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63. God's Day of Vengeance and Redemption

Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. 2Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? 3I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. 4For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. 5And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me. 6And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth.

7I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses. 8For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour. 9In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.

10But they rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them. 11Then he remembered the days of old, Moses, and his people, saying, Where is he that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of his flock? where is he that put his holy Spirit within him? 12That led them by the right hand of Moses with his glorious arm, dividing the water before them, to make himself an everlasting name? 13That led them through the deep, as an horse in the wilderness, that they should not stumble? 14As a beast goeth down into the valley, the Spirit of the Lord caused him to rest: so didst thou lead thy people, to make thyself a glorious name.

15Look down from heaven, and behold from the habitation of thy holiness and of thy glory: where is thy zeal and thy strength, the sounding of thy bowels and of thy mercies toward me? are they restrained? 16Doubtless thou art our father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: thou, O Lord, art our father, our redeemer; thy name is from everlasting.

17O Lord, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from thy fear? Return for thy servants’ sake, the tribes of thine inheritance. 18The people of thy holiness have possessed it but a little while: our adversaries have trodden down thy sanctuary. 19We are thine: thou never barest rule over them; they were not called by thy name.

9. In all their affliction he was afflicted. He enlarges on the goodness of God toward his people, and shews that he was kind to the fathers, so long as they permitted themselves to be governed by him, and was so careful about them that he himself bore their distresses and afflictions. By speaking in this mainner, he declares the incomparable love which God bears toward his people. In order to move us more powerfully and draw us to himself, the Lord accommodates himself to the manner of men, by attributing to himself all the affection, love, and (συμπαθεία) compassion which a father can have. And yet in human affairs it is impossible to conceive of any sort of kindness or benevolence which he does not immeasurably surpass.

I acknowledge that לא(lo) with א (aleph) literally signifies not; and therefore I do not altogether reject a different interpretation, that the people in their afflictions were not afflicted, because God always applied some remedy to alleviate their sorrows. But since א, (aleph,)in many passages, is manifestly changed into ו, (vau,) learned commentators justly, in my opinion, view it as equivalent to the pronoun לו, (lo,) to him. In this sense the Prophet testifies that God, in order to alleviate the distresses and afflictions of his people, himself bore their burdens; not that he can in any way endure anguish, but, by a very customary figure of speech, he assumes and applies to himself human passions. 176176     “In all their distress there was distress to him, or, as the English Version renders it, ‘In all their affliction he was afflicted.’ This explanation, with the text on which it is founded, and which is exhibited by a number of manuscripts and editions, is approved by Luther, Vitringa, Clericus, Hitzig, Ewald, Umbreit, Hendewerk, and Knobel. It is favored, not only by the strong and affecting sense which it yields but by the analogy of Judges 10:16; 11:7, in one of which places the same phrase is used to denote human suffering, and in the other God is represented as sympathizing with it. The objections to it are, that it gratuitously renders necessary another anthropopathic explanation; that the natural collocation of the words, if this were the meaning, would be צר לו, (tzar lo) as in 2 Samuel 1:26; that the negative is expressed by all the ancient versions; and that the critical presumption: is in favor of the Kethib, or textual reading, as the more ancient, which the Massorites merely corrected in the margin, without venturing to change it, and which ought not to be now abandoned, if a coherent sense can be put on it, as it can in this case.” — Alexander.

And the angel of his face saved them. Of the care which he took of them he next explains the effect, by saying that he always delivered them by the hand of his angel, whom he calls “the angel of his face,” because he was the witness of the presence of God, and, as it were, his herald to execute his commands; that we may not think that angels come forth of their own accord, or move at their own suggestion, to render assistance to us; for the Lord makes use of their agency, and makes known to us his presence by means of them. Angels can do nothing of themselves, and give no assistance, except so far as the Lord commissions them

“to be ministers of our salvation.” (Hebrews 1:14.)

Let us not, therefore, fix our whole attention on them, for they lead us straight to God.

If it be thought preferable to interpret this phrase as describing the lively image of God, because that angel, being the leader and guardian of the people, shewed the face of God as in a mirror, that meaning will be highly appropriate. And indeed I have no doubt that the office of Savior is ascribed to Christ, as we know that he was the angel of highest rank, by whose guidance, safeguard, and protection, the Church has been preserved and upheld.

In his love. He shews what was the cause of so great benefits; namely, his love and undeserved kindness, as Moses also teaches. “How came it that God adopted thy fathers, but because he loved them, and because his heart clave to them?” (Deuteronomy 4:37; 7:7, 8.) Moses wishes to set aside entirely the lofty opinion which they might entertain of themselves, because they were proud and haughty, and claimed more for themselves than they had a right to claim; and therefore he shews that there was no other cause for so great benefits than the absolute and undeserved goodness of God.

He bore them and carried them. He next makes use of the same metaphor which Moses employs in his song, when he says that God

“carried his people in the same manner as an eagle bears her young on her wings.” (Deuteronomy 32:11.)

Or perhaps some may choose to refer it to sheep, as we have seen elsewhere, “He will lead those that are with young.” (Isaiah 40:11.) Yet it is more natural to view this as a comparison to a mother, who not only carries the child in the womb, but rears it till it arrive at full strength. The meaning may be thus summed up. “The people experienced the grace of God, not only once, when they were redeemed, but during the whole course of their life, so that to him alone ought to be ascribed all the benefits which they have received.” And therefore he adds —

All the days of the age; that is, in an uninterrupted succession of many years; for God is not wearied in doing good, nor is it only to a single age that he shews his kindness; for he has never ceased to adorn and enrich his Church with various gifts.


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