1Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower which is at the head of the lush valleys of those who are overcome with wine!2Behold, the Lord is a mighty and strong one, like a hailstorm, a destroying storm; like a flood of mighty waters overflowing, He casts down to the earth with the hand.3The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trampled under foot;4and the glorious beauty at the head of the lush valley shall be a fading flower, and as the first-ripe fruit before the summer; which, the one looking at it swallows up while it is yet in his hand.5In that day Jehovah of Hosts shall be for a crown of glory and for a diadem of beauty to the rest of His people,6and for a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment, and for strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate. 7But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink have gone astray. The priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink; they are swallowed up by wine; they have gone astray through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment. 8For all tables are full of vomit and excrement; no place is clean. 9To whom shall He teach knowledge? And whom shall He make to understand the message? Those weaned from the milk and removed from the breasts. 10For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, there a little; 11for with stammering lips and another tongue He will speak to this people.12To whom He said, This is the rest; cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing. Yet they were not willing to hear.13But the Word of Jehovah was to them, Precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, there a little; that they might go and fall backward, and be broken and snared and caught.14Therefore hear the Word of Jehovah, you scornful men who rule this people in Jerusalem.15Because you have said, We have made a covenant with death, and we have made an agreement with Sheol; when the overflowing scourge shall have gone and passed through, it shall not come upon us; for we have made lies our refuge, and we have hidden ourselves under falsehood.16Therefore thus says the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I have founded in Zion a Stone, a tried Stone, a precious Cornerstone, a sure Foundation; he who trusts in It shall not be anxious.17Also I will make justice the measuring line, and righteousness the plummet; and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.18And your covenant with death shall be covered over, and your agreement with Sheol shall not stand; when the overwhelming scourge shall pass through, then you shall be trampled down by it.19From the time that it goes out it shall take you; for morning by morning it shall pass over, by day and by night; and it shall be a terror just to understand the report.20For the bed is too short to stretch out on, and the cover is too narrow to wrap oneself in it.21For Jehovah shall rise up as at Mount Perazim; He will be angry as in the valley of Gibeon, so that He may do His deeds, His strange deeds; and bring to pass His works, His unusual works.22So then do not be mockers, lest your bonds be made strong; for I have heard from the Lord Jehovah of Hosts that an annihilation is decreed upon the whole earth.23Give ear and hear my voice; listen, and hear my speech.24Does the plowman plow all day to sow? Does he loosen and harrow his ground?25When he has leveled its surface, does he not scatter the black cumin and sprinkle the cumin, and plant the wheat in rows and mark off the barley and spelt in their boundaries?26For God instructs him to do right; and teaches him.27For the black cumin is not threshed with a threshing instrument, nor is a cart wheel turned on cumin; but the black cumin is beaten out with a stick and the cumin with a rod.28Bread flour is ground. But one does not continue treading and threshing it; nor does he destroy it with his cart wheel; nor pulverize it with his horse.29This also comes forth from Jehovah of Hosts, who is wonderful in counsel, and excels in sound wisdom.
Matthew Henry - Concise Commentary 1
What men are proud of, be it ever so mean, is to them as a crown; but pride is the forerunner of destruction. How foolishly drunkards act! Those who are overcome with wine are overcome by Satan; and there is not greater drudgery in the world than hard drinking. Their health is ruined; men are broken in their callings and estates, and their families are ruined by it. Their souls are in danger of being undone for ever, and all merely to gratify a base lust. In God's professing people, like Israel, it is worse than in any other. And he is just in taking away the plenty they thus abuse. The plenty they were proud of, is but a fading flower. Like the early fruit, which, as soon as discovered, is plucked and eaten. 5
The prophet next turns to Judah, whom he calls the residue of his people. Happy are those alone, who glory in the Lord of hosts himself. Hence his people get wisdom and strength for every service and every conflict. But it is only in Christ Jesus that the holy God communicates with sinful man. And whether those that teach are drunk with wine, or intoxicated with false doctrines and notions concerning the kingdom and salvation of the Messiah, they not only err themselves, but lead multitudes astray. All places where such persons have taught are filled with errors. For our instruction in the things of God, it is needful that the same precept and the same line should be often repeated to us, that we may the better understand them. God, by his word, calls us to what is really for our advantage; the service of God is the only true rest for those weary of the service of sin, and there is no refreshment but under the easy yoke of the Lord Jesus. All this had little effect upon the people. Those who will not understand what is plain, but scorn and despise it as mean and trifling, are justly punished. If we are at peace with God, we have, in effect, made a covenant with death; whenever it comes, it cannot do us any real damage, if we are Christ's. But to think of making death our friend, while by sin we are making God our enemy, is absurd. And do not they make lies their refuge who trust in their own righteousness, or to a death-bed repentance? which is a resolution to sin no more, when it is no longer in their power to do so. 16
Here is a promise of Christ, as the only foundation of hope for escaping the wrath to come. This foundation was laid in Zion, in the eternal counsels of God. This foundation is a stone, firm and able to support his church. It is a tried stone, a chosen stone, approved of God, and never failed any who made trial of it. A corner stone, binding together the whole building, and bearing the whole weight; precious in the sight of the Lord, and of every believer; a sure foundation on which to build. And he who in any age or nation shall believe this testimony, and rest all his hopes, and his never-dying soul on this foundation, shall never be confounded. The right effect of faith in Christ is, to quiet and calm the soul, till events shall be timed by Him, who has all times in his own hand and power. Whatever men trust to for justification, except the righteousness of Christ; or for wisdom, strength, and holiness, except the influences of the Holy Ghost; or for happiness, except the favour of God; that protection in which they thought to shelter themselves, will prove not enough to answer the intention. Those who rest in a righteousness of their own, will have deceived themselves: the bed is too short, the covering too narrow. God will be glorified in the fulfilling of his counsels. If those that profess to be members of God's church, make themselves like Philistines and Canaanites, they must expect to be dealt with as such. Then dare not to ridicule the reproofs of God's word, or the approaches of judgements. 23
The husbandman applies to his calling with pains and prudence, in all the works of it according to their nature. Thus the Lord, who has given men this wisdom, is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in his working. As the occasion requires, he threatens, corrects, spares, shows mercy, or executes vengeance. Afflictions are God's threshing instruments, to loosen us from the world, to part between us and our chaff, and to prepare us for use. God will proportion them to our strength; they shall be no heavier than there is need. When his end is answered, the trials and sufferings of his people shall cease; his wheat shall be gathered into the garner, but the chaff shall be burned with unquenchable fire.