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Commentary On Zechariah Malachi by Jean Calvin

Zechariah 12:8

8. In that day shall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them.

8. Die illo proteget Iehova super habitatorem Ierosolymae; et erit qui aegrotabit inter ipsos die illo quasi David; et domus Davidis sicuti angeli (aut, Dii,) sicuti angelus Iehovae coram facie ipsorum.

He goes on with the same subject; and he says that God would be like a shield to protect the Jews. For though the verb ygn, igen, is used here, yet as it is derived from mgn, megen, which means a shield, that metaphor is to be understood here, -- even that the Jews, though without power and without warlike instruments, would yet be safe under the protection of God, for he being their shield would be sufficient. And God is here indirectly opposed to all kinds of fortresses which men too anxiously seek, and on which they vainly depend. The Prophet then no doubt claims here for God a power, which in opposition to the whole world, and when no other help appears, would be found sufficient to subdue all enemies and to save his people. Jehovah then shall be, he says, a shield

But there seems to be here something inconsistent; for he had said before that the Jews would be safe wherever they lived, though they did not dwell at Jerusalem; but now he confines this promise to the citizens of Jerusalem. The answer to this is plain: We observed yesterday, that the piety of those was commended who had preferred to undergo many and grievous trials in returning home, and then to expose themselves to many dangers, rather than to continue in exile, as in that case they wholly separated themselves from the temple. Now since this was the object of the Prophet, it is no wonder that he one while names the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and that at another time he includes generally all the Jews. And by saying in the last verse, that the citizens of Jerusalem were not to glory against the country people, scattered in the villages, he intended, in adopting this way of speaking, to humble the citizens of Jerusalem, but not to exclude them from the promise made to all: as God then was to be the defender of all, the Prophet returns again to Jerusalem. For as God had chosen there his sanctuary, it is not to be wondered that the place was precious in his sight. But it was yet necessary to take away all pride from the Jews, that they might not, as it has been said, trust in earthly aids and supports. This is the meaning, when he says, the protection of God shall be on the inhabitants of Jerusalem

He now adds -- The feeble among them shall be like David. Some give a refined explanation -- that as David, who was not trained up for war, and was by no means strong, being, almost a boy, yet slew the proud giant Goliath, so the feeble among the Jews, as they think, will, by God's power, be made victorious over their enemies. But this seems forced. The Prophet, then, I have no doubt, connects the whole together, and considers David as a king; for when David slew Goliath, he was yet a boy, remarkable for no velour. After he attained the kingdom, he became more eminent, we know, in every way, than all the kings of the earth. It is then this eminence which the Prophet has in view, when he says that the least and the most despised among them would be like David; as though he had said -- |They shall all be endued with royal and heroic velour, not only the common people, but even those who seemed to be like women, and who possessed nothing that was manly; they would yet excel as David in heroic velour.|

It then follows -- And the whole house of David shall be as angels; that is, the royal posterity shall be remarkable for angelic velour. And it was necessary to add this, that the faithful might not think that the house of David, from which salvation was to be expected, would be reduced to nothing. For whatever had been promised to them might have vanished, were not that promise to stand firm, on which was founded the salvation of the whole people --

|Thy house shall remain for ever.| (Psalm 89:37.)

Now as Zechariah seemed to have cast down and wholly overthrown the royal house, it might have occurred to the minds of the faithful, |whence then shall arise our salvation? for it is certain that without Christ we are wholly lost.| Now Christ was not to come forth, except from the house of David. The Prophet then does here opportunely declare, that the royal house would be most eminent, as though all the men belonging to it were angels. He puts down the word 'lhym, aleim, which also means God; but he adds in the same sentence -- As the angel of Jehovah before their face The Prophet compares here, no doubt, the posterity of David to the angel, who had been the leader of the people and the minister of redemption. That angel we conclude was Christ; for though God then appointed many angels to his people, yet Christ, as it is well known, was their prince and head. The Prophet then bids the Jews here to look for the perpetual aid of God, since in the royal house were not only angels, but even the very leader of the fathers, who had exercised the ineffable power of God in redeeming the people.

We now then perceive the design of the Prophet: The import of the whole is, that God would so undertake the defense and protection of his people, as to be of himself sufficient, without any other aid; and also that the minister of salvation would be in the royal house itself; for as formerly, when their fathers were led out of Egypt, God had exercised his power through an angel, so now he had set over them a Mediator. And in accordance with this meaning he adds, lphnyhm, lepeniem, |before their face.| He bids the faithful to attend to the royal house, which was then deprived of all dignity, so that it had no power to help. Nothing indeed was then seen in the posterity of David but what was degrading, and even contemptible; and yet the Prophet bids them to expect salvation from that house, which was so brought down as to possess nothing worthy of being noticed.

We may now ask, when was this prophecy fulfilled? Zechariah does indeed predict great things; but in reviewing all histories, nothing of a corresponding character is to be found. It must nevertheless be observed, that this blessed and happy state ass promised to the Jews, because from them Christ was to arise, and also because Jerusalem was to be the mother of all Churches; for from thence the law was to go forth, and from thence God had determined to send forth the royal scepter, that the son of David might rule over the whole world. Since the case was so, we may now easily understand how the condition of that miserable people would become happier and more glorious than under the rich and flourishing kingdom of David; for Christ would at length come, in whom complete happiness was to be found.

We may now also add this -- that though few of the Jews embraced the favor of Christ, and the rest fell away, and thus gave place to the Gentiles, yet however small was the portion of the faithful, still the Prophet does not speak here hyperbolically, for the thing itself is what ought to be regarded; and that the Jews did not enjoy this blessed state, was owing to their own ingratitude; but this detracts nothing from the felicity described here by Zechariah. Let us proceed -

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