Ask ye of the LORD rain in the time of the latter rain; so the LORD shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field.
The latter rain — This made plenty of all provision, and is proverbially used to signify a great blessing.
Bright clouds — Bright through the lightnings which break from them.
Them — The Jews.
 For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain: therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled, because there was no shepherd.
Vanity — Their predictions were vain.
They went — They went into captivity.
Troubled — Oppressed and afflicted.
No shepherd — No ecclesiastical or civil governors, that would faithfully do their duty.
 Mine anger was kindled against the shepherds, and I punished the goats: for the LORD of hosts hath visited his flock the house of Judah, and hath made them as his goodly horse in the battle.
The shepherds — Officers in the church and state.
The goats — The officers among them, who were like he-goats, that push, and wound, and trample under foot the feebler cattle.
Visited — In mercy.
As his goodly horse — Hath given them strength and courage.
 Out of him came forth the corner, out of him the nail, out of him the battle bow, out of him every oppressor together.
Out of him — From God.
The corner — The prince or ruler, who is in a polity as a corner-stone in buildings.
The nail — Which fastens the tents of war, or the timber together in a house.
The battle bow — All warlike provision.
Every oppressor — Or collector of tribute. It was from God that Nebuchadnezzar mightily prevailed, and opprest Israel; and it is from God also, that Judah grows up to such power, as to be able to cope with his adversaries, and to impose tribute on them.
 And I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph, and I will bring them again to place them; for I have mercy upon them: and they shall be as though I had not cast them off: for I am the LORD their God, and will hear them.
Of Joseph — The remnant of the kingdom of Israel, the residue of the ten tribes.
To place them — To settle them in their own land, and in their own cities.
 And they of Ephraim shall be like a mighty man, and their heart shall rejoice as through wine: yea, their children shall see it, and be glad; their heart shall rejoice in the LORD.
Their children shall see — These blessings shall continue through your generations, to children that shall be born.
 I will hiss for them, and gather them; for I have redeemed them: and they shall increase as they have increased.
I will hiss — Though they are now scattered far off, I will call them as a shepherd, and they shall run with speed back to the flock.
As they have increased — As they did of old time.
 And I will sow them among the people: and they shall remember me in far countries; and they shall live with their children, and turn again.
I will sow them — Their increase shall be like the increase of rich soil that hath much seed cast on it.
The people — The Heathen.
In far countries — Whithersoever they were driven.
With their children — The children born to them shall live, and grow up with them.
Turn again — To their city and country.
 I will bring them again also out of the land of Egypt, and gather them out of Assyria; and I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon; and place shall not be found for them.
Place shall not be found — The land shall be too narrow for them.
 And he shall pass through the sea with affliction, and shall smite the waves in the sea, and all the deeps of the river shall dry up: and the pride of Assyria shall be brought down, and the sceptre of Egypt shall depart away.
And he passed through — The whole verse is an allusion to what God had done in the two famous deliverances of his people, bringing them out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and through Jordan, and destroying the Egyptians, and delivering them out of Assyrian bondage, and in order thereto, destroying that kingdom.
 And I will strengthen them in the LORD; and they shall walk up and down in his name, saith the LORD.
Walk up and down — Shall manage all their affairs.
In his name — By power and wisdom given from above, to the glory of our God, and our Redeemer.