Malachi, after having said that the Sun of righteousness would arise on the Jews, now adds that it would be for their joy, for as sorrow lays hold on the faithful when they are without Christ, or when they think him far removed from them, so his favor is their chief happiness and real joy. Hence the angel when he made known to the shepherds that Christ was born, thus introduces his message,
|Behold, I declare to you great joy.| (Luke 2:10.)
Now though the comparison might seem rather unnatural, yet it was not without reason that the Prophet said that the Jews would be like fattened calves, for the change of which he speaks was incredible; hence it was necessary that the subject should be stated in a very homely manner, that they might entertain hope.
There is in the words going forth, an implied contrast, for anxiety had long held them as it were captives, but now they were to go forth and be at liberty, according to what takes place when things change for the better; we then openly declare our joy to one another, and we seek as it were a wide place for giving vent to our feelings. We now see why the Prophet says that the Jews would go forth: they had been before confined as it were within narrow limits, but God would now give them occasion for rejoicing, according to what Paul says,
|Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.| (2 Corinthians 3:17).
It follows --