Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion - This refers to the subject of the preceding verse. When God shall have gathered together all thy enemies, as into the threshing-floor, he will give thee commission and power to get a complete victory over them, and reduce them to servitude. And that thou mayest be able to do this, he will be on thy side as a powerful helper; here signified by the metaphors, iron horns, and brazen hoofs. Thou shalt have power, authority, and unconquerable strength; for thine enemies shall be no more against thee than the corn against oxen shod with brass, or a puny animal against the horn of a fierce bull tipped with iron.
I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord - What they have taken from thee in the way of spoil shall be restored; and again consecrated unto the service of him who will show himself to be the Lord, the Supreme Governor of the whole earth. Was not this prediction fulfilled when Cyrus gave the Jews permission to return to their own land, and gave them back the sacred vessels of the temple which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away? The Maccabees and their successors recovered much of the booty of which the neighboring nations had deprived the Jews; and the treasure taken was devoted to Jehovah. The first verse of the next chapter should conclude this.
Arise - (It may be,) from the dust in which they were lying, “I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass.” Threshing in the East is partly with oxen, partly with wheels of iron, or with planks set with sharp flints on an open place made hard to this end. The prophet joins another image, with this and represents Judah as being by God endued with strength, first as with a “horn of iron” 1 Kings 22:11 to cast the enemy to the ground, and then with “hoofs of brass,” wherewith to trample them to dust, as the stubble and chaff. “And I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord,” that is, to Myself; the Lord gathered them into the floor by His Providence; the Lord gave His people strength to subdue them; and now, in His own Person, He says, I will complete My own work.
The very image of the “threshing” implies that this is no mere destruction. While the stubble is “beaten” or bruised to small pieces, and the chaff is far more than the wheat, and is carried out of the floor, there yet remains the seed-corn. So in the great judgments of God, while most is refuse, there yet remains over, what is severed from the lost heap and wholly “consecrated” to Him. Whatever things were the object of the חרם chêrem Leviticus 27:28 or “thing devoted to the Lord,” could not be redeemed, but must remain wholly the Lord‘s. If it had life, it was to be put to death 1 Corinthians 10:11. And so the whole section fits wonderfully with the condition of the single soul. “She who halteth” (Rib.) “the soul, who would serve God, yet not so as wholly to give up the service of the world, which it had in Baptism renounced, who, after it had gone astray like a lost sheep, and been scattered amid the manifoldness of earthly things, was gathered again into the fold, to love One only, long for One only, give itself to One,” its Good Shepherd, and over it the Lord reigneth forever, if, taught by experience the deceitfulness of Satan‘s promises, and stung by the sense of its own thanklessness and vileness, and conscious of the peril of self confidence, it abideth more closely than others with God. He shall gather her that is driven out, that is,, “He shall restore her, from whom He had, for the time, withdrawn His grace,” and her that was afflicted, trouble being God‘s most effectual instrument, in recalling the soul to Himself. “For the Lord raiseth them that are bowed down” Psalm 146:8.
And will make her that halteth, a remnant, placing her among the elect and holy, and her that was cast off strong; for Christ giveth oft to such souls great richness of divine graces, so that “where sin abounded, grace” should “much more abound” Romans 5:20. Rib.: “To it, when enlightened and purified by affliction and by repentance, it is promised, that its Lord, the Great King, shall come to it, and again reign in it, which is the great bliss of souls in grace. For then doth the soul really reign, when it submits wholly to Christ, whom to serve is to reign, and so, under Him, receives power to command its wrong desires, and rule itself;” that great and wonderful power which the Evangelist expresses in words so brief, “To them gave He power to become the sons of God” John 1:12. Thus He maketh it strong, so that “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, can separate it from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” Romans 8:38-39.
Then, “he describes the condition of the soul fluctuating between good and evil, called one way by God through inward inspirations, and another way by the enticements and habits of sin. And, wishing to follow God, yet not to be without its sinful pleasures, and knowing this to be impossible, it is in anguish and hesitates. Her the prophet justly rebukes, ‹why thus cry aloud, as though thou must be led captive by the Devil, not knowing or unable to extricate thyself? Hast thou no King, aided by whose power, thou mayest fight against all enticements, habit, the flesh?‘ Paul felt this and cried aloud, “I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Romans 7:23-24. You see his grief. But he despairs not. He knows that he has a King. I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Or why grievest thou, as if thou hadst no “counsellor,” by whose counsels to free thee from these snares? “Thy Counsellor” indeed “perished” on the Cross, but for thy sake, that thou mayest live.
He died, to destroy him who hath the power of death. But He rose the third day and is still with thee; at the Right Hand of the Father He still reigns Immortal forever. See how many counsels He has left thee in the Gospel, how many admonitions, whereby thou mayest lead a happy and tranquil life. Now “pain seizes thee like a woman in travail.” For such a soul travails, having conceived inspirations from God, which it wishes to obey, but that the flesh, overcome by concupiscence, resists, and so it never brings forth, nor experiences that joy, whereof the Lord speaketh, “When she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world” John 16:21. Wherefore he adds; be in pain, for thou art indeed in travail; thou wilt not cease to be in pain, until thou bring forth. Thou wilt go forth, etc. “God, by a provision of His great mercy, allows lukewarm souls, who will be at no pains to gain grace, to fall into foulest sins, in order that, owning at last their misery, they may cease to be lukewarm, and with great ardor of soul may embrace virtue. For, warned by the result, they understand that they themselves emboldened the tempter, (for he chiefly attacks the lukewarm and remiss,) and they become ardent in the conflict and in well-doing.”
Wherefore he says, thou shalt go forth out of the city, that City of God, whereof He is the Builder and Maker Hebrews 11:10, which is gladdened by the river of His spirit; “and it dwells in the open field, unprotected, ready to be a prey, in the broad way of its own concupiscences, out of the narrow road which leadeth to life, and goeth even to Babylon, the city of ‹confusion,‘ in tumult and din and unrest, and the distractions of this life.” Yet even there shall it be delivered, like the poor Prodigal, who came to himself in a far country, when worn out by its hard service. Even there it must not despair, but remember, with him, its Father‘s house, its former home, the Heavenly Jerusalem. Its pains within or without, whereby it is brought back, are travail-pains. Though all is dark, it must not say, I have no Counsellor. For its Redeemer‘s Name is “Counsellor” Isaiah 9:6, “one Counsellor of a thousand” (Psalm 35:25, and hosts of devils seek thy utter destruction, and thou seem to be “delivered over” 1 Corinthians 5:5 to them to the destruction of the flesh; yet is it only that the spirit may be saved in the Day of the Lord. Even Satan, when he is tormenting souls, knows not the thoughts of the Lord, nor understands His counsels, how, by the very pain which he inflicts, God is bidding: them, Rise and (Rib.) “look up to heaven and long for heavenly things and trample on all which they had hitherto foully served, honor or vain glory or covetousness or lust;” how He will exalt their horn in the Lord, make it strong as iron that they should do all things through Christ in strengthening them, and conquer all through the might of Christ; how He should bruise Satan under their feet shortly, and they consecrate wholly to God their whole strength, every power of soul and body which hitherto had been the adversary‘s.