrition.
I. Contrition must be learned at the foot of the Cross.
Contrition is the breaking of the sinner's heart in union with the broken heart of Jesus. All contrition flows from the vision of the Crucified. Our Lord's death upon the cross was the expression of a perfect; contrition. He sorrowed with a perfect sorrow for the sins of men. He condemned those sins with a perfect condemnation. He bowed Himself down under the Father's hand, and bore the penance of those sins with a perfect conformity of will. His is a meritorious contrition.
II. Whence is it that there is this power in the.' vision of the Crucified to awaken and develop contrition in the penitent's heart?
1. There is an assimilating power in the vision of Jesus in His Passion.
2. There is an illuminating power. We see our sin, and we see the love of God, and we see the path of duty.
3. There is an attractive power. Sin loses its attractions.
—George Body, The Sermon Year Book, 1891, p. 355.
References.—XII. 10.—R. A. Suckling, Sermons Plain and Practical, p. 15. J. Henderson, Sermons, p. 240. G. Body, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxvii. 1905, p. 185; see also Church Times, vol. xxix. 1891, p. 240. F. E. Paget, Helps and Hindrances to the Christian Life, vol. i. p. 135. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. x. No. 575; vol. xxiii. No. 1362; vol. xlvi. No. 2683; vol. 1. No. 2901. XII. 10, 11.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxiii. No. 1983. XII. 10-14.—Ibid. vol. xli. No. 2431. XII. 10-14; XIII. 1.—A. Whyte, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lix. 1901, p. 387. XII. 12-14.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xliii. No. 2510. XIII. 1.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvii. No. 971. XIII. 1, 2.—Ibid. vol. xli. No. 2431.
Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.
And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for 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.
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 of Judah, and will smite every horse of the people with blindness.
And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, The inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be my strength in the LORD of hosts their God.
In that day will I make the governors of Judah like an hearth of fire 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 left: and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem.
The LORD also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem do not magnify themselves against Judah.
In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; 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.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall 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.
In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon.
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 family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family of Shimei apart, and their wives apart;
All the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart.