Wesley's Notes on the Bible
Now gather thyself in troops, O daughter of troops: he hath laid siege against us: they shall smite the judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek.
5:1 Now gather thyself - Since this must be done, do it quickly. O daughter of troops - Nineveh or Babylon. He - Sennacherib, or Nebuchadnezzar. They - The proud, oppressive enemy. The judge - The king. Of Israel - Not the ten tribes, though they are actually called by this name, but the two tribes that adhered to David's family. A rod - This is a proverbial speech, expressing the most contemptuous usage.
But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
5:2 Bethlehem - Bethlehem of Judah was called Ephratah, from the fruitfulness of the land where it stood: the word whence it is derived importing fruitfulness. Art thou little - If thou art the least in other respects in this thou art honoured above them all. Ruler - King and sovereign. In Israel - Amidst the Israel of God. Going forth - Whose generation, as he is the Son of God, equal with his father, is eternal.
Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel.
5:3 He - God. Give them up - To the Chaldeans. She - The daughter of Zion, compared here to a woman in travail, shall be delivered out of captivity. His brethren - The brethren of the Messiah. Those of Judah and Benjamin who were carried captive.
And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God; and they shall abide: for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth.
5:4 He - The ruler, the Messiah shall stand. This posture speaks the readiness, chearfulness, and stability of Christ, his government, and kingdom. Feed - As a shepherd that diligently guides, preserves, and feeds his sheep. By the strength - By his own almighty strength. Of the name - By commission from the Father in whose name Christ came, preached, wrought miracles, and instituted his gospel church. They - His church made up of converted Jews and Gentiles, shall continue; the gates of hell shall not prevail against them. For - The church is so redeemed, and established, that Christ the Messiah might be glorified, throughout the world.
And this man shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land: and when he shall tread in our palaces, then shall we raise against him seven shepherds, and eight principal men.
5:5 This man - The Messiah. The peace - Which is promised to the people of God; all their deliverances are not only for his sake, but effected by his power. Shall tread in our palaces - Which Sennacherib did in all the cities of Judah, except Jerusalem. We - Hezekiah, and with him the prophets and people, shall prevail with God to send deliverance. Seven shepherds - A certain number put for an uncertain.
And they shall waste the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod in the entrances thereof: thus shall he deliver us from the Assyrian, when he cometh into our land, and when he treadeth within our borders.
5:6 They - The seven shepherds, and eight principal men, those great instruments of God's revenge, and his church's deliverance. Waste the land - So did Merodach Baladan, king of Babylon. The land of Nimrod - The same with the land of Assyria. The entrance - The fortified frontiers. In this manner shall he, the Messiah, deliver the Jews, his people. The Assyrian - The type of all other enemies, to the people of God.
And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the LORD, as the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men.
5:7 As a dew - This remnant wherever they are, shall multiply as the dew that refreshes the grass, so where this remnant is, it shall be a blessing to those about them, that use them friendly. As the showers - God shall bless them by his immediate hand, as he alone, without the help of man, gives dew and showers. As this was fulfilled in the type, before the gospel was preached to all nations, so it hath been, now is, and ever shall be fulfilled in ages to come. God's remnant shall be a blessing to the places they live in.
And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep: who, if he go through, both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.
5:8 As a lion - For strength and courage, which the beasts of the forest dare not oppose, and cannot resist.
Thine hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off.
5:9 Thine hand - Thou people of God.
And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots:
5:10 I will cut off - Not in judgment, but in mercy, for there shall be no need of them, nor shall the church of God any more rely on them. Thy chariots - Chariots prepared for war.
And I will cut off the cities of thy land, and throw down all thy strong holds:
5:11 The cities - Cut off the occasion of fortifying their cities, thou shalt need no other defence than what I am to thee.
And I will cut off witchcrafts out of thine hand; and thou shalt have no more soothsayers:
5:12 I will cut off - God will in mercy to his people take away these occasions of sin.
Thy graven images also will I cut off, and thy standing images out of the midst of thee; and thou shalt no more worship the work of thine hands.
5:13 Graven images - This was verified among the Jews, who to this day hate images for divine uses, and learnt this in their captivity.
And I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee: so will I destroy thy cities.
5:14 Thy groves - The groves which they abused by idolatrous worship.
And I will execute vengeance in anger and fury upon the heathen, such as they have not heard.
5:15 Have not heard - In an unprecedented manner. Christ will give his Son either the hearts or necks of his enemies, and make them either his friends or his footstool.