Destruction to come upon the Jews. (1-3) The Lord's dealing
with the Jews. (4-14) The emblem and curse of a foolish
In figurative expressions, that destruction of Jerusalem,
and of the Jewish church and nation, is foretold, which our Lord
Jesus, when the time was at hand, prophesied plainly and
expressly. How can the fir trees stand, if the cedars fall? The
falls of the wise and good into sin, and the falls of the rich
and great into trouble, are loud alarms to those every way their
inferiors. It is sad with a people, when those who should be as
shepherds to them, are as young lions. The pride of Jordan was
the thickets on the banks; and when the river overflowed the
banks, the lions came up from them roaring. Thus the doom of
Jerusalem may alarm other churches.
Christ came into this world for judgment to the Jewish
church and nation, which were wretchedly corrupt and degenerate.
Those have their minds wofully blinded, who do ill, and justify
themselves in it; but God will not hold those guiltless who hold
themselves so. How can we go to God to beg a blessing on
unlawful methods of getting wealth, or to return thanks for
success in them? There was a general decay of religion among
them, and they regarded it not. The Good Shepherd would feed his
flock, but his attention would chiefly be directed to the poor.
As an emblem, the prophet seems to have taken two staves;
Beauty, denoted the privileges of the Jewish nation, in their
national covenant; the other he called Bands, denoting the
harmony which hitherto united them as the flock of God. But they
chose to cleave to false teachers. The carnal mind and the
friendship of the world are enmity to God; and God hates all the
workers of iniquity: it is easy to foresee what this will end
in. The prophet demanded wages, or a reward, and received thirty
pieces of silver. By Divine direction he cast it to the potter,
as in disdain for the smallness of the sum. This shadowed forth
the bargain of Judas to betray Christ, and the final method of
applying it. Nothing ruins a people so certainly, as weakening
the brotherhood among them. This follows the dissolving of the
covenant between God and them: when sin abounds, love waxes
cold, and civil contests follow. No wonder if those fall out
among themselves, who have provoked God to fall out with them.
Wilful contempt of Christ is the great cause of men's ruin. And
if professors rightly valued Christ, they would not contend
about little matters.
God, having showed the misery of this people in their
being justly left by the Good Shepherd, shows their further
misery in being abused by foolish shepherds. The description
suits the character Christ gives of the scribes and Pharisees.
They never do any thing to support the weak, or comfort the
feeble-minded; but seek their own ease, while they are barbarous
to the flock. The idol shepherd has the garb and appearance of a
shepherd, receives submission, and is supported at much expense;
but he leaves the flock to perish through neglect, or leads them
to ruin by his example. This suits many in different churches
and nations, but the warning had an awful fulfilment in the
Jewish teachers. And while such deceive others to their ruin,
they will themselves have the deepest condemnation.