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"event," to the kingdom of Jesus Christ, in which it shall receive a full accomplishment, and to which we look forward with hope and joy*
4 That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and fay, How hath the op. preflbr ceased! the golden city ceased!
S The prophet now returns to describe the fall of the Babylonish empire, by means of which great event, way should be made for the accomplishment of the
predictions that we have been considering. This
subject is introduced, with the utmost propriety, in. the form of a triumphant song. A chorus of Jews first express their surprise and astonishment at the sudden downfal of Babylon,- and the great reverse of the tyrant's condition, who, like his predecessors, had oppressed his own and neighbouring kingdoms. Against the debased monarch, they are called, to take up this proverb. The Hebrew verb of the noun translated proverb, signifies, to exercise authority, to compare one thing with another, to utter weighty sayings or parables. The noun is used to express every sort of sententious, sigurative, and sublime speech; such as the Proverbs of Solomon, which are delivered in short sentences^ frequently sigurative, and generally authoritative, both in matter and form. Such also are the wife maxims, and pithy sayings of Jesus Christ, recorded in the gospel: where he faith, ' No man
* can serve two masters; Where your treasure is, .' there will your heart be also.' Some proverbs are obscure, and signify somewhat different from what the words seem to intimate: of this sort was that anciently used in Israel, * The fathers have eaten sour
* grapes, and the childrens teeth are set on edge *;' and that mentioned by the apostle Peter, 'The dog is
* turned again to his vomit; and the sow that was
', * Ezek. xviii. 2.
'washed, to her wallowing in the mire *.' Others are plain, moral sentences; of which you have an instance, 1 Samuel xxiv. 13. in the speech of David to king Saul, 'As faith the proverb of the ancients, Wicked'ness proceedeth from the wicked.' The proverb which was to be used by the men of Judah, was a taunting kind of speech, in which the power and pride of Babylon was to be insulted, and treated with
contempt. In this view also, you may consider
the following words of triumph, in which the people of God were to express their joy at the destruction of that great city.
How hath the oppressor ceased! tht golden city ceased! The oppressor is a name which emphatically describes the character of the .king of Babylon, whose government was stained with injustice, violence, and oppression, and supported by heavy exactions imposed on the neighbouring states, to support his magnificence!
and grandeur. The golden city is a graphical
description of that city, which was renowned for its, immense riches and incomparable splendor. To express their astonishment at the event alluded to, they inquire, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased! He who oppressed us and other nations, who made us to serve with hard bondage, how is he come to nothing! Who hath accomplished his ruin, and by whom hath his destruction been effected? Both the prince, and the city, have ceased. The king was flain, and the city overthrown.
5 The Lord hath broken the staff of the wicked, and the sceptre of the rulers,.
These words contain an answer to the preceding inquiry: God is acknowledged the author of this wonderful desolation. The king of Babylon might justly be called the staff of the wicked, in as much as
he greatly promoted the practice of all manner of wickedness, and was a chief support of its interests. This instrument of corruption and guilt the Lord hath broken: he hath suddenly crushed him by a violent death, whereby a final period is put to all his
mighty power and innuence.-r And the sceptre of the
rulers. The royal authority (signified by a sceptre), which was exerted, by means of the rulers and governors of the provinces, over the people, was likewise broken and destroyed. Thus did the Most High take away from the earth this wicked, tyrannical prince, and his proud ambitious rulers, that his people might enjoy the inestimable benefits of liberty and safety.
6 He who smote the people in wrath with a. continual stroke; he that ruled the nations ia anger, is persecuted, and none hindereth.
The language of exultation and triumph, begun in
the foregoing verse, is still continued. The king
of Babylon made war with the people of Israel, and; the nations of the earth; and, having conquered them, he smote them, not with temper and moderation, but with wrath and fierce anger; not with an occasional, but with an uninterrupted and continual stroke. He ruled over the kingdoms which he vanquished, not with mildness and equity, but with extreme rigour and severity: he governed them, not with justice and clemency, but with tyranny and oppression.- Thi^ haughty, angry monarch is persecuted, and none hindereth. He was pursued, overtaken, and seized, by the justice of God, and quickly brought to condign punishment. None of the neighbouring states or princes, who were tributary to him, or in alliance with him, afforded him any assistance, or interposed in his behalf, to ward off the blow given him by the direction and appointment of Heaven. Thus doth the Lord pour contempt upon princes, and jtbase those who walk in pride, punishing their1 pride md insolence, their cruelty and oppression, according to their desert.
7 The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet; they break forth into singing.
The happy esfects resulting to surrounding nations, from the abolition of the tyrannical power of the king of Babylon, are beautifully delineated in this verfe.——All the kingdoms of the earth which were. subject to the Babylonian empire, and connected with it, were to experience an agreeable cessation from the diiquietude and turbulence which they suffered, from exorbitant claims and rigorous demands which had been made upon them, by a monarch, whose desire sor riches, and ambition of power and conquest, knew no bounds. In consequence of his sceptre having been broken, the nations who had formerly served him, and been greatly disturbed by the exercise of his tyrannical authority, were to find themselves happOy desivered from that continual oppression which they were unable to resist, and re-establilhed in the
possession of desirable tranquillity and peace. On
this pleasing change of circumstances, they should feel strong emotions, arising from the satisfaction and joy which sprang up in their new condition; so that they break forth into singing. Transported with the view of the downfal of Babylon, and contemplating the happy effects with which it was to be 'accompanied, they were to exult in triumphant strains, and thus to express their gratitude and joy, on account of the agreeable change of condition which was the subject of their song. If the nations rejoice at tha
overthrow of a haughty, tyrannical prince, and the re-establi/hment of tranquillity and liberty, how much greater ought to be the triumph of those who are delivered from the dominion of divers impetuous lusts, and enjoy the earnests of spiritual and eternal rest! Let such break forth into singing, in honour of him who hath delivered, and will preserve to his heavenly kingdom.
8 Yea, the fir-trees rejoice at thee, and the cedars of Lebanon, saying, Since. thou art laid down, no feller is come up against us.
The fir-trees and the cedars are here introduced*
rejoicing at the fall of Babylon. The fir and the
cedar are the tallest and most stately trees that grow in the forest \ and the cedars of Lebanon were, of all others, the largest and most excellent, These trees are sometimes mentioned in scripture, as representing persons exalted to the most eminent station, and enjoying the most flourishing condition. In this figurative fense I suppose that the words before us must be understood. The fir and the cedar of Lebanon are intended to signify the princes, the rulers, and great men of those kingdoms, which had been harassed by the king of Babylon before the overthrow of that empire. Persons of conspicuous dignity, and great opulence, were to exult over the fallen tyrant, and to boast of the ease and security they expected to enjoy, in consequence of his depression, or being laid down. Since thou hast been brought low, and laid upon the ground, like a tree. that is cut down, no feller is come up against us, no power hath attacked us, in whose heart it was to cut off nations not a few. Since he who was the axe, in the hand of the Lord, to cut down kingdoms, hath been broke in pieces, there is no other power to give disturbance to the nations, or
to deprive them of their just rights. The reign.of
tyrannical monarchs is not commonly of long continuance: God who cutteth off the spirits of princes, and who is terrible to the kings of the earth, lays them low, and divests them of their power, whilst those around them triumph in their destruction, and the consequent lately they hope to enjoy.