18. And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely.
18. Et percutiam illis foedus in die illa cum bestia agri et cum volucre coeli et cum reptili terrae: et arcum et gladium et proelium confringam e terra et quiescere eos faciam ad fiduciam, (hoc est, confidenter.)
The Prophet shows here that the people would be in every way happy after their return to God's favour: and, at the same time, he reminds us that the cause of all evils is, that men provoke God's wrath. Hence, when God is angry, all things must necessarily be adverse to us; for as God has all creatures at his will, and in his hand, he can arm them in vengeance against us whenever he pleases: but when he is propitious to us, he can make all things in heaven and earth to be conducive to our safety. As then he often threatens in the Law, that when he purposed to punish the people, he would make brute animals, and the birds of heaven, and all kinds of reptiles, to execute his judgement, so in this place he declares that there would be peace to men when he received them into favour.
I will make a covenant, he says, in that day with the beast of the field We know what is said in another place,
If thou shuttest thyself up at home, a serpent shall there bite thee; but if thou goest out of thy house, either a bear or a lion shall meet thee in the way,' (Amos 5:19;)
by which words God shows that we cannot escape his vengeance when he is angry with us; for he will arm against us lions and bears as well as serpents, both at home and abroad. But he says here, I will make a covenant for them with the beasts;' so that they may perform their duty towards us: for they were all created, we know, for this end, -- to be subject to men. Since, then, they were destined for our benefit, they ought, according to their nature, to be in subjection to us: and we know that Adam caused this, -- that wild beasts rise up so rebelliously against us; for otherwise they would have willingly and gently obeyed us. Now since there is this horrible disorder, that brute beasts, which ought to own men as their masters, rage against them, the Lord recalls us here to the first order of nature, I will make a covenant for them, he says, with the beast of the field, which means, |I will make brute animals to know for what end they were formed, that is, to be subject to the dominion of men, and to show no rebelliousness any more.|
We now then perceive the intention of the Prophet: he reminds the Israelites that all things were adverse to their safety as long as they were alienated from God; but that when they returned into favour with him, this disorder, which had for a time appeared, would be no longer; for the regular order of nature would prevail, and brute animals would suffer themselves to be brought to obedience. This is the covenant of which the Prophet now speaks when he says, I will make a covenant for them, that is, in their name, with the beast of the field, and with the bird of heaven, and with the reptile of the earth
It follows, I will shatter the bow, and the sword, and the battle, that is, every warlike instrument; for under the word mlchmh|milchamah|, the Prophet includes every thing adapted for war. Hence, |I will shatter| every kind of weapons |in that day, and make them dwell securely|. In the last clause he expresses the end for which the weapons and swords were to be shattered, -- that the Israelites before disquieted by various fears, might dwell in peace, and no more fear any danger. This is the meaning.
But it is meet for us to call to mind what we have before said, that the Prophet so speaks of the people's restoration, that he extends his predictions to the kingdom of Christ, as we may learn from Paul's testimony already cited. We then see that God's favor, of which the Prophet now speaks, is not restricted to a short time or to a few years but extends to Christ's kingdom, and is what we have in common with the ancient people. Let us therefore know, that if we provoke not God against us by our sins, all things will be subservient to the promotion of our safety, and that it is our fault when creatures do not render us obedience: for when we mutiny against God, it is no wonder that brute animals should become ferocious and rage against us; for what peace can there be, when we carry on war against God himself? Hence were men, as they ought, to submit to God's authority, there would be no rebelliousness in brute animals; nay, all who are turbulent would gently rest under the protection of God. But as we are insolent against God, he justly punishes us by stirring up against us various contentions and various tumults. Hence, then swords, hence bows, are prepared against us, and hence wars are stirred up against us: all this is because we continue to fight against God.
It must, at the same time, be further noticed, that it is a singular benefit for a people to dwell in security; for we know that though we may possess all other things, yet miserable is our condition, unless we live in peace: hence the Prophet mentions this as the summit of a happy life. It now follows --