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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary
Zechariah 9

 

 

Verses 1-4

CRITICAL NOTES.] Hadrach] Part of Syria, near Damascus. Rest] On which God's wrath shall rest, and permanently abide. Eyes] of Israel, and of other people, would mark the providence of God; or, "Jehovah has an eye upon men, and upon all the tribes of Israel" (cf. Jer ).

Zec . Hamath] as adjoining Damascus partook in "the burden." Tyre and Sidon lay directly in Alexander's march along the Syrian coast towards Egypt (see Isaiah 23). Wise] in building strong holds, and heaping up silver (Eze 28:3-17).

Zec .] A description of new Tyre, an island 700 paces from the shore.

Zec . Cast] Heb. dispossess, drive out her inhabitants. Alexander captured Tyre after seven months' siege; some few escaped; others put to death, or enslaved, and the city was burned.

HOMILETICS

JUDGMENTS UPON SYRIA AND PHŒNICIA.—Zec

Judgments are now threatened upon the lands of Syria, Phœnicia, and Philistia. Nations from which Israel greatly suffered, typical of worldly powers exulting in their strength, and broken to pieces by the might of Jehovah.

I. Judgments upon the land of Syria. "In the land of Hadrach."

1. Their nature. "The burden of the word." The punishment of the land is burdensome; no light trifling matter. It is bitter and crushing.

2. Their centre. "Damascus," the capital, "shall be the rest thereof." On this city the burden was permanently to settle. Eminent places generally share in the guilt, and procure the punishment, of the land. After Alexander's victory over Darius in the battle of Issus, one of his generals was sent to the city, who took its immense wealth, treasured up by the Persian monarch, and carried away its satraps and princely families (cf. Jer ; Amo 1:3-5).

3. Their extent. "Hamath also, which borders thereon," did not escape. Near in situation, it shared in the burden of wrath resting upon Damascus. Contiguous in territory, they were alike in doom. The proverb of the Jews was realized, "Woe to the wicked man, and woe to his neighbour."

II. Judgments upon the land of Phœnicia. Tyre and Sidon, the two capitals of Phœnicia, are next mentioned. Tyre was originally a colony of Sidon, but soon outgrew the mother city, and became the capital of all Phœnicia. Hence Tyre is only spoken of here. But the fate of both places is interwoven (cf. Isa ; Eze 28:21).

1. Tyre could not be saved by its worldly wisdom. "Though it be very wise." Volney says, that it was "a nursery of arts and science." Its wisdom consisted in building fortifications, multiplying riches, and trusting to them. It was worldly wisdom, the source of her pride and the means of her destruction.

2. Tyre could not be saved by its worldly wealth. "Though silver was heaped up as the dust, and fine gold as the mire of the streets," yet this availed not

3. Tyre could not be saved by its mighty strongholds. "Tyrus did build herself a stronghold." She had "the greatest confidence" in herself, says a historian, "owing to her insular position and fortifications, and the abundant stores she had prepared." She was "the crowning city," rivalling the world in strength, beauty, and riches. Her fleet was sunk in the sea, her fortifications overturned, and she was "devoured with the fire." The waves girt her round, buried her ruins, and now roll over her site. "I will make her like the top of a rock; it shall be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea; for I have spoken it."

THREE ASPECTS OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE.—Zec

When the eyes of man. Taking these words as they stand, they may mean that the events of God's providence would be such as to constrain men to acknowledge God's hand in them, or that the dangers would be so great to Israel that other nations would watch whether Jehovah, in whom they trusted, would be their protector. They are generally taken as indicating God's providence over all mankind, to punish the ungodly, and defend his people. In this sense—

I. Divine providence is universal. "The Lord hath an eye to man," i.e. to all mankind, as well as to the tribes of Israel. He controls and disposes the conquests of armies, and the destinies of nations, for the advancement of his glory. The providence is the eye of God. His look is not careless and transient; but scrutinizing and constant. "His eyes behold," without slumber or fatigue, the actions, words, and thoughts; "his eyelids try the children of men," as one intently examining some objects to the exclusion of all others (Psa ). "All things are naked," stripped of all covering and concealment, "and opened before him"—laid prostrate, and exposed before his eye (Heb 4:13).

II. Divine providence is protective. "As of all the tribes of Israel." He may chastise, but he will ever protect, his own. The victorious progress of Alexander terrified Israel, but Jerusalem escaped unhurt amid the storm. "This ‘captain of the Lord's host' (Jos ) kept at bay the otherwise irresistible foe" [Lange].

III. Divine providence is retributive. It is a defence to Israel, and a punishment to others. Damascus was the rest; the region on which God's anger settled. He who chastises his people will not fail to visit other men's sins. Love seems hidden at times, and it may be difficult to see on which side favour lies; but the disproportion will not continue long. A distinction, an eternal separation, will be made at length. "Every eye shall see him" then, and all reap their reward. A difference will be made "between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not."

HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS

Zec . The eyes of man, &c.

1. Times of trouble sent to direct men's eyes to God.

2. As God's providence is universal, those only can escape who trust him.

3. The punishment upon those who do not trust him will be heavy. Divine wrath is sure to hit its mark, and sink those on whom it rests.

Zec . Vain confidences.

1. Reputed wisdom, which is not "counsel against the Lord" (Pro ).

2. Immense wealth, which "profits not in the day of wrath" (Pro ). "Misery assails riches, as lightning does the highest towers" [Burton].

3. Outward fortifications. High walls and deep seas, instruments of power, may be elements of destruction. God can destroy the wisest, the wealthiest, and the strongest nation. Tyre said in her pride, "I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas" (Eze ); but she was devoured with fire. "How art thou destroyed, which wast strong in the sea" (Eze 26:17).

Zec . Mark the language. Who was to "smite her power in the sea, burn her with fire, and cast her out?" Alexander the Great, says history; Jehovah, says Divine revelation. Both are true. Only revelation keeps us in mind that "men are God's hand"—a truth which profane history is too prone to overlook and forget; as indeed we ourselves—all of us—naturally are [Wardlaw].

ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 9

Zec . The foreground of this prophecy is the course of the victories of Alexander, which circled round the Holy Land without hurting it, and ended in the overthrow of the Persian Empire. The surrender of Damascus followed first, immediately on his great victory at the Issus; then Sidon yielded itself and received its ruler from the conqueror. Tyre he utterly destroyed; Gaza, we know, perished; he passed harmless by Jerusalem. Samaria, on his return from Egypt, he chastised. History gives no other explanation of Zechariah's prophecy than this conquest by Alexander: that conquest agrees minutely with the prophecy. No other event in history does [cf. Pusey's Lectures on Daniel].


Verses 5-9

CRITICAL NOTES.]

Zec .] Principal cities of the Philistines given. Gath only left out, probably owing to its situation inland, lying out of the route of the army. The fall of Tyre terrified these capitals of different districts. If Tyre could not stand how could they? Expect.] Ekron, furthest north, expected Alexander would be checked at Tyre. Gaza] captured after a siege of two months. Betis, its governor, was bound to a chariot, and dragged round the city.

Zec . Ashdod] A bastard (foreigner or stranger) of the conqueror's nominated ruler.

Zec . Blood] of sacrifices, which heathens often drank. Abominations] Idolatrous offerings. "A prediction of future conversion of the Philistines to the knowledge and service of the true God. Their abandonment of idolatry, and their embracing the true religion, is represented by no longer drinking blood, and eating things sacrificed to idols, both of which were common among pagans, but prohibited by the Mosaic law, and by the apostles" (Num 25:2; Lev 7:6; Act 15:29) [Henderson]. He] The Philistines regarded as one. Left] Many Philistines became proselytes to Judaism, says Josephus. Governor] Philistine princes shall be like tribe-princes (chiliarchs) in Judah. There will be no distinction between proselytes and native Jews—all will enjoy equal honours and privileges. Jebusites] Original inhabitants of Jerusalem, subjugated by David, incorporated among Jews, and enjoyed their privileges (2Sa 24:16).

Zec . House] Jews, not to be injured by the army of Alexander on its march to or from Egypt. Fulfilled to the letter. Samaritans punished, but Jews escaped [cf. Henderson]. Seen] Lit. Now do I look with mine eyes. They were indebted to God's providence only.

Zec .] A royal personage to appear without armies, and to reign without destructive judgments. Daughter] Theocratic nation to rejoice at the appearance of her king (Psa 2:11). Thine] i.e. the one promised and long expected. Just] in his official and personal character. An attribute of the Messiah in connection with salvation (Isa 45:21; Isa 53:11; Jer 23:5-6). Lowly] Expressing his general character, not merely his humiliation in first advent. Colt] A rough unbroken colt. An ass was not a mean and despised animal, but in triumphant processions horses were chosen, and arrayed in costly caparisons.

HOMILETICS

JUDGMENTS UPON PHILISTIA.—Zec

The prophet now turns to the inveterate enemies of Israel, and mentions four capitals of the Philistines. Their country lay between Tyre (or Phœnicia) and Egypt, the south-east of the Mediterranean Sea. What is said of one may be said of all, and the fate of the different cities corresponds with the prediction.

I. The cities lost their rulers. "The king shall perish from Gaza." The Persians set up petty kings as vassals to their superior control. Notwithstanding two months' siege, Gaza was taken, its inhabitants sold, and put to death. Betis, its brave king, was most cruelly fastened to the chariot of the conqueror, and dragged through the streets.

II. The cities were depopulated. "A foreigner shall sit as ruler in Ashdod." They lost their native people, and were filled with a mongrel breed. At first a stranger was nominated to govern in Ashdod; but eventually "the inhabitant shall be cut off from Ashdod." Ashkelon, once noted for its figs and fertility, though dismantled and re-fortified several times, is now surrounded with desolate ruins of former grandeur.

III. The cities were bereft of their religion. They shall no longer glut themselves with bloodsheddings. The prey of their gods was taken from their mouths. "I will take away his blood out of his mouth, and his abominations from between his teeth." There was not mere suspension but total abolition of their idolatry. They lost their religion and their nationality, and were incorporated with the Jews.

IV. The cities were desolated. "I will cut off the pride of the Philistines." Their hopes were "cut off;" for Tyre did not check Alexander's triumphant march. Their fortifications were "cut off," and levelled to the ground. Everything in which they prided themselves, strength, situation, wealth, and nationality, were "cut off." The day of wrath came, and all was swept like chaff before the whirlwind. The desolate ruins now declare that God is a consuming fire. "For Gaza shall be forsaken, and Ashkelon a desolation; they shall drive out Ashdod at the noon-day, and Ekron shall be rooted up" (Zep ).

A CONVERTED REMNANT OF PHILISTIA.—Zec

Just as God left a remnant for himself in Israel when judgment fell upon them, so a remnant shall be left for God in Philistia. "But he that remaineth, even he, shall be for our God."

I. The remnant was preserved from destruction. Some remained after judgments had swept the land, and were converted to God. Monuments of grace and mercy set apart for him. From all nations God will gather his people. Nothing shall be a barrier to acceptance with him. "The son of the stranger that hath joined himself to the Lord" (Isa ).

II. The remnant was incorporated with Israel. There would be no distinction between the Israelite and the Philistine.

1. Dignity would be conferred upon them. Their honour and elevation before God and the people "shall be as a governor in Judah."

2. Equal privileges would be conferred upon them. "And Ekron as a Jebusite." Jebusites were incorporated with Jews, and enjoyed equal honours and rights (2Sa ). In Christ Jesus there is no distinction of race nor sect. All are one in him, and alike welcome to him. The proselytes under the Maccabean dynasty, were only a partial fulfilment of the text. Heathens shall yet be converted, and be joined to God's people. "The strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob" (cf. Isa 14:1; Isa 56:8).

THE DIVINE ENCAMPMENT.—Zec

While neighbouring nations are destroyed, a promise of Divine protection is made to the Jews. Their nationality would be preserved, and all their sufferings would turn out for good. For this they were indebted to God, who encamped about them, and watched over them.

I. The Christian Church is surrounded by enemies. She is in the battle-field, and at war with all ungodliness. Enemies seek to oppress and subdue her—pass by and return. There is marching and counter-marching, with a design to attack. Powers of darkness invade our spheres of action, and encamp within us. In this moral campaign the fight is indispensable, holy, and severe. "The good fight of faith."

II. The Christian Church is defended by God. "I will encamp about mine house." It is not a mere visit, but an encampment, a dwelling or settlement.

1. God watches over her. "Now have I seen with mine eyes." Some think that he does not see at all, or only looks when he interferes. But he ever beholds the insolence of the enemy, and the sufferings of his people—will judge the one and avenge the other. "Awake to help me, and behold."

2. God delivers her. "No oppressor shall pass through them any more." Alexander punished the Samaritans, but favoured the Jews. No foreigners invaded the land before the advent of Messiah, as Assyrians and Chaldeans had done of old. God guarded them, like "the chariots of fire and horses of fire round about Elisha." The power and goodness of God are pledged for the triumph and salvation of his Church. On every side the watch is kept with sleepless eyes. None can resist the Captain of the Lord of Hosts. "The Angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them."

III. The Christian Church should rejoice in this defence. To show the magnitude and the consequences of this salvation, Zion is called upon to "rejoice" and "shout" for joy in the prospect before her (Zec ). If the presence of Alexander, Csar, or Wellington, created joy in the camp; what confidence should the presence of God inspire! Napoleon's oversight was remarkable, Cromwell's interest in his men was great; but God says, "Rejoice greatly." Cowardice in God's presence is doubly criminal. "Cowards falter," said Queen Elizabeth, "but danger is often overcome by those who nobly dare." "Fear not, daughter of Sion" (Joh 12:15).

HOMILETIC HINTS AND OUTLINES

Zec . He that remaineth. The elect remnant.

1. From whom chosen.

2. To what promoted. Ekron as a Jebusite, as a denizen of Jerusalem; no longer an enemy, or a stranger and foreigner, but a fellow-citizen with the saints, and of the household of God. Two things in this promise.

1. It is a great thing to be a Jebusite. One of the highest of all privileges to "come to Mount Zion, the city of the living God." What a governor have these citizens! What a charter have they! What can equal their safety, liberty, and defence?—their commerce, wealth, happiness, and peace? Their joy is unspeakable, and full of glory.

2. Jebusites may be derived from Ekronites. The thing has been done; and most unlikely characters have furnished pious converts—Manasseh, the dying thief, and the murderers of Jesus, prove this. What surpassed the guilt and depravity of the Corinthians? What says Paul of his own conversion? What triumphs of the riches, freeness, and power of Divine grace! Let none despair, however desperate his own case—nor despond with regard to any of our fellow-creatures. God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham [Jay].

Zec . The house of Jehovah. The workmanship, the residence, and the property of God. The camp of God, the deliverance of the good. "Seen with mine eyes." With God, compassion is so intrinsic an attribute, that he is pictured as looking away when he does not put it forth. With God, to behold is to help [Pusey]. Hence God sees with approval and tender consideration—with a design to help his people, and punish their foes. He is an observant God—eyes and ears are set upon men—"in every place beholding the evil and the good."

ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 9

Zec . The happy effect of this humiliation of the great worldly powers of Persia, Syria, and Philistia, was this—that they lost their confidence in their own false deities, and were prepared to receive a purer faith. The prophet foretells this, and predicts also, that there will be a faithful remnant among those nations, which will turn to the true God; and many among the heathens will become governors in Judah; many who were once Gentiles will become preachers and missionaries in Christ's Church. Even Ekron itself will become a Jebusite, a dweller in Jerusalem, the Church of God [Wordsworth].

Zec . Encamp. On every side the watch is kept by warriors of sleep less eyes, and the Captain of the Host is one whose prowess none can resist. We little know how many providential deliverances we owe to those unseen hands which are charged to bear us up, lest we dash our foot against a stone [Spurgeon].

Zec . Thy king. Christ as a mere man was great—great in intellect, heart, purpose, action; as a Mediator, supremely great. But how does this great Being, Prince of the powers of the earth, enter Jerusalem? In a triumphal chariot?—on a stately, prancing steed, accompanied by a magnificent cavalcade? No! On an ass. The more truly kingly a man is, the less he cares for conventional pageantry. Your great men have never cared for jewellery. The more ornaments are coveted, and dress is studied, the more mean and impoverished the soul. Heart of oak requires neither veneer nor varnish. A great age has never been an age of millinery and gold rings. The kingly soul does not care for the rose or the crown [Dr. Thomas].


Verses 9-11

CRITICAL NOTES.]

Zec .] The nature and extent of Messiah's reign. Cut off] Remove instruments of war, and reign by peaceful means. Ends of the earth] Not a mere Jewish, but a universal, kingdom.

Zec . Blood] The covenant scaled with sprinkled blood, the pledge. Prisoners] Jewish exiles in Egypt and Greece. Pit] An allusion to Gen 37:24. Their distress great, like dungeons without water (Jer 38:6).

HOMILETICS

THE PEACEFUL KING AND HIS GLORIOUS REIGN.—Zec

From the Grecian conqueror, and the temporal protection which Jehovah would accord to his people, the prophet abruptly (by the prophetic law of suggestion, Fausset), and in the most sublime and animated strain, calls the attention of the Jews to a Royal Personage of a very different character, the Messiah, meek and righteous, the Prince and pattern of peace, and the author of spiritual salvation to all his subjects. His advent was to be accompanied by such glorious results that it was to be hailed with the most joyful anticipation [Hend.].

I. The character of the King. The features refer to his personal and official character.

1. He is a righteous ruler. "He is just." Just himself, and the means of justifying others before God. In character, principle, and practice, he is a righteous King, His administrations in providence and grace are conducted by laws of pure and unbending righteousness. Truth and uprightness are fixed on his throne. "Just and true are thy ways, thou King of Saints."

2. He is a benevolent ruler. "Having salvation." Take these words actively or passively, he had power over death and the grave. He finished his work, rose to the right hand of God, and bestows gifts upon men. The design of his death was to honour God, and render salvation consistent with the claims of righteousness, that he might be "a just God and a Saviour" (cf. Rom ). He bestows salvation in its beginning here, and in its results hereafter. "The Son of Man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them."

3. He is a lowly ruler. "Lowly, and riding upon an ass." He had no war-horse richly caparisoned, and tossing his arched neck—no imperial chariot, like Alexander. He was not cruel like Nero, nor proud like Herod, in disposition. He was lowly in his intercourse and triumphs. He linked greatness with humility, performed menial service to his disciples, and set himself as an example to all men. "Learn of me; for I am meek, and lowly in heart."

"Gentleness! more powerful than Hercules" [Catherine II.].

II. The nature of his kingdom. It is not that of a worldly conqueror, nor is it confined to Jewish lands. It is peaceful, universal, and perpetual.

1. It is a peaceful kingdom. The symbol would remind the Jews of the prediction concerning "The Prince of Peace" (Isa ). No wars nor bloodshed were to disturb his reign. "Peace hath its victories no less renowned than war." Notice—That he was not to teach peace, nor command it; but to accomplish by a word, what earthly kings cannot do by force. "He shall speak peace." He announces reconciliation to Jew and Gentile, and in his Word proclaims, "Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near."

2. It is a universal kingdom. It is more extensive than the kingdom of Macedon, greater than that of "the Emperor of All the Russias." As Solomon ruled the land of promise, and left no unconquered spot; so shall the Son of David reign "from sea to sea—from the Atlantic to the Pacific"—from the river "unto the ends of the earth." His subjects gathered from "all nations, and kindreds, and people," no man can number. "Yea, all kings shall fall down before him; all nations shall serve him."

3. It is a perpetual kingdom. Solomon's reign came to an end, and Alexander's empire was divided by his successors; but the throne of Christ shall endure for ever. "Son culte se rajeunira sans cesse," wrote Renan. Suns may set, and moons may fade, but "His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed."

III. The blessings of his reign. "Rejoice greatly."

1. Great joy. The prophet, under the impulse of inspiration, invites the people to hail the coming of Messiah, in terms of exulting joy. "Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!" It is not "a reign of terror," but of happiness and joy. "I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying."

2. Perfect security. Freedom from the power and corruption of sin to the believer, protection and prosperity to all nations, are offered by his Word. He is King both of righteousness and peace. Many usurp the throne, league with craft, and rule in tyranny and oppression. Hence kings are dethroned, kingdoms short-lived, and subjects insecure. Happy and safe are his people. "He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor."

DELIVERANCE FROM THE PIT.—Zec

These words may be an invitation to Jewish exiles to return from the bondage of Egypt and Greece. But they relate to the spiritual conquests of the Messiah, and are the pledge of Jehovah to him, that his people (thy prisoners) shall be delivered from distress, exult in freedom, and through the blood of the covenant anticipate the blessings of the future.

I. The moral condition. Prisoners were confined in dungeons or pits dug for the purpose. Jeremiah was left to sink in the mire, and perish from thirst in the pit (Jer ). The pit indicates—

1. Deep distress. "Wherein is no water." Men are restless and dissatisfied—distressed by sin and the world, a broken law, and an accusing conscience. Estrangement from God brings anguish of soul. "What exile from himself can flee?" asks Byron. "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me?"

2. Great darkness. Prisoners sit in darkness as well as in distress. The spiritual light of this world is darkness. The wisest only grope in uncertainty. Sinners walk in darkness, and live under the powers of darkness. Heaven above is shrouded in gloom, round about and within them dwells no light, and before them hangs the shadow of death (cf. Psa ). The Sun of Righteousness never penetrates their hearts. Their condition is like an Eastern sepulchre—"a land of darkness, as darkness itself, without any order" (Job 10:22).

3. Utter helplessness. Neither Joseph nor Jeremiah could get out of the pit. Captives in a dungeon cannot escape. Cursed by the law, and condemned before God, immured in darkness and degradation, men are ready to perish. "God hath concluded (shut up as in a prison) them all (all mankind) in unbelief, the consequence of disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all" (Rom ).

II. The price of deliverance from the pit. "By the blood of the covenant."

1. A covenant of blood. The Jews were delivered through the covenant made at Sinai, and sealed with blood. In redemption there is no remission of sins without shedding of blood. But "the blood of bulls and of goats" could not take away sin. Ancient sacrifices were mere shadows, had to be repeated, and were inefficient. The blood of man is not required, and will not avail. "None of them by any means can redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him." Christ alone can deliver us. "In whom we have redemption through his blood."

2. A covenant without change. The price paid will not be required again. It avails for this and every age. Father and Son have taken solemn oaths, and sealed it by sacrifice. Nature's covenant abides firm as heaven and earth. The Jewish covenant was not disannulled by the sins of the people. God's purpose in Christ shall be realized. "For thee also" thy prisoners shall be delivered. The gifts and calling of God are without repentance. They are incapable of being regretted, revoked, or changed (cf. Vaughan, Act ). "Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord hath made with you, concerning all these words."

III. The method of deliverance from the pit. "I have sent forth." A beautiful expression, indicating—

1. Mighty power. Nothing but God's power can lift us up out of the horrible pit and miry clay, set our feet upon a rock, and establish our goings.

2. Wonderful grace. "I have sent forth." God might have left us in the pit; but he is gracious, and "saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit, I have found a ransom."

3. Perfect liberty. Not only lifted out, but "sent forth" without fear or foe, like Peter from prison. "That we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear."

HOMILETIC HINTS AND OUTLINES

Zec . Here we have—

1. The Divine in the form of the human.

2. The majestic in the form of the mean. The dignity is royal. "Thy king cometh." Royalty surpassing all others.

3. The victorious by means of the moral. A king, but not the kind the Jews expected. His sceptre from heaven, and his glory gained through suffering. He had to borrow the colt, and who were his guards and attendants in his entrance in Jerusalem? (cf. Mat ; Joh 12:15). In the whole history of Jesus we have a wonderful combination of humiliation and grandeur.

Zec . Messiah is King of Zion. Happy the subjects who dwell under his shadow. He rules them, not with a rod of iron by which he bruises and breaks the power of his enemies, but with his golden sceptre of love. He reigns by his own right, and by their full and free consent in their hearts. He reigns upon a throne of grace, to which they at all times have access, and from whence they receive the pardon of all their sins, grace to help in time of need, and a renewed supply answerable to all their wants, cares, services, and conflicts [John Newton].

Notice—

1. The Great King.

2. The wonderful kingdom.

3. The strange way in which he comes to possess it. "Riding upon an ass," &c. Majesty veiled in meekness, justice blended with mercy, drawing the attention, and receiving the homage, of multitudes.

4. The method by which he spreads it. "I will cut off the chariot," &c.

Zec . The sinner's condition by nature, and his rescue by grace. The pit dark, dismal, and deep. "The pit of corruption," or putrefaction and filth (Isa 38:17). The release, condescending, reaching to the depth; and free, "sent forth." "They have cut off my life in the dungeon, and cast a stone upon me. I called upon thy name, O Lord; out of the low dungeon thou hast heard my voice." Covenant. The covenant love of God, and his faithful promise, sealed with blood, are the hope of the Church in time of trouble [Lange]. The word suggests thoughts of grace, privilege, and security, not attained in any other way. Our trust for this world and the next, not upon the voices of nature or conclusions of reason, but upon the promise of God—a promise which he hath chosen to present in the form of a compact, with stipulations (and sometimes when the stipulations were all on one side, Gen 9:9), and not only so, but to confirm it by sacrifice [Lange].

ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 9

Zec . Thy king. Christ as a mere man was great—great in intellect, heart, purpose, action; as a Mediator, supremely great. But how does this great Being, Prince of the powers of the earth, enter Jerusalem? In a triumphal chariot?—on a stately, prancing steed, accompanied by a magnificent cavalcade? No! On an ass. The more truly kingly a man is, the less he cares for conventional pageantry. Your great men have never cared for jewellery. The more ornaments are coveted, and dress is studied, the more mean and impoverished the soul. Heart of oak requires neither veneer nor varnish. A great age has never been an age of millinery and gold rings. The kingly soul does not care for the rose or the crown [Dr. Thomas].


Verses 11-17

CRITICAL NOTES.]

Zec . Strong hold] Fortress, forcibly contrasting with pit (Psa 40:2). To-day] No need to despair; their condition miserable, yet not hopeless. Double] Not strictly of twice the quantity, but simply of great abundance. A large amount of blessing far outweighing the misery of bndage [cf Wardlaw].

Zec .] The method of victory represented figuratively. Judah, the extended bow; Ephraim, the arrow by which Jehovah would overcome the Grecians.

Zec .] God's presence with his people. Seen] Conspicuously displaying power, like the pillar of old: seen like lightning, the arrows of God in a thunderstorm. South] (cf. Isa 21:1; Hos 13:5). Southern storms always most violent.

Zec . Eat] the flesh and drink the blood of the enemy, like a lion devouring its victim (Num 23:24). Subdue] Lit. "tread underfoot the sling-stones," hurled by the foe. Missiles will not hinder their progress, but fall at their feet, and be trampled to the dust. Bowls] of sacrifices. Corners] Horns of the altar, sprinkled with blood from the bowls (Exo 29:12; Lev 4:18); priestly figures intimating holy war and victory.

Zec . Stones] Gems in the crown of the conqueror; not the sling-stones trodden by the foot.

Zec . How great] (exulting exclamation) in bestowing victory and fruitful seasons. Corn and wine] indicate peace and plenty to those pressed by the foe and pinched in circumstances (Deu 33:28; Psa 4:8).

HOMILETICS

PRISONERS OF HOPE.—Zec

With the promise of release is connected the duty of the captives to embrace the opportunity of returning to their own land, where they would enjoy the protection and favour of Jehovah.

I. There is no imprisonment without hope. "Prisoners of hope."

1. To saints in trouble. In trials and straits they must maintain hope.

2. To sinners in wickedness. A stronghold is provided for all; secure from the stroke of offended justice, and from the attack of the foe. "No case is desperate. None should despair or say, "Our hope is lost." "I would not despair unless I knew the irrevocable decree was passed, saw my misfortune in the book of fate, and signed and sealed by necessity" [J. Collier].

II. There are grounds for hope in the provisions of Divine mercy.

1. In the atonement of Christ. In the covenant blood we have every hindrance removed, and every means provided for the salvation of man.

2. In the promise of Scripture. "I will render double unto thee." Grace to convert and strengthen, the Holy Spirit to teach and direct, are offered. Blessings double in themselves, and as pledges of others.

3. In the stronghold provided. The height (Psa ) is prepared the rock contrasting with the pit. The Rock of our Salvation immovable and inaccessible. Low defences are soon scaled, and weak ones soon destroyed. But this refuge is eternally secure. Its sanctity none can invade, its power none destroy.

III. Men are urged to avail themselves of these provisions. Hope should inspire our hearts in danger, and prompt us to get out of it.

1. They are commanded to escape. "Turn ye to the stronghold." Divine authority and affection are set forth in the prediction.

2. Escape should be made immediately. "Even to-day." The Jews were not to wait for future opportunity, when all might return together. While there was hope, individually they must hasten, and make no delay. To-morrow may be too late. To see the light of day fade away is sad, but much worse to lose hope for eternity. Flee "for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before you."

Ye prisoners of hope. This title is not a fanciful one. To the Jew it had a triple significance.

1. He was under the yoke of a foreign despot, and longed to regain his freedom.

2. He was under the yoke of an unfulfilled promise, and yearned for the "day star to arise."

3. He was under the the yoke of the unrealized prophecies concerning the glory of the Messiah's kingdom, and the eternal felicity of his followers. The words of the text are the true designation of every Christian.

I. We are prisoners to an unredeemed body (cf. Rom ). Observe—

1. There is a sense in which the body is already redeemed.

2. There is another sense in which our bodies are not redeemed. (a) They are not yet free from manifold infirmities. (b) Not yet redeemed from sensuous appetites. (c) Not yet redeemed from the dominion of death.

3. Hope anticipates the possession of an immortal body. (a) From which every element of weakness and infirmity is excluded. (b) In which carnal appetites shall have no place. (c) Which shall be no more subject to death.

II. We are prisoners to a limited and superficial knowledge. "Now I know in part"—there is bondage. "Then shall I know even as I am known"—there is freedom.

1. Our knowledge touches not the essence, but only the phenomena.

2. Reaches men not as they are, only as they appear

3. Is limited by the brevity of life, and the conditions of its existence.

4. Hope anticipates the solution of the dark enigma of human life.

III. We are prisoners to a circumscribed Christian fellowship. The great family of God is sadly dismembered.

1. Doctrinal divergence.

2. Suspicion, the offspring of imperfect knowledge.

3. Social status is a barrier to fellowship.

4. Distance and death contribute to limit the measure of fellowship.

5. Hope anticipates the universal and perfect fellowship of saints. (a) This will include all ages; (b) all climes; (c) all classes and creeds.

IV. We are prisoners to an imperfect vision of Christ. "We see through a glass darkly," and through "a mirror in an enigma" [Lange]. Yet note—

1. Christ is really apprehended by faith even here.

2. This vision is a test, a dim one.

3. Human nature in its present state is not capable of a more open vision.

4. Hope anticipates not only an immediate vision of Christ, but a nature capable of beholding it. Lessons.

1. This hope inspires the heavenward pilgrim—(a) with patience "to endure as seeing him," &c. (b) With courage "to war a good warfare."

2. This hope was a sanctifying virtue.

3. This hope amounts to an assurance [The Homiletic Quarterly]

THE DOUBLE RECOMPENSE TO GOD'S PEOPLE.—Zec

The abundance of the blessings promised after release is expressed by the word double, which conveys the idea of compensation, a measure of glory outweighing all former sufferings. "For your shame ye shall have double."

I. Victory over the world will be granted. "The sons of Javan are the Greeks, as the world-power, the Grco-Macedonian monarchy (cf. Dan ), against which the Lord will make his people into a hero's sword" [Keil]. This was fulfilled in some measure in the wars of the Maccabees and Seleucid, but must not be confined to that period. The Gospel is destined to overthrow the wisdom of the Greeks, and subdue the world to Christ.

1. Victory by human agency. Ephraim and Judah have to fight. Apostles and ministers have to preach. "Heaven made us agents, free to good or ill" [Dryden].

2. Victory by God's blessing upon human agency. "I have been raised up," &c. These words found an echo in Judas Maccabus, when the company with him asked, "How shall we be able, being so few, to fight against so great a multitude and so strong, seeing that we are ready to faint with fasting?" "It is no hard matter," answered Judas, "for many to be shut up in the hands of a few; and with the God of heaven it is all one, to deliver with a great multitude, or a small company" (1Ma ; cf. 2Ch 14:8-11).

II. The special presence of God will be displayed. "The Lord shall be seen over them," conspicuously displaying his power for them.

1. As a shield to defend them. "The Lord of Hosts shall defend them," in the midst of enemies numerous, powerful, and bitter. He delivered "by providential arrangements, by earthquakes, by angelic messengers, by direct punitive and deadly judgments. He released them, to the amazement and confusion of their enemies, from the closest and most vigilant confinement" [Wardlaw].

2. As a conqueror to help them. Taking the sling-stones as a figure of the enemy [Keil], they were trampled beneath the feet of the Jews. "The souls of thine enemies, them shall he sling out, as out of the middle of a sling" (1Sa ). A phrase denoting security from the assaults of the enemy under the special protection of God.

3. As a shepherd to provide for them. "The Lord their God shall save them in that day the flock of his people" (Zec ). Not only victory, but lasting peace. Constant care and tenderness will be exercised over his people (Psalms 23).

III. Great honours will be conferred upon them. Job's latter end was better than the beginning. The dignity of God's people shall be double their shame.

1. Moral beauty. "How great his beauty!" The beauty Christ bestows upon his people in character and conduct is more than human; it is Christ's own beauty. "Thou art fairer than the children of men."

"Old friends shall lovelier be,

As more of heaven in each we see" [Christian Year].

2. Unwonted prosperity. Young men shall be made cheerful, and no longer suffer scarcity. Maidens, ready to faint from hunger and thirst, shall have plenty of new wine. This abundance of the fruits of earth typifies the recompense to God's people. They will be strengthened, and made glad; be led to admire God's free love and favours, and to commend all past dealings as excellent and good. "For how great is his goodness, and how great is his beauty!"

"Beauty armed with virtue bows the soul,

With a commanding, but a sweet, control" [Percival].

THE MIGHTY STRUGGLE AND THE GLORIOUS VICTORY.—Zec

I. The army is collected. "The Lord God shall blow the trumpet." The terms are martial. The trumpet blowing naturally represents the proclamation of the Gospel by Divine authority, and with accompanying Divine power; the design being thus the gathering of outcast sinners to Christ's standard; and thus the enlargement of his spiritual host, and the increased rapidity of his conquests [Wardlaw].

1. The foes. "Against thy sons, O Greece."

2. The friends. Judah the bow, and Ephraim the arrow.

3. The commander. Jehovah "seen over them," like the pillar of cloud and fire.

II. The conflict is described. The description is poetical.

1. Terrible as a storm. "His arrow shall go forth as the lightning"—suddenly and irresistibly (cf. Psa ). "The whirlwind of the south" sweeps everything before it. No power in earth or in hell can resist the might of Divine grace. Thousands will yet be subdued.

2. Furious as wild beasts. "They shall devour," a metaphor from beasts. Like devouring lions, they would eat the flesh and drink the blood of the enemy. "Behold a people like the boness; it rises up, and like the lion does it lift itself up: it lies not down till it devour the prey, and drink the blood of the slain" (Num ).

III. The victory is gained. The result is not uncertain. "Conquering and to conquer."

1. Victory given as a shepherd to his flock. "God shall save them in that day as the flock of his sheep."

2. Victory recorded in the crown of the conqueror. Precious stones or gems were set in crowns, and the elevation of the crown indicated victory. "A victory is twice itself, when the achiever brings home full numbers" [Shaks.].

3. Victory celebrated in the joy of the conqueror. The general idea is that of sacred joy, the songs and shouts of victory, inward delight and exultation of spirit. "They shall drink, and make a noise as through wine."

HOMILETIC HINTS AND OUTLINES

Zec . Duty, and encouragements to perform it; or, the stronghold—how to get it, and the blessings of its security; or, salvation may be had. This salvation only gained by effort. "Turn ye," &c.

Zec .

1. Available refuge. "The stronghold," impregnable, secure, and lasting.

2. Access to it free, and should be immediate.

Zec . Arrows. Strongly express the speed and the resistless power of his converting grace. The arrow of Divine truth, with which the Apostolic bow was fitted, carried conviction to the conscience, and quickening power to the heart. By killing it made alive. We are reminded of the language of Psa 45:3-5 [Wardlaw].

Zec . God's people glorified. Here we see the dignity of the Lord's people. They are "stones," precious stones, set in the "crown" of the King of kings. Here is also their exhibition: these stones of a crown are "lifted up." They are not to be concealed. Here is also their utility: these stones are to be lifted up "as an ensign upon the land"—an oriflamme suspended over the royal tent; designed to attract followers to the cause in which he is engaged [Jay].

Zec . How great his goodness! God's free love (benevolence) the fountain of all mercies.

1. Great in the gift of Christ.

2. Great in the conversion of sinners.

3. Great in the support of his people. How great were the sacrifices which Christ's goodness made! How great are the gifts which his goodness bestows! How great the extent to which his goodness spreads! How great is the duration of his goodness! [Sacred Garland]. But it is not the goodness of God alone that is to be seen in the Gospel. "How great is his beauty!" The loveliness of his entire character—its light, as well as its love—the united harmony of all its attributes in the work of Christ! We are not truly under the renewing influence of the Holy Spirit, if it is only his goodness that we admire. The faith of the Gospel imparts a spiritual taste for "the beauty of holiness," as well as of love. It teaches and disposes us to delight in all that God is [Wardlaw]. Hence, great his beauty—

1. In himself. "The brightness of the Father's glory," &c. "The glory of the only begotten," &c. He is beautiful in his Divine and human nature.

2. In his people. "The king's daughter all glorious."

"All human beauties, all Divine,

In my Beloved meet and shine."

ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 9

Zec . Pit. Some of the pits referred to in the Bible were prisons, one such I saw at Athens, and another at Rome. To these there were no openings, except a hole at the top, which served for the window and door. The bottoms of these pits were necessarily in a filthy and revolting state, and sometimes deep in mud. "He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay:" one of these filthy prisons being in the Psalmist's view; in Isa 38:17 called "the pit of corruption," or putrefaction and filth [John Gadsby].

Zec . Mighty man. It is held that valour is the cheapest virtue, and most dignifies the haver [Shake.]. When a man goes in the fulness of his strength upon any enterprise, how do his blood and spirits triumph beforehand! No motion of hand or foot is without a sensible delight. The strength of a man's spirit is unspeakably more than that of the outward man; its faculties and powers more refined and raised; and hence are rational or intellectual exercises and operations much more delightful than corporal ones can be [Howe].

Zec . Flock. What condescension, for the Infinite Lord to assume the office and character of a Shepherd towards his people! It should be the subject of grateful admiration that the great God allows himself to be compared to anything which sets forth his great love and care for his people. No man has a right to consider himself the Lord's sheep, unless his nature has been renewed, for the Scriptural description of unconverted men does not picture them as sheep, but as wolves or goats. A sheep is an object of property, not a wild animal; its owner sets great store by it, and frequently it is bought with a great price [Spurgeon].

Zec . Goodness and beauty.

"Oh, he is good,—he is immensely good,

Who all things formed, and formed them all for man:

Who marked the climates, varied every sone,

Dispensing all his blessings for the best,

In order and in beauty!" [Smart].

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Zechariah 9:4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/zechariah-9.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 11th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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