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The song of triumph over the king of Babylon.
1 For the LORD will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob.
2 And the people shall take them, and bring them to their place: and the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the LORD for servants and handmaids and they shall take them captives, whose captives they were; and they shall rule over their oppressors.
3 And it shall come to pass in the day that the LORD shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve,
4 That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased!
5 The LORD hath broken the staff of the wicked, and the
6 He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted, and none hindereth.
7 The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing.
8 Yea, the fir trees rejoice at thee, and the cedars of Lebanon, saying, Since thou art laid down, no feller is come up against us.
9 Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations.
10 All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us?
11 Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.
It is well to be reminded of our mortality.
On the overthrow of that power, spoken of under the name of Babylon, in the Book of Revelation, a voice from above is heard to say, "Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles, and prophets, for God hath avenged you on her." Rev. 18. 20. And so it was to be in the overthrow of the capital of Assyria, in the discomfiture and disgrace of its haughty monarch; when the people of the Lord, whom he had held in captivity should be replaced in their own land, ruling over their oppressors, and taking their captors captive, see Ezra 2. 65, when the Lord should give them rest and liberty, after their wearisome years of bondage; then would the king of Babylon in his turn be an object of universal scorn, and they whom he had most severely oppressed would most signally triumph in his fall.
And how awful are the words of this triumphant song, here set
down for the use of the people of the Lord, ready against the time of their return, ere yet they had been carried into captivity! How fearfully does it instruct us, that however unfit scorn may be for man as man to feel towards his fellow creatures, yet it is meet for God to express towards the wicked, meet for Him to authorize his people to express towards the most mighty and most haughty of mankind. The satisfaction which we naturally feel, in the downfall of pride, and of oppressive power, is too apt to be tainted with a proud and uncharitable disposition in our own hearts. But let us endeavour to learn of Him, who is at once just and merciful, whose perfect holiness is in entire harmony with his perfect love. For doubtless He would here teach his people, so to triumph, as never to presume, so to rejoice in the overthrow of the godless great, as to harbour no ill will against the persons overthrown.
And therefore it is stated, at the outset of this song, that the fall of the wicked king of Babylon is God's doing; "the Lord hath broken the staff of the wicked, and the sceptre of the rulers." The peace enjoyed by all men, high and low, is next dwelt upon as following on the downfall of this tyranny. Then comes a most appalling description of kings rising from their thrones in the regions of the dead, to greet the fallen potentate with words like these, "Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us? Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee." Such is the end of worldly greatness! Such must be at last the couch and the coverlid of those, whose persons are now pampered with indulgence the most tender, and lodged in state the most magnificent! How salutary for the great and wealthy of the earth, to be reminded of the vanity of worldly pomp, and worldly luxury! How profitable for all of us to reflect, that in the midst of life we are in death! How happy they, and only they, who whether they be high or low, rich or poor, live here as citizens of heaven; delivered by God's grace from the fear of death and hell; and, heirs though they be of an unfading crown of glory, yet meek and lowly in heart, humble before God, and charitable to all their fellow creatures!
May God teach us so to abhor iniquity, as at the same time to compassionate, sinners! May He so nourish in our hearts true Christian love, that we may be fitted to acquiesce and join, without default of charity, in the triumphs of divine justice!
The purposes of God against Assyria and Palestine.
12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
16 They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms;
17 That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?
18 All the kings of the nations, even all of them, lie in glory, every one in his own house.
19 But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcase trodden under feet. 20 Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial, because thou hast destroyed thy land, and slain thy people: the seed of evildoers shall never be renowned.
21 Prepare slaughter for his children for the iniquity of their fathers; that they do not rise, nor possess the land, nor fill the face of the world with cities.
22 For I will rise up against
them, saith the LORD of hosts,
24 The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall
25 That I will break the Assyrian in my land, and upon my mountains tread him under foot: then shall his yoke depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their shoulders.
26 This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth; and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations.
27 For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back? 28 In the year that king Ahaz died was this burden.
29 Rejoice not thou, whole Palestina, because the rod of him that smote thee is broken : for out of the serpent's root shall come forth a cockatrice, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent.
30 And the firstborn of the poor shall feed, and the needy shall lie down in safety and I will kill thy root with famine, and he shall slay thy remnant.
31 Howl, O gate; cry, O city; thou, whole Palestina, art dissolved: for there shall come from the north a smoke, and none shall be alone in his ap
pointed times. That the LORD hath founded 32 What shall one then answer Zion, and the poor of his peothe messengers of the nation? ple shall trust in it.
That God reigns over all in righteousness.
The song of triumph over the fallen king of Babylon is here continued. And in it we may observe, to what a height of arrogance and presumption a human being may be tempted by the possession of arbitrary power. This monarch, who had weakened other nations, and strengthened his own, is taxed with having vaunted that he would ascend by his prowess into the heavens, and become like unto the most high God. But instead of this, he is told, that he must go down into the grave, to the realms of departed spirits. When there, it will surprise the beholders to think, that such an one could have made kingdoms tremble, could have destroyed cities, and could have taken and have kept multitudes in captivity. And to make it manifest that such power, so abused, is hateful in the sight of God, the voice of the Lord joins in as it were with the triumph of his people; they contrasting the dishonour of the unburied king with the customary monuments of sovereigns, and God sentencing his offspring to slaughter, and declaring, that He will sweep his captured city "with the besom of destruction."
In confirmation of this prophetic vision, and as a sign of its ultimate fulfilment in the entire desolation of Babylon, the Lord refers to a prophecy previously revealed; and declares, in the most solemn manner, that He will inflict a signal defeat on the Assyrian power, in the land of Israel; whereby his people would for a time be relieved from the Assyrian yoke. See Ch. 10. 27. And He takes this occasion to assert, that his is a purpose which extends over the whole earth, his a hand which reaches irresistibly unto every nation of the world. And therefore He warns Palestina also, not to presume on safety, because one of the kings of Judah who had smitten it was dead. For He would Himself kill their root with famine, whilst his own people should enjoy abundance. And another king of Judah, a descendant of the first, should slay their remnant. And the account to be then given of their discomfiture, and of Judah's safety, would refer all to the arm of the Lord, and to the faith of his people in their God. Whilst then God reigns omnipotent, supreme, with none to call Him to account, yet behold, He vouchsafes to make it plain unto us his reasonable creatures, that He rules on principles of unerring justice. The faithful are they whom He protects. And those whom He dooms to disaster and disgrace are evil doers and their seed. So that they of every nation, who believe in Him devoutly, and serve Him faithfully according to their light, may join with gladness in the words to be proclaimed, after Babylon shall finally have fallen: "Alleluia; for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth." Rev. 19. 6.
The devastation of Moab foretold.
1 The burden of Moab. Be- unto Zoar, an heifer of three
cause in the night Ar of Moab is laid waste, and brought to silence; because in the night Kir of Moab is laid waste, and brought to silence;
2 He is gone up to Bajith, and to Dibon, the high places, to weep: Moab shall howl over Nebo, and over Medeba: on all their heads shall be baldness, and every beard cut off.
3 In their streets they shall gird themselves with sackcloth: on the tops of their houses, and in their streets, every one shall howl, weeping abundantly.
4 And Heshbon shall cry, and Elealeh their voice shall be heard even unto Jahaz: therefore the armed soldiers of Moab shall cry out; his life shall be grievous unto him.
years old: for by the mounting up of Luhith with weeping shall they go it up; for in the way of Horonaim they shall raise up a cry of destruction.
6 For the waters of Nimrim shall be desolate: for the hay is withered away, the grass faileth, there is no green thing.
7 Therefore the abundance they have gotten, and that which they have laid up, shall they carry away to the brook of the willows.
8 For the cry is gone round about the borders of Moab; the howling thereof unto Eglaim, and the howling thereof unto Beer-elim.
9 For the waters of Dimon shall be full of blood: for I will bring more upon Dimon, lions upon him that escapeth of Moab, and upon the remnant of the land. LECTURE 1116.
5 My heart shall cry out for Moab; his fugitives shall flee
The calamities of war are chastisements for sin.
It is an important circumstance, greatly helping us to ascertain the fulfilment of prophecy, that the land of Canaan, in which it pleased God to place his people, was situated in the very centre of the most renowned nations of antiquity. It lay in the midst of Egypt, Assyria, Persia, Greece, and Rome. And it is also remarkable, that the principal prophetic books were written, and many of the events to which they referred took place, at that period in the history of these great nations, concerning which we have the fullest accounts in the remaining writings of ancient authors. Hence we have the best means of proving, that the events took place exactly as they were foretold. Hence we are enabled to appeal to the gainsayer, and to ask him, of what period in time, or of what country at that period, could it be more truly said, that these things were not done in a corner? No; they were done before the face of all the world. All the monuments of antiquity must perish, before the evidence of prophecy can be shaken. The historians, the philosophers, and the poets, of Greece and Rome, and such fragments of the writings of the other ancient nations as have reached our times, all testify, as