Verse 13. Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion. He firmly believed and boldly prophesied that apparent inaction on God's part would turn to effective working. Others might remain sluggish in the matter, but the Lord would most surely bestir himself. Zion had been chosen of old, highly favoured, gloriously inhabited, and wondrously preserved, and therefore by the memory of her past mercies it was certain that mercy would again be showed to her. God will not always leave his church in a low condition; he may for a while hide himself from her in chastisement, to make her see her nakedness and poverty apart from himself, but in love he must return to her, and stand up in her defence, to work her welfare.
For the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come. Divine decree has appointed a season for blessing the church, and when that period has arrived, blessed she shall be. There was an appointed time for the Jews in Babylon, and when the weeks were fulfilled, no bolts nor bars could longer imprison the ransomed of the Lord. When the time came for the walls to rise stone by stone, no Tobiah or Sanballat could stay the work, for the Lord himself had arisen, and who can restrain the hand of the Almighty? When God's own time is come, neither Rome, nor the devil, nor persecutors, nor atheists, can prevent the kingdom of Christ from extending its bounds. It is God's work to do it; -- he must "arise"; he will do it, but he has his own appointed season; and meanwhile we must, with holy anxiety and believing expectation, wait upon him.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 13. Thou shalt arise, and have mercy, etc. Tu miserebere, "Thou shalt," as the Shunamite to the prophet, catching hold on his feet, though Gehazi thrust her away, Vivit Dominus, "As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not let thee go;" and, as Jacob to the angel, when he had wrestled the whole night with him, Non dimittam, I will not let thee loose till I have a blessing from thee. From "A Sermon at Paules Crosse on behalfe of Paules Church, March 26, 1620. By the B. of London" John King.
Verse 13. The set time. There is a certain set time for God's great actions. He lets the powers of darkness have their hour, and God will take his hour. He hath a set time for the discovery of his mercy, and he will not stay a jot beyond it. What is this time? Psalms 102:9 , etc. When they "eat ashes like bread, and mingle their drink with weeping;" when they are most humble, and when the servants of God have moral affection to the church; when their humble and ardent affections are strong, even to the ruin and rubbish of it; when they have a mighty desire and longing for the reparation of it, as the Jews in captivity had for the very dust of the temple: Psalms 102:14 : "For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof." "For" there notes it to be a reason why the set time was judged by them to be come. That is God's set time when the church is most believing, most humble, most affectionate to God's interest in it, and most sincere. Without faith we are not fit to desire mercy, without humility we are not fit to receive it, without affection we are not fit to value it, without sincerity we are not fit to improve it. Times of extremity contribute to the growth and exercise of these qualifications. Stephen Charnock.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 13-14. The interest of the Lord's people in the concerns of Zion one of the surest signs of her returning prosperity.