Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Haggai 2:4

But now take courage, Zerubbabel,' declares the Lord , ‘take courage also, Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and all you people of the land take courage,' declares the Lord , ‘and work; for I am with you,' declares the Lord of hosts.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Jehozadak;   Righteous;   Zeal, Religious;   Thompson Chain Reference - Battle of Life;   Be Strong;   Call, Divine;   Conflict, Spiritual;   Fight of Faith;   Spiritual;   Strong, Be;   Work, Religious;   Work-Workers, Religious;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Zerubbabel or Zorobabel;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Joshua the son of jehozadak;   Zechariah, book of;   Zerubbabel;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Church, the;   Haggai, Theology of;   Prophet, Christ as;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Jeshua;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Ezra, the Book of;   Haggai;   Jeshua;   Zerubbabel;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Haggai;   High Priest;   Jeshua;   People of the Land;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Haggai;   Jehozadak;   Priests and Levites;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Am Ha'arez ;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Josedech ;   Joshua ;   Zerubbabel ;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Zerubbabel;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Jos'edech;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Holy Ghost;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Haggai;   Jehozadak;   Joshua (3);   Priest, High;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Courage;  
Devotionals:
Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for March 19;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Yet now be strong - Do not let this discourage you. The chief glory of the temple is not its splendid building, but my presence; and as I covenanted to be with you when ye came out of Egypt, so I will fulfill my covenant; for my Spirit remaineth among you, fear not; Haggai 2:5. What is the most splendid cathedral, if God be not in it, influencing all by his presence and Spirit? But he will not be in it unless there be a messenger of the Lord there, and unless he deliver the Lord's message.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Haggai 2:4". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/haggai-2.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Yet now be strong … and work - They are the words with which David exhorted Solomon his son to be earnest and to persevere in the building of the first temple 1 Chronicles 28:10. “Take heed now, for the Lord hath chosen thee to build an house for the sanctuary: be strong and do” 1 Chronicles 28:20. “Be strong and of good courage, and do.” This combination of words occurs once only elsewhere 2 Chronicles 19:11, in Jehoshaphat‘s exhortation to “the 2 Chronicles 19:8. Levites and priests and chiefs of the fathers of Israel,” whom he had set as judges in Jerusalem. Haggai seems then to have adopted the words, with the purpose of suggesting to the down-hearted people, that there was need of the like exhortation, in view of the building of the former temple, whose relative glory so depressed them. The word “be strong” (elsewhere rendered, “be of good courage”) occurs commonly in exhortations to persevere and hold fast, amid whatever obstacles..

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Haggai 2:4". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/haggai-2.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Haggai 2:4

Work: for I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts.

An incentive to work

When Darius Hystaspes began to reign, Haggai and Zechariah urged that the work of rebuilding the temple should be renewed. The ever-recurring plan which they urged on the people was that they should work because the Lord of hosts was with them. Since then times have altered. Religion has become a more personal matter. Its sphere has been shifted from temples made with hands to what Milton calls “the upright heart and pure.” Religion has been shifted from the outward to the inward realm. “The kingdom of God is within you.” That is the true shrine, from which influence may reach out to wider realms. And since the sphere has changed, the work of rearing the temple has also changed. Then the work was hard, but it only tired the hand. Now the heart, rather than the hand, needs to be engaged. The tax is on the spirit rather than on the limbs. To labour in the invisible is far more trying than in the visible realm. The highest things cannot be weighed in scales and set down in columns. What is true of the work within is also true of the spiritual work we attempt in the world. It is invisible--wrought in the hidden chambers of the heart. It is true that the fruit sometimes becomes Visible in the life. But the spiritual temple we are seeking to rear may be growing in strength and beauty, and we see it not, or only catch momentary glimpses of the growing building. Now and then we are permitted to see that our work is not in vain in the Lord. The higher the realm, the less visible or tangible are the results. Manual work is more visible than intellectual. Intellectual work is more visible than spiritual. But the thinker accomplishes more than the artisan; and the spiritual more than the intellectual teacher. This is the true incentive to work--“the Lord is on our side.” The conviction that God is with us will make us work. (W. Garrett Horder.)

Encouraging the people

The people had grown indifferent and neglectful of God, as is the case with all who are not earnestly engaged in religious activities, giving their attention to fitting up and adorning their own dwellings, while the house of the Lord was left unbuilt. Haggai was sent to reprove them for their neglect, to call their attention to the blighting curse upon them because of this neglect, and encourage them to resume the work on the temple of God. The new temple was to be of the same dimensions as the old. But it was not to be overlaid with gold, or to have such imposing accessories for worship. It seems that the ark had been lost, and the tables, and the mercy-seat. There was no visible glory, and no Urim and Thummim. Hence the lamentations of the ancient men, who could make contrasts. We have narrated here sadness and rejoicing over the same thing. But such is life all round the world. Age made unfavourable comparisons, while youth, whatever the comparisons, delighted in the new and promiseful. The aged naturally, and almost inevitably, live in things behind them; the young in things around them, and before them. The danger is, that echoes of the past will mar the music of the present, and that the music of the present will mar the echoes of the past. Haggai’s encouraging reference to God as with their fathers, and pledge of the same God as with them, was to the people a revelation and inspiration. It, however, seemed to this people that the times had changed. The prophet, therefore, is sent to encourage them with assurances that God is with them in their work, as truly as He was with their fathers. They may miss something of the grandeur and glory of the former temple; but what of this if God is still their God? The Divine presence would be in the new temple more manifestly than in the old. Therefore they should resume their work in confidence and rest in peace. We fall into the same false ways of judging. When present possessions and conditions seem to compare unfavourably with past possessions and conditions, we grieve and murmur and lose heart. Human lives do not always run in the same channels. Change after change is the lot of universal man. Where is rest? Where is inspiration? In the assurance that God is with us as He was with our fathers, and as He was with us in former times. At that very moment when the Jews were repining God had in mind a temple whose glory should far outshine the old, and He had all power to bring in this glory. He was to accomplish convulsions in the earth, and bring in the “Desire of all nations.” Five stages in human history were then passed, from Adam to Noah; thence to Abraham; thence to Moses; thence to Solomon’s temple, and thence to the Captivity. Only one stage remained--thence to the kingdom of the Messiah. These halting, hesitating Jews saw not that kingdom, and hence they were heavy-hearted. We are often blind, hence heavy-hearted. What we need to remember is that we have a present personal God, whatever the age of the world, or whatever the wants of our lives. Memories of blessing should make us glad instead of sad, even though present conditions may seem less favourable than former ones. Everything in heaven and earth is under the control of God for the perfection of human character, and for the world-wide end of righteousness and peace. Christian workers ought never to be discouraged. Whatever the present seeming, this world is not going from bad to worse, but from better to better; and best of all, the best things await every true child of God. We set you in the midst of memories, and let you enlarge upon them.

1. Think of self.

2. Think of associated lives and labours.

God never failed those loved ones who are now at rest and out of sight. Beacon fires have blazed on all the mountain-tops. They shall burn on until far lands have been lighted up, and the new temple of peace and truth shall have completion; when He who was the glory of Israel’s temple shall come again for crowning. (Sermons by Monday Club.)

Encouraging the people

A ruined church is oftentimes a sad comment on religion; an unfinished church is a sadder one. What had arrested the work that began so auspiciously?

1. The enthusiasm of the people was but a transient fervour. Steadfastness is a cardinal virtue. The reward is to him that over cometh.

2. Then they began to question and calculate. Might it not be that the project was premature? The altar was restored, why could not the temple wait? Some said, “The time is not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built.”

3. Meanwhile there was the natural concern as to temporal affairs. One by one the workmen left the temple walls, and turned their energy to affairs of more personal moment. Perhaps if they had continued to devote themselves to God’s sanctuary, He might have devised some plan for providing for their wants.

4. There were other things that conspired to arrest the work. The adjacent tribes had set themselves against it Not until Darius came to the throne did the Jews pluck up courage to resume the work. Haggai’s prophecies are brief and fragmentary, consisting of three addresses all delivered within a period of three months. In the first he admonished them that self-seeking at the expense of the Lord’s work is a losing venture. Their own prosperity had suffered. It may seem that Haggai appealed to a low motive, but the Jews were always sensitive at this point. They had ever an eye to the main chance, and they have to this day. The Lord knew how to move their sluggish natures. When Darius issued an order endorsing the original permission to build, Haggai delivered his second address. The resources seemed inadequate to a great enterprise, and it seemed hardly worth while to build what must be an inferior house. Haggai is to assure them that God was with them, and the glory of the latter house should surpass that of the earlier one. How could that be?

(1) God would here manifest Himself in the outpouring of His power. Sublime messages of truth, announcements of Divine faithfulness in the fulfilment of old-time shadows, flaming prophecies of ultimate glory were to be heard amid these rising walls.

(2) But, better still, Messiah Himself was to worship at the altar, and walk among these porches. If the light of the golden candlesticks was quenched, what mattered it? The Light of the World was here to shine forth.

(3) If God were so minded He might adorn the second temple with wealth incomputable. “The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine.”

(4) Still further, the latter house was to be beautified with salvation. “For in this place will I give peace.” With such considerations as these did the prophet encourage the builders. Then came Haggai’s third message. He began by admonishing them that sin disqualifies for holy service. Then he touches upon their sordidness and want of faith. Let them turn and trust God. Still it holds true that godliness, obedience, simple trust, is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, as well as of that which is to come (1 Timothy 4:8). On the same day when this address was made to the people a special word of encouragement was sent through the prophet to Zerubbabel. Haggai’s work was soon ended. His work was to encourage the builders, and he did it. What more could be asked of any man? God has a commission for every one. To heed and endeavour is to make an assured success of life. This is the very best that can be written of any mortal man, that he had something to do, and did it for God. (D. J. Burrell, D. D.)

Encouraging the people

For sixteen years, just because of a little opposition, the Jews had left God’s house to lie waste. In the first chapter of this prophecy Haggai rebukes them for this neglect in vigorous language. He accuses them of putting off their duty by the plea, “The time is not come, the time for the Lord’s house to be built”; and points with sarcasm to the ceiled houses which they had been building for themselves in Jerusalem and its suburbs. Stirred by his words, Zerubbabel, Joshua, and all the remnant of the people set to work, while the prophet encouraged them by the message, “I am with you, saith the Lord.” After a month had been thus occupied, and when the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles had arrived, Haggai was sent to his countrymen with another message. It is contained in the first nine verses of the second chapter of his prophecy. There is no rebuke in it, nothing but mercy and encouragement; for rebuke had accomplished its purpose, the people had willingly offered them selves for the work, and it was courage and hope that they needed in order that they might conduct it to a successful issue. God deals with us according to our attitude toward Him, and according to our need. If we climb the steep path of obedience He sends us smiles, helps, benefactions, so that the steepness is forgotten, and the hearts that resolved in fear and weakness are made to sing with joy. There were three promises given by the prophet in God’s name for the encouragement of the people.

I. The promise of God’s abiding presence. “Be strong, for I am with you.” Their history had taught them by many illustrious interpositions and widespread calamities that in God was their hope. When they continued in His ordinances with willing hearts He crowned them with mercies. Blessings of the field and blessings of the flock were theirs, because He ordered all things for them, and protected them from their enemies round about. But when they forsook the Lord, and turned aside to idolatry, He visited them with His judgments. The mildew and cankerworm, hail and earthquake, devastated their land, while their foes rejoiced on every side. The exile from which they had just returned had fixed deep in their souls the truth that if God withheld His favour they were helpless and exposed to oppression and disaster. So that this promise, “I am with you,” was better fitted than any other to make them strong and brave. And the prophet supports the promise by an appeal to God’s past faithfulness, and to His covenant which could not be broken. “According to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt.”

II. The promise of miraculous interposition. “I will shake the heavens.” “I will shake all nations.” The Jews had already encountered opposition, and they were likely to meet with more. But God, who possessed all resources, who had displayed His energies at Sinai, would again rise and put forth His power on their behalf. God would not leave them to the operation of ordinary forces and the vicissitudes of hurrying events. He would Himself be the chief Actor, as in the days of old, when He brought them out of Egypt with a high hand and an outstretched arm.

III. The promise that, notwithstanding appearances to the contrary, the latter glory of the temple should be greater than the former. The old men had wept when the foundations of the temple were laid, because of its inferiority to the temple of their memory. They were deceived partly by the illusion of fancy which surrounds what is past with a halo, which it never had at the time, and partly by that disposition, common enough to man, which sees nothing in that which is passing, and which is before their eyes. But God’s message to them and to us is one of hope. The golden age, which pagan and heathen nations put in the far-off past, God puts into the future. “God goes forward and not back, and is never so baffled as to be compelled to suspend progress. Let us not despise our own work nor our own generation. It also has a place in the history of God’s work in the world.” (T. Vincent Tymms.)

Inspiring anticipations

1. Men are always prone to be deluded by externals, and to suppose that the absence of outward splendour is indicative of the absence of God’s blessing, forgetting that God often chooses the weak things of the earth to confound the mighty, that no flesh may glory in His presence (Haggai 2:3).

2. The presence of God with His people is sufficient ground for encouragement to work in His service, whatever be the external difficulties, and sufficient comfort in distress how great soever be the calamity (Haggai 2:4).

3. The covenant of God, and the Spirit of God, are the great grounds of hope to His people, in engaging in His service, and the promises made to the fathers may be pleaded by the children (Haggai 2:5).

4. The kingdoms of the world are but the scaffolding for God’s spiritual temple, to be thrown down when their purpose is accomplished (Haggai 2:6).

5. The uncertainty and transitoriness of all that is earthly should lead men to seek repose in the everlasting kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ (Haggai 2:7).

6. The various changes of life in both individuals and nations are designed to lead them to bring their choicest offerings, and dedicate them to God.

7. The New Testament in all its outward lowliness has a glory in its possession of a completed salvation, through the atoning work of a crucified Saviour, far above all the outward magnificence of the Mosaic dispensation (Haggai 2:9).

8. The kingdom of Christ makes peace between God and man, and in its ultimate results will make peace between man and man, and destroy all that produces discord and confusion, war and bloodshed on the earth (Haggai 2:9). (T. V. Moore, D. D.)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Haggai 2:4". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/haggai-2.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

"Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith Jehovah; and be strong, O Joshua son of Jehozodak, the High Priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith Jehovah, and work: for I am with you, saith Jehovah of hosts."

The only "glory" that mattered, and the only glory that had any permanent value was that of God Himself. When God was with his people, they were indeed glorified, and all of the alleged inferiority of the new temple would be nullified and compensated for by the presence of the Lord himself who was moving toward the accomplishment of his eternal purpose through the instrumentality of the "once chosen" people in bringing forth the Messiah into the world.

God's love and tenderness for his people was unbounded. The necessity of punishing them and removing them from the land which they had forfeited by disobedience was an occasion for heartbreak, even on the part of God Himself. Therefore, when the remnant was restored to the land of Canaan, and after they had been working only about a month, the Lord provided the strong assurances of this promise that he was "with" them.

Any strict execution of the justice of God would apparently have required all of the Jewish Canaanites to be destroyed in the same manner as the original Canaanites. Surely, Jewry deserved no better treatment than that which God had meted out to Sodom and Gomorrah, for the prophet Ezekiel flatly declared (Ezekiel 16) that both the northern and the southern Israel were "worse" than Sodom and Gomorrah. However, there were strong impediments to such an execution. The continuity of the prophecies of the Messiah, reaching all the way back to Genesis 3:15 demanded the continuity of Israel. God had promised the Messiah "through" them. His prophets had foretold the birth of Christ in Bethlehem. Any execution of the deserved penalty upon the old Israel would have checkmated God's purpose in the far more important matter of delivering the Messiah to mankind. Any true understanding of God's unwavering and continued mercies to Israel must take such things into account. Also, such mercies to the old Israel were typical of similar mercies to Christ's church, the New Israel of God.

Also, God's being with the old Israel must be considered as a type and symbol of his being with his church throughout the ages. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31).

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Haggai 2:4". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/haggai-2.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the Lord,.... Take heart, be of good courage, do not be dismayed at these things; though, the building may be contemptible in the eyes of some, nevertheless go on with it manfully and vigorously; let, none despise the day of small things; for from these low beginnings great things will arise, and glorious things will follow, as hereafter predicted; see Zechariah 4:9 attend this, work diligently, desist not from it, continue to preside over it, and encourage the people in it; let not thine heart faint, or thine hands be slack; act the part of man, of a good man, and of a governor:

and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech the high priest; do not be disheartened at what the ancients think and say concerning this temple, in which thou art to officiate as a high priest; and as a type of him who shall come into this house, and so give it a glory the former never had; continue to give the necessary instructions to the builders, that everything may be done in proper order, and to answer their end and use in the service of the priesthood; faint not, nor be discouraged, but act according to thy character, and show thyself worthy of the office with which thou art invested; consider in whose name thou actest?, whose priest thou art, and in whose service thou art employed:

and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the Lord; let not your hearts sink, or spirits fail, at hearing what the more ancient among you say of the difference between this and the former building, which your eyes never saw; do not desist from your work on this account, but go on with it; consider what God has done for you, in bringing you out of captivity, and into your own land, and to the enjoyment of your civil privileges; consider the obligations you lie under to build a house for God; that this is not only a piece of gratitude, and shows a sense of mercies received; but that it is for the glory of God, for your spiritual profit and advantage, and for the use and good of future posterity; quit yourselves therefore like men, and be strong; see Joshua 1:6,

and work; that is, continue working, for they were at work; but there was danger of their leaving off working, being discouraged at what the ancient people said; and therefore they are exhorted to go on in their work, and go through it, and finish it; for so the word here used signifies, "and do"F5ועשו "et facite", V. L. Munster, Pagninus, Montanus, Burkius. ; that is, the work thoroughly and effectually; or, as others render it, "and perfect"F6"Perficite", Piscator, Tarnovius, Varenius, Reinbeck. the work begun, and leave it not unfinished. Aben Ezra, Jarchi, Kimchi, and Ben Melech, connect this word with the beginning of the following verse, thus, "and do the word, or thing, which I covenanted with you", &c. Haggai 2:5; that is, observe the law, and do the commandment then given; but very wrongly: nor is it only to be considered as directed to the people, but to the prince and priest also; for they had all work to do in the house of the Lord, as all ranks and degrees of men now have in the church of Christ; of which that house was typical: the prince or civil magistrate, not to prescribe laws and rules to be observed in it, which only belongs to Christ, who is the sole Head, King, and Lawgiver; but to attend the service of it, to protect and defend it, to promote the interest of it, and distribute cheerfully to the maintenance of its ministers, and to the necessities of the poor saints. Priests or ministers of the word are to work; they are to labour in the word and doctrine; in preaching the Gospel; administering ordinances; governing the church; comforting saints; reproving vice, and refuting error: deacons are to do their work, in taking care of the poor, and minding the secular affairs of the church: and all private Christians are to work, to labour in prayer for the good of it; to hear the word, attend on all ordinances, and hold fast the profession of their faith; all which is to be done in the strength and grace of Christ, without dependence on it, or seeking justification and salvation by it; encouraged, as the Jews are here, with the promise of the divine Presence:

for I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts; to help in every service, and to protect from all enemies; and this makes the work and service of the Lord's house pleasant and delightful, and secures from all doubts and fears, faintings and misgivings of heart. This is to be understood of God the Father, the Lord of armies above and below; and if he is for and with his people, they have nothing to fear from those that are against them; or to be discouraged in his service. The Targum wrongly interprets this of the Word of the Lord, since he is meant in the next verse Haggai 2:5.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Haggai 2:4". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/haggai-2.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and b work: for I [am] with you, saith the LORD of hosts:

(b) That is, go forward in building the temple.
Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Haggai 2:4". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/haggai-2.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

for I am with you — The greatest strength is to have Jehovah with us as our strength. Not in man‘s “might,” but in that of God‘s Spirit (Zechariah 4:6).

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Haggai 2:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/haggai-2.html. 1871-8.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Haggai 2:4 Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and work: for I [am] with you, saith the LORD of hosts:

Ver. 4. Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, &c.] Here he exhorteth all ranks, first, to good affection, Be strong, or of a good courage; secondly, to good action, work, or, Be doing; for affection without action is like Rachel, beautiful, but barren. Be strong, so as to prevail and carry on the service, all discouragemeats notwithstanding ( Charach unde ισχυειν, valeo. Sept. vertunt. υπερκρατειν υπερισχυειν). Those that will serve God in the maintenance of good causes must be courageous and resolute, 1 Corinthians 16:13; for otherwise they shall never be able to withstand the opposition that will be made either from carnal reason within, or the world and devil without, for want of this spiritual mettle, this supernatural strength, this "spirit of power, of love, and of a sound mind," 2 Timothy 1:7; opposed to the spirit of fear, that cowardly passion that unmans us, and expectorateth and exposeth us to sundry both sins and snares; when he that trusteth in the Lord shall be safe, Proverbs 29:25. Here, then, that we falter not, budge not, betray not the cause of God, nor come under his heavy displeasure, who equally hateth the timorous and the treacherous; let us, 1. Be armed with true faith; for Fides tamen non formidat, faith quelleth and killeth distrustful fear. 2. Get the heart fraught with the true fear of God; for as one fire, so one fear, drives out another, Matthew 10:28, 1 Peter 3:13-14 3. Get and keep a clearing, cheering conscience; for that feareth no colours, as we see in St Paul, Athanasius, Luther, Latimer, and other holy martyrs and confessors. 4. Think on God’s presence, as here, Be strong and be doing, for I am with you. Though David walk through the vale of the shadow of death, that is, of death in its most hideous and horrid representations, he will not fear; for what reason? "thou art with me," saith he, Psalms 23:3-4. Dogs and other creatures will fight stoutly in their master’s presence. 5. Consider your high and heavenly calling, and say, Shall such a man as I flee? &c. Either change thy name or be valiant, saith Alexander to a soldier of his that was of his own name, but a coward, Et Turnum fugientem haec terra videbit? (Virg.). Lastly, look up, as St Stephen did, to the recompense of reward, steal a look from glory, as Moses, Hebrews 11:26, help yourselves over the difficulty of suffering together with Christ, by considering the happiness of reigning together. Thus, be of good courage, or deal courageously, and God shall be with the good, as Jehoshaphat told his judges when to go their circuit, 2 Chronicles 19:11.

And work] Good affections must end in good actions, else they are scarcely found, but much to be suspected. Good wishes (and no more) may be found in hell’s mouth, Numbers 23:10. Orpah had good affections, but they came to nothing, Ruth 1:14. God must be entreated to fix our quicksilver, to ballast our lightness, to work in us both to will and to do, that it may be said of us, as of those Corinthians, that as there was in them a readiness to will, so there followed the performance also, 2 Corinthians 8:12. Desire and zeal are set together, 2 Corinthians 7:11; desire after the sincere milk, and growth in grace, 1 Peter 2:2. John Baptist’s hearers so desired after heaven that they offered violence to it, Matthew 11:12. True affections are the breathings of a broken heart, Acts 2:37, Romans 7:23. But the desires of the slothful kill him, Proverbs 21:25. Virtutem exoptat contabescitque relicta (Pers.), Good affections are ill bestowed upon the sluggard, since they boil not up to the full heat and height of resolution for God, or, at least, of execution of his will. The sails of a ship are not ordained that she should lie always at road, but launch out into the deep. God likes not qualmy Christians, good by fits, as Saul seemed to be, when David’s innocence triumphed in his conscience, or as Ephraim, whose duties were dough-baked, and whose goodness was as the morning dew, &c. "Be ye stedfast and unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord." Stick not at any part of it; difficulty doth but whet on heroic spirits, as a bowl that runs downhill is not slugged, but quickened, by a rub in the way. If this be to be vile, I will be yet more vile, 2 Samuel 6:22 "Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain," Zechariah 4:7 "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness," 2 Corinthians 12:9.

For I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts] By a twofold presence: 1. Of help and assistance; 2. Of love and acceptance. Of the first see Haggai 1:13. {See Trapp on "Haggai 1:13"} The second seems here intended. The Jews were poor, yet God assureth them they had his love. So had the Church of Smyrna, Revelation 2:9, I know thy poverty, but that is nothing, thou art rich, rich in reversion, rich in bills and bonds; yea, rich in possession, or, All is theirs, they hold all in capite: they have, 1. plenty; 2. propriety in things of greatest price; for they have God all-sufficient for their portion, for their protection. "I am with you," saith he, and that is enough, that is able to counterpoise any defect whatsoever, as we see in David often, but especially at the sack of Ziklag; where, when he had lost all, and his life also was in suspense, the text saith, he comforted or "encouraged himself in the Lord his God," 1 Samuel 30:6; whereas Saul in like case goes first to the witch, and then to the sword’s point. A godly man, if any occasion of discontent befall him, retires himself into his counting-house, and there tells over his spiritual treasure; he runs to his cordials, he reviews his white stone, Revelation 2:17, his new name ("better than that of sons and of daughters," Isaiah 56:5), he hath meat to eat that the world knoweth not of, the stranger meddleth not with his joy. Virtus lecythos habet in malis. Tua praesentia, Domine, Laurentio ipsam craticulam dulcem fecit, saith a father, Thy presence, O Lord, made the very gridiron sweet to the martyr Laurence. It made the fiery furnace a gallery of pleasure to the three worthies, the lions’ den a house of defence to Daniel, the whale’s belly a lodging chamber to Jonah, Egypt a harbour, a sanctuary, to the child Jesus, &c. He goes with his into the fire and water, as a tender father goeth with his child to the surgeon. "Nevertheless," saith David, "I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterwards receive me to glory," Psalms 73:23-24. Again, "I am with you"; that is, I will accept your worships, though in this meaner temple. If God may have the substance of worship, he stands not much upon the circumstance. The sick may pray upon their beds, the persecuted in chambers, Acts 1:12-14, yea, "in dens and caves of the earth," Hebrews 11:38. The Church, in Queen Mary’s days, met and prayed often together in a cellar in Bow church yard. It was one of the laws of the twelve tables in Rome, Ad divos adeunto caste, pietatem adhibento, opes amovento. The upright shall approach to the gods, they shall summon the righteous, they shall put away their deeds. "Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire" (viz. in comparison of obedience, 1 Samuel 15:22), but, as a better thing, "mine ears hast thou opened," Psalms 40:6. Hypocrites by cold ceremonies think to appease God; they observe the circumstance, neglect the substance; they stick in the bark of rebellion, gnabble on the shell, offer the skin, keep back the flesh, serve God with shows; and shall be served accordingly.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Haggai 2:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/haggai-2.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

In this juncture, though old men weep for the disproportion of the two temples, yet now be strong; be of good courage yourselves, O Zerubbabel, and thou, O Joshua, and encourage others by your example, animate each other, that all the people of the land may take heart with you.

And work; forthwith set about the building of the temple.

For I am with you, both to defend you from enemies, to supply you with necessaries, to bless and accept you: see Haggai 1:1.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Haggai 2:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/haggai-2.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

4.The prophet does not deny the justice of the estimate, but he does deny that the prospective inferiority of the temple is a valid ground for discouragement, or a sufficient reason for discontinuing the building operations.

Yet now — Nevertheless; in spite of the great difference.

Be strong — Do not permit appearances to discourage you, but remain confident as to the ultimate success. These words are addressed to all the people (compare Zechariah 4:6-10).

Work — Only if they do their share can God render assistance (compare 1 Chronicles 28:20). There is no need for discouragement, because Jehovah, the God of hosts (see on Hosea 12:5), is with them (Haggai 1:13). “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31.)

The translation of 5a is uncertain. Both English translations supply “according to,” but A.V. connects 5a with 5b, “According to the word’, so my spirit remaineth,” while R.V. connects it with 4b, “I am with you,’ according to the word.” The chief difficulty lies in “the word,” which in Hebrew stands in the accusative, but whose syntactical relation cannot be determined very easily. Some supply the verb remember, hence margin R.V., “Remember the word,” but this is arbitrary. The grammatical difficulty cannot be solved, and we must be satisfied with saying that, if the text is correct, the promise of Jehovah to co-operate with the people is somehow brought in connection with a covenant promise made at the time of the Exodus (compare, for example, Exodus 6:7; Exodus 19:4-6). The difficulty vanishes if, following LXX., we omit 5a; LXX. reads 5b, “And my spirit shall remain in the midst of you, fear not.” This makes a natural continuation of Haggai 2:4. For the promise see on Zechariah 4:6; for my spirit, on Joel 2:28, and A.B. Davidson, The Theology of the Old Testament, pp. 115-129, from which may be quoted a few sentences: “The Spirit of Jehovah is Jehovah himself — the source of life of all kinds, of the quickening of the mind in thought, in morals, in religion, particularly the last.’ The Spirit of God ab intra is God active, showing life and power, of all kinds similar to those exhibited by the spirit of man in man; the Spirit of God ab extra is God in efficient operation, whether in the cosmos or as giving life, reinforcing life, exerting efficiency in any sphere, whether physical, intellectual, or spiritual; the tendency toward limiting the Spirit of God to the ethical and spiritual spheres is due to the tendency to regard God mainly on those sides of his being.” The translation of R.V. “abode” is wrong, for the words contain a promise for the future.

Fear ye not — Though the present seems dark and unpromising.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Haggai 2:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/haggai-2.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The Lord again encouraged Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the people to work, and He promised again to be with them (cf. Haggai 1:13). David had given the same charge and promise to Solomon regarding the first temple ( 1 Chronicles 28:10; 1 Chronicles 28:20). Comparisons can be discouraging when doing the Lord"s work, so people involved in it need to remind themselves that He is with them (cf. Matthew 28:20; Mark 6:50).

"The key to tackling despondency is found here: stop listening to ourselves and start listening to him and his word of promise." [Note: Motyer, p987.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Haggai 2:4". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/haggai-2.html. 2012.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Glory. The temple had been destroyed sixty-nine years before, so that many might have seen it. When the second temple was dedicated, (Calmet) or founded, (Haydock) two years after the captivity, cries of grief and of joy were heard, 1 Esdras iii. 12.

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Haggai 2:4". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/haggai-2.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

saith the LORD of hosts = [is] the oracle of Jehovah Sabaioth. See note on 1 Samuel 1:3.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Haggai 2:4". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/haggai-2.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and work: for I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts:

Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the Lord; and be strong, O Joshua ... the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land ... and work: for I am with you. The greatest strength is to have Yahweh with us as our strength. Not in man's "might," but in that of God's Spirit (Zechariah 4:6).

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Haggai 2:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/haggai-2.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and work: for I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts:
now
Deuteronomy 31:23; Joshua 1:6,9; 1 Chronicles 22:13; 28:20; Zechariah 8:9; 1 Corinthians 16:13; Ephesians 6:10; 2 Timothy 2:1
for
1:13; Exodus 3:12; Judges 2:18; 1 Samuel 16:18; 2 Samuel 5:10; Mark 16:20; Acts 7:9; 2 Timothy 4:17
Reciprocal: Deuteronomy 31:6 - Be strong;  1 Chronicles 3:19 - Zerubbabel;  Ezra 2:2 - Zerubbabel;  Ezra 5:2 - the prophets;  Isaiah 35:4 - Be strong;  Daniel 10:19 - be strong;  Zephaniah 3:16 - be said;  Zechariah 3:1 - Joshua;  Zechariah 6:11 - Joshua;  Romans 4:20 - but was

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Haggai 2:4". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/haggai-2.html.