Malachi 2:16
"For I hate divorce," says the LORD, the God of Israel, "and I hate when a man covers himself and his garment with violence," says the LORD of Hosts. Therefore guard yourselves in your spirit and do not break faith.
Evil Covered UpW. Osborne Lilley.Malachi 2:16
The Minister of Divine TruthHomilistMalachi 2:4-17
The Divine Institution of MarriageD. Thomas Malachi 2:14-16
This verse is difficult to paraphrase. 'Speaker's Commentary' renders thus: "And hath no one acted thus (in putting away his wife) who yet had a remnant of sense in him?" The prophet makes the people say this in excuse of their conduct, and in allusion to the Patriarch Abraham, who put away his wife Hagar. Wordsworth puts the sentence interrogatively, "And did not one (Abraham) do it (i.e. put away his wife Hagar), and yet he had a remnant of the spirit?" The answer to the question is that Abraham was justified because he acted upon the special direction of God in seeking a seed within the covenant. But the people of Malachi's days were acting on pure self-willedness, and with no possible excuse of having received Divine directions. They were not serving God. God is served by the fulfilling of family obligations. He cannot be served by the shirking of ordinary obligations at the instance of unbridled passion.


(1) due self-control;

(2) quietly;

(3) thoughtfully;

(4) prayerfully.

Early marriages are natural, and may be prudent; but when they are the result of impulse, of wrong doing, or of lightness and inconsiderateness, they are a most fruitful source of trouble. No marriage should be consummated unless upon it the Divine blessing can be honestly, sincerely, heartily, and hopefully asked.

II. FAMILY OBLIGATIONS SHOULD BE MAINTAINED WITH PATIENT PERSISTENCY. Much occurs in married life to knit hearts together; but much must necessarily occur which, if permitted, would drive hearts asunder. Bearing and forbearing have to be resolute work until they become easy work. And every triumph over self makes every new triumph easier. If each lives for the other, all goes well. If either lives for self, all goes ill. "Let none deal unfaithfully by the wife of his youth."

III. FAMILY RELATIONS SHOULD BE BROKEN ONLY WITH EXTREME PAIN. Cases do occur. But every one who is anxious for the moral well being of the nation looks with extreme anxiety on the increasing readiness with which divorces are sought and granted. - R.T.

For one covereth violence with his garment.
Sin indulged gathers force and violence. The oozing stream from the bursting reservoir becomes a torrent, and the torrent becomes a deluge. Lust leads to treachery, treachery to cruelty, cruelty to violence. There is a terrible momentum in evil. Impetuosity in sin is human energy diabolically directed. The Jews that had put away their wives drove them from their houses with violence, and though conscious of the evils they were committing, yet appealed to the Mosaic law of divorce (Deuteronomy 24:1), and sought to make that law a garment to hide their sin. But the prophet reminded them that God was cognisant of their sin, and would reveal it.

I. THERE IS A DISPOSITION IN MEN TO COVER UP THEIR EVIL DOINGS. Men especially seek to hide acts of violence. Passion makes a man disreputable. The wrong-doer must put himself right with society. This is attempted in various ways.

1. By appealing to the Scriptures. Its teachings are perverted, its examples are distorted, and its injunctions are separated from their context, and wrongly applied. Truth is woven into a garment of sophistries to hide their sin.

2. By subterfuges and false explanations. Men think that their real characters are not known by their fellow-men. They try to make their vices appear virtues.

3. By sheltering themselves behind the evil practices of the great. The lower classes make a garment of the vices of the upper, individual responsibility is forgotten. The moral character of a deed cannot be covered by prevailing customs, however elegant, nor by popular vices, however applauded or legalised.

4. By exercising themselves in the indulgence of their passions. Excuses are the garments which some men ever wear. They excuse themselves —

(1)Because passions are not self-implanted.

(2)Because of their strength.

(3)Because they are generally yielded to.


1. Man is conscious of moral emotions. His evil acts trouble him. The loudest witness to a man's guilt is in himself.

2. Man is conscious of a sense of shame in guilt. Years of persistent vice can hardly prevent trembling confusion in the evil-doer when discovered in his sin. He is self-condemned and ashamed.

3. This disposition often leads to an increase of guilt. Confession of sin brings mercy, cleansing, and peace; but the covering of sin, callousness, Divine displeasure, and ruin. It manifests obstinacy and determined rebellion. Men seek to cover up evil —

(1)From fear of dishonour.

(2)To escape punishment.

(3)To silence conscience.

(4)To avert the anger of God.

III. THIS DISPOSITION TO COVER UP EVIL IS RECOGNISED BY THE LORD OF HOSTS. Vain are all subterfuges in an universe filled with God. Every evil is known by Him in its true character. Violence is not "expedient pressure"; it is violence.

1. His omniscience secures the detection of every evildoer.

2. His justice secures the avenging of the wronged.

3. His holiness secures the exposure and punishment of every wrong-doer, however carefully he may cover his violence as "with a garment."All covering of sin by man is folly. God alone can cover it by His mercy in Christ Jesus.

(W. Osborne Lilley.)

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