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This Chapter in its opening, seems to contain a prophecy of the siege and destruction of Jerusalem, and which took place after our Lord's return to glory. Under the figures of two staves the Lord teacheth concerning his Church.
Open thy doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour thy cedars. 2 Howl, fir-tree; for the cedar is fallen; because the mighty is spoiled: howl, O ye oaks of Bashan; for the forest of the vintage is come down. 3 There is a voice of the howling of the shepherds: for their glory is spoiled: a voice of the roaring of young lions: for the pride of Jordan is spoiled.
The thirty pieces of silver, mentioned in this Chapter as the price given for the Almighty Speaker in this Chapter, serves for a key to open and explain the rest. And as the passage is expressly applied to the Lord Jesus Christ, by the Evangelist, we cannot err, if we accept the whole Chapter as principally referring to him. Opening the doors of Lebanon, meaning the Church, serves to shew that the hand of the Lord was in the judgments of Jerusalem. Those gates, which were forever shut against receiving the truths of Jesus, shall now be opened to destruction. But, though this may be, and no doubt is, in relation to temporal things, suited to the description of that event, yet an higher spiritual sense is the first and great object; intended to be conveyed. The heart is to be opened by grace, or broken by judgment. A spirit of judgment, and a spirit of burning, are the great means the Lord makes use of, to melt the hard heart of sinners, and to consume the lusts and affections. Howling, distress, and anguish of soul, will always attend these divine operations, Isaiah 4:4 .
Thus saith the Lord my God; Feed the flock of the slaughter; 5 Whose possessors slay them, and hold themselves not guilty; and they that sell them say, Blessed be the Lord; for I am rich; and their own shepherds pity them not. 6 For I will no more pity the inhabitants of the land, saith the Lord: but, lo, I will deliver the men everyone into his neighbour's hand, and into the hand of his king: and they shall smite the land, and out of their hand I will not deliver them. 7 And I will feed the flock of slaughter, even you, O poor of the flock: and I took unto me two staves: the one I called Beauty, and the other I called Bands; and I fed the flock. 8 Three shepherds also I cut off in one month and my soul loathed them, and their soul also abhorred me. 9 Then said I, I will not feed you: that that dieth, let it die; and that that is to be cut off, let it be cut off, and let the rest eat everyone the flesh of another. 10 And I took my staff, even Beauty, and cut it asunder, that I might break my covenant which I had made with all the people. 11 And it was broken in that day: and so the poor of the flock that waited upon me knew that; it was the word of the Lord.
The flock of the slaughter, plainly means the Lord's people. And as the great ones of the earth oppress them, they are very properly so called. But how sweet and gracious are the expressions of the Lord Jesus. Though their own shepherds regard them not, yet Jesus will. Every oppressed child of God should remember this! Various have been the opinion of learned men, concerning what is meant by the two staves; Beauty and Bands. It hath struck me since I began these observations upon the passage, that by Beauty is meant the Gospel, and by Bands, is meant the Law. For surely a Gospel that proclaims mercy, pardon, and peace, through another's righteousness, and not our own, must be beautiful and engaging to a soul truly convinced of sin, and conscious that he hath no righteousness in him. While, on the other hand, the law, which is the ministration of death, may always be called bands, for we are by nature, and by practice, bound in the chains of it all our lives long, until Christ hath made us free. Reader! can you truly say, and say it with full assurance of faith: Truly, Lord, I am thy servant, thou hast loosed my bonds. Psalms 116:16 . By breaking the staff Beauty, is not meant the Lord's breaking off connection with his people, or lessening the sweet effects of the blessed gospel; but it may mean with-drawings, hidings, corrections, and the like. Psalms 89:30-35 .
And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear: so they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. 13 And the Lord said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord.
Nothing can be clearer, than that this prophecy referred to the person of Christ. See Matthew 27:9 . It is worthy the Reader's remark, that the price a Jewish servant paid, in the case of an ox goring him, or her, was the same. Exodus 21:32 .
Then I cut asunder mine other staff, even Bands, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.
The cutting asunder of the other staff Bands, may serve perhaps to shew, that there can be no lasting amity in the mere obligations of the law. Judah will vex Ephraim, and Ephraim Judah, No union but in Christ and his Gospel.
And the Lord said unto me, Take unto thee yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd. 16 For, lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, which shall not visit those that be cut off, neither shall seek the young one, nor heal that that is broken, nor feed that that standeth still: but he shall eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces. 17 Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.
Foolish shepherds, and idle shepherds, mean one and the same. Unfaithful pastors; ministers for hire and filthy lucre, who are described by Ezekiel at large; Ezekiel 34:0 from beginning to end. The Lord deliver his people from all such! Amen.
Reader! how awful this Chapter begins, and how awful it ends. The doors are to be opened, to burn the whole dwelling that reject Christ; and the foolish shepherd, and the idle, that direct men from Christ, are to beset forth awful, and tremendous examples, of suffering vengeance from God, The sword is to be upon the arm, and upon the right eye; the one sinew shrank, and the other utterly darkened. Lord! in mercy, send pastors, faithful pastors, to thy people, after thine own heart, that shall instruct them with true understanding and knowledge!
Precious Lord Jesus! relieve my soul from such awful contemplations, as unfaithful, idle, and foolish shepherds raise up to the view of thine unequalled Pastorage, men after thine own heart, for care over thy people! And was it so, dearest Lord, that a price so low and contemptible was given for thee, thou Great and Almighty Shepherd! A goodly price indeed, ye Jewish rulers, you gave for my Lord! Lamb of God! be thou to me the pearl of great price! All the riches of the earth are not to be compared to thee, thou Lord of life and glory. Lord! enable me by thy grace, as a goodly merchant-man seeking pearls and finding thee, to go and sell all I have, and purchase thee, without money and without price. And may I be enabled, thou blessed Lord, in beholding the staves of Beauty, and of Bands, to value and prize thine everlasting Gospel, and no longer cleave to a covenant of works. Oh! for help to bless God, that I am not under the law, but under grace, and alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Zechariah 11". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Epiphany