1 Runne yee to and fro thorow the streetes of Ierusalem, and see now and knowe, and seeke in the broad places thereof, if ye can finde a man, if there be any that executeth iudgement, that seeketh the trueth, and I will pardon it.
2 And though they say, The Lord liueth, surely they sweare falsely.
3 O Lord, are not thine eyes vpon the trueth? thou hast stricken them, but they haue not grieued; thou hast consumed them, but they haue refused to receiue correction: they haue made their faces harder then a rocke, they haue refused to returne.
4 Therefore I said, Surely these are poore, they are foolish: for they know not the way of the Lord, nor the iudgement of their God.
5 I wil get me vnto the great men, and will speake vnto them, for they haue knowen the way of the Lord, and the iudgement of their God: but these haue altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bondes.
6 Wherfore a lyon out of the forrest shall slay them, and a wolfe of the euenings shall spoile them, a leopard shall watch ouer their cities: euery one that goeth out thence shalbe torne in pieces, because their transgressions are many, and their backeslidings are increased.
7 ¶ How shall I pardon thee for this? thy children haue forsaken mee, and sworne by them that are no gods: when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adulterie, and assembled themselues by troupes in the harlots houses.
8 They were as fed horses in the morning: euery one neighed after his neighbours wife:
9 Shall I not visit for these things, sayth the Lord, and shall not my soule bee auenged on such a nation as this?
10 ¶ Goe yee vp vpon her walles, and destroy, but make not a full ende: take away her battlements, for they are not the Lords.
11 For the house of Israel, and the house of Iudah haue dealt very treacherously against me, saith the Lord.
12 They haue belyed the Lord, and said; It is not he, neither shall euill come vpon vs, neither shal we see sword nor famine.
13 And the prophets shall become wind, and the word is not in them: thus shall it be done vnto them.
14 Wherfore thus saith the Lord God of Hostes; Because yee speake this word, behold, I will make my words in thy mouth, fire, and this people wood, and it shall deuoure them.
15 Loe, I will bring a nation vpon you from farre, O house of Israel, saith the Lord: it is a mighty nation, it is an ancient nation, a nation whose language thou knowest not, neither vnderstandest what they say.
16 Their quiuer is as an open sepulchre, they are all mighty men.
17 And they shall eate vp thine haruest and thy bread, which thy sonnes and thy daughters should eate: they shall eate vp thy flockes and thine heards: they shall eate vp thy vines and thy figtrees: they shall impouerish thy fenced cities wherein thou trustedst, with the sword.
18 Neuerthelesse in those daies, saith the Lord, I will not make a full end with you.
19 ¶ And it shall come to passe when yee shall say; Wherefore doth the Lord our God all these things vnto vs? then shalt thou answere them; Like as ye haue forsaken me, & serued strange Gods in your land; so shall yee serue strangers in a land that is not yours.
20 Declare this in the house of Iacob, and publish it in Iudah saying;
21 Heare now this, O foolish people, and without vnderstanding, which haue eyes and see not, which haue eares and heare not.
22 Feare yee not mee, saith the Lord ? Will yee not tremble at my presence, which haue placed the sand for the bound of the sea, by a perpetuall decree that it cannot passe it, and though the waues thereof tosse themselues, yet can they not preuaile, though they roare, yet can they not passe ouer it?
23 But this people hath a reuolting and a rebellious heart: they are reuolted and gone.
24 Neither say they in their heart; Let vs now feare the Lord our God, that giueth raine, both the former and the later in his season: he reserueth vnto vs the appointed weekes of the haruest.
25 ¶ Your iniquities haue turned away these things, & your sinnes haue withholden good things from you.
26 For among my people are found wicked men: they lay waite as hee that setteth snares, they set a trap, they catch men.
27 As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit: therefore they are become great, and waxen rich.
28 They are waxen fat, they shine: yea they ouerpasse the deedes of the wicked: they iudge not the cause, the cause of the fatherlesse, yet they prosper: and the right of the needy doe they not iudge.
29 Shall I not visit for these things, saith the Lord ? shall not my soule be auenged on such a nation as this?
30 ¶ A wonderfull and horrible thing is committed in the land.
31 The prophets prophecie falsely, and the priests beare rule by their meanes, and my people loue to haue it so: and what will yee doe in the end therof?
The Jews' profession of religion was hypocritical. (1-9) The cruel proceedings of their enemies. (10-18) Their apostacy and idolatry. (19-31)1-9 None could be found who behaved as upright and godly men. But the Lord saw the true character of the people through all their disguises. The poor were ignorant, and therefore they were wicked. What can be expected but works of darkness, from people that know nothing of God and religion? There are God's poor, who, notwithstanding poverty, know the way of the Lord, walk in it, and do their duty; but these were willingly ignorant, and their ignorance would not be their excuse. The rich were insolent and haughty, and the abuse of God's favours made their sin worse.
10-18 Multitudes are ruined by believing that God will not be so strict as his word says he will; by this artifice Satan undid mankind. Sinners are not willing to own any thing to be God's word, that tends to part them from, or to disquiet them in, their sins. Mocking and misusing the Lord's messengers, filled the measure of their iniquity. God can bring trouble upon us from places and causes very remote. He has mercy in store for his people, therefore will set bounds to this desolating judgment. Let us not overlook the "nevertheless," ver. #18|. This is the Lord's covenant with Israel. He thereby proclaims his holiness, and his utter displeasure against sin while sparing the sinner, #Ps 89:30-35|.
19-31 Unhumbled hearts are ready to charge God with being unjust in their afflictions. But they may read their sin in their punishment. If men will inquire wherefore the Lord doeth hard things unto them, let them think of their sins. The restless waves obeyed the Divine decree, that they should not pass the sandy shores, which were as much a restraint as lofty mountains; but they burst all restraints of God's law, and were wholly gone into wickedness. Neither did they consider their interest. While the Lord, year after year, reserves to us the appointed weeks of harvest, men live on his bounty; yet they transgress against him. Sin deprives us of God's blessings; it makes the heaven as brass, and the earth as iron. Certainly the things of this world are not the best things; and we are not to think, that, because evil men prosper, God allows their practices. Though sentence against evil works is not executed speedily, it will be executed. Shall I not visit for these things? This speaks the certainty and the necessity of God's judgments. Let those who walk in bad ways consider that an end will come, and there will be bitterness in the latter end.
Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.