Zephaniah 3 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

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(Read all of Zephaniah 3)

Verse 1

[1] Woe to her that is filthy and polluted, to the oppressing city!

To her — Jerusalem.

Verse 2

[2] She obeyed not the voice; she received not correction; she trusted not in the LORD; she drew not near to her God.

The voice — Of God by his mercy and judgments crying aloud.

Verse 3

[3] Her princes within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves; they gnaw not the bones till the morrow.

Her princes — Persons of principal place and authority.

Lions — Which hunt for prey, and are ever affrighting or devouring.

Wolves — Insatiable and cruel, like wolves of the evening, whetted with hunger.

Gnaw not the bones — They leave nothing but the bones to be eaten on the morrow.

Verse 4

[4] Her prophets are light and treacherous persons: her priests have polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the law.

Her prophet — So called, false prophets.

Light — Unstable and inconstant.

Violence to the law — Wresting it by perverse interpretation.

Verse 5

[5] The just LORD is in the midst thereof; he will not do iniquity: every morning doth he bring his judgment to light, he faileth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame.

In the midst — Observing all.

Not do iniquity — He will judge them righteously.

Every morning — Daily he discovers his displeasure against the wicked.

Faileth not — Lets no season slip to convince them, by public and visible punishments.

The unjust — But the wicked Jews proceed without shame, and without fear.

Verse 6

[6] I have cut off the nations: their towers are desolate; I made their streets waste, that none passeth by: their cities are destroyed, so that there is no man, that there is none inhabitant.

The nations — Of old, the Canaanites, lastly the ten tribes, and later yet, the Assyrians.

Verse 7

[7] I said, Surely thou wilt fear me, thou wilt receive instruction; so their dwelling should not be cut off, howsoever I punished them: but they rose early, and corrupted all their doings.

I said — I thought (speaking after the manner of men).

Thou — O Jerusalem.

Fear me — For the many and great judgments executed upon others.

I punished them — In some measure.

Verse 8

[8] Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the LORD, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.

Therefore — Since you will not be amended.

Wait ye — Attend my resolution.

Until — Until I rise up to destroy first, and next to take the spoil.

Upon them — The incorrigible Jews.

Devoured — Consumed as if burnt up.

My jealousy — That jealousy wherewith God is jealous for his own glory.

Verse 9

[9] For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent.

A pure language — I will give them a pure way of worshipping me, the issue of a pure heart.

Verse 10

[10] From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, even the daughter of my dispersed, shall bring mine offering.

My dispersed — The praying remnant of the scattered Jews shall return to their own land, and bring themselves an offering unto the Lord.

Verse 11

[11] In that day shalt thou not be ashamed for all thy doings, wherein thou hast transgressed against me: for then I will take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride, and thou shalt no more be haughty because of my holy mountain.

Thy doings — Thy sins formerly committed.

In thy pride — Proud formalists.

No more be haughty — Ye shall no more boast, because of the city, or the temple.

Verse 12

[12] I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD.

Of thee — In Judea and Jerusalem.

Verse 13

[13] The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid.

Shall feed — Shall enjoy peace and plenty.

Verse 15

[15] The LORD hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even the LORD, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more.

Taken away — Abolished, and put an end to the judgments thy sins brought upon thee.

Thine enemy — The Babylonian.

Is in the midst — He is returned to redeem and govern thee.

Any more — While thy carriage is as becomes my presence with thee, thou shalt neither fear, nor feel the like evils.

Verse 18

[18] I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly, who are of thee, to whom the reproach of it was a burden.

Sorrowful — That mourn their distance from the solemn worship of God.

Who are of thee — Thy children.

Reproach — The taunts of their enemies.

Verse 19

[19] Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee: and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame.

Undo — I will break their power and dissolve their kingdom.

That halteth — Who is in trouble and ready to fall.

Driven out — Into remote countries.

Verse 20

[20] At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the LORD.

A praise — So the universal church of the first-born will be, in the great day. And then the Israel of God be made a name and a praise to all eternity.