1 Now gather thy selfe in troupes, O daughter of troupes: he hath laid siege against vs: they shal smite the Iudge of Israel with a rod vpon the cheeke.
2 But thou Beth-leem Ephratah, though thou bee little among the thousands of Iudah, yet out of thee shall he come foorth vnto mee, that is to be ruler in Israel: whose goings foorth haue bene from of old, from euerlasting.
3 Therefore will hee giue them vp, vntill the time that shee which trauaileth, hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall returne vnto the children of Israel.
4 ¶ And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the Lord, in the Maiestie of the Name of the Lord his God, and they shall abide: for now shall he be great vnto the ends of the earth.
5 And this man shall bee the peace when the Assyrian shall come into our land: and when hee shall tread in our palaces, then shall we raise against him seuen Shepheards, and eight principall men.
6 And they shall waste the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod in the entrances thereof: thus shall hee deliuer vs from the Assyrian, when he commeth into our land, and when hee treadeth within our borders.
7 And the remnant of Iacob shall be in the midst of many people, as a dew from the Lord, as the showres vpon the grasse that tarieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sonnes of men.
8 ¶ And the remnant of Iacob shal be among the Gentiles in the middest of many people, as a Lyon among the beasts of the forrest, as a yong Lyon among the flockes of sheepe: who if he goe through, both treadeth downe, and teareth in pieces, and none can deliuer.
9 Thine hand shall be lift vp vpon thine aduersaries, and all thine enemies shalbe cut off.
10 And it shall come to passe in that day, sayth the Lord, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy charets.
11 And I will cut off the cities of thy land, and throw downe all thy strong holdes.
12 And I will cut off witchcrafts out of thine hand, and thou shalt haue no more Southsayers.
13 Thy grauen images also will I cut off, and thy standing images out of the midst of thee: & thou shalt no more worship the worke of thine hands.
14 And I will plucke vp thy groues out of the middest of thee: so will I destroy thy cities.
15 And I will execute vengeance in anger, and furie vpon the heathen, such as they haue not heard.
The birth of Christ and conversion of the Gentiles. (1-6) The triumphs of Israel. (7-15)1-6 Having showed how low the house of David would be brought, a prediction of the Messiah and his kingdom is added to encourage the faith of God's people. His existence from eternity as God, and his office as Mediator, are noticed. Here is foretold that Bethlehem should be his birthplace. Hence it was universally known among the Jews, #Mt 2:5|. Christ's government shall be very happy for his subjects; they shall be safe and easy. Under the shadow of protection from the Assyrians, is a promise of protection to the gospel church and all believers, from the designs and attempts of the powers of darkness. Christ is our Peace as a Priest, making atonement for sin, and reconciling us to God; and he is our Peace as a King, conquering our enemies: hence our souls may dwell at ease in him. Christ will find instruments to protect and deliver. Those that threaten ruin to the church of God, soon bring ruin on themselves. This may include the past powerful effects of the preached gospel, its future spread, and the ruin of all antichristian powers. This is, perhaps, the most important single prophecy in the Old Testament: it respects the personal character of the Messiah, and the discoveries of himself to the world. It distinguishes his human birth from his existing from eternity; it foretells the rejection of the Israelites and Jews for a season, their final restoration, and the universal peace to prevail through the whole earth in the latter days. In the mean time let us trust our Shepherd's care and power. If he permits the assault of our enemies, he will supply helpers and assistance for us.
7-15 The remnant of Israel, converted to Christ in the primitive times, were among many nations as the drops of dew, and were made instruments in calling a large increase of spiritual worshippers. But to those who neglected or opposed this salvation, they would, as lions, cause terror, their doctrine condemning them. The Lord also declares that he would cause not only the reformation of the Jews, but the purification of the Christian church. In like manner shall we be assured of victory in our personal conflicts, as we simply depend upon the Lord our salvation, worship him, and serve him with diligence.
Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.