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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Zephaniah 3

 

 

Verse 1

Zephaniah 3:1 Woe to her that is filthy and polluted, to the oppressing city!

Ver. 1. Woe to her that is filthy and polluted] Meaning Jerusalem, once a faithful city, now an harlot, Isaiah 1:21, faedissimum prostibulum, of the kind of those sordid men who are called Borboritae, of their miry filthiness, whom Epiphanius and Oecumenius speak of. The word ( ראי ) here rendered filthy comes from a word that signifieth dung, or that signifieth an example ( παραδειγμα); and so it is a metaphor taken from light women that are carted in a disgraceful way and made a public example, an infamous instance. It is rendered also gluttonous, or all craw, as Leviticus 1:16.

Ingluvies et tempestas, barathrumque macelli.

To the oppressing city!] Praedatrici, that maketh a prey of others (either by force or fraud), as the silly dove is made a prey to the hawk and other ravenous birds.


Verse 2

Zephaniah 3:2 She obeyed not the voice; she received not correction; she trusted not in the LORD she drew not near to her God.

Ver. 2. She obeyed not the voice] sc. Of her teachers, nor inclined her ear to them that instructed her, as Proverbs 5:13. Hence she was so filthy and oppressive; who, if she had hearkened to wholesome counsel, and hidden the word of God’s grace in her heart, would have purified herself even as he is pure, 1 John 3:3, and not have exacted money and grain, but have left off that usury, Nehemiah 5:10.

She received not correction] Or discipline, as being incurable or incorrigible, pining away in her iniquity, Leviticus 26:39, and not accepting the chastisement of her sin.

She trusted not in the Lord] But knocked at the creature’s door for help in her distress, and made flesh her arm, her heart departed from the Lord, Jeremiah 17:5. This God taketh very ill, Jeremiah 2:12-13, as he hath very great reason; confidence being the least and yet the best we can render to him for all his benefits.

She drew not near to her God] Though he were her God, yet she went as far from him as she could; and, like a wild beast, would not be tamed nor managed by him. Now, if these be undoubted arguments of a filthy and polluted state, as surely they are, what shall we think of ourselves, who are as deeply guilty as ever Jerusalem was in the promises? what shall the Lord do, or what shall he not do, rather, to a nation so incorrigibly flagitious, so obliged, so warned, so shamelessly, so lawlessly wicked?


Verse 3

Zephaniah 3:3 Her princes within her [are] roaring lions; her judges [are] evening wolves; they gnaw not the bones till the morrow.

Ver. 3. Her princes within her are roaring lions] Roaring over the meaner sort, and tearing them with their claws. {See Trapp on "Micah 3:1"} {See Trapp on "Micah 3:2"} {See Trapp on "Micah 3:3"}

Her judges are evening wolves] See Habakkuk 1:8. This rapacity and bribery they had learned (likely) under Manassah and Amon; and exercised under good Josiah, who either knew it not, or could not redress it. Est ergo periculi plena reipublicae forma, quae ab uno dependet, saith Gualther here. And Tertullian telleth us, that one special thing the primitive Christians prayed for the emperor was, that God would send him Senatum fidelem, a faithful senate, pious councillors, good subordinates. Of Aurelian’s council it was said, that by them the good emperor, who might know nothing but as they informed him, was even bought and sold. Alphonsus, King of Aragon, said that princes were for this in a worse condition than other people; because they could seldom hear the truth of things. Augustus bitterly bewailed the death of Varus; because now, said he, I have none about me that will deal truly with me. The Grand Signior goes often abroad that he may receive poor men’s petitions, and right them upon the greatest beshaws, who, bewitched by bribery, have denied them justice. And hence it hath been ever observed, that few of his chief officers die in their beds. These evening wolves many times have not a morrow left them to gnaw the bones in.


Verse 4

Zephaniah 3:4 Her prophets [are] light [and] treacherous persons: her priests have polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the law.

Ver. 4. Her prophets are light] Rash, headlong, futilous, debauched (as the French translateth it), aerial, fantastic, weightless, worthless men, such as in whose doctrine there is no authority, in whose life no gravity, staidness, severity, constancy (Rodulphus, Archbishop of Canterberry next after Anselm, was surnamed Nugax for his jesting and toying): like the planet Mercury, they can be good in conjunction with good, and bad with bad; like that French apostate of whom Beza saith that he had religionem ephemeram, for every day a new religion, ab his ad illos, ab illis ad hos leviter iens et levius transiens, double-minded and unstable in all his ways, James 1:8.

And treacherous persons] Viri perfidiarum, most perfidious persons. This is their true title, whom the world counteth and calleth facile, facetious, fair conditioned, comporting, condescending, people pleasing preachers. Can there be a worse treachery than to betray men’s souls, as your Aiones and Negones do, that cry peace, peace, and so betray men to hell.

Her priests have polluted the sanctuary] Or holy services.

Cum coelum terrae commiscent sacra profanis.

God looks to be sanctified in all those that draw nigh unto him, Leviticus 10:3, that they should be singularly holy, handling the word, sancte magis quam scite with greater reverence than knowledge, (as one once told the wanton vestal), and living so that malice itself may be silenced. God of old appointed both the weights and measures of the sanctuary to be twice as large as those of the commonwealth; to show that he expects much more of those that serve him there than he doth of others. See 1 Kings 7:15 cf. 2 Chronicles 3:15.

They have done violence to the law] sc. By their crafty and perverse glosses, setting it on the rack, as it were, and so making it speak more than it would; tawing it with their teeth, as shoemakers do their upper leather, forcing it two miles when it would go but one, yea, murdering it, as Tertullian saith of some, quod caedem scripturarum faciant, that they slaughter the Scriptures to serve their own purposes; for which cause also he calleth Marcion the heretic, Murem Ponticum, the Rat of Pontus, for his arroding and gnawing the text.


Verse 5

Zephaniah 3:5 The just LORD [is] in the midst thereof; he will not do iniquity: every morning doth he bring his judgment to light, he faileth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame.

Ver. 5. The just Lord is in the midst thereof] The unjust princes were said to be in the midst of Jerusalem as roaring lions, Zephaniah 3:3. Here the just Lord is also said to be in the midst of her, as a sin revenging judge. He sitteth as God in the midst of those uncircumcised vicegods (as I may in the worst sense best term them), he sets a jealous eye upon all their unrighteous proceedings, and is with them in the judgment. Neither eyeth he them only, but all others in like sort; as the king in the Gospel came in to see his guests. His eye, like a well drawn picture, taketh view of all that come into the room. Oh that we could be in his fear all the day! Oh that we would ever walk in the sense of his presence, and light of his countenance! Noli peccare, nam Deus videt, angeli astant, diabolus accusabit, conscientia testabitur, Infernus cruciabit. Sin not; for God sees you, the good angels stand about you, Satan will accuse you, conscience will give in evidence against you, hell will torment you. A reverend and religious man had this written before his eyes in his study.

He will not do iniquity] i.e. He will not let enormities go unpunished, nor pass by the infirmities of his people without a sensible check, Psalms 99:8. See Habakkuk 1:13.

Every morning doth he bring his judgment to light] Daily and diligently doth he both threaten by his prophets and execute with his hand the menaces of his mouth upon those that will not be warned, that refuse to be reformed. He hath in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, 2 Corinthians 10:6. Maturely he will do it, and accurately; it is his morning’s work, Psalms 101:8, like as it is theirs to rise early, and corrupt all their doings, Zephaniah 3:7. He will be up and at it as soon as they.

He faileth not] As he may seem to do when he forbeareth. Non deest, he will not be wanting to his office to proceed against the uncounsellable.

But the unjust knoweth no shame] He can blush no more than a sackbut, as the proverb is. Such an impudence hath sin woaded (a) in his face, that he basheth nothing. Et pudet non esse impudentem, he is past all grace, as we say, and as good at resisting the Holy Ghost as ever those Jews were that had a whore’s forehead, Jeremiah 3:3, sinews of iron and brows of brass, Isaiah 48:4. When neither fear of God nor shame of the world will rein men in, what hope is there of such? Illum ego periisse dico cui periit pudor, saith Curtius, a heathen. He is an undone man that knoweth no shame. Prevent it in time; for the modest beginnings of sin at first will make way for immodest proceedings. The thickest ice that will bear a cart beginneth with a thin trembling cover, that will not bear a pebble.


Verse 6

Zephaniah 3:6 I have cut off the nations: their towers are desolate; I made their streets waste, that none passeth by: their cities are destroyed, so that there is no man, that there is none inhabitant.

Ver. 6. I have cut off the nations] And hanged them up in gibbets, as it were, before your eyes, for your admonition, ut ruina maiorum sit cautela minorum, that their destruction might be your instruction; that, seeing your neighbour’s house on fire, you might look to your own; that, observing others to suffer shipwreck, you might see to your tackling. This is the use God expects we should make of his judgments upon others, Luke 13:3; Luke 13:5; Luke 17:26; Luke 17:29, Matthew 12:13; Matthew 12:41-42, 1 Corinthians 10:1-2, and surely he deserveth to be made an example that will not take example by others.

Their towers are desolate] Or, their corners, sc. of their munitions, whereon towers were set. Or, their extremities, q.d. I have overturned them from one end to another. Drusius and Ribera interpreteth it of their princes. {See Trapp on "Zephaniah 1:6"}

I made their streets waste, &c.] See Zephaniah 2:5-6; Zephaniah 2:14-15. To the end, that when my judgments were thus on the earth, the inhabitants of the world (but especially of the Church) might learn righteousness, Isaiah 26:9; that the righteous, seeing the vengeance, might wash his feet in the blood of the wicked, Psalms 59:10, taking warning by his harms. Observe here, by the way, what great account God makes of his people, since for their instance and instruction he thus wasteth the wicked; like as the Persian kings, when their sons had committed a fault, made their servants to be beaten before them.


Verse 7

Zephaniah 3:7 I said, Surely thou wilt fear me, thou wilt receive instruction; so their dwelling should not be cut off, howsoever I punished them: but they rose early, [and] corrupted all their doings.

Ver. 7. I said, surely thou wilt fear me] As in a school, when one boy is whipped the rest tremble; and as in the commonwealth, poena ad paucos, metus ad omnes; punishment for the few, fear for everybody so it should be in the Church. Other men’s woes should be our warnings; others’ sufferings our sermons; others’ lashes our lessons; God’s house of correction a school of instruction, where we should hear and fear, and do no more so, Deuteronomy 17:13. He that trembleth not in hearing shall be crushed to pieces in feeling, said that martyr.

And receive instruction] This I promised myself of thee, but am disappointed, Jeremiah 15:3. See Zephaniah 3:2, thou art therefore ripe for destruction.

So their dwelling should not be cut off] They should have redeemed their sorrows and saved their city. And this God speaks to others, as weary of speaking any longer to them to so little purpose.

But they rose early and corrupted, &c.] Manicabant, they made haste, that no time might be lost; they woefully wasted that best part of the day, the morning (which παν εργον οφελλει, furthereth every business), in corrupting their practices, doing evil as they could. Once (saith a reverend man) Peter’s argument was more than probable; These men are not drunk, for it is but the third hour of the day. Now, men are grown such husbands, as that by that time they will return their stocks, and have their brains crowing before day.


Verse 8

Zephaniah 3:8 Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the LORD, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination [is] to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, [even] all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.

Ver. 8. Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, &c.] Stand forth, and hear your doom; which that ye may know that I do not precipitate or rashly pass upon you, "Wait ye upon me," &c.; and yet, that ye may not presume upon my patience, know that there is a day set, a determination settled for your full payment.

Nostra Deus subitis non damnat crimina poenis:

Compensat longas sed gravitate moras. ”

To gather the nations] To put them up, as it were sheep, into a pound for slaughter. See more of this, Jeremiah 25:15-33

To pour upon them mine indignation] Here is mention made of God’s prey, of his indignation, fierce anger, fire of jealousy against nations and kingdoms; the better to persuade people to that which they are so hardly drawn to believe, viz. that God is not made all of mercy; but, though fury be not in him, to speak properly, Isaiah 27:4, yet that he will not by any means "clear the guilty," Exodus 34:7, but punish them severely, taking vengeance of their inventions, Psalms 99:8.


Verse 9

Zephaniah 3:9 For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent.

Ver. 9. For then will I turn to the people a pure language] "Then," when my sword hath rid circuit, Ecclesiastes 8:17, and been bathed in the blood of all nations, for their many and mighty sins, "I will turn to the people," I will turn mine hand upon the little ones, mine elect, that remnant reserved for royal use. These I will bring, not into the fire only, but through it, and will refine them as silver is refined, Zechariah 13:7; Zechariah 13:9, so that their tongue shall be as choice silver, Proverbs 10:20, their lip shall be a pure lip, as it is here, a lip of excellence, Proverbs 17:7, so that they shall scatter pearls, Matthew 7:6, throw abroad treasure, Matthew 12:35, even apples of gold in shrines of silver, Proverbs 25:11, they shall purify themselves, as God is pure, 1 John 3:3. Old things shall be past with them, all things shall become new; new constitution, new communication, new conversation. Look how the Conqueror sought to bring the French tongue into England, commanding it to be taught in schools, spoke in courts, &c., so doth the Lord Christ, who rideth about the world upon his white horses, the apostles and other ministers, "conquering and to conquer," Revelation 6:2; wherever he prevails, he turneth to such "a pure language," even the language of Canaan; not the Hebrew tongue (as R. Abraham senses this text) which all nations shall speak, saith he, in the kingdom of Christ (what they do in heaven, I have not to say, some are confident), but words of grace, Colossians 4:6, words of truth and soberness, Acts 26:25, right words, Job 6:25, spiritual speeches, Ephesians 4:29, Scripture language, 1 Peter 4:11.

That they may call upon the name of the Lord] As all God s people do, it is their character, 1 Corinthians 1:2, he hath no dumb children, they no sooner breathe but pray, Acts 9:11, for prayer is the breath of the spirit, Romans 8:26, and the fruit of faith; hence it is called the prayer of faith, and under the phrase of calling upon the name of the Lord here is meant believing in his name, and reposing upon Christ for safety here and salvation hereafter.

To serve him with one consent] Heb. with one shoulder, that is, unanimously, and with conjoined endeavours ( ομοθυμαδον), a metaphor from oxen yoked and setting their shoulders together to the work ( υπο ζυγον ενα, Sept.); or else from porters, who set their several shoulders to the same burden. The saints may the better do so because they have the Spirit to lift with them and be over beside them, as the apostle’s word ( συναντιλαμβανεται) importeth, Romans 8:26. Let them therefore endeavour, by all good means, to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, Ephesians 4:3, that they may say, as holy Miconius did of himself and his colleagues at Gotha, in Thuringia, cucurrimus, certavimus, laboravimus, pugnavimus, vicimus, et viximus semper coniunctissimi. We ever ran together, strove, laboured, fought, vanquished, and did all together, in much peace and concord. This is Christian-like indeed, see Acts 1:14; Acts 2:1; Acts 2:46; Acts 4:32, animo animaque inter se miscebantur, saith Tertullian, they were all of one heart and of one mind. The very heathens acknowledged that no people in the world did hold together and love one another so as Christians did. To see their travails (saith Master Fox concerning the saints here in times of persecution), their earnest seeking, burning zeal, readings, watchings, sweet assemblies, love, concord, godly living, faithful marrying with the faithful, may make us now in these our days of free profession (but lamentable divisions) to blush for shame. They served the Lord with one shoulder, we shoulder one another: they kept unity with purity without schism, much less heresy, glorifying the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with one mind and with one mouth, Romans 15:6, with a pure lip, as it is here; we are quot homines, tot sententiae, so many men, so many minds. How many religions are there now among us! saith one; old heresies new vamped! Our Saviour Christ saith, if the Son of man come, shall he find faith? &c. Yes, sure he may find many faiths; so many men, so many faiths. Pudet opprobria nobis, &c. It is a shame and a repraoch to us. It is not peace but party that some men mind, saith another; their chief studies are studium partium, et studium novarum rerum, part-taking, and novelling. But what saith the apostle? If ye speak with several tongues will not he that comes in think ye are mad? so when the world hears of so many dissonant opinions, will they not think we are run wild? 1 Corinthians 14:23. Is it not a shame to us that the Turks should say, we may sooner look that the fingers on our hands should be all of one length than that the Christians should be all of one judgment? Why should any Julian jeer us for our divisions? why should any Camian hit us in the teeth with our many sects and schisms? Pardon may be gotten for our other sins by faith in Christ’s blood, discordiam neque si sanguinem fundamus expiabimus (saith Oecolampadius to the Lutherans of his time), our scandalous discords God will judge.


Verse 10

Zephaniah 3:10 From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, [even] the daughter of my dispersed, shall bring mine offering.

Ver. 10. From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia] Heb. Of Chush, that is of Arabia Chusaea, which lay between Judea and Egypt. Confer Isaiah 18:1; Isaiah 18:7. Some understand it of Ethiopia, which is beyond the river Nile, and hath two very great rivers. See this in part fulfilled by that Ethiopian eunuch, Acts 8:26-40; neither may we think that he was alone in that country. Matthias the apostle is said to have preached the gospel to the Ethiopians (Euseb. i. 1). The large region of Nubia there had from the apostles’ time (as it is thought) professed the Christian faith, till about two hundred years since it forsook the same (Alvarez, Hist. Aethiopic.). The kingdom of Habassia, held by presbyter John, are yet Christians, differing from us in a few ceremonies only. {See Trapp on "Zephaniah 2:12"}

My suppliants] My praying people, that ply the throne of grace, and multiply strong suits, pouring out a flood of words in humble supplication (as the Hebrew signifieth), continuing instant in prayer, as knowing that their safety here and salvation hereafter is of me alone.

Even the daughter of my dispersed] Jews and Gentiles, elect of both sorts, John 11:52, scattered here and there, as the salt of the earth upon the face thereof, to keep it from putrefying. Danaeus thinketh that there is mention made of the daughter of the dispersed affectionately; namely, both to describe the earnestness of the saints in serving God (for women, quicquid volunt, valde volunt whatever they wish, they greatly prefer), and that this so goodly and joyful a spectacle or sight of women worshipping and serving God, and of virgins especially, might stir up and move affections. It is easy to observe that the New Testament affordeth more store of good women than the old, who can make masculine prayers, mingled with tears; and as music upon the waters sounds further and more harmoniously than upon the land, so do prayers well watered.

Shall bring mine offering] Heb. My meat offering, or rather my wheat offering (Minchathi), their bodies and souls, Romans 12:1, that best of sacrifices, for a reasonable service, a solemn present; such that the Chaldee paraphrast might express; he translateth it thus: They shall bring as presents unto me the banished of my people, who were carried captive, and shall return by my mercies. Some think that here is foretold the return of the Jews to their own land, toward the end of the world, to set up the spiritual worship of God there; the famous Church that shall be among them, full of sanctity and rid of all wicked ones, Zephaniah 3:11-13, the joy and gladness that shall possess their souls, Zephaniah 3:14, through God’s removing of all cause of fear from them, Zephaniah 3:15, the encouragement they shall receive from others, Zephaniah 3:16, and (which is the cause of all this) the apparent arguments of God’s great love and favour, Zephaniah 3:17, the quality of those that shall be received to be citizens of this New Jerusalem, Zephaniah 3:18, the utter rooting out of all their enemies, the fame and dignity that this Church of the Jews shall be of among all nations, Zephaniah 3:19-20. Thus they: quam recte iudicium sit penes Lectorem.


Verse 11

Zephaniah 3:11 In that day shalt thou not be ashamed for all thy doings, wherein thou hast transgressed against me: for then I will take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride, and thou shalt no more be haughty because of my holy mountain.

Ver. 11. In that day shalt thou not be ashamed] There is a holy shame for sin, such as was that of Ezra, Ezra 9:6, of the penitent publican, Luke 18:13, and of those good souls in Ezekiel, who blushing and bleeding loathed themselves for their abominations, Ezekiel 16:52. To be ashamed on this sort is no shame, but a sign of that godly sorrow that worketh repentance never to be repented of; and not to know shame, to be frontless and impudent, is the note of a naughty man, Ezekiel 16:52. But that which God promiseth here is that he will cover their sins, not impute them, Psalms 32:1-2, and that he will by his grace preserve them from scandalous and reproachful practices that might render them ignominious and despicable, see Psalms 18:39; shining upon them himself, and giving them honour in the hearts of others, as he did Solomon.

Them that rejoice in thy pride] Or, in thine excellence, as Psalms 68:35, that is, in thine external privileges, wherein thou hast hitherto so prided thyself as the only people of God, holy and beloved.

And thou shalt no more be haughty] Stand upon thy tip-toes, upon thy sandles, as if there were none such.

Because of mine holy mountain] Jeremiah 7:4. The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, cried they aloud that nothing cared for the Lord of the temple. So the Jesuits and their Romish crew cry, the Church, the Church, the Catholic Church, ad ravem usque, until hoarse like so many oyster-wives: but this is not the guise of God’s people. He will purge his Church of such formalists.


Verse 12

Zephaniah 3:12 I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD.

Ver. 12. I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people] Poor and therein afflicted, therefore despised. Poverty is an affliction, and makes a man trodden upon, Nil habet infelix paupertas durius in se, Quam quod ridicules homines facit, Men will be sure to go over the hedge where it is lowest. Hence St Paul joins them together, I have learned to want and to be abased. They that want must look to be abased. This thy son, saith he, Luke 15:30, not this my brother; he would not once own him, because in poverty. But though men will not, yet God will, James 2:5, Revelation 2:9. I know thy poverty, but that is nothing, thou art rich: poor in spirit, rich to Godward, glorying in nothing but this, that thou understandest and knowest me and my will, thyself and thy duty, Jeremiah 9:23, and art therefore a rich cargazon, a full magazine, such as the world is not worthy of.

And they shall trust in the name of the Lord] As having nothing else to trust to. So St Paul’s widow indeed, being desolate and left alone, trusteth in God, who while she had a husband trusted too much in him, 1 Timothy 5:5. A noble woman of Savoy, mother to John Galear, Duke of Milan, after her husband’s decease, caused a coin to be made, upon the one side whereof she drew these words, Sola facta solum Deum sequor, Being left alone, I trust in God alone.


Verse 13

Zephaniah 3:13 The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make [them] afraid.

Ver. 13. The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity] Sanctity and security are here promised to all the citizens of the Church. Being justified by Christ they shall do righteousness and truth: there shall no way of wickedness be found in them, Psalms 139:24, they shall be kept from foul flagitious practices, neither shall they wallow or allow themselves in any known sin unrepented of. Their spot, if any, shall be the spot of God’s children, Deuteronomy 32:5, involuntary and avoidable informity, such as there is a pardon of course for; only they must sue it out by praying daily, Forgive us our trespasses.

Nor speak lies] For that is a foul fault, and rarely found in a saint, Isaiah 63:8. For he said, "Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour." It was wont to be as current an argument, Christianus est, non mentietur, He is a Christian, he will not lie, as afterwards it was, Hic est frater, ergo mendax, This is a friar, and therefore a liar. Sophronius testifieth of Chrysostom, nunquam eum mentitum fuisse, that he was never heard to tell a lie. Whereas of Pilate Hegesippus telleth us, that he was vir nequam et parvi faciens mendacium, a naughty man, and one that made little conscience of a lie. It may seem so indeed by that scornful question of his, "What is truth?" John 18:38.

Neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth] Their pure lip, Zephaniah 3:9, is not used to the language of hell, their spirit without guile, Psalms 32:2, produceth speech without deceit; for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh, Matthew 12:34. {See Trapp on "Matthew 12:34"}

For they shall feed and lie down] Shall have all that heart can wish or need require; plenty, safety, security.

And none shall make them afraid] So as to make them do iniquity or speak lies; as very good men when frightened have dared to do; witness Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, but especially David, deeply guilty of this sin, 1 Samuel 21:2; 1 Samuel 21:8; 1 Samuel 27:8; 1 Samuel 27:10, In the sense of which sin he prayeth, "Remove from me the way of lying," Psalms 119:29; we also should pray, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from that evil one," the father of lies. And having the shepherd of Israel to feed us and tend us, we should not fear, Psalms 23:2-3, but choosing rather to die than to lie, to suffer than to shift, commit the keeping of our souls to him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator, 1 Peter 4:19.


Verse 14

Zephaniah 3:14 Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem.

Ver. 14. Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel] Joy is the just man’s portion, which the wicked may not meddle with, Hosea 9:1. In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare or a cord to strangle his joy with, to check and choke all his comforts, but the righteous sing and rejoice, Proverbs 29:6, they are commanded so to do; yea, the command is doubled and trebled here and elsewhere in both Testaments; and it is a sin for such not to rejoice, as well as not to repent.

Be glad and rejoice with all the heart] Which no wicked man can do: his mirth is but the hypocrisy of mirth; like a little counterfeit complexion. It may smooth the face, never cheer up the heart; like a slight dash of rain that soaketh not to the root, or a handful of brushwood or sear thorns under the pot, Ecclesiastes 7:6. As their humiliations are but skin deep, they rent their garments and not their hearts, they grieve in the face and not in the heart, Matthew 6:16, so do they rejoice in the face and not with all their heart, 2 Corinthians 5:12.


Verse 15

Zephaniah 3:15 The LORD hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, [even] the LORD, [is] in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more.

Ver. 15. The Lord hath taken away thy Judgments] i.e. He hath remitted thy sins, removed thy punishments, turned again thy captivity as the streams in the south, commanded his prophets, saying, "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people," &c., Isaiah 40:1-2; tell her that all accusations and actions laid against her in the court of heaven are non-suited, and God’s wrath appeased. This is the sum of all the good news in the world; this is a short gospel.

He hath cast out thine enemy] As rubbish and sweepings of the house are cast out ( פכה repurgare everrere significat); so hath God dealt by thine enemies corporal and spiritual; that thou being delivered out of the hands of both, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all thy days, Luke 1:74-75.

The king of Israel, even the Lord, is in the midst of thee] In the many testimonies of his powerful and gracious presence; yea, he hath set him up a mercy seat, a throne of grace, and bidden thee come boldly thereunto, Hebrews 4:16.

Thou shalt not see evil any more] sc. So long as thou retainest God with thee, who is both a sun and a shield, Psalms 84:11, and children have a place of refuge, Proverbs 14:26.


Verse 16

Zephaniah 3:16 In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: [and to] Zion, Let not thine hands be slack.

Ver. 16. Fear thou not] Why shouldest thou while the King of Israel is in the midst of thee? Be of good cheer, said Caesar to the ferryman in a storm, thou canst not miscarry: Casarem enim fers et fortunam Caesaris, for you carry Caesar and luck of Caesar, so long as Caesar is in the same bottom with thee. May not the Church much more gather comfort, having God in her company; and so many of his servants to say to her, Fear thou not? True faith quelleth and killeth distrustful fear; but awful dread it breedeth, feedeth, fostereth, and cherisheth.

And to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack] Remollescant. Let not thy fears weaken, but rather waken thy diligence in well doing; lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, Hebrews 12:12. Up and be active; pluck up your good hearts, and buckle close to your business; your task is long, your time short; your master urgent, your wages inconceivable. It troubled a martyr at the stake, that he should then go to a place where he should ever be receiving wages, and do no more work. Up, therefore, and be doing. "Be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises," Hebrews 6:12. Spontaneae lassitudines morbos loquuntur, faithlessness argueth a diseased soul.


Verse 17

Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD thy God in the midst of thee [is] mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.

Ver. 17. The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty] Even the mighty strong God, Isaiah 9:6, the giant, as the word signifies, the champion of his Church. He being in the midst of thee cannot but see who thou art set upon; and how many dangers and difficulties thou encounterest with, and will send thee in new supplies, Ephesians 1:19, seasonable help.

He will save] This properly signifieth the privative part of man’s happiness; but includeth also the positive. Jesus will do all for his people.

He will rejoice over thee with joy] As a bridegroom doth over his bride, Isaiah 62:5. He will take special complacence and content in thee, being made accepted in the beloved, Ephesians 1:6.

He will rest in his love] And seek no further. Heb. He will be silent in his love, passing by small faults without any the least signification of his displeasure; as if he were even fond over his Church, and did err in his love towards her, as husbands are licensed to do toward their wives, Proverbs 5:19. Some render it obmutescet in amore suo, he shall be dumb in his love, so as he cannot speak through excess of love. Lovers are so transported sometimes that they cannot utter their minds.

He will joy over thee with singing] As a father doth over his child whom he beareth in his besom, or dandleth on his knee.


Verse 18

Zephaniah 3:18 I will gather [them that are] sorrowful for the solemn assembly, [who] are of thee, [to whom] the reproach of it [was] a burden.

Ver. 18. I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly] Which now they cannot celebrate, as being in captivity; and are therefore in great heaviness; as was David, Psalms 42:2-3; Psalms 42:5. Nothing goes nearer to a good heart than to be debarred the benefit of God’s holy ordinances, than to hear the sabbaths mocked at by the enemies, as these good souls did, Lamentations 2:7, and to be asked, as David was, "Where is now thy God," Psalms 42:3. All outward comforts in this case are mere Ichabods. When the ark was taken Eli could live no longer; that word struck him down backward, and killed him in the fall. No sword of a Philistine could have slain him more painfully; neither is it easy to say whether his neck or heart were first broken.

Who are of thee] True children of the Church, as appeareth by their strong affections to the ordinances, 1 Peter 2:2. Luther said he would not live in paradise without the word; as with it he could easily live in hell. An infant cannot be quieted with gauds (a) or fine clothes without the dug; so neither can a true Christian with anything but the public services, the solemn assemblies.

To whom the reproach of it was a burden] It lay heavy upon their spirits, and made them send up many a deep sigh to God, who heareth the breathings of his people, Lamentations 3:56, and will restore comfort to such his mourners, Isaiah 57:18. He that helped his Levites to bear the ark, 1 Chronicles 15:26, will help those that grieve at the want of it and groan under the reproach cast upon it, which they ever honoured as the face of God, Psalms 105:4. Yea, as God himself, Psalms 132:5.


Verse 19

Zephaniah 3:19 Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee: and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame.

Ver. 19. Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee] Heb. Behold me; look not to thyself as unworthy or unlikely to inherit such precious promises; for, "not for your sakes do this, saith the Lord God, be it known unto you; but for mine own holy name’s sake," Ezekiel 36:22; Ezekiel 36:32 : your unworthiness shall serve for a foil to set forth the freeness of my love; your unlikeliness the greatness of my power; "my grace is sufficient for thee, my strength is perfected in thy weakness," 2 Corinthians 12:9. Again, look not to thine enemies, how many and mighty they are, how witty and wealthy, how active and combined ( loricatus incedit Satan et cataphractus, saith Luther), let thine eyes be upon me, as Jehoshaphat’s were, when he knew not whither else to look, 2 Chronicles 20:12; let thine heart be lift up in my ways, as his was, 2 Chronicles 17:6; behold me, behold me, Isaiah 65:1. Look not downward on the rushing and roaring streams of miseries and troubles which run so swiftly under thee, for then thou wilt be giddy; but look upward, and steadfastly fasten on my power and promise; believe in the Lord thy God, so shalt thou be established; believe his prophets, so shalt thou prosper, 2 Chronicles 20:20; thine enemies also shall be found liars unto thee, and thou shalt tread upon their high places, Deuteronomy 33:29. I will undo them, saith God here; Heb. I will do them ( per antiphrasin); or, I will bruise them and break them in pieces, as R. David rendereth it, by comparing Ezekiel 23:3; Ezekiel 23:21. I will not only repress them, but root them out. Those that offer violence to the Church, like blind Samson, they lay hands upon their pillars, to pluck the house upon their own heads.

And I will save her that halteth] As enemies shall not hinder the Church’s happiness, so neither shall her own infirmities. Grant she be lame and luxated, maimed and disjointed, so that she goeth sidling and halteth downright, Psalms 38:17; say she be driven out of her country as an exile, out of all companies, as an outcast (whom no man seeketh after, Jeremiah 30:17), and out of all good conceit of herself, as an abject, vile in her own eyes not fit for the communion of saints or kingdom of heaven; yet I will save her, I will gather her, like as the gathering host in the wilderness {see Joshua 6:9} took up the lame, feeble and those that were left behind, see Micah 4:6, {See Trapp on "Micah 4:6"} and Ezekiel 32:16; I will seek that which was lost and reduce that which was driven away.

And I will get them praise and fame in every land, &c.] So that glorious things shall be spoken of thee, O city of God; as thy sin shall be remitted, so thy name shall be healed thy fame spread, per ora hominum volitabis I will fashion men’s opinions of thee, so that those that formerly shamed and shunned thee shall highly esteem thee, and stand for thee.


Verse 20

Zephaniah 3:20 At that time will I bring you [again], even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the LORD.

Ver. 20. At that time will I bring you again] And this I tell you again, that you may the better believe it; only you must wait my time, for, in time will I bring you again, and in time will I gather you, and in time will I make your name and a praise among all people of the earth, as before I promised; but you must give me time to do all this. He that believest maketh not haste. The vision is yet for an appointed time, Habakkuk 2:3. {See Trapp on "Habakkuk 2:3"} Limit not the Holy One of Israel, set him not a day, say not now or never; wake not your beloved till he please. He is a God of judgment, and waiteth to be gracious, Isaiah 30:18. Have patience, therefore, yea, let patience have her perfect work, James 1:4, that ye may receive a full reward, 2 John 1:8. For behold I come, and my reward is with me, to give you an expected end, Jeremiah 29:11.

When I turn back your captivity] Heb. Captivities; that is, all four captivities together For the Jews were carried captive to Babylon (1) Under Manasseh, 2 Chronicles 33:11. (2) Next, under Jehoiachim, 2 Chronicles 36:6. (3) Under Jechonias, 2 Kings 24:12, 2 Chronicles 36:10. (4) Lastly, under Zedekiah, 2 Chronicles 36:17, 2 Kings 25:6. All these shall be brought back together by an eminent and signal deliverance.

Before your eyes] Those eyes of yours that failed almost for my salvation, and for the word of my righteousness, Psalms 119:123, shall see the accomplishment thereof, and be satisfied Psalms 54:7; Psalms 92:11. Dexter tibi prae laetitia salter oculus.

Saith the Lord] This is the seal of all, and security sufficient, for Dei dixisse est fecisse To God to have said is to have done, God will not suffer his faithfulness to fail nor alter the thing that is gone out of his lips Psalms 89:33-34.

Laus Deo in aeternum.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Zephaniah 3:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/zephaniah-3.html. 1865-1868.

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