For, lo, I will command
What follows; which is expressive of afflictive and trying dispensations of Providence, which are according to the will of God, by his appointment and order, and overruled for his glory, and the good of his people: and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, as [corn] is
sifted in a sieve;
this is to be understood of spiritual Israel, of those who are Israelites indeed, who are like to corns of wheat, first die before they live; die unto sin, and live unto righteousness; grow up gradually, and produce much fruit; or like to wheat for their choiceness and excellency, being the chosen of God and precious, and the excellent in the earth; and their whiteness and purity, as clothed with Christ's righteousness washed in his blood, and sanctified by his Spirit; and for their substance and fulness, being filled out of Christ's fulness, and with all the fulness of God, with the Spirit and his graces, and with all the fruits of righteousness; and for weight and solidity, not as chaff driven to and fro, but are firm and constant, settled and established, in divine things; and yet have the chaff of sin cleaving to them, and have need of the flail and fan of affliction; and this is the sieve the Lord takes into his hands, and sifts them with; whereby sometimes they are greatly unsettled, and tossed to and fro, have no rest and ease, but are greatly distressed on all sides, and are thoroughly searched and tried, and the chaff loosened and separated from them; and sometimes the Lord suffers them to be sifted by the temptations of Satan, whereby they are brought into doubts and fears, and are very wavering and uncomfortable, are sadly harassed and buffeted, and in great danger, were it not for the grace of God, and the intercession of the Mediator, ( Luke 22:31 ) ; yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth;
or, "the least stone" F16; which is in the spiritual building, and laid on the rock and foundation Christ; or the least corn of wheat, so called because of its weight, solidity, and substance. The meaning is, that the least true Israelite, or child of God, who is the least in the kingdom of heaven, and has the least share of grace and spiritual knowledge, that is even less than the least of all saints, shall not be lost and perish; though they fall in Adam, yet they are preserved in Christ; though they fall into actual sins and transgressions, and sometimes into gross ones, and from a degree of steadfastness in the faith, yet not totally and finally, or so as to perish for ever; no, not a hair of their head shall fall to the ground, or they be hurt and ruined; see ( 1 Samuel 14:45 ) ( 1 Kings 1:52 ) ; for they are beloved of God with an everlasting love, ordained, by him to eternal life, adopted into his family, justified by his grace, and are kept by his power, according to his promise, which never fails; they are Christ's property, given him of his Father, to whom he stands in the relation of Head and Husband; are the purchase of his blood, closely united to him, and for whom he intercedes, and makes preparations in heaven. The Spirit of God is their sanctifier and sealer; he dwells in them as their earnest of heaven; and the glory of all the divine Persons is concerned in their salvation; hence it is that not one of them shall ever perish.
F16 (rwru) "lapillus", Pagninus, Montanus, Mercerus, Munster, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Drusius, Cocceius; so Ben Melech.