For, behold, the Lord cometh out of His place
God’s procedure in relation to sin
This is a highly figurative and sublime representation of the Almighty in His retributive work, especially in relation to Samaria and Jerusalem.
He is represented as leaving His holy temple, coming out of His place, and marching with overwhelming grandeur over the high places of the earth, to deal out punishment to the wicked. “The description of this theophany,” says Delitzsch, “is founded upon the idea of a terrible storm and earthquake, as in Psalms 18:8. The mountains melt (Judges 5:4, and Psalms 68:9) with the streams of water which discharge themselves from heaven (Judges 5:4), and the valleys split with the deep channels cut out by the torrents of water. The similes ‘like wax,’ etc. (as in Psalms 68:3), and ‘like water’ are intended to express the complete dissolution of mountains and valleys. The actual facts answering to this description are the destructive influences exerted upon nature by great national judgments.” The reference is undoubtedly to the destruction of the king of Israel by Shalmaneser, and the invasion of Judah by the armies of Sennacherib and Nebuchadnezzar, by the latter of whom the Jews were carried away captive. The passage is an inexpressibly grand representation of God’s procedure in relation to sin.
I. As it apears to the eye of man. The Bible is eminently anthropomorphic.
1. God, in dealing out retribution, appears to man in an extraordinary position. “He cometh forth out of His place.” What is His place? To all intelligent beings, the settled place of the Almighty is the temple of love, the pavilion of goodness, the mercy seat. The general beauty, order, and happiness of the universe give all intelligent creatures this impression of Him. But when confusion and misery fall on the sinner, the Almighty seems to man to come out of His “place,” to step aside from His ordinary procedure. Judgment is God’s strange work. He comes out of His place to execute it.
2. God, in dealing out retribution, appears to man in a terrific aspect. He does not appear as in the silent march of the stars or the serenity of the sun; but as in thunderstorms and volcanic eruptions. “The mountains shall be molten under Him,” etc.
II. As it affects a sinful people. In God’s procedure in relation to sin what disastrous effects were brought upon Samaria and Jerusalem!
1. God, in His procedure in relation to sin, brings material ruin upon people. Sin brings on commercial decay, political ruin; it destroys the health of the body, and brings it ultimately to the dust.
2. God, in His procedure in relation to sin, brings mental anguish upon a people. A disruption between the soul and the objects of its supreme affections involves the greatest anguish. The gods of a people, whatever they may be, are these objects, and these are to be destroyed. Conclusion--Mark well that God has a course of conduct in relation to sin, or rather, that God, in His beneficent march, must ever appear terrible to the sinner, and bring ruin on his head. It is the wisdom as well as the duty of all intelligent creatures to move in thought, sympathy, and purpose, as God moves--move with Him, not against Him. (Homilist.)
God’s way of taking vengeance
The justice of God taking vengeance on enemies is further described from the way of manifesting thereof, which is slowly but certainly; the Lord forbearing, neither because He purposes to give, nor because He wants power; as may appear from His majesty and state, when He appeareth environed with whirlwinds and tempests raised by His power. Doctrine--
1. The Lord, even toward enemies, is long suffering, and slow in executing of anger, that their destruction may be seen to be of themselves, that in His holy providence they may stumble more upon His indulgence, and fill up their measure; and that His Church’s faith and patience may be tried.
2. When the Lord spareth His enemies, it is not because He is not able to meet with them, nor ought we to judge from any outward appearance that they are invincible; for, how unlikely soever the destruction of enemies may be in the eyes of men, yet the Lord who is “slow to anger” is also “great in power.”
3. As the Lord is able to reach His enemies when He pleaseth, so His forbearing of them is no evidence that they shall be exempted altogether; but He will undoubtedly give proof of His power, in dealing with them as their way deserveth.
4. The Lord is able by His power speedily to bring to pass greatest things, and can, when He pleaseth, overturn, confound, and darken all things which appeared to be stable, well ordered, and clear.
5. The Lord, manifesting Himself in His great glory, doth but, so to say, obscure Himself in respect of our infirmity, which cannot comprehend His glory in its brightness; for so much doth His manifestation of Himself environed with dark storms or tempests and thick lowering clouds teach.
6. God’s dispensations, even when they are most dreadful and terrible in effects, may yet be deep and unsearchable, and His purpose and counsel in them hard to discern; for so much doth His way in whirlwinds, storms, and clouds (which involve and darken all) teach. (George Hutcheson.)