3. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts.
3. Et pessundabitis impios, quia erunt pulvis sub plantis pedum vestrorum, in die qua ego facio, (alii vertunt, quam ego facio,) dicit Iehova exercituum.
When God promises redemption to his Church, he usually mentions what is of an opposite character, even the destruction and ruin of his enemies, and he does this on purpose lest envy should annoy or harass the faithful, while seeing the ungodly prosperous and happy. So also in this place Malachi says, that the ungodly would be trodden under foot by the faithful like the dust; and he says this lest the elect, while lying prostrate under the feet of their enemies and proudly trampled upon by them, should succumb under their troubles; but they were to look for what the Prophet declares here, for they were not only to be raised up by the hand of God, but were also to be superior to their enemies, and be enabled in their turn to suppress their pride: in short, he means that they were to be raised above all the height of the world.
At the same time, God does not allow his children cruelly to seek vengeance, for he would have them to be endued with meekness, so as not to cease to do good to the wicked and to pray for them, though they may have been unjustly treated by them. But, as I have already said, he meant here to obviate an evil which is natural to us all, for we are apt to despond when our enemies exult over us, and rage against us. Lest then their temporary success and prosperity should deject our minds, God brings a remedy, and strengthens our patience by this consideration, -- that the state of things will shortly be changed, so that we shall triumph over the ungodly, who thought us to have been undone a hundred times; God will indeed visit them with extreme shame, because they not only fatuitously boast of their unjust deeds, but also raise up their horns against him.
Let us proceed; he says, In the day in which I make He again restrains their desires, that they might not with too much haste look forward, but wait for the day prefixed by the Lord. We indeed know how great is the importunity of men as to their wishes, and how ardently they seek their accomplishment unless God checks them. Whenever then we speak of the destruction of our enemies, let us remember that we ought to regard the day of the Lord, in which he purposes to execute his judgement. Some, as I have said, give a different version, but the one I have given is the most probable, and is also more generally approved. It now follows --