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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Joel 2

 

 

Verse 1

Joel 2:1 Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for [it is] nigh at hand;

Ver. 1. Blow ye the trumpet in Zion] Idem aliis verbis repetit, saith Mercer here. The prophet repeats the same as in the former chapter, only in other words, more at large, and after another manner; pressing the people further to the practice of repentance by many sweet promises of the blessings of this and a better life. Our prophet may seem to be of the same mind with Tertullian, who said that he was nulli rei natus nisi poenitentiae, born for no other end but to repent, and to call upon others so to do. Tot autem verbis et figuris utitur, saith Luther, he useth so many words and figures, because he had to do with a people that were harder than rocks, Jeremiah 5:8; as also, because there is an absolute necessity of repentance. Aut poenitendum, aut pereundum, as our Saviour tells his disciples twice in a breath, Luke 13:2; Luke 13:5. The prophet had urged them hereunto from the evils they felt or feared, Joel 1:1-20. Pain and penitence are words of one derivation. God plagueth men that he may make them cry peccavi; I have sinned, not peril only, I am undone, as Cain; but peccavi, I have done very foolishly, as David. The first seventeen verses of this chapter are hortatory, the rest consolatory. The day of the Lord cometh, therefore repent. This is the sum of the exhortation. It cometh, and that instantly: give warning therefore. God loveth to foresignify, saith the heathen historian, and to admonish before he punish, Fιλει ο Yεος προσημαινειν (Herod.). He dealt so with Cain, to whom he read the first lecture of repentance, Genesis 4:9-15, as he had done of faith to his father Adam, in the chapter before. He dealt so with the old world, with the Sodomites, Ninevites.

Sound an alarm in my holy mountain] Ring the bells backwards (as among us they do), the house is on fire, the enemy is at hand.

Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble] And take course to prevent or mitigate the ensuing mischief, to cut the cart ropes of sin that pull down wrath upon the land.

For the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand] "An end is come, is come, is come," as Ezekiel hath it, Ezekiel 7:6-7 "I will overturn, overturn, overturn," as the same prophet hath it elsewhere, Ezekiel 21:27, "Should we then make mirth?" as it is in the same chapter, Ezekiel 21:10; should we sleep upon a mast pole, dance upon a weather cock, go hallooing and whooping to the place of execution?


Verse 2

Joel 2:2 A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, [even] to the years of many generations.

Ver. 2. A day of darkness and of gloominess] Lest they should imagine it to be some light matter that hath been, and is still threatened, he sets forth to the life, the bitterness of that day, so lowering and lightless, that it can hardly be called a day; a dark and doleful doomsday it will be to the impenitent, infaustus et infelix, dismal and dreadful. What better can be expected by those Tenebriones, that delight in the deeds of darkness, and are acted by those rulers of the darkness of this world, Ephesians 6:12, the devils, whom they follow as they are led, 1 Corinthians 12:2, till they fall into outer darkness, σκοτος εξωτερον, even that darkness beyond a darkness (as the dungeon is beyond or below the prison), where they shall never see the light again till they see all the world on a light fire. Let those Lucifugae look to it, that love darkness better than light; for, besides what they meet with here, they shall one day have their bellies full of it in that dungeon of darkness.

A day of clouds and of thick darkness]. Caused by that huge army of locusts, coming in great swarms and darkening the air.

As the morning spread upon the mountains] i.e. longe, lateque, far and near, all the country over, and that in an instant; even as the morning spreadeth abroad suddenly over the tops of hills, though they be a great way off. Postera vix summos spargebat lumine montes Orta dies (Virg.) Lux subit, et primo feriente cacumina sole. (Ovid.) Hereby is imported that the calamity here threatened is such as they can neither avert nor avoid. Irretensibilis est, saith Luther.

A great people and a strong] So the locusts are called, see Joel 1:4-6, not without some respect to the Chaldeans, that should afterwards carry them captive, as Jerome here glosseth.

There hath not been ever the like] sc. in the land of Judea, nor of the like continuance. See Joel 1:2-3.

Even to the years of many generations] Heb. Of an age and an age, so Deuteronomy 32:7, Joel 3:20. This assureth us of the greatness of this people’s sin, since they were so signally punished, for God doth not use to kill flies with beetles, as they say.


Verse 3

Joel 2:3 A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land [is] as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.

Ver. 3. A fire devoureth before them, and behind them a flame burneth] Such waste these vermin shall make, like as it is said of the Great Turk, that wherever he sets his foot there never grows grass again; he doth so eat up the countries where he comes with his huge armies. And the late Lord Brook, in his discourse of episcopacy, notes, that that unhappy proverb among us was not for nought, The bishop’s foot hath trodden here. In Biscay, a province of Spain, they admit no bishops to come among them; and when Ferdinand, the Catholic king, came in progress hither, accompanied among others by the Bishop of Pampelune, the people arose in arms, drove back the bishop, and gathering all the dust on the which they thought he had trodden, flung it into the sea. What fires they kindled here in Queen Mary’s days, devouring six or seven hundred, at least, of God’s faithful witnesses in five years’ time; and what work they made in our remembrance throughout the three kingdoms, to the embroiling of all and their own utter ruin, I need not relate. That renowned author cited before had told them time enough, but that they were destined to destruction, that if they forbear to touch the supreme authority of the land, which they affected, it was but as once Mercury spared Jupiter’s thunderbolts, which he dared not steal, lest they should roar too loud, or, at least, burn his fingers.

The land is as the garden of Eden] i.e. of all kind of pleasures and delights. See Genesis 2:8; Genesis 13:10. Eden inde ηδονη. Strabo speaks spitefully of the land of Canaan, as if it were a dry, stony, and barren country, not worth the seeking after, Rabshakeh shows more ingenuity than this, Strabus et pravus Strabo (as one therefore calleth him), 2 Kings 18:32. Tacitus commends it for a fertile soil, so doth Pliny; but above all, the holy Scripture setteth it forth to be Sumen totius orbis, the bread basket of the whole world, a land flowing with milk and honey, &c., Exodus 3:17, Deuteronomy 32:13.

And behind them a desolate wilderness] Not such a wilderness as yielded pastures, and habitations for shepherds, Joel 1:19-20, but utterly desolate, and therefore unhabitable, as under the torrid zone. No place can be so pleasant but sin can lay it waste. "A fruitful land turneth the Lord into barrenness for the wickedness of them that dwell therein," Psalms 107:34. There is no footstep left to this day of that gallant garden, planted by God himself; or if any, cecidit rosa, est spina; the place remains in the upper part of Chaldea, but not the pleasantness of the place. The like we may say of Sodom, of Jerusalem, of Greece, of Asia the less, of Germany, Ireland, &c. England hath hitherto subsisted merely by a miracle of God’s mercy, and by a prop of his extraordinary patience. The Lord continue it to the glory of his name and the good of his poor people. Fiat, fiat.


Verse 4

Joel 2:4 The appearance of them [is] as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run.

Ver. 4. The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses, and as horsemen] i.e. the locusts and other insects come on amain; they march with much nimbleness and swiftness. A horse is a warlike creature, full of terror; so swift in service, that the Persians dedicated him to their god, the sun, as the swiftest creature to the swiftest god, ωσπερ το ταχιστον τω ταχυτατω (Pausan.). See Job 41:20, Proverbs 21:31. In Persia they do all almost on horseback; they buy, sell, confer, but especially fight on horseback to this day. So they did of old, and so did the Chaldeans, from whom they took the monarchs. These were horsemen, and not as horsemen; the place, therefore, is properly and principally to be understood of the locusts. Confer Revelation 9:7.


Verse 5

Joel 2:5 Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array.

Ver. 5. Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains] Not only on the tops of standing grain, as other locusts, which therehence also have their name Aκριδες, but as the hurry of chariots in stony places, Revelation 9:9. For in that book of the Revelation, the penman borrows all the elegancies and flowers of the Old Testament, thereby to set out the story of the New in succeeding ages; as here hence the Popish priests are fitly called locusts for their numerosity and voracity, Revelation 9:3. They are also likened unto horses, Joel 2:7, fed and fierce to run, and rush into the battle not without noise. "Like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble," Ecclesiastes 7:6; or the rattling of "the jumping chariot wheels," Nahum 3:2.

As a strong people set in battle array] In a bloody fight between Amurath, the third King of Turkey, and Lazarus, despot of Servia, many thousands fell on both sides. The brightness of the armour and weapons was as it had been the lightning the multitude of lances and other horsemen’s staves shadowed the light of the sun. Arrows and darts fell so fast that a man would have thought they had poured down from heaven. The noise of the instruments of war, with the neighing of horses and outcries of men, was so terrible and great, that the wild beasts in the mountains stood astonished therewith, and the Turkish histories, to express the terror of the day, vainly say that the angels in heaven, amazed with that hideous noise, for that time forgot the heavenly hymns, wherewith they always glorify God.


Verse 6

Joel 2:6 Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness.

Ver. 6. Before their face the people shall be much pained] This is a confirmation of the former assertion. The people when they shall see those swarms of locusts, &c., mustering and marching in the air, they shall be much pained, as a travailing woman is, "pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them, their faces shall be as flames," Isaiah 13:8, for fear lest they should light on their country and lay all waste.

All faces shall gather blackness] Pallorem, paleness, so Castalio rendereth it; a blackish lead-like paleness, such as on sooty pots. The original here is, "hath gathered a pot," that is, by a metonymy, a pot-like blackness, Nigricantern colorem significat (Mercer). See Nahum 3:10, Jeremiah 30:6, Psalms 68:13, where, by blackness (such as slaves and scullions contract by lying among the pots, and smokey and sooty chimney corners), is set forth the exceeding great fear and affliction that God’s people are often in and from whence he graciously promiseth to deliver them that trust in him. Such shall not "be afraid whose heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord." It was fear that now caused (the natural heat and the blood retiring to the heart to receive it, as, in a sudden surprise, the soldiers run to the castle) paleness and blackness of face. It was hunger afterwards that burnt them, Deuteronomy 32:24, and made their visages blacker than a coal, as Lamentations 4:8, or, "darker than blackness," as the original hath it.


Verse 7

Joel 2:7 They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks:

Ver. 7. They shall run like mighty men] Horribiles, fortissimi ut gigantes. They shall strike terror into others, as in the former verse, but themselves, as giants and conquerors, shall overrun all with incredible swiftness and prowess. Strong soldiers have strong sinews, and thence their speedy marches and quick despatch. "Asahel was light of foot as a wild roe," 2 Samuel 2:18. Achilles is everywhere by Homer called swift-footed, ποδας ωκυς. Alexander the Great, being asked how he so quickly conquered so many countries, answered, Mηδεν αναβαλλομενος, by my nimbleness. Caesar in omnia princeps, Caesar in all things first, saith Lucan, he passed the Alps, and was at Rome with a trice, as they say. His word was, Veni, vidi, vici, I no sooner came, but I overcame. He is said to have taken a thousand towns, conquered three hundred nations, took prisoner one million of men, and to have slain as many. What a deal was done by Joshua in a short space at the conquest of Canaan? Charles V, Emperor of Germany, is reported to have won in the Indies, by his captains and commanders there, twenty-eight kingdoms in twenty-eight battles. Bajazet, the great Turk, for his swiftness and fierceness, was surnamed Gilderun, or lightning. To such worthy warriors, ready and speedy, prompt and present, are these locusts, God’s armed soldiers, here compared. "They shall run like mighty men, they shall climb the wall like men of war," that cannot be kept out, that will not be worsted.

They shall march every one (Heb., man) on his way] Though many, yet they shall not one hinder or hurt another, but hold a comely equipage, keep rank and file, observe the laws and rules of discipline, and so

Coniuneti pollent etiam vehementer inertes.

They go forth all of them by bands, or gathered together, saith Solomon, Proverbs 30:27. So do those locusts in the Revelation, the Popish clergy under their king, the destroyer, Revelation 9:11. Locusts they are fitly called for their numerosity and voracity. The Jesuits alone have sometimes 200,000 scholars. And how they feed on the fat and drink the sweet where they swarm who knows not.

They shall not break their ranks] Or, writhe and pervert their paths, as Aben Ezra out of the Arabic idiom rendereth it. Jerome testifieth that he and others saw in Judea troops of locusts flying in so even an order, ut ne puncto quidem aut ungue transverso declinent ad alteram, that you could not say they brake rank at all; tanto ordine et dispositione iubentis Dei volitant, saith he, so strict and beautiful discipline there is in God’s whole army, to whom belong the shields of the earth, the militia of the whole world, Psalms 47:9.


Verse 8

Joel 2:8 Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: and [when] they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded.

Ver. 8. Neither shall one thrust another] Or straiten another. The Greek word διωκω, to press and persecute, seems to come from this Hebrew word Dakag. The prophet still alludeth to the matter of marshalling armies in such sort, as that neither may the soldiers hinder one another, nor the enemy have any advantage to break in upon them. Exercitus pulchre dispositus, et amicis pulcherrimus videtur, et hostibus inexpugnabilis, saith Xenophon (In Oeconom.); that is, a well ordered army seemeth both beautiful to their friends and invincible to their enemies.

They shall walk every one] Heb. גבר Man, mighty man, q.d. each locust shall walk and stalk, as a strong lusty man in his trodden track, in the path that God hath put him into, and shall hold to it. ( Vir validus, Mesillah, Via trita.)

And when they fall upon the sword] Heb. the long sword, or javelin, they shall not be wounded; as if they were unwoundable, or shot free, as the poet fabled of Achilles, and as the Persians, vanquished by the Athenians at the field of Marathon, cried out

Bαλλομεν, ου πιπτουσι τιτρωσκομεν, ου φοβεονται.

“We fell them, yet they fall not;

we them wound,

And think them dead, but they are

safe and sound” (Stobaeus).


Verse 9

Joel 2:9 They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief.

Ver. 9. They shall run to and fro] As soldiers do when they have taken a town by assault, and have leave to plunder. En victoriam et hostilem insultationem, saith Mercer here. See the lively portraiture of victory and triumph.

They shall run upon the wall] After they have scaled it (as before) they shall walk or run upon it as conquerors, without fear of an enemy. Alexander the Great would do so.

They shall climb up upon the houses] No longer now the owners’ castles; for they shall be ferreted out of their retiring rooms, or forced to do as Sardanapalus the Assyrian monarch did; who, straited by the enemy, sacrificed himself with his wealth and wenches to Vulcan in a woodpile (as one phraseth it) in his royal palace.

They shall enter in at the windows, as a thief] Whose property is, 1. To climb up some other way and not to enter in by the door, John 10:1; death also getteth in by the windows and that way entereth into palaces, Jeremiah 9:21; so doth Satan (that thief of the truth, as Basil calleth him) wind himself into the soul by the eyes, those windows of wickedness and loop holes of lust. 2. To rifle and ransack, and leave little enough behind him. What clean work these insects made, see before, Joel 1:4, and take notice what great matters God Almighty can do by the most contemptible creatures. Quid cimice vilius, saith Philo the Jew, what can be baser than a louse? and yet all the strength of Egypt was brought down by that despicable vermin? Pliny in his eighth book and 24th chapter tells us out of Mr Varro, that a great town of Spain was undermined and overturned by conies; another in Thessaly by moles; a third in France undone by frogs; a fourth in Africa by locusts; a fifth in Italy by serpents, Clara exitii documenta sunt ex contemnendis animalibus (Plin.). Who hath not heard of Hatto, that merciless Archbishop of Mentz, devoured by mice, though he had moated up himself against their invasion in an island? God cannot possibly want a weapon wherewith to beat his rebels.


Verse 10

Joel 2:10 The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining:

Ver. 10. The earth shall quake before them, &c.] Tragicis figuris calamitatem amplificat, saith Luther here. By such tragic terms the prophets used to set forth a horrible desolation, such as first the Assyrians and afterwards the Romans brought upon the Jews; the Turks and Saracens upon the Christian Churches. Whether there were any such earthquake or stupendous concussions of the heavenly bodies as is here described, is uncertain. Strange forerunners there were both in heaven and earth of the last destruction of Jerusalem, as Christ also had foretold. In the days of Justinian the emperor, the sun for the greatest part of a year gave so little light that it was but equal to the light of the moon, the sky being clear without clouds or anything to shadow it; after which, there followed a great famine, and much war and bloodshed.

The sun and the moon shall be dark] Wondrous expressions to meet with their wondrous stupidity. The Hebrew doctors (and Oecolampadius much disliketh it not) allegorize the text; and by the earth understand the common people, by the heavens the grandees, by the sun and moon the king and kingdom, as by the stars those of indifferent rank, all which are woe begone (as they say) by reason of the present calamities; as when upon the death of Prince Henry, Great Britain was said to be all in black; and as Demades was wont to say of the Athenians, nunquam eos sapere nisi pullis vestibus indutos, that they were never so wise as when they were in mourning weeds (Plutarch).


Verse 11

Joel 2:11 And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp [is] very great: for [he is] strong that executeth his word: for the day of the LORD [is] great and very terrible; and who can abide it?

Ver. 11. And the Lord shall utter his voice before his army] In the head of his army, as generals used to do for encouraging the soldiers. A general should be like Quintilian’s orator, Vir bonus, dicendi peritus, both valiant and eloquent, as was Cato Censorius, Optimus Orator, Optimus etiam Imperator, saith Pliny; and Julius Caesar, and Hunniades, who were masters of speech as well as men of their hands; Si actu eius penitus ignorasses, per linguam tamen militem esse diceres, ut quidam de Caesare. So was Joab, David’s general, of whose speech to the army, 2 Samuel 10:12, Pellican saith, Non potuit vox Duce dignior cogitari, A braver speech could not have been uttered by the mouth of a mortal. But here God himself uttereth his voice before his army; for "the Lord is a man of war," Exodus 15:3, a victor of wars (as the Chaldee there hath it), and what wonder, since "the voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty," Psalms 29:4, he sets on and gives the signal of the battle to these locusts, he puts spirit into them and cries, Courage, my hearts; and thence it is that they are so valorous and victorious.

For his camp is very great] His camp these locusts are called, though they knew it not. He hisseth for the fly of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria. And they shall come and rest all of them in the desolate valleys, Isaiah 7:18-19. The Assyrian is the rod of God’s anger, and the staff in his hand. "I will send him," saith the Lord, "against an hypocritical nation, to avenge the quarrel of my covenant. Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so," Isaiah 10:5-7. But it is here as when, in applying horse-leeches, the physician seeketh the health, of his patient, the leech only the filling of his gorge. Almighty God, as he disposeth and ordereth membra culicis et pulicis, as Austin hath it, the members of the meanest creatures; so by the same power and providence he overruleth all their motions, to his own glory.

For he is strong that executeth his word] Or, that thing is strong, that weak locusts, set awork by God, shall do his will vigorously (and not faintly, as Jeremiah 48:10), shall go throughstitch with it, and none shall hinder it.

For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible] Tremble, therefore, and humble under this mighty hand of God; let this earthquake work in you a heartquake, these horrible commotions and calamities draw from you a shower of tears, or at least a storm of sighs, for your sins; unless ye hold it better to be carnally secured than soundly comforted.

Who can abide it] Or else avoid it, otherwise than by repentance? Amos 8:12. Fly, saith a reverend man, from God’s anger to God’s grace. Bloodletting is a cure of bleeding; and a burn a cure against a burn. Running to God is the way to escape him; as to close and get in with him that would strike you doth avoid the blow.


Verse 12

Joel 2:12 Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye [even] to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:

Ver. 12. Therefore also now, saith the Lord] Now, though it be late first, and, as you may think, too late, Nunquam sero si serio. Now, though the dreadful day of the Lord be very near at hand; yea, though the locusts be already come, as Kimchi senseth it. Oh that ye would know at the last in this your day of grace, the things that belong to your peace, before the gate be shut, the drawbridge taken up, the taper burnt out, &c. "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation," 2 Corinthians 6:2. The apostle (after the prophet Isaiah) purposely beateth upon the το νυν, as if he should say, Now, or never; since thou mayest, the very next minute, be cut off by the stroke of death from all further time of repentance and acceptation. Up, therefore, and be doing. It is the Lord himself that thus saith,

Turn ye even to me] Usque ad me, altogether as far as to me; give not the half turn only; begin not to repent, and then give over the work. Some are ever about to repent, but they can never find time and hearts to set seriously about it, to do it in good earnest, stultitia semper incipit vivere folly always begins to live (Sen.). Some wamblings they have, as I may say, and some short-winded wishes, some kind of willingness and velleity, but it doth not boil up to the full height of resolution to return. The prodigal changed many places ere he came home. Many came out of Egypt that yet never came into Canaan.

With all your heart] With the heart, Jeremiah 4:14, Proverbs 23:26, and with the whole heart, in opposition to a divided heart, Hosea 10:2, a double heart, James 4:8, a heart and a heart, Psalms 12:2. This whole heart is elsewhere called a true heart, Hebrews 10:22, a perfect heart, 2 Chronicles 16:10, truth in the inwards, Psalms 51:6, where there is an unfeigned faith, 1 Timothy 1:5, laborious love, 1 Thessalonians 1:3, sound and cordial repentance, as here, undissembled wisdom, James 3:17, such holiness as rendereth a man like to a crystal glass with a light in the midst of it, doing the truth, John 3:21, and having his works full, Revelation 3:1-2, being a true worshipper, John 4:24, an Israelite indeed, John 1:47. God he knows to be just and jealous: he will not endure co-rivals or co-partners in the kingdom. His jurisdiction is without peculiar: he will not divide with the devil. Be the gods of heathen good fellows? saith one; the true God is a jealous God, and will not share his glory with another. He must be served truly, that there be no halting; and totally, that there be no halving.

And with fasting, weeping, and with mourning] With deep and downright humiliation, suitable to your sins, as Ezra 9:6. Ye have inveterate stains; such as will not be gotten out till the cloth be almost rubbed to pieces. Satan hath intrenched himself in your hearts, and will not be gotten out but by fasting and prayer. Fasting is of itself but a bodily exercise, and meriteth nothing; for religion consisteth not in meat and drink; in the belly, full or empty, Romans 14:17, Colossians 2:23; but fasting is a singular furtherance to the practice of repentance and the enforcing of our prayers. See Ezra 8:21. As full feeding increaseth corruption, Jeremiah 5:7-8, so religious abstinence macerateth, tameth, and subdueth the rebel flesh, 1 Corinthians 9:27, giving it the blue eye, υπωτιαζω, as there and 2 Corinthians 7:11, so that not the body so much as the soul is made more active by emptiness. Fasting days are soul fatting days, they fit men for conversion, as here, and make much to the humbling of the spirit; hence they are called days of humiliation and of self-affliction, Leviticus 16:31; Leviticus 23:37.

And with weeping] Drown your sins in a deluge of tears; cleanse your wounds by washing in this precious water; quench hell fire with it, kill the worm, fetch out sin’s venom: there is a healing property in these troubled waters. Tears of vine branches are said to cure the leprosy, and the olive is reported to be most fruitful when it most distilleth. These April showers bring on May flowers, and make the heart as a watered garden; or as some faces appear most oriently beautiful when most bedewed with tears. Peter never looked so sweetly as when he wept bitterly; David never sung more pathetically than when his heart was broken most penitentially, Psalms 6:1-10, Psalms 51:1-19. when tears instead of gems were the ornament of his bed, as Chrysostom speaketh. Mary Magdalene (that great weeper), as she made her eyes a fountain to wash Christ’s feet in, so she had his wounds as a fountain to bathe her soul in; yea, she had afterwards the first sight of the revived Phoenix, whom she held fast by those feet that had lately trod upon the lion and the adder.

And with mourning] This is added, as a degree beyond the former. Men may fast, and yet find their pleasures, Isaiah 58:13, weep out of stomach, as Esau, or compliment, as Phryne the harlot, who was surnamed κλαυσιγελως, weep-laugh, because she could easily do either: and as among the Brasilians tears are for a present salutation, and as soon gone as if they had said, How do ye? Ut flerent oculos erudiere suos (Ovid). What is a humbling day without a humbled heart? not only a religious incongruity, but a high provocation; like Zimri’s act, when all the congregation were weeping before the door of the tabernacle. Here, therefore, the Lord calleth to mourning, funeral mourning, as the word signifieth: with tabering upon the breast, Nahum 2:7, smiting on the thigh, Jeremiah 31:19, beating on the head, face, and other parts, sicut mulierculae in puerperio facere solent, saith Luther there. Nudaque marmoreis percussit pectora palmis (Ovid). See Isaiah 32:11; Isaiah 22:12. Sorrow for sin must not be slight and sudden, but sad and soaking: the heart must be turned into a Hadadrimmon, Zechariah 12:10-11, where the prophet seems, in a sort, to be at a stand for comparisons fit enough and full enough to set forth their sorrow, who, looking upon Christ, whom they had pierced, felt the very nails sticking in their own hearts as so many sharp daggers, or stings of scorpions. The good soul (say the school-men) seeth more cause of grief for sinning than for the death of Christ: because therein was aliquid placens, something that pleaseth: but sin is simpliciter displicens, simply displeasing. So that God’s mourners need not send for mourning women to teach them to mourn, as Jeremiah 9:17, but rather have need to be comforted, lest they should be swallowed up with overmuch grief, 2 Corinthians 2:7, and lest Satan get an advantage against them, 2 Corinthians 2:11, by mixing the detestable darnel of desperation with the godly sorrow of a pure penitent heart, as Mr Philpot, martyr, speaketh.


Verse 13

Joel 2:13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he [is] gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.

Ver. 13. And rend your heart and not your garments] i.e. not your garments only, which was gestus perturbationis among the Jews, a gesture usual with them, to set forth the greatness of their grief and displeasure; as, 1. At funerals and loss of friends, as Genesis 37:34 2. In case of blasphemy, as 2 Kings 18:37 3. In time of common calamity, Esther 4:1. Tum pius Aeneas humeris abseindere vestem Auxilioque vocare Deos, et tendere palmas (Virg.). Godly sorrow for sin should exceed all other sorrows whatsoever, both in intention and extension; the whole soul sending continual streams into it out of every faculty. And hence it is that the prophet here calleth upon them to rend, and as it were to discontinuate their hearts. Cor integram cor scissum, the broken heart is the only sound heart; and to rend the garment, and not the heart, is as very a fraud as that of players, who seem to wound themselves, but do not; and make a show of thrusting themselves through their bodies, but the sword passeth only through their clothes. Stage players can act to the life those whom they impersonate; yea, outstrip them in outward actions; so do hypocrites the true Christian. Doth good Josiah melt at the menaces of the law, and weep, and rend his clothes, and humble himself? 2 Chronicles 34:27; wicked Ahab will also, in like case, rend his clothes, put sackcloth upon his flesh, fast, lie in sackcloth, and go softly and heavily, as sorrowful men and mourners use to do, 1 Kings 21:27. Doth the publican fix his eyes on the ground? those hypocrites in Isaiah will hang down their heads as bulrushes. Doth holy Timothy weaken his constitution with religious abstinence? the false Pharisee will not only weaken his constitution, but wither and disfigure his complexion, αφανιζουσι, that he may appear to men to fast, Matthew 6:16. Such pains men will be at for applause, for a little stinking breath, which yet cannot blow one cold blast upon them when they shall be frying in hell for their seemingness. "Rend, therefore, your hearts," saith the prophet; "break up your fallow ground, circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away the filthy foreskin of your hearts," Jeremiah 4:3-4, "wash them from wickedness, that ye may be saved," Joel 2:14. Be ye active, and voluntaries in your sorrows for sin. Virtus nolentium nulla est, feigned and forced grief is nothing worth. Judas grieved, confessed, restored, and yet miscarried. He went not forth, as Peter, to weep bitterly; he did not cast himself into heaviness, as James 4:9-10. It was fired out of him, as sweet water out of roses; it was squeezed out of him, as verjuice out of crabs. God’s people are commanded to afflict themselves with voluntary sorrows, Leviticus 16:31; to loathe themselves for all their abominations, Ezekiel 6:9, to mortify the deeds of the body by the spirit, Romans 8:13, to do it with their own hands; and not to give over the practice of it till they feel their hearts to ache and quake within them, yea, to fall asunder in their bosoms, like drops of water. See all this done by David, after he had numbered the people, 2 Samuel 24:10. Some shadow of it we have in the example of Epaminondas, the Theban general, who the next day after the victory and triumph went drooping and hanging down his head: and being asked, why he did so? he answered, Yesterday I felt myself too much tickled with vain glory: therefore I correct myself for it today. But we have a better example in holy David, "whose heart smote him," saith the text, 2 Samuel 24:10, and made him smart inwardly. He was not yet smitten, either by God’s hand or the prophet’s reproach (as afterwards), but his sanctified conscience did its orifice of a faithful monitor and household chaplain; his heart misgave him. Bee masters tell us that those are the best hives that make the greatest noise. Sure it is that that is the best conscience that suffers not a man to sleep in sin. David’s heart smote him. But for what? for numbering the people. It was for his own sin, for a small, for a secret sin, for a failing in the manner only. David knew that a man may die as well of an inward bleeding as of an outward hurt. The good soul is oft afflicted for failings in that holy duty which others applaud and extol. "And David said unto the Lord": he could not rest till he had opened his mind unto him by confession and supplication, and so got a vent to his troubled spirit: as when a sore is opened there is ease immediately. To God, therefore, he addresseth himself, not to men (as Judas did and Papists do, and many among us, being in pain of conscience, will rather shark for ease than sue for pardon), and acknowledgeth with aggravation the iniquity of his sin, Psalms 32:3, the sinfulness of it, as Paul’s expression is, Romans 7:13 (for sin is so vile that he could call it no worse than by its own name), "I have sinned greatly in that I have done": his sin swelled like a toad in his eyes, and he spat it out of his mouth with utmost indignation. He confesseth sorrowfully, but not desperately, as Judas; for he both cries for pardon, "Take away the iniquity" (for as for the punishment how he stood affected, see Romans 7:17 : "Let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and my father’s house"), and concludeth himself God’s servant, yea, proveth himself so (as some godly learned think), by those following words, "For I have done foolishly"; q.d. If I deserve not to be called God’s servant in regard of my late sin (and indeed God calls him but plain David, Joel 2:12, "Go and say to David," not to my servant David, as at other times), yet at least in regard of my later service of confession joined with reformation; for now I see "I have done very foolishly," who once thought I had done wondrous wisely and politicly.

And turn unto the Lord your God] Of turning to God see at large the note on Zechariah 1:3. Here it is prescribed as a remedy against God’s wrath, and pressed again and again, to show the necessity of doing it, or we are utterly undone. So elsewhere, "Turn you, turn you, why will you die? except ye repent, ye must needsly perish." Aut poenitendum aut pereundum, either you must turn on earth or burn in hell; be born again, or ye cannot enter the kingdom of God, John 3:3. Heaven was too hot to hold the apostate angels. And although the devil could get into paradise, yet no unclean thing ever got into heaven. No dirty dog may trample on that golden pavement. The pure in heart only can see God, as whole eyes can look upon the sunbeams, and as transparent bodies receive the light. "Turn you," therefore, "unto the Lord." If a man see a lion or a burning fire before him he will make some shift to turn another way. So here, biasse, for there is no safety in going forward; since our God is a consuming fire, and as a roaring lion will tear and rend the caul of our hearts in sunder, Hosea 13:8, if we rend not our hearts and turn unto him. By turning may well be here meant reformation, that repentance from sin, as humiliation, before required, is in Scripture called repentance for sin, for it is not enough to mourn unless we mend also, to bewail our wickedness, but we must embrace better courses, Jeremiah 26:13, Isaiah 1:16, Matthew 3:8, Romans 12:9; Romans 13:11, Ephesians 4:22. God for this cause gives us the light of nature and Scripture, besides other means, and time enough. Had he given us but one prophet only, and but forty days, as he dealt by Nineveh, we should have done it as they did. How much more now that we abound with leisure (read Jezebel’s sin and sentence, Revelation 2:21), and have so many prophets rising up early and speaking to us. "Turn ye again now every one from his evil way," Jeremiah 25:4-5. What will become of us if we refuse to be reclaimed, hate to be healed? This one prophet here fills his mouth with arguments, Job 23:4. First, it is not to a tyrant or a stranger that you are exhorted to turn, but to the Lord your God, to him that is your head, husband, father, who hates putting away, having once betrothed you to himself in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in tender mercies, Hosea 2:19. Next, this Lord our God is, for his sweet and patient nature, here set forth, to be gracious, and will therefore love you freely, Hosea 14:4; merciful, and will therefore pity your misery; slow to anger, or not apt to snuff, but a master of his wrath, Nahum 1:2, Bagnal Chemah, and one that can bear more than any other whatsoever, Micah 7:17.

And of great kindness] Or much in goodness, doing good to the evil and unthankful, as our Saviour yokes them.

And repenteth him of the evil] A little punishment being enough to a father for a great fault, Pro peccato magno paululum supplicii satis esto patri (Terent.). Where note, that God’s repentance is not a change of his will, but of his work only; and so he repents for his people when he seeth their power is gone, Deuteronomy 32:36; when there is dignus vindice nodus, an extremity fit for Divine power to interpose, when the enemies are ready to devour the Church, or Satan to swallow down God’s child in despair, his bowels work, he can hold no longer, but cries, Save my child, save my Church, &c., Jeremiah 31:20; then he sends out his mandamus trust for deliverance, Psalms 44:4; then he comes with his non obstante, as Psalms 106:8, Isaiah 57:15. Now who would not return to such a God? and what heart can resist such powerful rhetoric? A heap of words we have here, taken for the most part out of Exodus 34:6, and all to draw out faith and encourage those that have any mind to look toward God. It is no such easy thing to believe, as fond folk conceit, and to comfort a conscience cast down in the sense of sin and fear of wrath is no less difficult, saith Luther, than to raise the dead from the grave. If men fear they shall fail of mercy upon their return to God, either they will fall into dedolency or despair. But persuade them once of the goodness of God, and it will lead them to repentance, Romans 2:4. Let them see that in their Father’s house is bread enough, and they will home immediately; that God will abundantly pardon, and he shall have suitors great store, Isaiah 55:7. The sweet and gracious nature of God should be as a perpetual picture in our hearts, and an effectual motive to make men turn unto him.


Verse 14

Joel 2:14 Who knoweth [if] he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; [even] a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God?

Ver. 14. Who knoweth if he will return and repent, &c.] Hitherto the prophet had argued from God’s gracious disposition; now here from his courteous and bounteous dealing with his converts.

Who knoweth if, &c.] This is not the speech of one that doubteth and is uncertain, as was that of David, 1 Samuel 12:22, who can tell that God will have mercy on me, that the child may live but of one earnestly affirming and avouching, as was that of Mordecai, Esther 4:14, "And who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" q.d. It is sure thou art. And it is no less sure that if men turn to God he will turn to them, Zechariah 1:3; and that whithersoever he comes, he leaves a blessing behind him. His favour is no empty favour, it is not like the winter sun, that casts a goodly countenance on the earth, but gives little heat and comfort. God ever comes with his cornucopia in his hand, and his steps drop fatness. "Then shall the earth yield her increase; and God, even our own God, shall bless us," saith the Church, Psalms 67:6. He will do it the rather, saith our prophet, that his people may the more cheerfully serve him, when they shall have a meat offering and a drink offering, et sic maneat integer cultus ipsius, and so he may have his daily service duly performed (Calvin), for of this the saints are most solicitous. It is their desire that God should be glorified rather than that themselves should be gratified and their own turns served.


Verse 15

Joel 2:15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly:

Ver. 15. Blow the trumpet in Zion] That all may hear and convene, those of Jerusalem in the temple, and the rest in their several synagogues, Leviticus 23:31, for that yearly fast was a standard to the rest, kept upon extraordinary and emergent occasions, as here, for the preventing of the forethreatened judgment. Papists appoint set fasting days, as Lent, and Friday in every week, eves of holidays, &c., whether the times be clear or cloudy. A. Lapide, also, the Jesuit, keeps a coil against Luther and the Centurists, for decrying their Popish processions and public litanies, which he thinks to be here and elsewhere authorized. A discourse he giveth us here, too, about the use and origin of bells among Christians, answerable to trumpets among the Jews. A symmist of his, Cenalis, Bishop of Auranches, to prove their Pope-holy Church the true Church, maketh no mention at all either of preaching or sacraments, but produceth bells for a sufficient mark of the Catholic true Church. "We have bells," saith he, "whereby our assemblies are ordinarily called together, but the Lutherans have claps of harquebuses and pistolets for signs whereby they congregate," between which and bells he maketh a long anti-thesis, and from hence inferreth that the Church of Rome is the true Church. A proper argument, and yet the man pleaseth himself as much in it as the second Council of Nice did in their profound proofs for idolatry, which, as one well saith of them, were such as that the images themselves, if they were sensible, would blush to hear repeated.

Sanctify a fast] {See Trapp on "Joel 1:14"} Proclaim a religious abstinence from all kind of sustenance, [2 Samuel 12:17 Jonah 3:5] for a season, either from morning till evening, as 20:26, 2 Samuel 3:35, or from evening till evening, Leviticus 23:32, or longer, as Esther 4:16, Acts 9:9, as the hand and wrath of God is more or less felt or feared; but the least time that may be is a whole day. There is an old canon that our fasts should continue usque dum stellae in coelo appareant, till the stars appear in the sky. The very Turks in their solemn fasts eat nothing all the day till night; yea, so precise they are, that upon their fasting days they will not so much as wash their mouths in water till the stars appear; which maketh their fasts (especially in the summer, when the days be long and hot) to be unto them very tedious. Christians hold and teach that nature is by fasting to be chastised, and not disabled for service; and that such as cannot fast so long but they shall either endanger health or be unfitted for the spiritual duties of the day, may eat; provided that they abuse not this liberty to the satisfying of the flesh, Colossians 2:23, 1 Timothy 5:23.

Call a solemn assembly] See Joel 1:14. {See Trapp on "Joel 1:14"}


Verse 16

Joel 2:16 Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet.

Ver. 16. Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, &c.] Let the priests, God’s ministers, see to it, that the people come together; and for the better too, as much as in them lies. For they are to the people in place of watchmen, of sentinels, of ambassadors, and in Christ’s own stead, who seems to say unto them, as Psalms 50:5, "Gather my saints together unto me, those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice," that they may meet me with entreaties of peace, disarm mine indignation conceived against them, and quench the flame thereof with their tears; not quench the spirit in their teachers by their crossness and backwardness to business of this nature.

Assemble the elders] Whether for age, as Job 15:10, or for place of authority, as Joshua 7:6, 1 Samuel 15:30, Ruth 4:4. These must be chief doers and most forward at fasts, as was Joshua, Jehoshaphat, the King of Nineveh, Ezra, &c. For, 1. They are most guilty in regard of their years and their office, which either addeth two wings to their sins, viz., example and scandal, whereby facile volant, non facile violant, they soar much higher, and fly much farther; 2. Their presence, counsel, and countenance may be a great furtherance to the work. See Ezekiel 46:10. The prince in the midst of the people, when they go in shall go in; and when they go forth shall go forth. A. Lapide saith, that the elder sort are to meet, because they are least lustful and more prayerful. It should be so, I confess; but how many old goats are there abroad that even hang over hell, which gapeth for them? and as the canker soonest entereth into the white rose, so doth corruption easily creep into the white head. He was a rare old man of whom we read, that being tempted to sin said, Nay: lest he should stain his white head.

Gather the children, and those that suck the breasts] For they are Church members, and to them also pertain the public dangers and calamities; out of which times and cases, children and novices are not to be tied to these austerities of religion (as our Saviour showeth, Matthew 9:17), as little, as new wine is to be put into old vessels. Add hereunto, that the parents might by the sight of their poor children (subject to God’s wrath by their default) be brought to a farther sense of their own sinfulness; and moved by their cries and laments ut ferventius orent, et plorent, to cry and pray more earnestly, Ephesians 2:3, Romans 5:12.

Let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber] The newly married man was by the law allowed to cheer up his wife, Deuteronomy 24:5, and therefore exempted from warfare and other public employments abroad, Deuteronomy 20:7, and the wedding day is called the "day of the rejoicing of a man’s heart," Song of Solomon 3:11. They were wont to have a week of feasting at such times, Genesis 29:27. Fulfil her week, sc. of banquet and bride’s ale, as they call it. And it is noted as an absurd thing in Samson’s wife, that she wept all the seven days of such a feast, when mirth was so much in season, 14:17. But is it a time for men to hang their hearts upon the merry pin when God calls them to hang up their harps upon the willow trees? when the sword is sharpened to make a sore slaughter, when it is furbished and glittereth, and contemneth the rod (i.e. lesser and lighter judgments that usually forerun it), should we then make mirth? Ezekiel 21:10. Should men eat, and drink, and marry, and be merry, when tomorrow they may look to die, and are already stumbling in the valley of the shadow of death? Such a thing the old world may do, buried in security, and to be shortly therefore buried in one universal grave of waters. But holy Noah was vexed at it; and Ambrose thinks (not without reason) that during the time of the Deluge, all the while that he was in the ark, he came as little at his wife as Uriah did while the ark and Judah and Israel abode in tents, and Joab and the host encamped in the fields, 2 Samuel 11:11. Nehemiah, though a great courtier, and the king’s cupbearer, could not but be sad when it went ill with the Church; all comforts then were but Ichabods to him, he had no joy of them, Nehemiah 2:2-3. Sorrow at such a time is better than laughter; for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better, Ecclesiastes 7:3. The mad world is a perfect stranger to the truth of this sacred position, as having so far banished sadness, that they are professed enemies to seriousness; and stick not to light a candle at the devil (as they say), for sinful lightsomeness. But woe be to such mad mirthmongers, saith our Saviour, Luke 6:25, and after him St James, James 5:1; James 5:5, and before them both, the prophet Isaiah, Isaiah 22:12-14, and the prophet Amos, Amos 6:4; Amos 6:6. What so lawful as the use of the marriage bed? Hebrews 13:4; and for whom more lawful than for the bridegroom and bride? Yet in a common calamity, and in a day of restraint (as a fast day is called, Joel 2:15), married couples must abstain, 1 Corinthians 7:5, where the apostle speaketh of a public fast, as Peter Martyr observeth. Hence, Zechariah 8:19, they separated themselves at such a time. And it is spoken of as a foul sin, Isaiah 58:3, "Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure." All sensual delights, though never so lawful at other times, must be then suspended and laid aside; as music, mirth, perfumes, Daniel 6:18, brave apparel, Exodus 33:4, all ornaments of the body, soft lying, 2 Samuel 12:16, all cheerfulness and outward joy, 20:26, 1 Samuel 7:8. The Roman censor punished one that showed himself out of a window with a garland upon his head in the time of the second Punic war.


Verse 17

Joel 2:17 Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where [is] their God?

Ver. 17. Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord] Let not them be either dull or dumb (as Popish mass-priests, with their dumb shows at divine service), but as (for their dignity) they are the Lord’s ministers, as likewise the good angels are, and their fellow-servants, so (according to their duty) they must be first in holy exercises, Psalms 103:21, Revelation 22:9, going in and out before God’s people in the performance of their trust, and that worthy work of theirs, 1 Timothy 3:1, for the which they are to be very highly esteemed in love, i Thess. v. 13. Let ministers, therefore, pray hard for their people, as did Aaron, Samuel, Paul, &c. Let their prayers (at fasts especially) be well watered with tears (those effectual orators, that cry to God for mercy, Psalms 39:12, as blood doth for vengeance, Genesis 4:16), as theirs were, 20:28; 2:5, 1 Samuel 7:6; and as Ezra, x. 1, and Jeremiah, ix. 1; xiii. 17; and why? but for corruption, in magistrates, ministers, all sorts; a general defection, drawing on a general desolation. Oh let God’s two faithful witnesses be clothed in sackcloth, Revelation 11:3, teaching God’s people with many "tears and temptations, both publicly and from house to house"; yea, not "ceasing to warn them night and day with tears," to redeem their own sorrows by sound repentance, Acts 20:19-20; Acts 20:31. It is said of Athanasius, that by his tears, as by the bleeding of a chaste vine, he cured the leprosy of that tainted age. And of Luther, that by his prayers and tears he had prevailed with God, that Popery should not overrun his country during his days. When I am dead, said he, let those pray that can pray, Melancthon, his colleague, writeth, that he constantly prayed with abundance of tears; for he knew, that as music upon the water sounds farther and more harmoniously than upon the land; so prayers, joined with tears, find much respect with Christ; who could not but look back upon the weeping women, and comfort them, though he was then going to his death.

Between the porch and the altar] This was that void place, where the priests prayed after the sacrifices were offered, Ezekiel 8:16. As in man there is body, soul, and spirit, 1 Thessalonians 5:23, so in the temple at Jerusalem, 1. between Solomon’s porch, Acts 3:11, and the altar of burnt-offering, was the outer great court, 2 Chronicles 4:9, where the people met for preaching and prayer. Next, there was the second court, for the priests only; and here was the altar of incense, Luke 1:9-10. Thirdly, the most holy place, for the high-priest to enter once a year, Leviticus 16:17. The first is here spoken of, the outer court, where the priests might be best heard to pray, and seen to weep; and the people might comport, and say, Amen; the want whereof St Paul counts no small loss, i Cor. xiv. 16.

And let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord, &c.] Other exercises there were usually performed at public fasts; as reading the Scriptures, Jeremiah 36:5; Jeremiah 36:27, expounding and preaching, Nehemiah 8:4; Nehemiah 8:8, examining, censuring, and punishing such sins as then most reigned, Nehemiah 9:2, Ezra 9:2, Joshua 7:6; Joshua 22:5. Binding themselves to God by a covenant of better obedience, Nehemiah 10:18; Nehemiah 10:29-30, contributing to good uses, Isaiah 58:7, 2 Chronicles 31:3-4; but the chief business and duty of the day was, as here, prayer to God for pardon of sin, and removal of shame and other punishment; whence also it was called, a day of atonement, or expiation.

Spare thy people, O Lord, &c.] Brevis oratio, sed tota affeetibus ardens, saith Mercer, A short prayer, but very affectionate; so are all Scripture-forms: they have fulness of matter in fewness of words. Quam multa, quam paucis! How much in a little! as Cicero said of Brutus’s laconical epistle. See Numbers 6:24-26, Hosea 14:2, Luke 18:13, Matthew 6:9-10, &c., which is both a prayer and a pattern: as the standard is the exactest measure. Why, then, should any man fall out with forms, and call them idols, odious as swine’s-flesh, &c.? Why should they say, that the use of the Lord’s Prayer is the note of a formalist? Is not this to speak evil of good, &c.

And give not thine heritage to reproach] Suffer us not, for our sins, to be forced by famine to beg bread of our enemies, the Ammonites and Moabites; for that will reflect upon thee, Lord, and turn to thy dishonour, as if thou hadst no care of thine heritage, couldst not maintain thy servants. See a like prayer to this Numbers 14:11-12; Numbers 14:16-17, Deuteronomy 9:26-28, and learn to deprecate shame and reproach as a fruit of sin, and a piece of the curse, Deuteronomy 28:1-68, Leviticus 26:1-46, 1 Samuel 2:30. Beg of God, 1. To keep thee from reproachful courses, such as may expose thee to the scandal of the weak and scorn of the wicked. David is much in this petition. 2. To hide thee in a pavilion from the strife of tongues, Psalms 31:20, either to preserve thee from aspersions, or so to oil thy name, that they may not stick. 3. To give thee good repute and report among the best. It was God gave Solomon honour; and he promiseth it to all his, as a reward of religion, Proverbs 22:4.

That the heathen should rule over them] It is a heavy hand of God upon his people, when Pagans or Papagans have dominion over them, Nehemiah 9:9-10; Nehemiah 9:27, Psalms 79:1; Psalms 80:1-2; Psalms 137:1-2, Lamentations 1:2; Lamentations 1:4-5. They are bloody in their positions and dispositions. See Romans 1:31. Their government is tyrannical, such as the Spaniards’ is over the poor Indians, the Turks’ over Greece, the rebels over the English in Ireland, &c. The saints also are, 1. Conscientious, and cannot yield to their unlawful commands, as the three children; 2. Zealous, and cannot but contest, as Stephen, Paul at Athens, the martyrs; 3. Friendless and destitute, Matthew 10:16, as Paul before Nero, Christ before Pilate, forsaken of all. Pray, therefore, as here, and prevent such a mischief, by shunning Jerusalem’s sins of ignorance, ingratitude, incorrigibleness, formality, &c., and by putting our necks under the yoke of Christ’s obedience, observing from the heart that form of doctrine which he hath delivered unto us, Romans 6:17.

Wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?] q.d. Why should they cast our religion in our dish? why should they twit us with thy neglect of us? why should thy name be blasphemed and thy power traduced, as it were on a public theatre? This was that which most galled these good souls (as it had often done David before them), that God, with whom they quartered arms, should be reproached for their sakes, and through their sides; and his glory defaced. This was as a murdering knife in David’s bones, Psalms 42:10, and worse to him than all the evil that he had suffered from his youth up. Our nature is most impatient with reproach: for there is none so mean but thinks himself worthy of some regard; and a reproachful scorn shows an utter disrespect which flows from the very superfluity of malice. You shall find some (saith Erasmus) that if death be threatened can despise it; but to be belied or reproached they cannot brook, nor from revenge contain. God’s people can bear wrongs best of any; compel them to go a mile, they will be content, if it may do good, to go two, yea, as far as the shoes of the preparation of the Gospel of peace will carry them. But if wrong be offered to God, if he be any way dishonoured, or his name bored through by blasphemies, O what a stomach they have presently, and how blessedly blown up are they with a zeal of God’s glory, which even eateth them up.


Verse 18

Joel 2:18 Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people.

Ver. 18. Then will the Lord be jealous (or, zealous) for his land] Then dicto citius straight upon it: no sooner shall you repent (as is prescribed) but the Lord will be jealous, &c. Of God’s jealousy for his people, {See Trapp on "Zechariah 1:14; Zechariah 8:2"} And of the happy effect of fasting turned to feasting, {See Trapp on "Zechariah 8:19"} see also 20:23, Ezra 9:6, Daniel 9:20, 2 Chronicles 20:3; 2 Chronicles 20:24-25 Bacah turned into Berachah; besides the constant experience of these and former times, of the happy success and unmiscarrying returns of holy fasting and prayer; no instance to the contrary. God usually answers his humbling people, as here, according to the desire of their hearts: neither so only, but according to the request of their lips also, Psalms 21:2, he fits his mercy ad cardinem desiderii; and lets it be to his, even as they will. They say, "Spare thy people," and accordingly he will pity or "spare his people," saith the prophet. They would not have God to give "his heritage to reproach" by inflicting famine upon them, as if they served a hard master that would affamish them. To this God gives a full answer in the next verse, "Behold, I will send you corn," &c. Again, they desire God to take care of his own great name, and to vindicate it. I will, saith God, by doing greatest things for you, Joel 2:20, and by causing the blasphemers to return and discern that "their rock is not as your Rock, themselves being judges," Deuteronomy 32:31; and that to ask, "Where is now their God?" is as great folly as if one should say, between the space of the new and old moon, Where is now the moon? when as it is never nearer the sun than at that time. There are some interpreters of good note, that read this verse not in the future, but in the preter tense, thus, Then was the Lord zealous for his land, and pitied his people; sc. when once he saw them seriously to repent he did all this that followeth for them. Neither maketh it anything against this interpretation, that the repentance of this people, their assembling and fasting, &c., is not recorded. For no more is it that Moses went to Pharaoh according to God’s command, to threaten those swarms of flies, Exodus 8:20, or that Isaiah took his son Shearjashub, and went to Ahaz to confirm and comfort him, as God had commanded, Isaiah 7:3, which yet we doubt not but the prophet did. This is an ordinary aposiopesis.

And pity his people] Or, spare them, pardon them. The word signifies to show mercy to him whom by all right thou mayest justly destroy, Ezekiel 5:11, 1 Samuel 15:3. Oh the Divine rhetoric and omnipotent efficacy of repentance! This is the rainbow, which if God seeth shining in our hearts, he will never drown our souls. Dat poenitentiam et postea indulgentiam (Fulgent.). He gives his people to repent, and then spareth them "as a man spareth his own son that serveth him," Malachi 3:17. But it is otherwise with those that partake not of the Divine nature: they are fierce, and implacable, as is the devil, who works effectually in them, as a smith doth in his forge. Henry IV, Emperor of Germany, came in the midst of a sore winter, upon his bare feet, to the gates of the castle of Canusium, and stood there fasting from morning to night for three days together, waiting for the judicial sentence of the pope, and craving pardon of him; which yet he could not obtain by his own or others’ tears, or by the intercession of any saint, save only of a certain harlot, with whom the pope was then taking his filthy pleasure. The emperor mistook, who thought that the pope could be pacified by fasting and prayer. This god required another kind sacrifice than these.


Verse 19

Joel 2:19 Yea, the LORD will answer and say unto his people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen:

Ver. 19. Yea, the Lord will answer and say unto his people] He will say it in answer to their prayers (see the note on Joel 2:18). Fear not, my people, that ye shall be a reproach among the heathen:

Behold, I will send you] As a token of my love, and a pledge of better blessings;

Corn, and wine, and oil] All that heart can wish or need require, a sufficiency of outward comforts, and (if not a superfluity, yet) an honest affluence, as Psalms 23:5-6, and boldness to conclude from temporals to spirituals, as there David doth; because bestowed in mercy and as an answer to prayer; for God never said to the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain (he scorns that), whether it be for Bona throni or Bona scabelli, as Austin distinguisheth, good things of this life or a better, upper springs or nether springs, though we ask but the one (as here) yet we shall have both. "Nay, take two," saith he, as once Naaman did to Gehazi; take thy back-burden, take even as much as thou canst bring faith to bear away. God deals with his servants as the prophet did with the Shunammite; when he bade her ask what she needed, and she found not what to ask, he sent for her again and makes her a free promise of that she most wanted and desired, a son, 2 Kings 4:16. So, often God is pleased to do for his servants exceeding abundantly above all that they ask or think. David asked but life of God, and he gave him "length of days for ever and ever," Psalms 21:4. This people prayed that God would not (for that turn) give his heritage a reproach among the heathen; and he graciously promiseth that he will never any more make them a reproach, &c. (so they continue penitent), for עור here signifies perpetuity, as Mercer noteth, and not for a time only, as Lyra would have it.


Verse 20

Joel 2:20 But I will remove far off from you the northern [army], and will drive him into a land barren and desolate, with his face toward the east sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea, and his stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall come up, because he hath done great things.

Ver. 20. But I will remove far off from you the northern army] sc. of vermin, of those destroying creatures that came from the north. Ab Aquilone nihil boni was a proverb among this people. God promiseth here to free them of that mischief, and to disimpest the country of those noisome insects. Gratiae privativae plures sunt quam positivae, saith Gerson, God’s privative favours to us are more than his positive; hence man’s happiness is usually called salvation, which properly betokeneth the privative part thereof. Little do we consider or understand from how many deaths and dangers we are daily and hourly delivered. It is good to keep a catalogue of God’s providences, and to transmit them to posterity, such as was that of the gunpowder plot; and before that, of the Reformation begun by Henry VIII, and carried on by his son, to the ridding of the land of those popish locusts; which Reformation, how imperfect soever, to be done by so weak and simple means, yea, by casual and cross means, against the force of so puissant and political an adversary, is that miracle, which we are in these times to look for. An outlander speaketh thus of it, Ecclesiae Anglicanae reformationem desperasset aetas praeterita, admiratur praesens, obstupescet futura (Scultet.). This was the Lord’s own work, and it is marvellous in our eyes. Oh that the same Lord would be both author and finisher! and as he hath in good part cut off the names of the idols out of the land, so that they shall be no more remembered; so he would cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land, that he would send all false doctrine and heresy packing to hell from whence they came. Fiat, Fiat. Do it, do it!

And will drive him into a land barren and desolate] Or, dry and forlorn, where he shall perish for want of food. The body of this army shall be driven into the wilderness, the vanguard into the lake of Sodom toward the east; and the rearward into the Mediterranean Sea, toward the west; for the Western Ocean was hardly known to the Hebrews; as neither was it to the Romans, till the days of Julius Caesar.

And his stink shall come up, and his ill savour, &c.] se. by reason of their dead carcases covering the earth, and infecting the air. The old Hebrews understood this text concerning the destruction of the devil in the days of the Messiah. Oh that God would once destroy that firstborn of the devil, that king of locusts, Abaddon, the pope, and dung his vineyard with the dead carcases of his incurable complices, that their stink might ascend, and their ill savour come up into all men’s nostrils. Matthew Paris (an ingenuous Papist), speaking of the court of Rome long since, said, Huius foetor usque ad nubes fumum teterrimum exhalabat, Her filthiness hath sent up a most noisome stench to the very clouds of heaven, as Sodom’s did. And Theodorus Vrias (another of her good sons in Germany) complained, A.D. 1414, that the Church of Rome was become ex aurea argenteam, ex argentea ferream, ex ferrea terream, superesse ut in stercus abiret, of gold silver, of silver iron, of iron earth, and that she would next become of earth dung, &c. She is so already, and stinks alive worse than any carrion, rotting in its slime. Oh that God would once put into the hearts of the kings of the earth to loathe her, and burn her, for an old stinking bawd, as is prophesied they shall, Revelation 17:16.

Because he hath done great things] Heb. he hath magnified to do, he hath made great spoil and havoc, he hath revelled in the ruins of God’s poor people, and so hath hastened his own destruction, and their deliverance. The saints are many times more beholden to their enemies’ outrages than to their own deserts or duties for deliverance. Some interpreters, at Castalio, Leveley, &c., understand the text of God; and render it Quia magnifice aget, for the Lord shall do great things, as it is also in the following verse; there being here the same anomaly, or change of person, as is Isaiah 22:19, "And I will drive thee from thy station and from thy state shall he pull thee down."


Verse 21

Joel 2:21 Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the LORD will do great things.

Ver. 21. Fear not, O land] O red earth, or O tilled land, that hast lain bedridden, as it were under the heavy curse of God, ever since the fall of Adam; and wast never beautiful on cheerful since that time, Genesis 3:17. Thou that hast lately been under that great and very terrible day of the Lord, Joel 2:11, who hath made bloody wales upon thy back, and laid thee as a desolate wilderness, Joel 2:3, to thy great grief and terror, cheer up now, and fear not thine inhabitants are penitents, and repentance hath turned their crosses into comforts as scarlet pulls out the teeth of a serpent; as wine draweth a nourishing virtue from the flesh of vipers, as the philosopher’s stone, they say, turns all into gold. See 1 Peter 1:7. God will turn all thy sadness into gladness: neither shalt thou any more lie to those that manure thee (as the Scripture phrase is, Habakkuk 3:17), that is, disappoint and frustrate their expectation; but "thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee," Deuteronomy 33:29. Spem mentita seges (Virg.). Victum seges aegra negabat (Horat.).

For the Lord will do great things] Magnificentius aget Deus; far greater things God will do for thee than the locust hath done against thee: so that thou shalt gain by thy losses and say, Periissem nisi periissem, I had been undone if I had not been undone. Wherefore be glad and rejoice with inward and outward joy. And because fear is a passion opposite to joy (for "fear hath torment," 1 John 4:18. and that was a rare mixture in those good women that returned from our Saviour’s sepulchre "with fear and great joy," Matthew 28:8 see Psalms 2:11), therefore, "Fear not, O land," quit thine heart of that cowardly passion, and be as merry as mirth can make thee; for the Lord hath done great things for thee, whereof thou hast good cause to be glad. Faith in God’s power quelleth and killeth distrustful fears: filling the heart with unspeakable joys "and full of glory," 1 Peter 1:8.


Verse 22

Joel 2:22 Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field: for the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for the tree beareth her fruit, the fig tree and the vine do yield their strength.

Ver. 22. Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field] q.d. Ye shall have no cause to fear for the future: though hitherto ye have suffered hardship, Joel 1:18. Beasts and birds do in diem vivere to live for the day, (as Quintilian saith of them), and take no further thought than for present sustenance. But by a personification (as before the land, so here) the beasts that till it are forbidden to fear want; for God, the great housekeeper of the world, will provide them their meat in due season, Psalms 104:27-28, and several meats according to their various appetites. He will hear the heaven, the heaven shall hear the earth, the earth shall bear all kind of fruits, both natural, as herbs of the field and grass of the wilderness, and such as are sown and planted, as wine, oil, figs; so that neither man nor beast shall want anything ad esum, vel ad usum, to eat or to use but have plenty without penury, &c. It shall be said of Judea, as Solinus saith of Spain, In Hispania nihil infructuosum, nihil sterile, that there is no unfruitfulness in any part of it; or, as it is said of Campania, in Italy, that it is the most fruitful plat of earth that is in the universe.

The fig tree and the vine] That before had been barked and wasted, Joel 1:7; Joel 1:12,

do yield their strength] i.e. their utmost fruits; which they could not do without God, into whom therefore the prophet Hosea rightly resolveth the genealogy of grain, wine, oil, &c., Hosea 2:22. It is no otherwise with us in spiritual regards. For though we have grace, yet we cannot bring forth that grace to act without new grace; like as trees, though they be fitted to bear fruits, yet, without the influence of the heavens, they cannot put forth that fitness in fruit. Nolentem praevenit Deus ut velit: volentem subsequitur, ne frustra velit (Aug. Enchir. chap. 32).


Verse 23

Joel 2:23 Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first [month].

Ver. 23. Be glad then, ye children of Zion] "Ye righteous ones," Psalms 32:11, and none else; for joy is the just man’s portion, and none have any reason to rejoice but such; nay, they are flatly forbidden it, Hosea 9:1. See the note there. "Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: let the children of Zion be joyful in their King. Let the saints be joyful in glory," Psalms 149:2; Psalms 149:5. Gaudeant in re, gaudeant in spe, gaudeant de possessione, gaudeant de promissione, saith Bernard. If Plato could tell the musicians, philosophers knew how to dine and sup without them, they could be merry without a fiddler, how much more may Zion’s children! Be it that there is a cord in the sin of the wicked, to strangle their joy with, yet the "righteous sing and are merry," Proverbs 29:6. In the greatest fail of all outward comforts, they can "rejoice in the Lord their God," as here, and as David at the sack of Ziklag, 1 Samuel 30:6; and Habakkuk, amidst all the miseries of the world and malice of Satan, iii. 17. It is in the Lord their God that they rejoice, it is a holy and spiritual joy, not profane and carnal, as is the wordling’s, who feedeth upon ashes, &c., Isaiah 44:20, rejoiceth in a thing of nought, Amos 6:13; his joy is no better than a little counterfeit complexion, crackling of thorns, &c.

For he hath given you the former rain moderately] As a pledge of his love, and as a fruit of the covenant. Moderate showers ye shall have, neither too much nor too hasty; rain of righteousness in such measure and moderation as shall be needful.

And he will cause to come down for you] The vanities of the heathen cannot give rain, Jeremiah 14:22, nor can the heavens yield showers. God therefore must be waited upon, James 5:7; and prayed unto, Joel 2:18, and the thundering legion, κεραυνοβολος, so famous in Church history. He must not have cause given him to complain of men’s brutishness and inadvertence, as Jeremiah 10:18; Jeremiah 10:14.

The former rain] That fell in October, when they had sown. St James calleth it the morning rain, πρωιμον, James 5:7.

And the latter rain] Heb. the gathering rain, because it fills and fits the corn for ingathering; as falling about May and a little before their harvest.

In the first] Not month, but primo quoque tempore, as soon as is fit. See Zechariah 10:1. {See Trapp on "Zechariah 10:1"}


Verse 24

Joel 2:24 And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats shall overflow with wine and oil.

Ver. 24. And the floors shall be full of wheat] Such fatness shall God’s footsteps drop, that your houses shall be full of all "precious and pleasant riches," Proverbs 24:4; so that you shall, as rich men love to do, de pleno tollere acervo. Only take heed you have not, as that rich fool, animam triticeam, a wheaten soul, that your abundance get not within you, Tα ενοντα, as the Pharisees’ did, Luke 11:41 (so that they did not more possess than were possessed of what they had), that ye set not your hearts upon your riches, Psalms 62:11.

- “ difficile est opibus non tradere mentem.

(Martial.)

And the fats shall overflow] There shall be plenty of all things, as Proverbs 3:10, the fruits and effect of that rain promised before. And doth not God daily turn water into wine, when of water falling upon the vine, and concocted by the heat of the sun, he produceth the grape, whence wine is pressed?


Verse 25

Joel 2:25 And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.

Ver. 25. And I will restore to you the years, &c.] I will so make up your former losses, that there shall remain no sign nor sense thereof. See a like promise Zechariah 10:6, "They shall be as though I had not cast them off," {See Trapp on "Zechariah 10:6"} See also Isaiah 60:10.

My great army] sc. the locusts, see above, Joel 2:2; Joel 2:5; Joel 2:11. God is Lord of Hosts, and (as the Rabbis well observe) he hath the upper and lower troops, as his horse and foot ready prest.


Verse 26

Joel 2:26 And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed.

Ver. 26. And ye shall eat in plenty and be satisfied] Which, what a great blessing it is, see Haggai 1:6, Ecclesiastes 6:1-2. {See Trapp on "Haggai 1:6"} {See Trapp on "Ecclesiastes 6:1"} {See Trapp on "Ecclesiastes 6:2"}

And praise the name of the Lord your God] Not haunch up God’s creatures, as swine do swill, but tasting the sweetness of the Creator in them, lift up many a humble, joyful, and thankful heart to him. This was better than the former blessing, for naturally fulness breeds forgetfulness of God, Deuteronomy 32:15.

That hath dealt wondrously with you] Heb. ad mirificandum, sc. in so sudden and strange a change of his hand, whereby he hath made himself marvellous, as he delights to do by working wonders, such as man’s power cannot perform, nor reason reach unto.

And my people shall never be ashamed] As they have been among the heathen, Joel 2:19, and as those are that pray to no purpose. Deo confisi nunquam confusi. Their faith is unfeigned, and therefore their hopes unfailable, Romans 5:5.


Verse 27

Joel 2:27 And ye shall know that I [am] in the midst of Israel, and [that] I [am] the LORD your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed.

Ver. 27. And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel] These temporal blessings shall seal up my love to you and presence of grace with you. True it is that no man knoweth either love or hatred by all that is before them, Ecclesiastes 9:1; because all things come alike to all, Joel 2:2. But yet from this text we may comfortably conclude, that if the good things of this life make us more cheerful, thankful, hopeful; if mercy excite us to duty, and the sense of God’s love make us love God, his ways, and people, with a desire to love them more; then we are loved of God, who is in us of a truth, 1 John 4:10; 1 John 4:19, and we may know it too. For if instinct of nature teach dams to know their young ones, and the young their dams, shall not God’s Spirit teach us to know him, that he is in the midst of us, not by his omnipresence only, but by his gracious presence? yea, that he is the Lord our God, and none else; and that while we hold us to this anchorhold of the faithful soul, we shall never be ashamed, Psalms 31:1. That was a brave speech of Luther, and one of those that a man would fetch upon his knees from Rome or Jerusalem to be author of them, Ipse videret ubi anima mea mansura sit, qui pro ea sic solicitus fuit, ut vitam pro ea posuerit, Let him see to it where my soul shall rest, who took so much care for it as that he laid down his life for it (Joh. Manl. loc. com.).


Verse 28

Joel 2:28 And it shall come to pass afterward, [that] I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:

Ver. 28. And it shall come to pass afterwards] sc. In the days of the Messiah, which is called the "world to come," Hebrews 2:5, but especially after his ascension, see John 7:37, Acts 2:17-21, where this prophecy was fulfilled, and this place taken for the first text preached on by the apostles, Joel 2:17, to the conversion of three thousand souls at one sermon. For together with the word there went forth a power, even that "spirit of power, of love, and of a sound mind," Luke 7:21, 2 Timothy 1:7, here promised to be poured out, not distilled only, {See Trapp on "Zechariah 12:10"} and that upon all flesh. Spirit upon flesh, the best thing upon the basest; yea, upon all flesh, without respect of persons or difference made of sex, age, or condition, provided that they know and acknowledge themselves to be but flesh, Genesis 6:3, corrupt and carnal ( animas etiam incarnavimus, as St Bernard complaineth), and that whatsoever is of "the flesh is flesh," John 3:6 (for who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?) that whole man is in evil, and whole evil in man; neither can it be gotten out in any measure, till the heart be mollified and made tender as flesh, Ezekiel 11:19; Ezekiel 36:26-27, which cannot be done till men be taught of God, and drawn out of darkness into his marvellous light; till they be spiritualized and "transformed into the same image from glory to glory as by the spirit of the Lord," 2 Corinthians 3:18.

And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy] This was fulfilled Acts 2:17-21, as St Peter showeth. For the New Testament is but the Old unfolded and fulfilled, as was also typified in the two cherubims of the sanctuary, looking intently into the propitiatory, {Christ, Romans 3:25} but with their faces turned one towards another: Exodus 25:20, Acts 26:22. It was fulfilled, I say, in that visible descension of the Holy Ghost upon the apostles and the rest, Acts 2:8; Acts 2:15; Acts 2:17; Acts 10:44. So that this makes nothing at all for the enthusiasts’ raptures and dotages. The true offspring they are of those ancient Euchites or Messalanii, who, leaving their trades, gave themselves to much sleep, and called their dreams and phantasies prophecies (Funcc. Chronol., A.D. 371).

Your old men shall dream, &c., your young men shall see visions] i.e. God will no less open his will unto them than he did of old to the propbets by dreams and visions; for by the conduct of the Spirit they shall be led into all truth and holiness they shall be all a royal priesthood, 1 Peter 2:5, Revelation 1:6, "full of all goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another," Romans 15:14.


Verse 29

Joel 2:29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.

Ver. 29. And also upon the servants] They shall be the free men and women of Jesus Christ, 1 Corinthians 7:22, by as full a measure of God’s free and noble Spirit bestowed upon them as upon their masters and mistresses. The Trent translation hath it, upon my servants and my handmaids but there is no such pronoun in the original though it is true that all that have the Spirit are his; and the contrary, Romans 8:9, Ephesians 1:13 The scope of the text is, as Mercer well noteth to show that ut gratuitum et commune Christ beneficium, sic et spiritus, as the benefits of Christ are free and common to all his people, so is the Spirit. And surely, next to the love of Christ indwelling in our nature, we may well wonder at the love of the Holy Ghost, that will dwell in our defiled souls, and act in them as he doth. For there are diversity of gifts, but the same Spirit, 1 Corinthians 12:4, as the diverse smells of flowers come from the same influence, and the diverse sounds in the organ from the same breath.


Verse 30

Joel 2:30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.

Ver. 30. And I will show wonders in the heavens] Prodigia beneficia credentibus, malefica et horrifica incredulis, saith Cornelius a Lapide, who interpreteth the text of those signs and wonders that shall precede the day of judgment: and for confirmation hereof allegeth Joel 3:2, together with Matthew 24:29, Luke 21:25. And had he looked a little higher into those chapters, and taken in all the troubles that befell the Church from our Saviour’s ascension to his second coming, together with those horrible calamities and confusions that shall befall the wicked, for contempt of the gospel, and persecution of the professors thereof, he had done right, in mine opinion. It is ordinary with the prophets to set forth horrible commotions by such figurative expressions: see Jeremiah 4:23, &c.; Isaiah 13:10, Revelation 6:12. Those that have received the spirit of adoption, must not dream of a delicacy, but expect persecution. Christ came to send fire on the earth, Luke 12:49. Neither may persecutors hope to escape unpunished, but look to be pursued by Divine justice. {See Trapp on "Revelation 6:15"} How heavy was the hand of God upon Jerusalem, that slaughter house of the saints; and afterwards upon the ten persecutors of Rome! 1. Nero (whom Tertullian rightly calleth Dedicatorero damnationis Christianorum, quippe qui orientem fidem primus Romae cruentavit, the first bloody persecutor of the Christian religion) lost 80,000 of his subjects by the pestilence, had his army utterly routed and cut off in Brittany, both the Armenias revolted from him, the senators rose up against him, and compelled him to be his own executioner; 2. Domitian was butchered by his soldiers; 3. Trajan died of a dropsy; 4. Severus died miserably here at York; 5. Maximinus, with his son, was cut in pieces; 6. Decius died in a far country; 7. Valerian was flayed by Sapores, King of Persia, who took him prisoner. 8. Aurelian was slain by his own men; 9. Dioclesian poisoned himself; 10. Maximian hanged himself. What should I speak of Julian, Anastasius, Heraclius, &c.; the French persecutors, Francis II, Charles IX, Henry III, the Guises, &c.; Philip II of Spain, who returning out of the Low Countries, met a storm, and suffered shipwreck, to the great danger of his life? He said he was delivered by the singular providence of God to root out Lutheranism, which he presently began to do with all his might. He afterwards died miserably of the lousy disease. Queen Mary died of a tumour, or else of grief of heart for King Philip’s unkind departure, severe losses, Calais surrendered, harm done by thunders from heaven and by fire in the royal navy, extreme dearths raging, her conceptions failing. What heavy judgments befell various particular persecutors of those times, Poole, Gardiner, Bonner, Morgan, Story, Burton, see Acts and Mon. 1902, 1904, &c., 1915. George Eagles (alias Trudge-over-the-world) having hid himself in a grain field, was for money descried by one Ralph Lurdain, and burnt at Chelmsford: where afterwards the same Lurdain was hanged for stealing a horse (Mr Leigh’s Saints’ Encouragement, Epistle to Reader.)

Blood and fire] Signs terrifying, and testifying the wrath and displeasure of God for the sins of men, and such a face of the whole fabric of the universe; as that all the parts thereof may seem to have conspired for the destruction of mankind. Before the war between Pompey and Caesar the sea seemed to be bloody (Lucan. lib. 1, monstra enumerans quae bellum civilo praecesserunt).

- “ Superique minaces

Prodigiis terras implerant, aethera, pontum

Ignota obscure viderunt sidera noctes,

Ardentemque polum flammis, coeloquevolantes

Obliquas per inane faces -

Fulgura fallaci micuerunt crebra sereno,

Et varias ignis dense dedit aere ferrous. ”

Before Caesar’s death not only drops of blood fell from heaven, but also pits and pools flowed with blood. Puteique cruore mutati (Claudian. lib. 1 in Eutropius). In the year of grace 874, at Brixia, in the entrance of Italy, it rained blood for three days and three nights together. In the year 1505 there appeared in Germany upon people’s garments and women’s rocks as they were spinning, diverse prints and token of the nails, of the spunge, of the spear, of the Lord’s coat, and of bloody crosses, &c. Maximilian the emperor had and showed the same to Francis Mirandula; who wrote thereupon his book called Staurostichon, wherein are these verses,

Non ignota cano, Caesar monstravit: et ipsi

Vidimus: innumeros prompsit Germania testes. ”

It is not many years since a shower of blood fell about Gloucester, if our intelligence deceived us not. Such prodigies are usually sad presages, nec inania terriculamenta haec esse, res ipsa testatur, saith Gaulther here: and event proveth that these are no vain spectres. By fire here, understand those terrible flaming apparitions in the air, lightning, comets, &c., portending lamentable calamities. Such there were to be seen (as I have heard from eyewitnesses) on that very night wherein the gunpowder plot was detected and defeated, in a very terrible manner. And such were those meteors in the likeness of fiery serpents that fell here, A.D. 788, before the invasion of the Danes: whereunto we may add the new star that appeared in Cassiopeia in November, 1572, and continued sixteen months: soon after which Charles IX of France (author of the Parisian Massacre) died of exceeding bleeding at several parts of his body, inter horribilium blasphemiarum diras, saith the historian, cursing and swearing. And lastly that prodigious comet, A.D. 1618, forerunner of the German wars and our late troubles; whatever is yet behind to be suffered by us. Certainly if the sorcerers of Egypt were among us, they would wonder at men’s stupendous stupidity, and tell them that these extraordinary occurrents in heaven and earth were the very finger of God, for their warning.

And pillars of smoke] Heb. palms of smoke, {so Song of Solomon 3:6} by similitude, because tall and straight as palm trees; which also lift up themselves under their burden, and will not be held down. Smokey vapours mounting upright are fitly compared thereunto, Elationes fumi, so Tremellius.


Verse 31

Joel 2:31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.

Ver. 31. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood] By strange and stupendous eclipses: such as was that of the moon for 12 nights together, a little before the last destruction of Jerusalem; and that of the sun this present 29th day of March, 1652, wherein I write these things, but could scarce see to write, or forbear to behold: for though busy enough to bring this work to an end, if God please, yet I cannot say, as the Duke of Alva did to the King of France, who asked him whether he had observed the late great eclipse? "No," said he, "I have so much to do upon earth, that I have no leisure to look toward heaven." Of this day’s eclipse I may well say, as Lucan doth of another,

Ipse caput medio Titan cum ferret Olympo,

Condidit ardentes atra caligine currus;

Involvitque orbem tenebris, gentesque coegit

Desperate diem. ”

I heartily pray it do not presage a dreadful eclipse of the sun of Christ’s glorious Gospel among us; that this bright sun should go down at noon over our heads, and our earth be darkened in the clear day, Amos 8:9. And let every good soul pray that that dismal day may never arise unto us, wherein it shall be said that this glory is departed from our English Israel.

‘ - nobiscum, Christe, maneto;

Extingui lucem nec patiare tuam. ”

And the moon into blood] That is, into redness, as it was likewise on the 15th day of this instant March, in the morning. Two such eclipses so near together having seldom been seen, I fear we may have cause, ere the year come about, to sing sadly with the poet (Ovid. Metam. lib. 15)

“ Signa dabant luctus superi haud incerta futuri

Saepe faces visae, solis quoque tristis imago;

Caerulus et vulture ferrugine Lucifer atra

Sparsus erat, sparsi lunares sanguine currus. ”

Before the great and terrible day of the Lord come] i.e. The great day of general judgment, called here the great day, because the great God will on that day do great things and determine great matters; and the terrible day, because it is a day of anger and of wrath, Revelation 6:17; yea, the day of the declaration of the just judgment of God, according to the gospel, Romans 2:5; Romans 2:16. It is elsewhere called "that day" by an appellative proper, Mark 13:32, Luke 21:34, Matthew 7:22. That day of note, wherein God will break silence, "execute judgment upon all, and convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him," 1:15. Enoch foretold this great day before Noah did the Deluge. This day is longer before it comes, but shall be more terrible when it is come. Whether it shall come in the year of our Lord, 1657, as some have gathered out of the numeral letters of these two words, Mundi Conflagratio, and because the year of the world 1657 was the year of the flood, let time determine: I have nothing to say to it.


Verse 32

Joel 2:32 And it shall come to pass, [that] whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.

Ver. 32. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever, &c.] Lest any good soul, hearing the former heavy menaces, should say with the disciples, Mark 10:26, "Who then can be saved?" or, with those despondents in Jeremiah 2:25, "There is no hope," the prophet concludeth with this comfortable corollary,

Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord] Yea, that but "nameth the name of Christ" in faithful prayer, desiring and endeavouring to "depart from iniquity," 2 Timothy 2:19; the same

shall be delivered] He shall have safety here and salvation hereafter, Romans 10:13. "Watch ye therefore, and pray always," saith our Saviour, "that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man," Luke 21:36; Luke 21:25. Something God will yield to the prayers of his people when he seemeth most bitterly bent and unchangeably resolved against them, Matthew 24:20, and when the tribulation is so great that it is not likely that any flesh shall be saved, Joel 2:21-22. Prayer, saith one, is the best lever at a dead lift, provided that it be the prayer of faith; for mercy is the mother, faith the midwife of deliverances. Hence it followeth,

For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem] Where the pure word of God was preached, Isaiah 2:3, and men’s hearts purified by faith, Acts 15:9,

shall be deliverance] From all evils and enemies. Psalms 76:3, "There brake he the arrows of the bow, the shield, and the sword, and the battle. Selah." There? where? In Salem, in Zion, Joel 2:2, where God’s people were praying. This Moab knew, and therefore more feared a praying people than a numerous army, Numbers 22:3. This the queen mother of Scotland knew, and therefore said, that she feared more the fasting and prayers of John Knox and his disciples than an army of twenty thousand men. Let God’s suppliants but call upon him in the day of their trouble, and he will deliver them, that they may glorify him, Psalms 50:15. He will deliver them; yea, and honour them. With long life will he satisfy them, and show them his salvation, Psalms 91:16. Holy Merlin, chaplain to the Admiral of France, at the Parisian massacre, had the performance of this promise, among many others. For understanding the danger they were all in, he prayed in the Admiral’s chamber, and, by his command, a little before the murderers brake in, and by a singular providence, escaped into a hay mow, where he lay hidden for a fortnight, and was miraculously fed by a hen that that came daily and laid an egg near by him.

As the Lord hath said] And God’s suppliants have steadfastly believed, and do therefore put his promises in suit. In the want of other rhetoric, let Christians in their prayers burden God with what he hath said, sue him upon his own bond, urge this with repetition, Lord, thou hast promised, thou hast promised, and they shall find that he cannot deny himself; and he can as soon deny himself as his promises. "His covenant he will not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of his lips," Psalms 89:34.

And in the remnant whom God shall call] Those holy brethren that shall partake of the heavenly calling, Hebrews 3:1, to glory and virtue, whether they be Jews or Gentiles. "Faithful is he that calleth them, who also will do it?" 1 Thessalonians 5:24. And although they are but a remnant, which is but a small to the whole piece, a handful to a houseful, a fold to a field, a little, little flock, μικρον ποιμνιον, Luke 12:32, yet being the called of Jesus Christ, Romans 1:6, and such as call upon him in truth, they are not only his called, but chosen and faithful, Revelation 17:14. They are also heirs of that promise, Micah 5:7, which shall be fully made good to them, that, as for their propagation, "this remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people, as a dew from Jehovah." The dew is engendered and distilled from the Lord immediately, so, for their growth and increase, "they shall be as the flowers upon the grass, as the sprouting up of grass and herbs in the wilderness, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men," to come with watering pots to nourish them, as herbs in gardens do, but these have showers from heaven that give the increase.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Joel 2:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/joel-2.html. 1865-1868.

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