Zephaniah 3:9 MEANING

Zephaniah 3:9
Verses 9-20. - Part III. PROMISE OF THE CONVERSION OF THE WORLD AND THE HAPPINESS OF ISRAEL. Verses 9, 10. - § 1. The heathen shall be converted, and shall help in the restoration of Israel. Verse 9. - Will I turn to the people (peoples) a pure language (lip). When his judgments have done their work, God will bring the heathen to the knowledge of him. He will purify their lips, which have been polluted with the names of idols and the worship offered to false gods (Psalm 16:4; Hosea 2:17); the confusion of Babel shall be done away, and all shall speak the language of faith in one God. This, of course, points to Messianic times. For "pure lip," the Vulgate has, labium electum; the LXX., by a mistake of a letter (bhedurah for bherurah), γλῶσσαν εἰς γενεὰν αὐτῆς (so. γῆς), "a tongue for her generation." With one consent; literally, with one shoulder; ὑπὸ ζυγὸν ἕνα, "under one yoke" (Septuagint); humero uno (Vulgate). The metaphor implies that all will help to carry the same burden, and to accomplish the same work, bearing the gospel throughout the world, and being all of one mind in the service of Jehovah (Jeremiah 32:39; Isaiah 19:23, 24; Revelation 11:15).

3:8-13 The preaching of the gospel is predicted, when vengeance would be executed on the Jewish nation. The purifying doctrines of the gospel, or the pure language of the grace of the Lord, would teach men to use the language of humility, repentance, and faith. Purity and piety in common conversation is good. The pure and happy state of the church in the latter days seems intended. The Lord will shut out boasting, and leave men nothing to glory in, save the Lord Jesus, as made of God to them wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Humiliation for sin, and obligations to the Redeemer, will make true believers upright and sincere, whatever may be the case among mere professors.For then will I turn to the people a pure language,.... That is, at or about the time of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans; when the Jews, both in their own land, and in the Gentile world, would have the Gospel first preached to them, but would reject it; upon which the apostles and first ministers of the word would turn to the Gentiles, as the Lord commanded them; when he would turn or change his speech and language towards them, and their speech and language towards him would be turned and changed also: for the words may be taken either way; either of God's speech to the Gentiles, which is his Gospel sent unto them; as it was quickly after Christ's resurrection from the dead, and the rejection of it by the Jews; for many hundred years the Lord took no notice of them; winked at the times of their ignorance; sent no prophet to them, nor any message by anyone to instruct them; yea, he spake roughly to them, in a providential way; in the way of his judgments; particularly they raging and imagining vain things against his Messiah, he spake to them in his wrath, and vexed them in his sore displeasure; see Acts 17:30 but now he alters the tone of his voice, changes his language, and sends his Gospel to them; which is a "language" of love, grace, and mercy; of peace, pardon, righteousness, and salvation; encouraging souls to believe in Christ for those things: and this is a "pure" speech or language; a pure doctrine, fetched out of the sacred Scriptures; free from the dross of error; unmixed, consistent, and all of a piece; and which has a tendency to promote purity of heart, life, and conversation: or, is a "choice speech" (h); as some render it; it speaks of choice things, more valuable than gold and silver, pearls, and precious stones; the doctrines of it being an inestimable treasure, the unsearchable riches of Christ; and this, by the commission of Christ, upon his resurrection from the dead, was ordered to be spoke unto all nations, Matthew 28:19 or this may respect the different language spoken by the converted Gentiles, when the Gospel should come with power to them; who should speak, as all converted persons do, a different language than they spake before; instead of swearing and cursing, lying, filthy, and frothy speaking, now they speak the language of repentance towards God, confessing their sins, and praying for the pardon of them; the language of faith in Christ, first in a more weak and feeble manner, then with more strength and assurance, believing their interest in him, and in the everlasting love of God, and the covenant of grace; the language of love to Christ, his people, truths, and ordinances; a soul abasing, Christ exalting, and free grace magnifying language; the language of praise and gratitude for mercies received, temporal and spiritual; and especially for Christ, and grace and glory by him: they then speak the language of gracious experience to one another; and in the language of the Scriptures, in the taught words of the Holy Ghost; and, in common conversation, their language is pure, and free from that corruption and vitiosity it was before tainted with: this arises from pureness of heart; from a rich experience of the grace of God; from the teachings of the Spirit of God; and which betrays a man, and shows that he has been with Jesus; this is the language of Canaan, Isaiah 19:18,

that they may all call upon the name of the Lord; which sometimes takes in the whole worship and service of God; but, since that is later expressed, it rather intends, in particular, prayer to God; for which men are fitted and qualified, by having a pure language turned to them; or through the Gospel coming with power on them; and by virtue of efficacious grace converting them, and causing them to speak differently from what they did before; and then it is their voice is heard in prayer to God; and which is delightful and pleasant to him, Acts 9:11 and this is the case of "all" such that have this pure language; there is not a prayerless soul among them: it follows,

to serve him with one consent; or, "with one shoulder" (i); the allusion is, either to bearers of burdens, that join together in carrying any burden, who put shoulder to shoulder as they carry it; or else to oxen drawing in a yoke, who are yoked together shoulder by shoulder; hence the Septuagint version renders it "under one yoke": in which it is followed by the Syriac and Arabic versions. The phrase signifies, that the Gentiles having the Gospel brought to them, and they called by it, and all speaking the same language, should join in fellowship with one another, and sing the praises of God together; agree in prayer to ask of God the same things; stand fast in the faith of the Gospel, and strive for it, being of the same mind; meet constantly together to carry on the several branches of religious worship, and promote the Redeemer's interest; all drawing the same way, like a company of horses in Pharaoh's chariots; having one heart, and one way given them to fear the Lord; and so, with one mind and one mouth, glorify God; so Kimchi and Ben Melech interpret it with one heart and one mind. This passage is applied to the times of the Messiah by the Jews, ancient and modern (k).

(h) "labium electum", Pagninus, Drusius. (i) "humero uno", V. L. Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius. (k) Zohar in Gen. fol. 74. 1. Maimon. Hilchot Melachim, c. 11. sect. 5. Aben Ezra in Psal. cxlix. 7.

Courtesy of Open Bible