Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the Lord
Take heart, be of good courage, do not be dismayed at these things; though, the building may be contemptible in the eyes of some, nevertheless go on with it manfully and vigorously; let, none despise the day of small things; for from these low beginnings great things will arise, and glorious things will follow, as hereafter predicted; see ( Zechariah 4:9 Zechariah 4:10 ) attend this, work diligently, desist not from it, continue to preside over it, and encourage the people in it; let not thine heart faint, or thine hands be slack; act the part of man, of a good man, and of a governor: and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech the high priest;
do not be disheartened at what the ancients think and say concerning this temple, in which thou art to officiate as a high priest; and as a type of him who shall come into this house, and so give it a glory the former never had; continue to give the necessary instructions to the builders, that everything may be done in proper order, and to answer their end and use in the service of the priesthood; faint not, nor be discouraged, but act according to thy character, and show thyself worthy of the office with which thou art invested; consider in whose name thou actest?, whose priest thou art, and in whose service thou art employed: and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the Lord;
let not your hearts sink, or spirits fail, at hearing what the more ancient among you say of the difference between this and the former building, which your eyes never saw; do not desist from your work on this account, but go on with it; consider what God has done for you, in bringing you out of captivity, and into your own land, and to the enjoyment of your civil privileges; consider the obligations you lie under to build a house for God; that this is not only a piece of gratitude, and shows a sense of mercies received; but that it is for the glory of God, for your spiritual profit and advantage, and for the use and good of future posterity; quit yourselves therefore like men, and be strong; see ( Joshua 1:6 Joshua 1:7 Joshua 1:9 ) ( 1 Corinthians 16:13 ) : and work;
that is, continue working, for they were at work; but there was danger of their leaving off working, being discouraged at what the ancient people said; and therefore they are exhorted to go on in their work, and go through it, and finish it; for so the word here used signifies, "and do" F5; that is, the work thoroughly and effectually; or, as others render it, "and perfect" F6 the work begun, and leave it not unfinished. Aben Ezra, Jarchi, Kimchi, and Ben Melech, connect this word with the beginning of the following verse, thus, "and do the word, or thing, which I covenanted with you" ( Haggai 2:5 ) ; that is, observe the law, and do the commandment then given; but very wrongly: nor is it only to be considered as directed to the people, but to the prince and priest also; for they had all work to do in the house of the Lord, as all ranks and degrees of men now have in the church of Christ; of which that house was typical: the prince or civil magistrate, not to prescribe laws and rules to be observed in it, which only belongs to Christ, who is the sole Head, King, and Lawgiver; but to attend the service of it, to protect and defend it, to promote the interest of it, and distribute cheerfully to the maintenance of its ministers, and to the necessities of the poor saints. Priests or ministers of the word are to work; they are to labour in the word and doctrine; in preaching the Gospel; administering ordinances; governing the church; comforting saints; reproving vice, and refuting error: deacons are to do their work, in taking care of the poor, and minding the secular affairs of the church: and all private Christians are to work, to labour in prayer for the good of it; to hear the word, attend on all ordinances, and hold fast the profession of their faith; all which is to be done in the strength and grace of Christ, without dependence on it, or seeking justification and salvation by it; encouraged, as the Jews are here, with the promise of the divine Presence: for I [am] with you, saith the Lord of hosts;
to help in every service, and to protect from all enemies; and this makes the work and service of the Lord's house pleasant and delightful, and secures from all doubts and fears, faintings and misgivings of heart. This is to be understood of God the Father, the Lord of armies above and below; and if he is for and with his people, they have nothing to fear from those that are against them; or to be discouraged in his service. The Targum wrongly interprets this of the Word of the Lord, since he is meant in the next verse ( Haggai 2:5 ) .