Verse 63. The fire consumed their young men. As fire slew Nadab and Abihu literally, so the fire of divine wrath fell on the sons of Eli, who defiled the sanctuary of the Lord, and the like fire, in the form of war, consumed the flower of the people.
And their maidens were not given to marriage. No nuptial hymn were sung, the bride lacked her bridegroom, the edge of the sword had cut the bands of their espousals, and left unmarried those who else had been extolled in hymns and congratulations. Thus Israel was brought very low, she could not find husbands for her maids, and therefore her state was not replenished; no young children clustered around parental knees. The nation had failed in its solemn task of instructing the young in the fear of Jehovah, and it was a fitting judgment that the very production of a posterity should be endangered.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 63. The fire consumed their young men. Fire here may be regarded as an image of destructive war, as in Numbers 21:28 . "For there is a fire gone out of Heshbon, a flame from the city of Sihon: it hath consumed Ar of Moab," etc. Albert Barnes.
Verse 63. (first clause). When religion is overthrown among God's people, let not the commonwealth think to stand: when God gave his glory unto the enemies' hand, "He gave his people over also unto the sword, and the fire consumed their young men." David Dickson.
Verse 63. Not given in marriage. Not praised: viz. they had not been honoured with nuptial songs according to the custom of those times; see Jeremiah 7:34 16:9 25:10. The meaning is, they had not been honourably married, because men were grown scarce by reason of the wars, Isaiah 4:1 Jeremiah 21:22 . Or, they had been married without any solemnity like poor bondwomen; or privately, as in the time of public calamities. John Diodati.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS