The first part of this chapter, with several passages in chap. 14., relates to an invasion that shall be made on the inhabitants of Judea and Jerusalem in the latter ages of the world, some time after the restoration and settlement of the Jews in their own land. It also describes, in very magnificent terms, the signal interposition of God in their favour. From this the prophet proceeds in the latter part of the chapter, 10-14, to describe the spiritual mercies of God to converting his people; and gives a very pathetic and affecting account of the deepsorrow of that people, when brought to a sense of their great sin in crucifying the Messiah, comparing it to the sorrow of a parent for his first-born and only son, or to the lamentations made for Josiah in the valley of Megiddon, 2 Chron. xxxv. 24, 25. A deep, retired sorrow, which will render the mourners for a season insensible to all the comforts and enjoyments of the most endearing society.
NOTES ON CHAP. XII
Verse 1. "The burden of the word of the Lord" - This is a new prophecy.
It is directed both to Israel and Judah, though Israel alone is mentioned in this verse.
"Formeth the spirit of man within him." - Then it is not the same substance with his body. It is a SPIRIT within HIM.
Verse 2. "Jerusalem a cup of trembling" - The Babylonians, who captivated and ruined the Jews, shall in their turn be ruined.
"I incline to think that what is spoken in this chapter about the Jews and Jerusalem, belongs to the "glory of the latter times." Shall be in the siege" - This may refer to some war against the Church of Christ, such as that mentioned Rev. xx. 9.
Verse 3. "A burdensome stone" - Probably referring to that stone which was thrown on the breast of a culprit adjudged to lose his life by stoning, by which the whole region of the thorax, heart, lungs, liver, &c., was broken to pieces.
Verse 4. "I will smite every horse" - Some apply this to the wars of the Maccabees with the Syrians; but it is more likely to be a prophecy not yet accomplished. The terms are too strong for such petty and evanescent victories as those of the Maccabees.
Verse 5. "The governors of Judah" - This supposes a unton between the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah.
Verse 6. "Jerusalem shall be inhabited again" - This seems to refer to the future conversion of the Jews, and their "return to their own land."
Verse 7. "The Lord also shall save the tents of Judah first" - This, I suppose, refers to the same thing. The Gospel of Christ shall go from the least to the greatest. Eminent men are not the first that are called; the poor have the Gospelpreached to them. And this is done in the wise providence of God, that the "glory of the house of David," &c., that secular influence may appear to have no hand in the matter; and that God does not send his Gospel to a great man, because he is such.
Verse 8. "He that is feeble among them-shall be as David" - Here is a marked difference between Judaism and Christianity. So clear, full, and efficient shall be the salvation of believers under the Gospel that the feeblest among them shall be as strong, as full of courage, and as successful as David when he went against Goliath. The least in the kingdom of heaven was greater than John the Baptist.
Verse 9. "I will seek to destroy all the nations" - When this time shall arrive, all nations that "will not receive the faith of our LordJesus" shall be destroyed, when the longsuffering of God shall no longer wait upon them. This seems to belong to a period yet very remote.
Verse 10. "I will pour upon the house of David" - This is the way in which the Jews themselves shall be brought into the ChristianChurch. 1.
"They shall have the spirit of grace," God will show them that he yet bears favour to them. 2. They shall be excited to fervent and continual prayer for the restoration of the Divine favour. 3. Christ shall be preached unto them; and they shall look upon and believe in him whom they pierced, whom they crucified at Jerusalem. 4. This shall produce deep and sincere repentance; they shall mourn, and be in bitterness of soul, to think that they had crucified the Lord of life and glory, and so long continued to contradict and blaspheme, since that time.
Verse 11. "A great mourning" - A universal repentance.
Verse 12. "Every family apart" - The meaning of the word apart, which recurs here so often, may be this: Their sorrow shall be so deep and distressing, that every one will endeavour to avoid another, and vent his grief and distress of soul in private. And even husbands and wives
shall separate from each other in this general mourning, as they were obliged to do by law in certain circumstances. See 1 Cor. vii. 5, and the note there.