The adversaries of the temple. (1-5) The building of the temple is hindered. (6-24)
Verses 1-5 Every attempt to revive true religion will stir up the opposition of Satan, and of those in whom he works. The adversaries were the Samaritans, who had been planted in the ( 2 Kings 17 ) unite in the worship of the Lord, according to his word. Let those who discourage a good work, and weaken them that are employed in it, see whose pattern they follow.
Verses 6-24 It is an old slander, that the prosperity of the church would be hurtful to kings and princes. Nothing can be more false, for true godliness teaches us to honour and obey our sovereign. But where the command of God requires one thing and the law of the land another, we must obey God rather than man, and patiently submit to the consequences. All who love the gospel should avoid all appearance of evil, lest they should encourage the adversaries of the church. The world is ever ready to believe any accusation against the people of God, and refuses to listen to them. The king suffered himself to be imposed upon by these frauds and falsehoods. Princes see and hear with other men's eyes and ears, and judge things as represented to them, which are often done falsely. But God's judgment is just; he sees things as they are.
The contents of this chapter are the offer the Samaritans made to the Jews, to assist them in building the temple, which having refused, they gave them all the trouble they could, Ezr 4:1-6 and a letter of theirs to Artaxerxes, king of Persia, full of accusations of them, Ezr 4:7-16 and the answer of Artaxerxes to it, giving orders to command the Jews to cease building the temple, Ezr 4:17-22 which orders were accordingly executed, and the work ceased till the second year of Darius, Ezr 4:23,24.