Matthew Poole's Commentary
This short prophecy will not need any long prefatory argument. He concealeth his nation, family, and place of his birth and abode, which he would not have done had it much concerned us to know, or would it have added any thing material to the authority and efficacy of his word. Yet perhaps we should be thought too slight, if we did not tell you, that some thought him to be a proselyted Edomite, filled with the prophetic Spirit, that he might be sent to declare God's judgments against Edom; but this suggestion will no more prove him an Idumean, than it will prove Jonah or Nahum to be proselyted Assyrians; or Isaiah, Amos, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel to be of so many different countries, because they prophesied against so many different nations. Some others will have him the same that was great with Ahab, but greater with God, hiding and feeding his prophets by fifty in a cave. But this is too early for this prophet, as is noted in the annotations. And that he was captain of the band of fifty whom, on his request, Elijah spared; or that he was one of those sent by Jehoshaphat, 2Ch 17:7, to instruct the Jews, as is said by some; hath more against than can be said for it. But it is certain he was a prophet sent of God, and that his diligence and faithfulness answered his name, Obadiah, i.e. the servant of the Lord, whose message he delivered, though we are not certain when, in what king's reign, or what prophets he was contemporary with: some guess he was contemporary with Jeremiah, and they think the 37th and 39th chapters, besides Lam 4:21, afford arguments to prove it; but if they did not live in the same time, they preached the same things against Edom, which were in due time fulfilled, though we cannot precisely define the time. It is indisputable, that Edom's cruelty, perfidiousness, pride, and rapine against Jacob were the principal causes of this Divine anger against Edom, and yet it admits some dispute when it was Edom did so barbarously lay wait for, cut off, or deliver up the fleeing Jews, whether when Shishak spoiled Jerusalem, or when Nebuchadnezzar sacked it and led the citizens captives. I rather think it had been a constant course observed by Edom to run in with all that invaded Judea, whether Philistines, Syrians, Assyrians, or Chaldeans, who were cruel enough, but yet Edom was more cruel; for this cause our prophet both threatens punishments upon them, and warns them of their approaching ruin. Some think the prophet warns Edom that they should not do what is here specified; I think he threatens because they had done it. In brief, the accommodating the particulars of this prophecy to their particular times and persons concerned, as it requires some good diligence and skill, so it will ever leave room for modesty towards those that it is likely will differ from us in accommodating them. Edom, type of all the church's enemies, shall be destroyed, and Christ's kingdom shall be set up; as Obadiah foretells, the church believeth, and so shouldst thou, reader.