the mighty man and the warrior, the judge and the prophet, the soothsayer and the elder,
Cease ye from man."
I. THE RULERS OF THE PEOPLE REMOVED. Government is one of the necessities of human life. Hence the rulers are spoken of as "staff and stay, staff of bread and staff of water." Even bad rulers are better than none, so that they may be described as main props or supports of life. In the same way says Ezekiel, "I will break the staff of bread in Jerusalem" (Ezekiel 4:16; Ezekiel 5:16). To see how truly good government may be thus described, let us remember that, by timely and wise legislation, bread and other necessaries of life have been cheapened and secured to the people. With good government men may be well fed and prosperous even in unkindly lands, while through evil government once fertile plains (like the Roman Campagna) have become wastes.
II. THE NERVE AND STRENGTH OF THE NATION BROKEN. A nation needs heroes, men of courage for the battle-field. It needs men of discretion and integrity for the seat of justice and the bar. It needs men of religious faith and insight as prophets and teachers; and in every department, military, civil, ecclesiastical, scientific, there is a constant demand for able and honest men. There is to be a dearth of them in Jerusalem. The false leaders to whom the people have looked up, the idol-prophets and the magicians, are to be taken away along with the true. "Children" and "baby-boys," the prophet caustically says, shall become the princes and rulers of the nation. Ahaz was quite a young man; his "weakness of character and foolish humors would have been quite sufficient, in the sixteen years of his reign, to put the whole kingdom out of joint." The picture may remind us that men of intelligence and virtue are the great necessity in every time. If in the state statesmen are not being bred, and in the Church weak and illiterate men swarm, it is a sign of most certain moral weakness and decay.
III. ANARCHY THE RESULT.
1. In private life. Good neighborhood is broken up, for it must rest on the common recognition of law and custom; and what if these be subverted? Age and rank no longer command respect. The beardless boy affronts the hoary head, the churl would level the gently born with himself. Nothing is more odious than the leveling temper of troublous times; for the fine gradations of rank are part essentially of a system of higher culture.
2. In public life. So extreme is the need of guidance and rule, that private proposals will be made to almost any seeming respectable man to take up the reins of government. But none will be found willing to govern "these ruins," or to be chief of so mere a rabble. We may use the picture as an allegory of the soul. When sin has set our being at variance with itself, and all our confidence and self has failed, we may be glad to find any yoke that we may creep beneath. Yet this may be denied. Those who, in the rebellion of lust and self-will, have sought to be "lords of themselves," may find a heritage of woe entailed. "The soul would never rule. It would be first in all things; but this attained, commanding for commanding sickens it." - J.
The daughters of Zion are haughty.
(A. B. Davidson, LL. D.)
I. THE SIN CHARGED UPON THE DAUGHTERS OF ZION. The prophet expressly voucheth God's Authority for what he said, lest it should be thought it was unbecoming him to take notice of such things, and should be ill resented by the ladies. The Lord saith it. Whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, let them know that God takes notice of, and is much displeased with, the folly and vanity of proud women; and His law takes cognisance even of their dress Such a nice affected mien is not only a force upon that which is natural, and ridiculous before men of sense, but, as it is an evidence of a vain mind, it is offensive to God. And two things aggravated it here —
1. That these were the daughters of Zion — the holy mountain — who should have carried themselves with the gravity that becomes women professing godliness.
2. That it should seem by the connection they were the wives and daughters of the princes who spoiled and oppressed the poor (vers. 14, 15), that they might maintain this pride and luxury of their families.
II. THE PUNISHMENTS THREATENED FOR THIS SIN, and they answer the sin as face answers to face in a glass (vers. 17, 18).
1. They "walked with stretched forth necks." But God "will smite with a scab the crown of their head," which shall lower their crests, and make them ashamed to show their heads, being obliged by it to cut off their hair.
2. They cared not what they laid out in furnishing themselves with great variety of fine clothes; but God will reduce them to such poverty and distress that they should not have clothes sufficient to cover their nakedness.
3. They were extremely fond and proud of their ornaments; but God will strip them of those ornaments, when their houses shall be plundered, their treasures rifled, and they themselves led into captivity.
4. They were very nice and curious about their clothes, but God would make those bodies of theirs a reproach and burden to them (ver. 24).
5. They designed by these ornaments to charm the gentlemen, and win their affections, but there shall be none to be charmed by them (ver. 25).
( Matthew Henry.)
(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)
(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)1. Much of the worldly costume of our time is the cause of the temporal and eternal ruin of a multitude of men.
2. Extravagant costume is the foe of all Christian almsgiving.
3. Is distraction to public worship.
4. Belittles the intellect. Our minds are enlarged, or they dwindle just in proportion to the importance of the subject on which they constantly dwell.
5. It shuts a great multitude out of heaven. You will have to choose between the goddess of fashion and the Christian God.
(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)1. This wholesale extravagance accounts for a great deal of depression in national finances. Aggregates are made up of units, and so long as one-half of the people of this country are in debt to the other half, you cannot have a healthy financial condition.
2. The widespread extravagance accounts for much of the crime. It is the source of many abscondings, bankruptcies, defalcations, and knaveries.
3. It also accounts for much of the pauperism in the country. Who are the individuals and the families who are thrown on your charity? Who has sinned against them so that they suffer? It is often the case that their parents, or their grandparents, had all luxuries, lived everything up, more than lived everything up, and then died, leaving their families in want.
(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.).
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