1 Woe is me! For I am as when they have gathered the summer fruits, as the grape-gleanings of the vintage. There is no cluster to eat. My soul desired the first ripe fruit.
2 The godly man has perished from the earth and there is no one upright among men. They all lie in wait for blood. They each hunt his brother with a net.
3 Their hands are upon that which is evil to do it thoroughly. The prince and also the judge ask for a reward. And the great man, he utters the evil desire of his soul. Thus they weave it together.
4 The best of them is as a brier. The most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge. The day of your watchmen and your visitation comes. Now shall be their perplexity.
5 Do not trust in a friend. Do not put confidence in a guide. Keep the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your bosom.
6 For the son dishonors the father, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man's enemies are the men of his own house.
7 Therefore, I will look to the LORD. I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.
8 Do not rejoice against me, O my enemy. When I fall, I shall arise. When I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me.
9 I will bear the indignation of the LORD, because I have sinned against him, until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me. He will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness.
10 Then she who is my enemy shall see it, and shame shall cover her who said to me, "Where is the LORD your God?" My eyes shall behold her. Now she shall be trodden down as the mire of the streets.
11 In the day that your walls are to be built, in that day the decree shall be far removed.
12 In that day they shall also come even to you from Assyria and from the fortified cities and from the fortress even to the river, from sea to sea and from mountain to mountain.
13 But the land shall be desolate because of those who dwell in it, for the fruit of their doings.
14 Feed your people with your rod, the flock of your heritage, who dwell solitarily in the wood, in the midst of Carmel. Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old.
15 "According to the days of your departure from the land of Egypt I will show to them marvelous things."
16 The nations shall see and be confounded at all their might. They shall lay their hand upon their mouth. Their ears shall be deaf.
17 They shall lick the dust like a serpent. They shall move out of their holes like worms of the earth. They shall be afraid of the LORD our God and shall fear because of you.
18 Who is a God like you, who pardons iniquity and passes by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He does not retain his anger forever because he delights in mercy.
19 He will return. He will have compassion upon us. He will tread our iniquities under foot. And you will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
20 You will give the truth to Jacob and the mercy to Abraham, which you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old.
John Gill's Chapter Summary:
This chapter begins with a lamentation of the prophet, in the name of the church and people of God, concerning the general depravity and corruption of the times in which he lived (verses 1-6); then declares what he was determined to do for his relief in such circumstances, (verse 7); comforts himself and the church with a good hope and firm belief of its being otherwise and better with them, to the shame and confusion of their enemies that now rejoiced, though without just reason for it (verses 8-10); with promises of deliverance, after a desolation of the land for some time (verses 11-13); and with the answer returned to the prayers of the prophet (verses 14-15); which would issue in the astonishment of the world, and their subjection to the church of God (verses 16-17); and the chapter is concluded with admiration at the pardoning grace and mercy of God, and his faithfulness to his promises (verses 18-20).
[v.1] - "when they have gathered the summer fruits" - Literally, "the gatherings of summer."
[v.2] - "godly" - Or, "merciful."
[v.3a] - "the great man" - That is, the rich man.
[v.3b] - "Thus they weave it together" - In other words, the rich and the judges conspired together. This collusion ties in with the beginning of the verse so that their evil, their perverted justice, would be thoroughly executed.
John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 6:15-7:4:
Grant, Almighty God, that seeing that we are born in a most corrupt age, in which such a license is taken to indulge in wickedness, that hardly a spark of virtue appears,— O grant, that we may yet continue upright in the midst of thorns; and may you so constantly keep us under the guidance of your Word, that we may cultivate true piety, and also what is just toward our neighbors: and as there is in us no power to preserve ourselves safe, grant that your Son may so protect us by the power of the Holy Spirit, that we may continue to advance toward the end of our course, until we be at length gathered into that celestial kingdom, which he has procured for us by his own blood. Amen.
[v.6] - Quoted in Matthew 10:35-36.
[v.8] - Reference, Proverbs 24:16; 1st John 5:4.
[v.9a] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "Whoever then is really conscious of his sins, renders himself at the same time obedient to God, and submits himself altogether to his will. Thus repentance does ever of itself lead to the bearing of the cross; so that he who sets himself before God's tribunal allows himself to be at the same time chastised, and bears punishment with a submissive mind: as the ox, that is tamed, always takes the yoke without any resistance, so also is he prepared who is really touched with the sense of his sins, to bear any punishment which God may be pleased to inflict on him."
[v.9b] - "indignation" - "This means a stormy anger or displeasure, which agitates and raises tempests, and such were the calamities which came on the Jewish nation." —John Owen
John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 5-9:
Grant, Almighty God, that seeing we are at this day surrounded by so many miseries; indeed, wherever we turn our eyes, innumerable evils meet us everywhere, which are so many evidences of your displeasure,— O grant, that we being truly humbled before you, may be enabled at the same time to raise up our eyes to the promises of your free goodness and paternal favor, which you have made to us in your own Son, that we may not doubt, but that you will be propitious to us, inasmuch as you have adopted us as your people: and while our enemies, fully armed, rage and ferociously rise even daily against us, may we not doubt, but that you will be our protection, as you know that we are unjustly troubled by them; and may we thus go on, trusting in your goodness, seeing that we ever groan under the burden of our sins, and daily confess that we are worthy of a thousand deaths before you, were not you pleased in your infinite mercy always to receive and restore us to favor, through your Son our Lord. Amen.
[v.14] - "Feed your people with your rod" - This may also be read as, "Shepherd your people with your staff." Here, God is compared with a shepherd, as he often is (Psalm 23; Isaiah 40:11; Jeremiah 31:10; Ezekiel, ch. 34; Amos 3:12; John 10:11-14). The same word from which rod is translated in this verse also translates to scepter when referring to kings.
John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 10-14:
Grant, Almighty God, that since we have so provoked your displeasure by our sins, that a dreadful waste and solitude appear everywhere,— O grant, that a proof of that favor, which you have so remarkably exhibited towards your ancient people, may shine upon us, so that your Church may be raised up, in which true religion may flourish, and your name be glorified: and may we daily solicit you in our prayers, and never doubt, but that under the government of your Christ, you can again gather together the whole world, though it be miserably dispersed, so that we may persevere in this warfare to the end, until we shall at length know that we have not in vain hoped in you, and that our prayers have not been in vain, when Christ shall exercise the power given to him for our salvation and for that of the whole world. Amen.
[v.16a] - "They shall lay their hand upon their mouth" - That is, they will be silent.
[v.16b] - "Their ears shall be deaf" - That is, they will be astounded and desire not to hear of any new thing—which would only add to their being in shock.
[v.17a] - "They shall lick the dust like a serpent" - That is, they will lie face down on the earth, or prostrate themselves.
[v.17b] - "They shall move out of their holes like worms of the earth." - This can also be read as, "They shall come out of their lurking places like worms and reptiles."
[v.18] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "The Prophet here exclaims that God ought to be glorified especially for this—that he is merciful to his people. When he says, 'Who is God as you are?' he does not mean that there are other gods; for this, strictly speaking, is an improper comparison. But he shows that the true and only God may be distinguished from all idols by this circumstance—that he graciously forgives the sins of his people and bears with their infirmities... This passage teaches us, as I have already reminded you, that the glory of God principally shines in this,— that he is reconcilable, and that he forgives our sins. God indeed manifests his glory both by his power and his wisdom, and by all the judgments which he daily executes; his glory, at the same time, shines forth chiefly in this,— that he is propitious to sinners, and allows himself to be pacified; and, that he not only allows miserable sinners to be reconciled to him, but that he also of his own will invites and anticipates them. Hence then it is evident, that he is the true God. That religion then may have firm roots in our hearts, this must be the first thing in our faith,— that God will ever be reconciled to us; for except we be fully persuaded as to his mercy, no true religion will ever flourish in us, whatever pretensions we may make; for what is said in Psalm 130 is ever true, 'With you is propitiation, that you may be feared.' Hence the fear of God, and the true worship of him, depend on a perception of his goodness and favor; for we cannot from the heart worship God, and there will be, as I have already said, no genuine religion in us, except this persuasion be really and deeply seated in our hearts,— that he is ever ready to forgive, whenever we flee to him."
[v.19a] - "He will return" - "Grotius, Dathius, and Henderson, consider that this verb, placed before another, without a conjunction, expresses only a reiteration; and they render it adverbially, 'again.' But, in this place, it would be better to give it its proper meaning; for as God is said to depart from his people (Hosea 9:12), so he may be said also to return." —John Owen
[v.19b] - "He will tread our iniquities under foot" - In other words, "He will trample our iniquities," or, "He will subdue (or conquer) our iniquities."
[v.20] - "You will give" - From John Calvin's Commentary: "That is, show in reality; for this, to give, is, as it were, to exhibit in effect or really. You will then give, that is, openly show, that you have not been in vain so kind to us and ours, in receiving them into favor. How so? Because the effect of your goodness and truth appears to us."
John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 15-20:
Grant, Almighty God, that as we abound in so many vices, by which we daily provoke your wrath, and as by the testimony of our consciences, we are justly exposed to everlasting death, and even deserve a hundred and even a thousand deaths,— O grant, that we may strive against the unbelief of our flesh, and so embrace your infinite mercy, that we may not doubt but that you will be propitious to us, and yet not abuse this privilege by taking liberty to sin, but with fear, and true humility, and care, so walk according to your word, that we may not hesitate daily to flee to your mercy, that we may thereby be sustained and kept in safety, until having at length put off all vices, and being freed from all sin, we come to your celestial kingdom, to enjoy the fruit of our faith, even that eternal inheritance which has been obtained for us by the blood of your only-begotten Son. Amen.