4:1 If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the LORD, a return to me: and if thou wilt put away thy abominations out of my sight, then shalt thou not be removed.
4:2 And thou shalt b swear, The LORD liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory.
(a) That is, wholly and without hypocrisy, not dissembling to turn and serve God as they do who serve him by halves, (Hosea 7:16).
4:3 For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up c your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.
(b) You will detest the name of idols, (Psalms 16:4) and will with reverence swear by the living God, when your oath may advance Godís glory, and profit others: and here by swearing he means the true religion of God.
4:5 d Declare ye in Judah, and proclaim in Jerusalem; and say, Blow ye the trumpet in the land: cry, confirm, and say, Assemble yourselves, and let us go into the fortified cities.
(c) He wills them to pluck up the impiety and wicked affection and worldly respects out of their heart, that the true seed of Godís word may be sown in it, (Hosea 10:12) and this is the true circumcision of the heart, (Deuteronomy 10:16; Romans 2:29; Colossians 2:11).
(d) He warns them of the great dangers that will come on them by the Chaldeans, unless they repent and turn to the Lord.
4:6 Set up the standard toward Zion: e retire, stay not: for I will bring evil from the north, and a great destruction.
4:7 The f lion is come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of the Gentiles is on his way; he is gone forth from his place to make thy land desolate; thy cities shall be laid waste, without an inhabitant.
(e) He speaks this to admonish them of the great danger when every man will prepare to save himself, but it will be too late, (2 Kings 25:4).
4:9 And it shall come to pass at that day, saith the LORD, [that] the heart of the king shall perish, and the heart of the princes; and the priests shall be astonished, and the g prophets shall wonder.
(f) Meaning Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, (2 Kings 24:1).
(g) That is, the false prophets who still prophesied peace and security.
4:10 Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! surely thou hast greatly h deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, Ye shall have peace; though the sword reacheth to the soul.
4:11 At that time shall it be said to this people and to Jerusalem, A dry i wind of the high places in the wilderness toward the daughter of my people, not k to fan, nor to cleanse,
(h) By the false prophets who promised peace and tranquillity: and thus you have punished their rebellious stubbornness by causing them to hearken to lies who would not believe your truth, (1 Kings 22:23; Ezekiel 14:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:11).
(i) The north wind by which he means Nebuchadnezzar.
4:13 Behold, he shall come up as l clouds, and his chariots [shall be] as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles. m Woe to us! for we are laid waste.
(k) But to carry away both corn and chaff.
(l) Meaning that Nebuchadnezzar would come as suddenly as a cloud that is carried with the wind.
4:15 For a voice declareth from n Dan, and proclaimeth affliction from mount o Ephraim.
(m) This is spoken in the person of all the people, who in their affliction would cry thus.
(n) Which was a city in the utmost border of Israel north toward Babylon.
4:17 As keepers of a p field, they are against her on all sides; because she hath been rebellious against me, saith the LORD.
(o) Which was in the middle between Dan and Jerusalem.
(p) Who keep the fruits so straitly, that nothing can come in or out so would the Babylonians compass Judah.,
4:19 My distress, my q distress! I am pained at my very heart; my heart maketh a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.
(q) He shows that the true ministers are lively touched with the calamities of the Church, so that all the parts of their body feel the grief of their heart, even though with zeal to Godís glory they pronounce his judgments against the people.
4:20 Destruction upon destruction is cried; for the whole land is laid waste: suddenly are my r tents ruined, [and] my curtains in a moment.
(r) Meaning, the cities which were as easily cast down as a tent.
4:22 For my people [are] foolish, they have not known me; they [are] silly children, and they have no understanding: s they [are] wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.
(s) Their wisdom and policy tend to their own destruction and pulls them from God.
4:23 I beheld the earth, and, lo, [it was] without form, and t void; and the heavens, and they [had] no light.
4:27 For thus hath the LORD said, The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I u not make a full end.
(t) By this manner of speech he shows the horrible destruction that would come on the land and also condemns the obstinacy of the people who do not repent at the fear of these terrible kings, seeing that the insensible creatures are moved therewith, as if the order of nature would be changed, (Isaiah 13:10,24:23; Ezekiel 32:7; Joel 2:31,3:15).
4:30 And [when] thou [art] laid waste, what wilt thou do? Though thou x clothest thyself with crimson, though thou deckest thee with ornaments of gold, though thou enlarge thy eyes with painting, in vain shalt thou make thyself fair; [thy] lovers will despise thee, they will seek thy life.
(u) But for his mercies sake, he will reserve himself a residue to be his Church, and to praise him in earth, (Jeremiah 5:18).
(x) Neither your ceremonies nor rich gifts will deliver you.
4:31 For I have heard a voice as of a woman in travail, [and] the anguish as of her that bringeth forth her first child, the voice of the daughter of Zion, [that] bewaileth herself, [that] spreadeth her hands, [saying], y Woe [is] me now! for my soul is wearied because of murderers.
(y) As the prophets were moved to pity the destruction of their people, so they declared it to the people to move them to repentance, (Isaiah 22:4; Jeremiah 9:1).