Psalm 55 6 Meaning

Now, when you are just overwhelmed by a trial in your life – when you are just hemmed-in on every side and you are so miserable and you just see no way out, what is a really common response? You can’t humanly fix this problem. What is your tendency?

I think that for a lot of us, when we are dealing with insurmountable issues, we want to flee. We want to get out of there!

And that’s exactly how David speaks to the Lord in verses 6-8. He confesses to wanting to leave it all and just run away!

6 {And I/I} {said/say},

{Oh that/I wish} I had {wings/the wings} {like/of} a dove!
{for then would I/I would} fly away, and {be at rest/settle in a safe place}.

7 {Lo/Behold/Look}, {then would I/I would/I will} {wander/escape/flee} {far off/far away/to a distant place},
{and remain/I would lodge/I will stay/and stay} in the {wilderness/desert}.

{Selah/Pause}.

8 I {would/will} {hasten/hasten to/hurry off to} {my escape/my place of refuge/a place that is safe/my place of shelter}
{from/far from} the {windy storm/strong wind} and {tempest/the gale}.

Look at how long David labors on these thoughts! If you were trying to minister to someone who was in some emotionally-wrenching trial and he were to keep going on and on about wanting to escape and to get away from it all and to just find refuge in some safe place – how would you respond to that? Would you be embarrassed for him? Would you be kind of judgmental and thinking that this guy needs to get his act together? Would you start to question his maturity and maybe even his salvation?

The results of David’s awful trials that had been kicked-off by betrayal were bringing him to the point where he was seriously contemplating just running away.

And so, when you feel this way, there is nothing at all wrong with admitting this to the Lord. You might not want to admit it to others – especially if you’re trying to encourage them to keep going in the same trial that you’re facing. But you do need to tell the Lord about it.

Psalm 55 Message

I think that we’ve all experience betrayal in our lives. And if we haven’t had any or even much, we can likely expect to face this kind of thing at some point in our lives.

In fact, if we haven’t had much betrayal in our lives then what that might indicate is that we really don’t let people get very close to us.

Because the reality is that betrayal is less likely the less we actually trust other people. If you keep yourself quarantined from other people and never have many interactions that might leave you vulnerable to them, then you will be pretty much immune to the painful reality of betrayal.

And yet, to live your life in such a way as to try to avoid betrayal at all costs and to live the hermit life is to be missing out on relational realities that God wants you and me to have in this life.

So, God does not want you and me to just avoid the potential of betrayal at the cost of never having serious interpersonal relationships. And so, if you’re involved in relationships as God has created us to be in, then you are very likely going to experience betrayal.

And you and I need to know how to handle that. Because betrayal is painful. No one gets into a relationship wanting to be betrayed! And yet it happens.

So, how should we handle betrayal?

Well, let’s turn our attention to Psalm 55.

Because in Psalm 55 we have the author – whom we’re told is David – and he’s working through betrayal.

David had been betrayed by a man who was very close to him. He reports in this psalm that the two of them had previously experienced sweet fellowship in the Lord’s house together with all of the rest of God’s people.

But now this man had turned on him and was actually getting together a mob to kill him.

And here’s what I want us to recognize as we go through this psalm. We might tend to look at David and his betrayal and think that this doesn’t apply to us. After all – we might think – I’m not being pursued by people wanting to kill me. Therefore, I’m not really sure how this psalm could be a help to me, personally.

I don’t want us to think that way. I think that we need to approach this in our minds like a greater-to-lesser situation. If David could cope with being chased by a murderous group of people due to his being betrayed by one of those people, then can’t you learn to deal with betrayal in a situation that’s maybe not quite as difficult and extreme as David’s?

And the answer to that is – yes. Of course we can learn from David’s praying to the Lord on this matter of being betrayed.

So, let’s read this psalm in its entirety to see how David dealt with betrayal.

{Read Psa 55:1-23}

Superscription

So, that’s a quick read-through of how David dealt with betrayal. Now, let’s get into the details.

We’re going to just read through the superscription once more without much comment, because it’s a fairly standardly-worded superscription.

<{To/For} the {chief Musician/choir director/music director/director of music}
{on/to be accompanied by/with} {Neginoth/stringed instruments},
{Maschil, A Psalm/A Maskil/a well-written song} {of/by} David.>

1-2 Call God’s Attention to the Problem

Now, the first thing that David does when faced with betrayal is that he draws God’s attention to this reality in verses 1 and 2.

KJV Psalm 55:1 {Give ear/Listen} to my prayer, O God;
{and hide not thyself from my supplication./And do not hide Yourself from my supplication./Do not ignore my appeal for mercy!/do not ignore my plea;/and disregard not my supplication.}

2 {Attend unto/Give heed to/Pay attention to} me, and {hear/answer} me:
{I mourn in my complaint,/I am restless in my complaint/I am so upset and distressed/My thoughts trouble me} {and make a noise/and am surely distracted/I am beside myself/and I am distraught};

This is so obvious that when we experience betrayal or any negative reality in our lives, you need to pray to the Lord about it. And yet, how often do we just sit and stew on it and never let God in on the fact that you are bothered about this?

Don’t do that! Call God’s attention to the betrayal and to your feelings about it. Did you know that God cares about how you feel about being betrayed?

David mentions his feelings here. Don’t think of him as the stoic warrior. The guy had emotions!

Look at it – he’s pleading for mercy – making supplication. He’s afraid that God has hidden himself – he feels abandoned by God. He is complaining and mourning. He’s restless and upset and troubled. He is distracted and distraught and noisy in his soul.

Admit these things in your life to the Lord when you are betrayed.

So, when you’re betrayed you need to call God’s attention to the problem.

3 Identify the Problem

And second, you need to spell out what the problem really is like David does in verse 3.

3 {Because of/At} {the voice of the enemy/what the enemy says},
{because of/at} {the oppression of the wicked/the pressure of the wicked/how the wicked pressure me/stares of the wicked}:

for they {cast iniquity/bring down trouble/hurl down trouble/bring down suffering} upon me,
and {in wrath they hate/in anger they bear a grudge against/angrily attack/revile in their anger} me.

So, in verses 1 and 2 David just calls out to God noting that there is a problem. But in verse 3 now he goes on to identify more specifically the problem.

He’s really identifying the results of being betrayed. And those results include being spoken poorly of – the “voice of the enemy.” The results include oppression by these wicked men. They include these men bringing all sorts of trouble and hateful anger into David’s life.

So, betrayal often has serious consequences in your life. And God wants to hear about them. He wants you to talk to him about them.

So, make the problem and its consequences very clear to the Lord as you pray about your being betrayed by someone else.

4-5 Confess the Effects on You

And in verse 3 David focuses on the action of his enemies. They speak. They oppress. They cast iniquity. They hate.

But now in verses 4 and 5 David’s focus is on his own response to these realities. So, yes, call the Lord’s attention to the results of betrayal in your life in terms of how others are now treating you.

But then call the Lord’s attention to how you are responding to this treatment in your life, like David does in verses 4 and 5.

4 My heart {is sore pained/is in anguish/beats violently} within me:
and the {terrors/horrors} of death {are fallen upon/have fallen upon/overcome/assail} me.

5 {Fearfulness/Fear} and {trembling/panic} {are come upon/come upon/overpower/have beset} me,
and {horror/terror} {hath overwhelmed/overwhelms} me.

You know, I don’t know about you, but I find comfort in the fact that this brave noble warrior king David is speaking to God as if he’s as weak as a little child. You and I – all of us – have felt these ways sometimes. And we might be tempted to think that we’re being overly weak. But the reality is this is how humans are. We are weak. And we need God’s strength.

So, David mentions his heart being in anguish. He is terrified. He is full of fear. And he’s overwhelmed by terror.

And it doesn’t have to be betrayal that prompts these responses in our life. In fact, for David these responses were the byproduct of betrayal – someone betrayed David and so now he is fearful of being killed. It’s death that he is responding to now – the betrayal just started that and the remembrance of it makes it all worse for him.

But you might be feeling this way about something completely different. And that’s OK.

But as we experience betrayal and/or whatever else stems from that kind of rupture in a relationship, we need to call God’s attention to how we feel about it. He wants to hear from you on this matter.

6-8 Admit to Wanting to Flee

Now, when you are just overwhelmed by a trial in your life – when you are just hemmed-in on every side and you are so miserable and you just see no way out, what is a really common response? You can’t humanly fix this problem. What is your tendency?

I think that for a lot of us, when we are dealing with insurmountable issues, we want to flee. We want to get out of there!

And that’s exactly how David speaks to the Lord in verses 6-8. He confesses to wanting to leave it all and just run away!

6 {And I/I} {said/say},

{Oh that/I wish} I had {wings/the wings} {like/of} a dove!
{for then would I/I would} fly away, and {be at rest/settle in a safe place}.

7 {Lo/Behold/Look}, {then would I/I would/I will} {wander/escape/flee} {far off/far away/to a distant place},
{and remain/I would lodge/I will stay/and stay} in the {wilderness/desert}.

{Selah/Pause}.

8 I {would/will} {hasten/hasten to/hurry off to} {my escape/my place of refuge/a place that is safe/my place of shelter}
{from/far from} the {windy storm/strong wind} and {tempest/the gale}.

Look at how long David labors on these thoughts! If you were trying to minister to someone who was in some emotionally-wrenching trial and he were to keep going on and on about wanting to escape and to get away from it all and to just find refuge in some safe place – how would you respond to that? Would you be embarrassed for him? Would you be kind of judgmental and thinking that this guy needs to get his act together? Would you start to question his maturity and maybe even his salvation?

The results of David’s awful trials that had been kicked-off by betrayal were bringing him to the point where he was seriously contemplating just running away.

And so, when you feel this way, there is nothing at all wrong with admitting this to the Lord. You might not want to admit it to others – especially if you’re trying to encourage them to keep going in the same trial that you’re facing. But you do need to tell the Lord about it.

9-11 Demand that God Frustrate Their Plans

But we all know in our heart of hearts that fleeing isn’t really the ultimate solution to any of our problems. It might be necessary to keep you alive! But it doesn’t solve any deep issues.

And that’s why when we’re betrayed by others and especially when this results in us wanting to run away, we need to humbly demand to the Lord that he frustrate the plans of those who have made themselves our enemies – like David did in verses 9-11.

9 {Destroy/Confuse/Confuse them/Confuse the wicked}, O Lord,
{and divide their tongues/frustrate their plans/confound their speech}:

for I {have seen/see} violence and {strife/conflict} in the city.

10 Day and night they {go about/go around/walk around/prowl about} {it upon the walls thereof/upon her walls/on its walls}:
{mischief also/And iniquity/while wickedness/malice} and {sorrow/mischief/destruction/abuse} are {in the midst of it/in her midst/within it}.

11 {Wickedness/Destruction/Disaster/Destructive forces} {is/are/are at work} {in the midst thereof/in her midst/within it/in the city}:
{deceit/oppression/violence/threats} and {guile/deceit/lies} {depart not/do not depart} from {her streets/its public squares}.

So, in David’s case really only the first part of verse 9 is him demanding that God frustrate the plans of his enemies.

The rest of verse 9 and then verses 10 and 11 are all him personifying vices and speaking of them taking up residence in the city of Jerusalem. In David’s mind, it’s as if Commander Violence and Lieutenant Strife are walking around on the city walls. Sergeant Mischief and Colonel Sorrow are in the midst of the city. Corporeal Wickedness is also there. Major Deceit and Private Guile don’t leave that city – as the literal men in this city are seeking to destroy David.

So, these people who are attacking David – they were apparently fueled by an initial betrayal from one man against David and now they’re all involved in attacking him.

And so, just like at the Tower of Babel where all sorts of people got together to thwart God’s plans and God confused their language to thwart them, so too now David is asking the Lord to confuse the plans of these people who are against him.

And that’s what you want when folks are against you. You want the Lord himself to protect you. And one way he can do this is by stirring your enemies up against each other. Then they stop attacking you!

So, do feel free to demand that God frustrate the plans of those who are opposed to you for no good reason.

12-14 When Your Enemy Used to be Your Friend

And then something really interesting happens in this psalm. And it’s where we finally come to understand that David was betrayed by one of his close friends. And what’s very interesting is that we see David do something that’s fairly unusual in the book of Psalms. Remember that Psalms are really just prayers. And when we pray, we’re typically speaking to whom? We’re speaking to the Lord.

But in verses 12-14, David is certainly still praying to the Lord. But we actually see him turn aside as it were and directly address the person who betrayed him and who was the human agent responsible for all his troubles.

And so, it’s an interesting lesson in prayer to know that one acceptable activity in prayer is to directly address – at least in your own heart – the one whom you believe to be responsible for your troubles. That’s what David does in verses 12-14.

12 {For/Indeed} it {was/is} not an enemy {that reproached/who reproaches/who insults} me;
{then/or else} I could {have borne/bear/endure} it:

{neither was it he that hated/nor is it one who hates/it is not one who hates} me {that did magnify himself against/who has exalted himself against/who arrogantly taunts} me;
{then/or else} I {would/could} {have hid/hide} myself from him:

13 But it {was/is} thou, a man {mine equal/like me/like myself},
my {guide/companion/close friend}, {and mine acquaintance/and my familiar friend/in whom I confided}.

14 {We took/With whom I once enjoyed} {sweet counsel/sweet fellowship/personal thoughts} {together/with each other},
and walked {unto/in/at} {the house of God/God’s temple} {in company/in the throng/among the crowd/with the throng}.

So, all of these troubles were kicked-off by the betrayal of this one man – David’s former friend.

And no doubt as you’ve experienced betrayal in this life you’ve felt similarly to what David expresses – when enemies attack you, that’s one thing. You’re ready for that because that’s what you expect from them. You still don’t like their treatment – but it’s easier to handle.

But when a friend does you wrong – you’re not expecting it at all. And for that reason, people might almost act surprised that you’re taking things so personally and poorly.

I remember one case of betrayal in my life in which someone whom I looked at previously as something of a fatherly type ended up intentionally humiliating me publicly. And the response of this man’s son was something like, “Boy, if people treated me at work the way that my dad treated you, I would let them pay me less!” His point was that the way his father treated me was not as bad as the way he was treated by his coworkers. The only problem with that logic is that his father claimed to be a Christian and his coworkers didn’t. Betrayal by supposed believers is very painful – it’s much harder to deal with than ill-treatment at the hands of people who are self-avowed atheists.

So, David does here – and you and I can – speak to our betrayer as if he were listening – as we’re praying to the Lord about being betrayed.

15-17 Contrast Deserved Treatment & Result

Now, David next contrasts the kind of treatment he deserves versus what this betrayer and his buddies deserve in verses 15-17.

15 {Let/May} death {seize upon/come deceitfully upon/destroy/take by surprise} {them/my enemy},
{and let them/may they} go down {quick/alive} {into/to} {hell/Sheol/the grave}:

for {wickedness/evil} is in their {dwellings/dwelling},
{and among them/in their midst}.

16 {As for me, I/But I} {will call/shall call/call} {upon/out to} God;
and the LORD {shall/will} {save/deliver} me.

17 {i.e., During the…} Evening, and morning, and {at noon/noontime/noon}, {will I/I will/I} {pray, and cry aloud/complain and murmur/lament and moan/cry out in distress}:
and he {shall/will} hear {my voice/me}.

So, look at these two groups.

On the one hand we have David. What’s he doing? He’s praying calling out to God frequently. And on the other hand, we have the enemies. They have wickedness dwelling among them.

And how should they be treated? David is confident that God will deliver him from these men. And on the other hand, he prays to God that he would cause these enemies to not be able to kill him – but that rather the Lord would turn it right around on them and that they would be the ones to die instead of him.

And we can appeal to God like this. We can contrast our behavior with the behavior of those who deal treacherously with us and if we’re blameless in this regard we can ask that the Lord would turn the metaphorical weapons of the enemies back on themselves.

18-19a Express Confidence in God

And then at that point you’ll want to express your confidence in the Lord like David does in verses 18 and 19.

18 He {hath delivered/will redeem/will rescue/ransoms} {my soul/me} {in peace/and protect me/unharmed} from {the battle that was against/those who attack} me:
{for there were many with/For they are many who strive with/even though they greatly outnumber/even though many oppose} me.

19 God {shall/will} hear, and {afflict/answer/humiliate} them,
{even he that abideth of old./Even the one who sits enthroned from of old–/ the one who has reigned as king from long ago,/who is enthroned forever/even he that has existed from eternity.}

Selah.

This is always an important piece that we tend to leave out. We can complain so bitterly and go through all of the other steps in prayer. But we often struggle to express confidence in the Lord’s help – as if the Lord won’t help. Where’s our faith?! Don’t forget to assure the Lord of your confidence in him as you pray concerning betrayal or whatever else is bothering you so much.

19b-21 Note Enemy’s Wickedness

And you might think that expressing confidence and faith in the Lord will just kind of settle you permanently. But sometimes it will actually throw you back into convulsions as you recall your problem and want to elaborate on it to the Lord, as David does in the rest of verse 19 and verses 20 and 21.

{Because they have no changes,/With whom there is no change,/They refuse to change,/men who never change their ways}
{therefore they fear not God./And who do not fear God./and do not fear God./and have no fear of God.}

20 {He hath put forth his hands against such as be at peace with him:/My companion attacks his friends;}
he {hath broken/has violated/breaks} his {covenant/solemn promises to them}.

21 {The words of his mouth/His speech/His words} {were/was/are} {smoother than/as smooth as} butter,
{but/yet} {war was/he harbors animosity} in his heart:

his words {were softer/seem softer/are more soothing} than oil,
{yet/but} {were they drawn/they are really like sharp} swords.

And so, we can tend to go back into the details of our problems even after expressing confidence in the Lord’s willingness and desire to help us. And that’s OK – David did it and you don’t have to be discouraged when you do this.

22-23 Encourage Yourself and Others to Trust God

But eventually we need to come to the point that David does in verses 22 and 23 where he encourages both himself and others to trust the Lord.

22 {Cast/Throw} {thy burden/your cares} upon the LORD,
and he shall sustain thee:
he {shall never suffer/will never allow/will never let} the {righteous/godly} {to be moved/to be shaken/to be upended/fall}.

23 But {thou/you}, O God, shalt bring {them/the wicked} down {into/to} the {pit of destruction/deep Pit/pit of corruption}:
{bloody and deceitful men/Men of bloodshed and deceit/Violent and deceitful people/bloodthirsty and deceitful men} {shall/will} not live {out/even} half {their days/a normal lifespan};
{but/But as for me} I {will trust/trust} in {thee/you}.

So, as you and I struggle with the reality of being betrayed by people that we trust in this life, let’s remember the resources that we have in Psalm 55 and emulate the steps that David takes in dealing with the betrayal in his life. In this way, I trust that the Lord will be pleased to help us deal with the awful reality of betrayal.

Psalm 54 6 Commentary

Well, if you’re resolved that God will hear and answer you by dealing out justice to your Ziphites, then the next step is not a far reach for you.

If you really believe that God is going to help you and answer your prayer for deliverance and vindication, then the next logical step is what David expresses in verse 6. And that’s to anticipatingly resolve to praise the Lord for his help.

6 I will {freely sacrifice/willingly sacrifice/sacrifice with a freewill offering} unto thee:
I will {praise/give thanks to} thy name, O LORD; for it is good.

Now, David isn’t going to sacrifice anything while he’s being chased by Saul and away from the presence of the Tabernacle. But he is convinced that God is going to answer his prayer in such a way as to allow for him to return to a place of normalcy and ability to worship the Lord like he used to.

And this is what we ought to do in these trials of ours. We need to look forward to God actually answering the prayers that we’re offering up to him. And we need to resolve in our hearts that it won’t be back to business-as-usual after the Lord helps us.

Has this ever happened to you – that you’ve prayed desperately for the Lord to be gracious to you – and then he answers! And what’s your response?

Remember the account of the 10 lepers – and Jesus healed them all. But how many came back to thank him? Just one. You and I need to be that one who turns back to the Lord and genuinely thanks and praises him for his help.

Read the rest of our Psalm 54 Sermon

Psalm 54 4 Meaning

So, you and I – as we experience betrayal and slander – we need to desperately seek the Lord to deliver and protect and vindicate us. And we need to state clearly to the Lord why the people who are doing this to us are so troublesome in our hearts.

But don’t leave it there. We can get so focused on the wrongs that others have committed against us that we forget that there’s a God in heaven to whom we’re praying. And that’s why it’s very important to remind yourself of God’s care for you, like David does in verse 4.

4 {Behold/Look/Surely}, God is {mine helper/my deliverer/my help}:
the Lord is {with them that uphold/the sustainer of/among those who support} {my soul/me}.

So, the message that comes out loud and clear in this verse is that we need to remember that we are not alone in this battle – in this struggle – in this life.

We’re not alone as we face betrayal and slander. God is with us. He’s your helper – your deliverer.

And God is enough – that’s for sure. But very interestingly, the Lord has David speak of God as someone who is “with” or “among” another group that David takes comfort in knowing they exist. That group is “them that uphold my soul” or “those who support me.”

David takes comfort in the fact that even in this world, he’s not alone. There are others who support and uphold him.

And that’s important for us to remember as well. As we’re slandered or betrayed, we’re never alone. It might feel like we are. But it would do us well to remember that even among mankind, we’re not alone. And certainly, the Lord never leaves or forsake us.

Read the rest of our Psalm 54 Sermon

Psalm 54 1 Commentary

Psalm 54 1 Commentary Superscription

Now, like many psalms, Psalm 54 starts with a superscription or literally a “writing above” the psalm. And in this psalm the superscription actually gives us some helpful background on the situation in David’s life that called for the writing of this psalm.

KJV Psalm 54:1 <{To/For} the {chief Musician/choir director/music director/director of music}

{on/to be accompanied by/with} {Neginoth/stringed instruments},

{Maschil/a well-written song},

{A Psalm of/by} David,

And here’s now the situation in David’s life that moved him to write this…

{when/it was written when} the {Ziphims/Ziphites} {came and said to Saul/came and informed Saul/had gone to Saul and said},

{Doth not David hide himself with us?/“Is not David hiding himself among us?”/“David is hiding with us”}>

Now, the situation to which this is referring is found in both 1 Samuel 23 and in 1 Samuel 26. Two times these men from Ziph – a city in Judah – came and told Saul that David was among them.

Now, you remember that Saul was king of Israel at the time. But there was a problem – the Lord had anointed David king after he had anointed Saul. So, Saul, being an exceedingly sinful and unprincipled man – and one who was actually under the Lord’s judgement – he sought opportunities to kill his opponent David. In Saul’s mind, if he could kill David then he would be able to remain king and kind of put an end to the Lord’s anointing David to be king. He actually thought that he could stop God’s plan. What arrogance – and what madness!

Psalm 54 1 Commentary 1 Samuel 23

Well, so it happened that these men from the city of Ziph were zealous to please their humanly-appointed king, Saul. And so, the first time – as recorded in 1 Samuel 23 – these Ziphites sent to Saul letting him know that David was hiding in their region.

Now, Ziph was in a rather hilly region of Judah and it was the perfect place for a fugitive like David to hide. And so, Saul comes with his men and they search for David. And in a relatively humorous scene, Saul needs to “use the facilities” or “relieve himself” or whatever euphemism you’d like to use for it – in Hebrew, he’s “covering his feet” – and amazingly, he was doing that in the very cave in which David and his men were hiding!

Well, David’s followers encouraged David to kill Saul right then and there. But he wouldn’t do it. He wasn’t going to utilize some artificial means for God to fulfill his purpose. Unlike Abraham who with his wife Sarah planned to use some human means to accomplish God’s promise, David would not take that course of action. So, David simply cut off a part of Saul’s robe.

Then Saul leaves and David comes out after him showing him the piece of Saul’s robe that he had cut off and appealing to him that David is not interested in killing Saul. Saul repents for the moment and determines not to pursue David anymore.

Psalm 54 1 Commentary 1 Samuel 26

But then just a little while later in 1 Samuel 26 Saul gets it in his mind to once again pursue David to kill him. And so he comes down to Ziph again – where David was still hiding – because these treacherous men from that city seem to enjoy turning-in David to their bloodthirsty and God-forsaken king.

Well, this time, Saul goes to sleep and is surrounded by his army of 3,000 elite fighters. But God causes a really unusually-deep sleep to come on these folks and so David and Abishai his assistant go right up to Saul and take his spear and his water jug. Abishai offers to kill Saul and end all of this madness right then and there! But David refuses. He will not use artificial human means to accomplish God’s plan – and certainly he won’t do it when it involves disobeying the Lord.

So, David wakes everyone up from a safe distance and reveals that he has Saul’s spear and water jug. Saul repents once more and promises to never again pursue David. And I believe that Saul actually ends up keeping his word to David at that point. Because David flees to Philistia and then Saul dies in battle a little while later.

Now, reflecting on those events, try to imagine the faith that this whole scenario would have called for in this man who’s just like you and me – David. To have at your disposal the ability to end your long trial and to twice refuse. David could have had immediate relief from this persecution that drove him from his home and from his country eventually. But he didn’t take it. Why? Because he trusted in the Lord.

So, that’s a brief synopsis of the events of 1 Samuel 23 and 26 which mention these men referenced in Psalm 54 known as the Ziphites. This is the situation that called for the writing of this psalm.

And as evil as King Saul was, he’s not the only one – or really, even the primary one – that David is dealing with in this psalm. David is actually focused mostly on these Ziphites who keep urging Saul to come and try to kill David.

Psalm 54 1 Commentary Who Are Your Ziphites?

So, do you have any modern-day Ziphites in your life?

Do you have someone who likes to get you in trouble with the boss?

Or maybe a family member who selectively chooses which facts he’d like to share with others in the family that might make you look bad while he leaves out other facts that would balance out the details that seem negative?

You might – or our church corporately might – have a person or persons who try to make us look bad and get us in trouble with the larger community. {10 minutes}

Paul the apostle had at least one group of “Ziphites” if you will in the form of some unbelieving Jews in Thessalonica who weren’t content to trouble him in their city alone but also made the effort to follow after him and get him in trouble in other cities.

So, how do you deal with your Ziphites? That’s going to be the title of this message – Dealing With Your Ziphites. Let’s allow David through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to help us see how you can righteously deal with the Ziphites – the betrayers and slanderers in your life and those who have evil intent for you.

Here’s how David dealt with his literal Ziphites.

Psalm 54 1 Commentary Request Deliverance and Vindication from the Lord

To begin, you need to request of the Lord deliverance and vindication, like David does in verse 1.

{Save/Deliver} me, O God, by thy name,
and {judge/vindicate} me by thy {strength/power/might}.

So, David is asking for deliverance and vindication.

Let’s note first of all what David is not doing and what we ought not to do. And that is to take your own vengeance on these people – these Ziphites in your life. Don’t take your own vengeance. That would be just as unrighteous as they’re acting. Don’t do that!

Vengeance is mine, says the Lord. I will repay.

If someone comes along and slaps you on one cheek, turn the other so that he can slap you there as well.

If your enemy is hungry, feed him. This is the way that you can heap burning coals on his head – by doing good to him.

Pray for those who persecute you.

These are all New Testament admonitions for us to not seek our own vengeance – but to allow the Lord to repay people who are doing us wrong.

So, negatively, don’t take your own vengeance.

But positively, of course, seek the Lord for deliverance and vindication.

You need deliverance from the consequences of what betrayers and slanderers will do to you. You need their traps against you to fail. And you need the damage that they’re trying to inflict on you to explode in their own faces.

So, you need God to deliver you from their schemes. But you also need God to clear your reputation amongst those whom these Ziphites have tried to ruin that very reputation. You need to be vindicated by the Lord.

So, in regard to your Ziphites – your betrayers and slanderers – don’t take your own vengeance, but rather seek the Lord to protect you from them and to vindicate you or to clear your reputation where they have sought to slander you publicly.

Read the rest of our Psalm 54 Sermon

Psalm 54 Sermon

Psalm 54 Sermon: I’d like us to turn our attention to the book of Psalms. And in particular, we’re going to be considering Psalm 54.

Let’s read this 54th psalm to begin our time together.

{Read Psalm 54…}

Psalm 54 Sermon 1a Superscription

Now, like many psalms, Psalm 54 starts with a superscription or literally a “writing above” the psalm. And in this psalm the superscription actually gives us some helpful background on the situation in David’s life that called for the writing of this psalm.

KJV Psalm 54:1 <{To/For} the {chief Musician/choir director/music director/director of music}

{on/to be accompanied by/with} {Neginoth/stringed instruments},

{Maschil/a well-written song},

{A Psalm of/by} David,

And here’s now the situation in David’s life that moved him to write this…

{when/it was written when} the {Ziphims/Ziphites} {came and said to Saul/came and informed Saul/had gone to Saul and said},

{Doth not David hide himself with us?/“Is not David hiding himself among us?”/“David is hiding with us”}>

Now, the situation to which this is referring is found in both 1 Samuel 23 and in 1 Samuel 26. Two times these men from Ziph – a city in Judah – came and told Saul that David was among them.

Now, you remember that Saul was king of Israel at the time. But there was a problem – the Lord had anointed David king after he had anointed Saul. So, Saul, being an exceedingly sinful and unprincipled man – and one who was actually under the Lord’s judgement – he sought opportunities to kill his opponent David. In Saul’s mind, if he could kill David then he would be able to remain king and kind of put an end to the Lord’s anointing David to be king. He actually thought that he could stop God’s plan. What arrogance – and what madness!

Psalm 54 Sermon 1 Samuel 23

Well, so it happened that these men from the city of Ziph were zealous to please their humanly-appointed king, Saul. And so, the first time – as recorded in 1 Samuel 23 – these Ziphites sent to Saul letting him know that David was hiding in their region.

Now, Ziph was in a rather hilly region of Judah and it was the perfect place for a fugitive like David to hide. And so, Saul comes with his men and they search for David. And in a relatively humorous scene, Saul needs to “use the facilities” or “relieve himself” or whatever euphemism you’d like to use for it – in Hebrew, he’s “covering his feet” – and amazingly, he was doing that in the very cave in which David and his men were hiding!

Well, David’s followers encouraged David to kill Saul right then and there. But he wouldn’t do it. He wasn’t going to utilize some artificial means for God to fulfill his purpose. Unlike Abraham who with his wife Sarah planned to use some human means to accomplish God’s promise, David would not take that course of action. So, David simply cut off a part of Saul’s robe.

Then Saul leaves and David comes out after him showing him the piece of Saul’s robe that he had cut off and appealing to him that David is not interested in killing Saul. Saul repents for the moment and determines not to pursue David anymore.

Psalm 54 Sermon 1 Samuel 26

But then just a little while later in 1 Samuel 26 Saul gets it in his mind to once again pursue David to kill him. And so he comes down to Ziph again – where David was still hiding – because these treacherous men from that city seem to enjoy turning-in David to their bloodthirsty and God-forsaken king.

Well, this time, Saul goes to sleep and is surrounded by his army of 3,000 elite fighters. But God causes a really unusually-deep sleep to come on these folks and so David and Abishai his assistant go right up to Saul and take his spear and his water jug. Abishai offers to kill Saul and end all of this madness right then and there! But David refuses. He will not use artificial human means to accomplish God’s plan – and certainly he won’t do it when it involves disobeying the Lord.

So, David wakes everyone up from a safe distance and reveals that he has Saul’s spear and water jug. Saul repents once more and promises to never again pursue David. And I believe that Saul actually ends up keeping his word to David at that point. Because David flees to Philistia and then Saul dies in battle a little while later.

Now, reflecting on those events, try to imagine the faith that this whole scenario would have called for in this man who’s just like you and me – David. To have at your disposal the ability to end your long trial and to twice refuse. David could have had immediate relief from this persecution that drove him from his home and from his country eventually. But he didn’t take it. Why? Because he trusted in the Lord.

So, that’s a brief synopsis of the events of 1 Samuel 23 and 26 which mention these men referenced in Psalm 54 known as the Ziphites. This is the situation that called for the writing of this psalm.

And as evil as King Saul was, he’s not the only one – or really, even the primary one – that David is dealing with in this psalm. David is actually focused mostly on these Ziphites who keep urging Saul to come and try to kill David.

Psalm 54 Sermon Who Are Your Ziphites?

So, do you have any modern-day Ziphites in your life?

Do you have someone who likes to get you in trouble with the boss?

Or maybe a family member who selectively chooses which facts he’d like to share with others in the family that might make you look bad while he leaves out other facts that would balance out the details that seem negative?

You might – or our church corporately might – have a person or persons who try to make us look bad and get us in trouble with the larger community. {10 minutes}

Paul the apostle had at least one group of “Ziphites” if you will in the form of some unbelieving Jews in Thessalonica who weren’t content to trouble him in their city alone but also made the effort to follow after him and get him in trouble in other cities.

So, how do you deal with your Ziphites? That’s going to be the title of this message – Dealing With Your Ziphites. Let’s allow David through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to help us see how you can righteously deal with the Ziphites – the betrayers and slanderers in your life and those who have evil intent for you.

Here’s how David dealt with his literal Ziphites.

Psalm 54 Sermon 1b Request Deliverance and Vindication from the Lord

To begin, you need to request of the Lord deliverance and vindication, like David does in verse 1.

{Save/Deliver} me, O God, by thy name,
and {judge/vindicate} me by thy {strength/power/might}.

So, David is asking for deliverance and vindication.

Let’s note first of all what David is not doing and what we ought not to do. And that is to take your own vengeance on these people – these Ziphites in your life. Don’t take your own vengeance. That would be just as unrighteous as they’re acting. Don’t do that!

Vengeance is mine, says the Lord. I will repay.

If someone comes along and slaps you on one cheek, turn the other so that he can slap you there as well.

If your enemy is hungry, feed him. This is the way that you can heap burning coals on his head – by doing good to him.

Pray for those who persecute you.

These are all New Testament admonitions for us to not seek our own vengeance – but to allow the Lord to repay people who are doing us wrong.

So, negatively, don’t take your own vengeance.

But positively, of course, seek the Lord for deliverance and vindication.

You need deliverance from the consequences of what betrayers and slanderers will do to you. You need their traps against you to fail. And you need the damage that they’re trying to inflict on you to explode in their own faces.

So, you need God to deliver you from their schemes. But you also need God to clear your reputation amongst those whom these Ziphites have tried to ruin that very reputation. You need to be vindicated by the Lord.

So, in regard to your Ziphites – your betrayers and slanderers – don’t take your own vengeance, but rather seek the Lord to protect you from them and to vindicate you or to clear your reputation where they have sought to slander you publicly.

Psalm 54 Sermon 2 Request God to Hear You

Now, you need to be earnest about this as you as you seek this kind of thing. Don’t be ashamed to do like David did in verse 2 and ask the Lord to hear you.

2 {Hear/Listen to} my prayer, O God;
{give ear to the words of my mouth./Pay attention to what I say!/listen to the words of my mouth.}

Now, what do you see David doing here? David is getting desperate. And it’s alright to be desperate in prayer. Look – you and I are going to be desperate somewhere – either in front of everyone or in front of the Lord. David is being wise and he’s expressing his desperation to the Lord.

A calm quiet mumbled prayer for deliverance and vindication from your Ziphites – your betrayers and slanderers – well, that might just indicate that you really don’t care whether God answers or not. Your heart needs to be in a state of desperation before the Lord.

Now, it’s not disrespectful to God to demand that he hear you. The verbs in verse 2 are commands. Now, no doubt they are submissive commands. But they are commands nonetheless. Don’t think that it is beneath a faithful Christian to command God to do something on his behalf. With the heartbeat of Jesus in you saying, “Your will be done” you can command the Lord to do anything. Even when it’s an essentially self-focused prayer. David’s is here. He’s praying for himself.

So, in your life as you experience Ziphite moments of betrayal and slander, desperately go to the Lord asking him for protection from them and vindication before them and others.

Psalm 54 Sermon 3 Present Your Trouble to the Lord

And then you’ll want to bring up the details of why you’re so desperate as you pray to the Lord, like David does in verse 3.

3 {For strangers/For Foreigners/Strangers} {are risen up against/have risen against/attack/are attacking} me,
{and oppressors/and violent men/ruthless men} {seek after my soul/have sought my life/seek my life}:
{they have not set God before them./who do not respect God/men without regard for God}

Selah.

So, what case does David have against these Ziphites? What is his justification for asking that God would put an end to their schemes?

Well, David points out that these men – who were Israelites, and actually from the tribe of Judah – were acting like foreigners. Why else would they be seeking to destroy the one whom the Lord had already anointed king and who was just waiting until Saul would step aside until he could assume the crown? David was in fact – and in God’s eyes – the king of Israel. There was only one problem – the old king whom God had rejected wouldn’t leave. And yet, despite that, as a matter of fact, David was the king of the Ziphites. But they were acting like foreigners because they were betraying their king.

And they weren’t just betraying their king. David says that they were attacking and rising up against him. As they called twice for Saul and his army to come and destroy their king, these Ziphites were in a way themselves indirectly attacking David.

David goes on to say that these Ziphites were also violent men. They were oppressive. They were ruthless. And they sought after David’s soul – after his very life.

And further, these Ziphites were acting this way because they had a faulty relationship with the God to whom David is praying. {20 minutes}

And this really is the root cause of all betrayal and slander – it’s that people don’t have a right relationship with the Lord. They don’t set God before their eyes – they don’t respect him – they have no regard for him. And where that’s the case – where people have no regard for the Lord, well, they’re not going to regard his people, either.

So, these Ziphites are bad folks. They are violent and oppressive and murderous in their hearts – if not with their hands – toward God’s true servant. And they have no regard for the Lord.

Are your Ziphites similar? Those whom you’ve known over the years to betray you or to slander you – would you be able to describe them in this way?

Well, perhaps this is a safeguard then. We can be so easily offended and put on the defensive by any number of really small matters. And it’s possible for us to identify a person as a Ziphite – a slanderer or betrayer – and yet, really if you were to try to bring this kind of charge against them to the Lord, you’d find not enough evidence to convict, as it were. In those cases, perhaps praying this kind of prayer for these people wouldn’t be appropriate.

And yet, if you’re able to identify some people in your life in these terms, then you are free to do so. God wants you to pray this way about them. He wants you to say the same thing about these people that he himself knows to be true.

Certainly, confess your own faults and sins first. But then after that, have no qualms about speaking to the Lord concerning your Ziphites in terms that the Lord himself would be comfortable with and understand and agree.

Psalm 54 Sermon 4 Remind Yourself of God’s Care for You

So, you and I – as we experience betrayal and slander – we need to desperately seek the Lord to deliver and protect and vindicate us. And we need to state clearly to the Lord why the people who are doing this to us are so troublesome in our hearts.

But don’t leave it there. We can get so focused on the wrongs that others have committed against us that we forget that there’s a God in heaven to whom we’re praying. And that’s why it’s very important to remind yourself of God’s care for you, like David does in verse 4.

4 {Behold/Look/Surely}, God is {mine helper/my deliverer/my help}:
the Lord is {with them that uphold/the sustainer of/among those who support} {my soul/me}.

So, the message that comes out loud and clear in this verse is that we need to remember that we are not alone in this battle – in this struggle – in this life.

We’re not alone as we face betrayal and slander. God is with us. He’s your helper – your deliverer.

And God is enough – that’s for sure. But very interestingly, the Lord has David speak of God as someone who is “with” or “among” another group that David takes comfort in knowing they exist. That group is “them that uphold my soul” or “those who support me.”

David takes comfort in the fact that even in this world, he’s not alone. There are others who support and uphold him.

And that’s important for us to remember as well. As we’re slandered or betrayed, we’re never alone. It might feel like we are. But it would do us well to remember that even among mankind, we’re not alone. And certainly, the Lord never leaves or forsake us.

Psalm 54 Sermon 5 Remind Yourself that God will Make Matters Right

And it’s not that God is just there but that he’s not going to do anything.

No – when we experience slander and betrayal – and as we desperately cry out for God to deliver and vindicate us from those whose actions toward us and attitude toward the Lord are demonstrably wicked and harmful – then as we remind ourselves that we are not alone – that God is with us – well, we then need to remind ourselves of the ultimate end and result of the Lord being “with” us.

And that is, that he will ultimately make matters right, as David confesses to believing in verse 5.

5 {He shall reward evil unto mine enemies:/ He will recompense the evil to my foes;/May those who wait to ambush me be repaid for their evil!/ Let evil recoil on those who slander me;}
{cut them off/Destroy them} {in thy truth/in your faithfulness/as a demonstration of your faithfulness}.

So, David is sure that the Lord will make matters right by bringing justice to the evil-doers in his life.

And the wording in Hebrew is a little hard to determine whether David is asking for these things to happen or if he’s just declaring that God will indeed make these things happen – or maybe both!

But whatever the case, whether he’s again submissively commanding that the Lord would bring justice to his betrayers and slanderers – or whether David is simply stating his conviction that the Lord will bring justice to these men the Ziphites, the result is the same. David believes that the Lord will do right.

And we need this too. We can pray desperately for God to help – and then basically allow unbelief to make us think as if the Lord is not going to help. That’s no good! If we pray for God’s help, we need to believe that he will act.

The one who comes to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.

Anything you ask, if you believe that you receive it, it will be given to you.

If any man lacks wisdom, let him ask of God and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering or doubting.

These are New Testament admonitions that encourage us to do just what David is doing here – to really believe that God is going to take care of you – and that he is going to “take care of” your slanderers and betrayers and persecutors. {30 minutes}

Psalm 54 Sermon 6 Anticipatingly resolve to praise the Lord for his help

Well, if you’re resolved that God will hear and answer you by dealing out justice to your Ziphites, then the next step is not a far reach for you.

If you really believe that God is going to help you and answer your prayer for deliverance and vindication, then the next logical step is what David expresses in verse 6. And that’s to anticipatingly resolve to praise the Lord for his help.

6 I will {freely sacrifice/willingly sacrifice/sacrifice with a freewill offering} unto thee:
I will {praise/give thanks to} thy name, O LORD; for it is good.

Now, David isn’t going to sacrifice anything while he’s being chased by Saul and away from the presence of the Tabernacle. But he is convinced that God is going to answer his prayer in such a way as to allow for him to return to a place of normalcy and ability to worship the Lord like he used to.

And this is what we ought to do in these trials of ours. We need to look forward to God actually answering the prayers that we’re offering up to him. And we need to resolve in our hearts that it won’t be back to business-as-usual after the Lord helps us.

Has this ever happened to you – that you’ve prayed desperately for the Lord to be gracious to you – and then he answers! And what’s your response?

Remember the account of the 10 lepers – and Jesus healed them all. But how many came back to thank him? Just one. You and I need to be that one who turns back to the Lord and genuinely thanks and praises him for his help.

Psalm 54 Sermon 7 Anticipate the Lord’s Answering & Helping You

And really, beyond resolving to thank the Lord for his deliverance and vindication from slander and betrayal – from the Ziphites in your life – you need to anticipate the Lord’s answering and helping you – precisely because he has helped you so many times in the past. This is how David thinks of things to end Psalm 54 in verse 7.

7 {For/Surely} he {hath delivered/rescues} me {out of/from} all {trouble/my troubles}:
and {mine eye hath seen his desire upon/my eye has looked with satisfaction upon/I triumph over/my eyes have looked in triumph on} mine enemies.

In other words, has the Lord ever answered any of your prayers? If he answers this prayer concerning people who slander or betray you, is that the first time that God has ever answered your prayer?

Of course not! For true believers God delights in answering our prayers.

Ask and you will receive. Whoever asks will receive.

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

These are statements from Jesus concerning God’s desire to answer our prayers. This is what he wants to do for believers. And so, you and I have experienced answered prayer before, haven’t we?

Yeah, we have! And this is one thing that helps encourages us that God will do this again. As you earnestly seek the Lord’s deliverance and vindication when you’re betrayed or slandered you know that he will hear you – because he’s heard and answered you many times before.

Psalm 54 Sermon Closing

So, what we’ve seen in this psalm is inspired counsel regarding how to deal with the Ziphites in your life – with people who intentionally get you in trouble – by slandering and betraying you – even though you did nothing to deserve such treatment. You – like David – need to…

  1. Earnestly ask the Lord for deliverance and vindication.
  2. Bring up the details about these people who have attacked you – that they have no regard for God or man.
  3. Remind yourself of God’s care, and rest assured that he will make matters right.
  4. Anticipate praising and thanking the Lord for answering this prayer just like he’s done for you so many times in the past.

And in this way, I think the Lord will be pleased to help us as we seek to Deal With Our Ziphites.

Zechariah 14 Commentary Verses 12-21

Let’s turn one last time to the book of Zechariah. We’ll finish the 14th chapter of this book today.

Last time we studied the first 11 verses of chapter 14. We see there that God was foretelling the destruction of all the nations who will attack Jerusalem at the end of the Great Tribulation, the foretelling of a unique day at that time in terms of the day being like night and vice versa, we were told of living waters coming from Jerusalem in the ensuing Millennial reign of Christ, at that time the land will literally be flattened even as Jerusalem is physically elevated, and so Jerusalem will be safely inhabited.

And that leads us to what we’ll be studying today – verses 12-21 of chapter 14. So, let’s read those verses and then study the details.

{Read Zec 14:12-21…}

Zechariah 14 Commentary Plague of the Nations

So, the Lord describes the plague with which he’s going to strike the nations who at the end of the Great Tribulation come up against Jerusalem to attack it – and who by this point have actually already conquered it.

KJV Zechariah 14:12 ¶ {And this/Now this/But this/This} {shall be/will be} the {plague/nature of the plague} {wherewith/with which} the LORD will {smite/strike} all the {people/peoples/nations} {that/who} have {fought/gone to war} against Jerusalem;

Their flesh {shall/will} {consume away/rot/decay} while they {stand/are still standing} {upon/on} their feet,

{and their/their} eyes {shall consume away/will rot/will rot away} in their {holes/sockets},

and their tongue {shall consume away/will rot/will dissolve} in their mouth.

So, there is this initial rotting of tissue that will occur. And usually you might expect flesh to rot on people after they die. But in this case, the people are still standing as this will happen, which is very unusual.

And you would think that this kind of plague would be absolutely fatal and kill everyone instantly. And yet, verse 13 goes on to describe some who will survive that plague. And for those that do survive, God will send confusion to them so that they end up attacking each other.

13 {And it shall come to pass in/It will come about in/On} that day, {that a great tumult/that a great panic/there will be great confusion/men will be stricken with great panic} {from/by} the LORD {shall be among/will fall on/among} them;

{and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour,/ and they will seize one another’s hand,/they will seize each other/Each man will seize the hand of another,}

{and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour./and the hand of one will be lifted against the hand of another./and attack one another violently./and they will attack each other.}

So, maybe not everyone who attacks Jerusalem at the end of the Great Tribulation will get the flesh-rotting effects of the plague that the Lord mentioned in verse 12 and so, these people in verse 13 are those who did not receive that plague and are thus stronger and still able to fight against each other.

In fact, I think that that has to be the case somehow – that not everyone is subject to the plague of verse 12. Because there will be some of these Gentile nations who enter into the Millennial Kingdom of Christ and I assume that their flesh is intact – at least intact enough to survive and to continue living. So, it seems to me that the plague of verse 12 is perhaps not going to affect each individual but is rather going to effect a great many of the enemy combatants of the nations – though not all of them.

Well, in the end when Jesus returns to deliver the Jews, we’ve seen so far that he is going to send a very strange flesh-eating plague, and a great deal of those who haven’t been finished-off by that will be thrown into confusion and will end up fighting each other instead of the Jews.

And so, with all of that going on, the Jews at the end of the Tribulation will have no problem defending themselves and even advancing on their Gentiles attackers. And not only will they be able to fight-off their attackers, but they’re even going to be able to take the possessions of those nations.

14 {And Judah also/Judah also/Moreover, Judah/Judah, too} {shall/will} fight at Jerusalem;

{and the/the} wealth of all the {heathen round about/surrounding nations} {shall be gathered together/will be gathered/will be gathered up/will be collected},

gold, and silver, and {apparel/garments/clothing}, in great {abundance/quantities}.

So, even though earlier in this chapter we heard about the plunder taken from the Jews, now the focus is on the fact that the aggressive attacking nations – their plunder will be taken and given to the Jews when Jesus returns.

And to end this small section from verse 12 to verse 15 that has been focused on the plague that will befall the nations and their subsequent confusion and defeat at the hands of the Jews, the Lord wants to reemphasize that he is indeed going to be sending that plague that he mentioned at the beginning of this section back in verse 12.

15 {And so shall be the plague/So also like this plague will be the plague/This is the kind of plague that will devastate/A similar plague will strike} {of/on} {the horse/horses}, {of the mule/the mule/mules}, {of the camel/the camel/camels}, {and of the ass/the donkey/donkeys}, and {of all the beasts/all the cattle/all the other animals/all the animals} {that shall be in these tents,/in those camps} {as this plague/(blank)}.

So, the flesh-rotting effects of this plague and the resulting confusion that the Lord will send – these things are not just going to effect humans. According to verse 15 that we just read, even the animals of the attacking nations will experience these things from the Lord.

Zechariah 14 Commentary Nations’ Worship the Lord

But the Lord doesn’t want us to get the wrong impression. You can read verses 12-15 and imagine that absolutely everyone besides the Jews will be killed when Jesus returns. And that’s simply not the case. In fact, according to verses 16-19, there will be a number of people from the nations that live through Jesus’ return and will be required to return to Jerusalem every year to worship Jesus Christ.

16 ¶ {And it shall come to pass, that/Then it will come about that/Then} {every one that is left/any who are left/all who survive/the survivors} {of/from} all the nations {which came against/that went against/that came to attack/that have attached} Jerusalem {shall even/will} go up {from year to year/annually/year after year} to worship the King, the LORD {of hosts/who rules over all/Almighty}, and to {keep/celebrate/observe} the feast of tabernacles.

Let’s just note to begin who the nations are going to go up to Jerusalem to worship. They are going to worship the Lord of Hosts. Yahweh who commands armies. Jehovah.

And what position will the Lord of Hosts hold on this earth at this point in earth’s history? He will be the King.

And who do we know will be the King in the Millennial Kingdom? Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the king of the Millennial Kingdom and Jesus Christ is therefore the Lord of Hosts who will receive worship by Jews and Gentiles forever.

Now, the Feast of Tabernacles or the Feast of Booths or the Feast of Temporary Shelters was to be held every year. During that time the people were supposed to make these booths or temporary shelters made of branches and other materials like that.

The feast lasted seven days and then on the eighth day there was a solemn assembly. No work was to be performed on these eight days. And every male Israelite was required to come.

The significance of this festival seems to have been to remind the Israelites that they had wandered in the wilderness for forty years and that during that time of chastisement from the Lord they were perfectly provided for – that even in judgement God showed them mercy.

Now, historically, the Jews had not been very good about keeping this festival. They observed it during Moses and Joshua’s times. And then it was really not until Solomon reigned about 500 years later that Solomon kept this ordinance. And yet, it seems like the people didn’t wholeheartedly follow Solomon in this practice until the time of Nehemiah when the Jews returned from Babylon.

So, the Jews’ – God’s people’s – keeping of this ordinance has been very spotty.

But that’s not going to be the case when Jesus returns. Not only will all the Jews be celebrating this festival. The Gentiles who survive Jesus’s return will also participate in this event.

17 {And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth/And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up/But if any of the nations anywhere on earth refuse to go up/If any of the people of the earth do not go up} {unto/to} Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD {of hosts/who rules over all/Almighty}, {even upon them shall be no rain/there will be no rain on them/they will get no rain/they will have no rain}.

So, it’s interesting to note that this passage allows for the possibility that some in the Millennium will disobey Jesus. Your perception might be that in the Millennium when Jesus is physically reigning on the earth that no one will disobey. Or if they do disobey then there will be immediate death for them.

But this verse teaches us that there will possibly be some nations or people – probably a while after the great battle of Armageddon, I would imagine – and they’re not going to obey Jesus perfectly.

So, there is the possibility of sin and outward disobedience in the Millennium.

However, we also noted in verse 17 that there will be immediate and robust retribution for that sin and disobedience. But the punishment for every sin is not going to be death in the Millennium. Rather, it’s a guarantee that rain will not fall on those who do not go up to Jerusalem every year to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles and to worship the Lord Jesus Christ.

Currently, the way that God operates in this regard is found in what we call Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. In these days, to whom does God send rain?

God sends rain on the just and on the unjust. If you obey, he tends to send rain on you. If you disobey you generally get the same treatment.

But in the Millennium, rain will be directly tied to one’s obedience. There will be resurrected saints like you and me and it will be impossible for us to sin. But there will also be those who survive the battle of Armageddon and they’ll have children and so on – and those folks will still be able to sin and disobey. And if they do, no rain.

And of course, no rain means no crops. And it means no grass. And no cattle. And no trees. And no fruit. And on and on.

So, the people of the Millennium will have great encouragement to obey the Lord and to go up to Jerusalem yearly and worship his Son.

And as we’ve seen before, sometimes the Lord is really wanting to make sure that we don’t somehow spiritualize or treat as metaphorical some statement that he makes in terms of a future promise that seems impossible to come to pass in our minds.

Like when the Lord says that there will be great mourning in Israel over the Jews’ treatment of their Messiah whom they pierced. And then it went on in great detail about all of these different families and how they and their wives separately will all mourn. God really wants us to know that that will actually happen.

A similar thing happens with this threat of withholding rain from those who don’t celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem. They really will not get rain. And God makes that abundantly clear as he continues to focus on that theme in verse 18.

18 {And if/If} the {family of Egypt/Egyptians} {go not up, and come not,/does not go up or enter/will not do so/do not go up and take part} {that have no rain;/then no rain will fall on them/they will get no rain/they will have no rain}

{there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite/it will be the plague with which the LORD smites/instead there will be the kind of plague which the LORD inflicts on/The LORD will bring on them the plague he inflicts on} {the heathen/the nations/any nations} {that/who} {come not up/do not go up} to {keep/celebrate} the {feast/Feast} of {tabernacles/Booths}.

So, that verse is saying one of two things. First, depending on how it’s translated, the lack of rain will be a plague to the people who don’t obey Jesus. Second, it could be saying that in addition to the lack of rain, the Lord will send that plague that he mentioned earlier in this passage about the flesh rotting on people and such.

I think it’s best to see this as the Lord saying that the rain is the plague on these people. The flesh-rotting plague was for those who were attacking Jerusalem at the end of the Great Tribulation. And then on into the Millennium the Lord will send another plague to those who disobey – but it won’t involve flesh rotting – it will involve rain not falling, which is a little more merciful than that first plague.

Well, again, once more the Lord emphasizes that – seriously – he really is going to withhold the rain from these nations in the Millennium if they don’t come up to Jerusalem and worship Jesus Christ as they celebrate that feast.

19 This {shall/will} be the punishment of Egypt, and {the punishment of/of} all {nations/the nations} {that/who} {come not/do not go} up to {keep/celebrate} the {feast/Feast} of {tabernacles/Booths}.

So, what’s interesting about this whole reality of immediate retribution against sinners in the Millennium is that this is so different than what we experience today – and really – what has been experienced by all people since the fall of Adam.

Think of the premise of the book of Job. Remember the way in which both Job and his friends were thinking that God works in this world. According to them, God works this way – he punishes disobedience and rewards righteousness. And he does this pretty much immediately.

But is that the way that this life works right now? Or, I should say, is that how God works in this world right now? No. That’s one of the main teachings of the book of Job. The Retribution Principle as it’s called does not work in this life. Sometimes or many times, sinners do well, and righteous people suffer and they’re poor and they’re afflicted.

But the glorious reality of the Millennium is that finally the Retribution Principle will in fact work. God will bless good and curse evil. He will immediately punish wickedness and reward righteousness.

Now, we all hate the Prosperity Gospel – or we should – which is the teaching that you can have “your best life now” as Joel Osteen puts it – or that if you’re godly in whatever way those teachers would define that term, then you’ll be blessed materially. And we hate that teaching because it’s totally false in this life.

But you know what? The basic principles behind the Prosperity Gospel are actually going to be true in the Millennium. You do good in the Millennium – you get good. And you do wrong when Jesus is reigning on the earth – and it will affect you right away.

Zechariah 14 Commentary Total Devotion of Everything to the Lord

And that’s not the only thing that will be so different when Jesus comes to rule this world. In fact, the last two verses of this entire book of prophecy focuses on how in the Millennium everything will be entirely devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ.

20 ¶ {In/On} that day {shall there be upon the bells of the horses,/there will be inscribed on the bells of the horses/the bells of the horses will bear the inscription} {HOLINESS/ “HOLY} {UNTO/TO} THE {LORD;/LORD”}

and the {pots/cooking pots} in the LORD’S {house/temple} {shall/will} be {like/as holy as} the {bowls/sacred bowls} {before/in front of} the altar.

So what does this mean? It means that everything – whether you’re talking about animals or about dishes – everything in the Millennium will be holy. It will be set apart to the Lord – set apart for the Lord’s service and pleasure.

Bells on horses and pots – everything will be rightly related to the Lord. And as we’ve seen, if anything isn’t rightly related to the Lord, there will be swift consequences that will hopefully have the effect of turning those people or things back to a right relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

And the Lord repeats this promise in verse 21.

21 {Yea, every/Every} {pot/cooking pot} in Jerusalem and in Judah {i.e., not just in the Lord’s House or the Temple…} {shall/will} {be/become} {holiness/holy} {unto/to/in the sight of} the LORD {of hosts/who rules over all/Almighty}:

{and/so that} all {they that sacrifice/who offer sacrifices} {shall/may} come and take {of them,/some of the pots} {and/to} {seethe therein/boil their sacrifices in them/cook in them}:

So, as the nations and Jews come yearly to worship the Lord Jesus Christ they will have these bowls to boil their sacrifices in – and they’ll all be ceremonially clean. Further, they’ll be holy and set apart for the Lord’s use.

No more sordidness. No more stuff over which the Lord rules which will be set against him. No – everything will be his – as it truly is in reality. For so long, God has been patiently enduring all the things that he’s created being against him and at odds with him.

But there’s a day coming when everything will be set apart for him.

And the Lord ends this book with this related statement that can be a bit puzzling at first…

and in that day there shall be no {more/longer} {the/a} Canaanite in the house of the LORD {of hosts/who rules over all/Almighty}.

And the point here is not to say that the Lord is going to exclude the Canaanites from his temple. Remember the context – everything will be the Lord’s. Therefore, what this passage is saying is that any Canaanite that survives the battle of Armageddon – really, anyone from any nations – will be one of God’s people. There won’t be Jews vs. Canaanites. They will all be holy to the Lord – all God’s people.

And so that’s how this book ends – with a reminder that eventually everything will belong to the Lord. Everything will be set apart for him.

And for those of us who know this coming king, Jesus Christ, you need to ask yourself if you’re wholly the Lord’s right now? Everything in this world will some day belong to Jesus and be set apart for his use. Are you today belonging to Jesus? Are you set apart for his use?

This is basically the purpose for the whole Great Tribulation. It’s to get everything to the point where it belongs to Jesus Christ. Once more, do you belong to Jesus Christ? Have you willingly received him? And are you living for him? Is your life his?

Zechariah 14 Commentary Verses 1-11

Let’s turn our attention to the 14th – and last! – chapter of the book of the Old Testament prophet Zechariah.

This 14th chapter of Zechariah continues what was started back in chapter 12of this book. It’s an oracle or burden concerning Israel.

And what we’ve seen is that so far most of this three-chapter section has dealt with what’s to come for Israel at the end of what we know as the Great Tribulation – that seven-year period of time in which God pours out his wrath on this world that continually rejects him – and at the end of which he sends Jesus Christ to put down all his enemies and to establish his kingdom on earth for a thousand years.

We’ll study the first eleven verses of chapter 14 today. And I expect that next time we’ll finish this book.

So, let’s read Zechariah 14 and then get into the details.

{Read Zec 14…}

Now, let’s get into the details.

Zechariah 14 Commentary v1 Destruction of Nations who Attack J’lem

In verse 1 we saw that the Lord foretells a time when all the things that have been taken from the Jews are returned to them.

KJV Zechariah 14:1 ¶ Behold, {the/a} day {of the LORD cometh/is coming from the LORD/of the LORD is about to come},

{and/when} {thy spoil/the spoil taken from you/your possessions/your plunder} {shall/will} be divided {in the midst of thee/among you/in your midst/among you}.

Well, what’s this business about stuff being taken from the Jews? When is that going to happen?

According to verse 2, the Jews will be attacked by numerous nations – and for the most part – for a while at least – it will look like the nations are winning against Israel.

2 For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to {battle/wage war/fight against it};

and the city {shall be taken/will be captured},

and the houses {rifled/plundered/ransacked},

and the women {ravished/raped};

{and/then} half of the city {shall go forth into captivity/exiled},

{and/but} the {residue/rest/remainder} of the people {shall/will} not be {cut off from the city/taken away}.

So, despite the devastation and destruction, about half of the city will remain in it and not be sent out.

And I suppose that if the destruction mentioned in verse 2 were to continue to occur then that remaining half would be sent out of there as well. Except in verse 3 we’re told that at that moment – when all of these awful things are happening – the Lord will fight for Israel.

3 Then {shall the LORD/the LORD will} go {forth/to battle}, and fight against those nations, {as when/just as} he {fought/fights/fought battles} {in/on} {the day of battle/ancient days}.

And we know this to be a reference to Jesus Christ – the Jews’ pierced Messiah whom they’ll look upon as we saw in Zechariah 12. He’s going to come and fight against these nations that are attacking the Jews toward the end of the Tribulation and who are taking spoil from them.

Now, once again, notice who Jesus Christ is identified as being. He’s the LORD – Jehovah – Yahweh – the God of Israel – the God who created everything.

Now, some might think that the Lord’s return is spiritual only. They think that he’s not coming back physically. The Church is somehow going to bring in the Millennium – rather than Jesus Christ coming and doing that. That way of thinking is called Post-Millennialism. Jesus will return after the thousand year reign.

The problem is that verse 4 doesn’t allow for that way of thinking. No – the Lord’s feet are literally going to touch down on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem in those days according to verse 4.

4 And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is {before/in front of} Jerusalem on the east,

and the mount of Olives {shall cleave in the midst thereof/will be split in its middle/will be split in half} {toward the/from} east {and toward the/to} west, {and there shall be/by/leaving} a very {great/large} valley;

{and/so that} half of the mountain {shall remove/will move} {toward the north/northward}, and {half of it/the other half} toward the south.

Now, the Mount of Olives goes north to south and it’s on the east side of Jerusalem – the city which these nations are going to attack at the end of the Tribulation.

So, what verse 4 is saying is that Jesus Christ – when he returns – is going to set foot on the Mount of Olives. This is the very place from which he ascended according to Acts 1:12. And you remember that those angels who appeared to his disciples who were gazing up into the sky told them that Jesus was going to return just like he left this earth – that is, on this very mountain that Zechariah is speaking of.

So, Jesus will set foot on this hill east of Jerusalem. And when he does, it will cause this hill – the Mount of Olives – to cleave from east to west.

And the Lord describes this with such detail as would prevent us from taking this metaphorically. Think of what happens if you sink your foot into an area of semi-dry mud. Your foot goes down and the mud moves from under your foot.

In the case of Jesus putting his feet down on the Mount of Olives – his touchdown will be east to west. And therefore, the earth underneath him will move up to the north and down to the south.

And the result will be this valley that will stretch from east to west.

Now, on the west side of that valley is going to be where a city is located. What is that city?

It’s Jerusalem which we’ve been discussing.

And what is happening to Jerusalem? Well, the city is being attacked.

And what needs to happen when a city is under attack and overwhelmed and unable to win against its enemy? The inhabitants of the city need to flee.

And so, thankfully the inhabitants of Jerusalem will now have a nice valley through which to flee – this very one described for us already in verse 4. So, that’s what now verse 5 says – these people the Jews will flee through that valley that Jesus’ feet will create.

5 {And ye/You/Then you} {shall/will} {flee/escape}{to/by/through} the valley of {the/My} mountains;

for the valley of the mountains {shall reach unto/will extend to} {Azal/Azel}:

{yea/yes/Indeed}, ye shall flee, {like/just} as ye fled {from before/before/from} the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah:

{and/then} the LORD my God shall come, and all the {saints/holy ones} with {thee/him}.

Now, Azal or Azel is a location that isn’t known with any certainty. It seems that it’s a location on the opposite side of the Mount of Olives from Jerusalem – so it would be to the east of the Mount of Olives. Because that’s where this newly-created valley will extend to from Jerusalem. And the people are making their escape from the city of Jerusalem through this new valley in the Mount of Olives. So, apparently Azal/Azel is eastward.

And Zechariah mentions the earthquake of king Uzziah’s time. This is another fairly obscure reference in this verse – but this earthquake is actually mentioned in the book of Amos and chapter 1 and verse 1 mentions this earthquake. It apparently happened at the city of Hazor in northern Israel in or around 760 B.C. There’s a tel there – or a mound that archaeologists have dug into and there’s a layer in that mound that indicates some massive destruction around that time.

But the point is that the people about 300 years prior to this prophecy had this event that caused them to flee – and the event was so awful that hundreds of years didn’t erase it from their memories. And they’re going to flee at the end of the Tribulation just like they did for this earthquake.

And then the best part – the Lord returns. And he’ll be with his holy ones – his saints. That certainly will include us. But even more amazingly it will include angels.

And of course as we’ve been reminded of several times in this book, this is Jesus Christ who is to come – yet again at the end of the Tribulation. He will come with his holy ones and deliver his people the Jews who had fled eastward through the new valley carved into the Mount of Olives which he had just created for them.

Zechariah 14 Commentary v6 Unique Day

And when Jesus returns there will be at least one very unusual day in terms of celestial activity, according to verses 6 and 7.

6 ¶ {And it shall come to pass in/In/On} that day, {that the light shall not be clear, nor dark:/there will be no light; the luminaries will dwindle./there will be no light– the sources of light in the heavens will congeal./there will be no light, no cold or frost.}

7 {But it/For it/It} {shall be one day which shall be/will be a unique day which is/will happen in one day (a day} known to the LORD,

{not day, nor night:/neither day nor night/not in the day or the night/without day time or night time} {but it shall come to pass, that at/but in the} evening time {it shall/there will} be light.

So, apparently when Jesus returns to deliver the Jews there will be this disturbance in the heavens that would be visible from earth. The details of how this is going to work isn’t clear – and that’s to be expected because after all this will be a day “known to the Lord” – as in, known to him and understood by him alone.

And yet, the Lord gives us this general notice that in that day, the earth’s atmosphere will be dark during the day and bright at night. It’s as if the current order will be totally switched around in that regard – at least for a time surrounding these events.

Zechariah 14 Commentary v8 Living Waters

And not only will the sky be presenting some very interesting phenomena, but the ground will be as well, according to verse 8.

8 ¶ {And it shall be in/And in/Moreover on/On} that day, that living waters shall {go/flow} out {from/of} Jerusalem;

half of them {toward/to} the {former/eastern} sea, and half of them toward the {hinder/western} sea:

{in/both in} summer {and/as well as} in winter shall it be.

Now, the former or eastern sea would be the Dead Sea. And the hinder or western sea is the Mediterranean Sea. There is going to be water coming out of Jerusalem pouring out into both of these seas.

Now, Jerusalem is about 32 miles away from the Mediterranean Sea and 23 miles away from the Dead Sea – just for perspective and help in understanding how far this water is going to be flowing when Jesus returns.

There is a spring in Jerusalem today called the Gihon Spring. It provides water for the city and has done so for as long as there’s been civilization there. But the Gihon Spring is not sending out water to both of these seas mentioned in verse 8. So, in the future either something is going to happen to this spring to make it pour our more water – or this living water is something else that God has planned for this city.

By the way, the Gihon Spring is what they call an intermittent or a rhythmic spring, which means that it doesn’t constantly flow. It flows three to five times each day in winter, twice a day in summer, and once a day in autumn.

But this living water that will flow in the last days will be constant. It won’t dry up. It will be constantly running and flowing and providing water to these two seas “in summer and in winter.”

Now, there’s one problem with this arrangement. Currently to get from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea, a stream of water would need to climb uphill to get over the Mount of Olives. And water doesn’t do that.

But why won’t that be a problem in the last days when Jesus returns? Because as we’ve learned already Jesus is going to make a valley through that Mountain, allowing the water to flow from Jerusalem into the Dead Sea.

In addition to that, the Lord is going to physically elevate Jerusalem and flatten the surrounding areas as we’re going to hear about later in this chapter.

So, you might look at this promise in verse 8 and think it’s metaphorical because you can’t see how it would happen right now. But I think it’s quite literal and we can expect it to happen when Jesus returns.

Zechariah 14 Commentary v9 Jesus Will Reign

And return he will – according to verse 9.

9 ¶ And the LORD {shall/will/will then} be king over {all the/the whole} earth:

{in/on} that day {shall there be one LORD, and his name one./the LORD will be the only one, and His name the only one./the LORD will be seen as one with a single name./there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.}

The Jews will see Jesus in those days and they will no longer pretend that Jesus is not Yahweh. They will be seen to be one. To see Jesus is to see the Father. Jesus and the Father are one. The Word was with God and the Word was God.

In that day when Jesus reigns over his people the Jews and over the whole world there won’t be any folks claiming, “Well, I believe God, and I think Jesus was a good teacher, but I don’t believe he’s God.” No, Jesus’ true character will be known and undeniable by all.

Zechariah 14 Commentary v10 The Land Flattened

And then as we’ve noted already, the topography of the land will change when Jesus returns, according to verse 10.

10 ¶ {All the/The whole} land {shall/will} {be turned as/be changed into/change and become like} {a plain/the Arabah} from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem:

{and it/but Jerusalem/and Jerusalem} {shall/will} {be lifted up,/rise/be raised up} and {inhabited in her place/remain on its site/stay in its own place}, from {Benjamin’s/the Benjamin} gate {unto/as far as/to} the {place/site} of the first gate, {unto/and on to} the corner gate, and from the tower of {Hananeel/Hananel} {unto/to} the {king’s/royal} winepresses.

So, we’ve already seen how the living water from Jerusalem will empty into the Dead Sea. And now this verse explains how water will get from Jerusalem to the Mediterranean Sea.

Geba and Rimmon are both west of Jerusalem – between that city and the Mediterranean Sea. That area west of Jerusalem will be flattened but Jerusalem will actually be elevated.

And the geographical references in Jerusalem given in verse 10 – especially the last two references of the tower of Hananeel and the king’s winepresses – seem to indicate a north-to-south orientation. From the point farthest to the north to the point farthest to the south, Jerusalem will be raised topographically.

So, that’s how the water is going to get from Jerusalem into the Mediterranean Sea.

Zechariah 14 Commentary v11 J’lem Safely Inhabited

Now, we shouldn’t get the wrong picture – as if Jerusalem is going to be suspended dangerously up into the air and thus be uninhabitable. Somehow, the elevation will not detract people from dwelling in that city when Jesus Christ returns, according to verse 11.

11 {And men shall dwell/People will live/And people will settle} in it,

and there {shall/will} {be no more utter destruction/no longer be a curse/no longer be the threat of divine extermination};

{but/for} Jerusalem {shall be safely inhabited/will dwell securely}.

So, with Christ dwelling in the midst of that city there will be no more threat of destruction – either from hostile man or from the Lord. There will be true safety and security and peace. This is a happy ending in the truest sense of that phrase.

And yet, we’re not at the end just yet – the end of this book, at least. So, next time we’ll Lord-willing get through to the end of this chapter and this book and, really, the end of the world as we know it – a world apart from Christ’s rule over what’s rightfully his.

Zechariah 13 Commentary

Let’s turn our attention to Zechariah 13.

Last time we heard about the Jews at the end of the Tribulation looking upon their pierced Messiah – Jesus Christ, whom they had pierced and rejected. And we heard how they were all going to mourn and lament their treatment of him.

And so, chapter 13 is following-up on those events. So, let’s read Zechariah 13 and then attempt to explain the details.

{Read Zec 13…}

Zechariah 13 Commentary Cleansing for Jews

So, after all of the mourning that we heard about in chapter 12 with all the families of Israel mourning their pierced Messiah, the reality of verse 1 will materialize.

KJV Zechariah 13:1 ¶ {In/On} that day there shall be a fountain opened {to/for} the house of David and {to/for} the inhabitants of Jerusalem {for/to cleanse them from} sin and for {uncleanness/impurity}.

So, the order of events presented to us in chapters 12 and 13 so far is this – Jesus returns and delivers the Jews from their enemies that have surrounded them to destroy them. Then the Jews look on him whom they’ve pierced, and they mourn for the way they treated him. And now, we see in verse 1 of chapter 13 that a fountain as it were is opened to them to cleanse them from their sin.

Now, the Scripture does teach us that in the Millennium there will be a river of water flowing from Jesus’ throne in Jerusalem east toward what is called today the Dead Sea.

But I’m uncertain as to whether that’s the same thing as this fountain mentioned here.

If this fountain in Zechariah 13 is the same thing as the River that flows from the Messiah’s throne in Jerusalem, then I suppose we are being told that at the end of the Tribulation there will be this literal physical river that can somehow result in the cleansing of these Jews from their sins.

But I’m a little uncertain as to whether the Lord is really going to use a literal fountain of water to cleanse his people of their sin. He does that nowadays through our believing in Christ. He promises to cleanse us from our sin as we confess them to him. So, is he all of a sudden going to change his approach in the last days and allow people to be cleanse of their spiritual sins by dipping themselves into a physical fountain?

The other possibility is that this is a metaphorical fountain. So, when the Lord here speaks of opening a fountain for the cleansing of the Jews’ sin, he’s speaking of his forgiving them as they receive his son as if he were plunging them into a cleansing fountain. Just like going into a fountain of water cleanses the skin of dirt, God is saying that he is going to cleanse the souls of the Jews as if he were putting them into a fountain of water. I think this is more likely what the Lord is promising – not a literal fountain in the last days, but total forgiveness of sins, the effect of which mirrors on a spiritual level the cleansing benefits of a fountain of water.

So, once these Jews receive their pierced Messiah and demonstrate their faith in him by mourning for the way they treated him – the Lord will forgive their sins. He will cleanse them spiritually just like a fountain pouring out fresh water would do for a person’s body.

Zechariah 13 Commentary God will Remove Idolatry

And with past sins cleansed and forgiven, the Lord will begin to remove the sources of sin from the land of Israel after Jesus returns to earth to set up his Millennial kingdom.

2 ¶ And it shall come to pass in that day,

{saith/declares} the LORD {of hosts/who rules over all/Almighty},

that I will {cut off/remove/banish/utterly destroy} the names of the idols {out of/from} the land, and they shall {no more/never again} be remembered:

{and also/Moreover} I will {cause/remove} the {prophets/false prophets} and the {unclean spirit/spirit of impurity} {to pass out of/from} the land.

So, idols and false prophets will be done away with. Things – other than God – that demand people’s worship, and the unscrupulous seemingly-religious folks who advocate that kind of worship will be a thing of the past when Jesus returns to setup his kingdom.

Zechariah 13 Commentary The People Will Cooperate

And of course, the Lord has always forbidden these practices. But people generally wouldn’t cooperate. In fact, numerous kings of Israel would try their hardest to get rid of idolatry and false prophets. But they would always return. Why? Because people want idolatry and religious teachers who speak falsehood!

But things are going to be different when Jesus returns to reign. His people – all of them – will reject idolatry and false teaching, according to verse 3.

3 {And/Then} {it shall come to pass, that when any shall yet prophesy,/if anyone still prophesies/if anyone prophesies in spite of this} then his father and his mother {that begat him/who gave birth to him/to whom he was born} shall say unto him,

Thou {shalt/can} not live; for thou {speakest lies/have spoken falsely/lie} in the name of the LORD:

{and/then} his father and his mother {that begat/who gave birth to} him {shall thrust/will pierce/will with a sword run} him through {i.e., pierce…12.10} when he {prophesieth/prophesies}.

So, people in the Millennial kingdom will be so much in agreement with the Lord’s directives and desires that even parents will not tolerate idolatrous behavior from their own children. In fact, they will be so serious about obeying the Lord and so opposed to the dangerous practices of idolatry and false religion that they will take actions that will be sanctioned by the Lord in those days to even end the life of the one who would dare to attempt idolatrous prophesying.

Zechariah 13 Commentary Shame for False Prophets

And because of this cold reception that idolatry and false prophesying will receive in the Millennial kingdom, false prophets will be ashamed of themselves. Whereas they run rampant in our day and deceive numerous people, these false teachers will attempt to hide their true nature, according to verses 4-6.

4 {And it shall come to pass in/Therefore, on} that day, {that the prophets/each prophet} {shall be ashamed every one/will each be ashamed/will be ashamed} of his vision, when he {hath prophesied/prophesies};

{neither shall they/and they will not} {wear a rough garment/put on a hairy robe in order/a prophet’s garment of hair in order to} to deceive:

So, the false prophet might think-up some false prophesy in his mind, but when Jesus returns to rule that false prophet is going to keep his mouth shut on that matter.

In times past a practice of prophets would apparently be to put on a robe made of hair in order to indicate that he was a prophet. And false prophets – who would have wanted to trick people into believing that they were true prophets of the Lord – they would wear this clothing as well. But the Lord states that when his Son is reigning in Jerusalem on earth for a thousand years that these false prophets will not even attempt to look like a true prophet. They won’t put on the typical prophet’s attire.

Instead, any person who might be inclined to give false prophesies will try to hide their identity. They’ll pretend to be something else – a farmer perhaps, according to verse 5.

5 {But/Instead} he {shall/will} say,

I am {no/not a} prophet,

I am {an husbandman/a tiller of the ground/a farmer};

for {man/a man} {taught me to keep cattle/sold me as a slave/made me his indentured servant} {from/in/since} my youth.

So, the Lord gives this almost-humorous picture of how false prophets will behave in the Millennium. They will attempt to hide what they had done or were inclined to do.

And so, we have this interesting confession of a false prophet in the Millennium. He declares that he is not a prophet but rather he’s a farmer. He then continues to elaborate on his story, claiming either that someone taught him how to take care of cattle or that someone sold him as a slave when he was a child.

And this behavior of this false prophet is so contrary to how such people have behaved in the past and do behave even now. False prophets – those who speak lies in God’s name – are usually not ashamed at all of their behavior. It makes them a lot of money. It brings them a lot of fame and notoriety. What’s to be ashamed of?

Well, when Jesus returns these people will fear for their life because they are disobeying God’s orders and Jesus is there to execute swift justice. And so, these people will be forced to make up stories about themselves and their sordid pasts.

Currently these people make up stories about God. But in the Millennium they will make up stores about themselves.

But people are going to be fairly astute in those days – unlike those in our day who blindly accept what false prophets tell them. And Millennial folks are going to ask some questions of these people, according to verse 6.

6 {And/Then/If}{one shall say unto/someone will ask/someone asks} him,

What are these wounds {in thine hands/between your arms/on your chest/on your body}?

Then he shall answer,

{Those with which/Some that} I {was wounded/received} in the house of my friends.

Now, we see elsewhere in Scripture that one practice of false prophets was to cut themselves. Think of the incident with Elijah and the prophets of Baal. They were cutting themselves quite a bit. And as a result, they had some scars or wound marks.

Well, the discerning folks of the Millennium are going to see those – wherever they might be – on their hands or arms or chest or their body in general – and they are going to ask about those.

And it seems like this whole discourse between the false prophet and these unidentified people in verses 5 and 6 has been a context of their questioning and even interrogating this false prophet. And so, the people are examining to determine whether there’s any guilt on the part of this man and so he’s lying and trying to cover-up his old profession or his secret hidden lifestyle of speaking lies in the Lord’s name.

So, his excuse for the wounds on his body is that his buddies injured him. He isn’t involved in cutting himself as part of a perverse inclination to prophesy falsely. No, indeed, his buddies did this to him. Maybe they were wrestling around and things got out of hand and some cuts and scars ensued. Yeah, that’s what happened… 😉

At any rate, the difference between now and then is noticeable. Now and since the beginning of the world after the fall of Adam falsely speaking in the Lord’s name happens. It’s common. And in numerous cases, there is no repercussion to these false prophets.

But things are going to change when Jesus returns. Idolatry and false prophesy will be things of the past.

Zechariah 13 Commentary The Sword, the Shepherd, & the Sheep

Well, some things needed to happen before idolatry and false prophesy pass away – before Jesus returns and stops false religion. In particular, Jesus – the Good Shepherd – needed to be struck, according to verse 7.

7 Awake, O sword, against my shepherd,

and against the man {that is my fellow/My Associate/who is my associate/who is close to me},

{saith/declares} the LORD {of hosts/who rules over all/Almighty}:

{smite/Strike} the shepherd, {and/that} the {sheep/flock} {shall/may} be scattered:

and I will turn mine hand {upon/against} the {little/insignificant} ones.

Notice who is commanded to do what here. The Lord is commanding a sword – an instrument of death – to do something. The instrument of death is supposed to awake and take action against a man – against the Lord’s fellow or associate or one who is close to him. This man is further revealed to be “the shepherd.”

And both Matthew (26:31) and Mark (14:27) record this prophecy on the lips of Jesus Christ. And he’s speaking of himself as the shepherd of Zechariah 13:7 who is struck. Jesus says that this is why the disciples would flee from him on the night of his betrayal and trials.

And so, that’s the result that both Jesus and Zechariah are pointing to. If you strike a shepherd, the sheep will scatter.

So, this happened with the disciples. The Lord struck Jesus and the sheep scattered.

And in a sense, this is what has happened to Israel. A few decades after the Lord struck Jesus – and raised him up again – the nation of Israel was scattered by the Romans. They’re still somewhat scattered, though they’re gradually returning. But they have no shepherd. They will seek for one and receive the Anti-Christ before Jesus the true and good Shepherd returns for them.

But the Lord predicted this scattering. And he says that he will turn his hand upon the little or insignificant ones. I think that’s probably a reference to the Jews who did not receive Jesus.

Zechariah 13 Commentary Fractional Salvation

Now, and it’s at this point in the text where the Lord finishes this chapter talking about a kind of “fractional salvation” in verses 8 and 9.

8 {And it shall come to pass, that/It will happen}in all the land,

saith the LORD,

two {parts/thirds of the people} {therein/in it} {shall/will} be {cut off/struck down} and {die/perish};

but {the/one} third shall be left {therein/in it}.

So, two-thirds of the people in the land of Israel in the Tribulation – as I interpret this – will die. And that means that one-third of the Jewish people will survive to the end of the Tribulation.

Well, what happens to that one-third that survives? Verse 9.

9 And I will bring the {third part/remaining third/this third} {through/into} the fire,

and will refine them {as/like} silver is refined,

and {will try/test} them {as/like} gold is {tried/tested}:

they {shall/will} call on my name,

and I will {hear/answer} them:

I will say,

{It is/They are/These are}my people:

and they {shall/will} say,

The LORD is {my/our} God.

So, the third of the Jews whom God will deliver at the end of the Tribulation will have a special close relationship to their God whom they had rejected for a long time.

They will look on him whom they’ve pierced – Jesus their Messiah. They’ll mourn for him. They’ll receive him. And Jesus will be their God and they will be his people.

And we non-Jewish Gentiles thank the Lord for sending his Son the Messiah – not just for the Jews – but for those whom he has chosen from every tribe and people and race – so that we too can say with the Jew at the end of the Tribulation, “The LORD is my God.”

Zechariah 12 Commentary

Zechariah 12 Commentary: Let’s turn our attention to the Old Testament minor prophet Zechariah… and the 12th chapter of his prophecies. Zechariah 12.

We’re entering the last main section of this book today as chapters 12-14 comprise one main section of this book.

So, let’s read Zechariah 12 and then attempt to explain what it all means.

{Read Zec. 12}

Zechariah 12 Commentary Verse 1 Burden for Israel

First of all, I’d like to point your attention to Zechariah 9:1 for a moment. Look at what that said.

KJV Zechariah 9:1 ¶ The burden of the word of the LORD in the land of Hadrach…

And then we saw that the Lord went on to speak of a future invasion by Greece into the area surrounding Israel. And that prophecy went on to end of Zechariah 11.

So, Zechariah 9-11 is one unit and it was all subsumed under the label, “The burden of the word of the Lord in the land of Hadrach.”

And now, we see something similar in Zechariah 12:1. We see that the Lord has another “burden” or “revelation” for a piece of land and the people that live in it. And that piece of land is Israel.

KJV Zechariah 12:1 ¶ {The/This is the} {burden/revelation} of the word of the LORD {for/concerning} Israel,

And the “burden” or the “revelation of things to come” concerning the land of Israel is what we expect to hear now. And we will to the end of this book. But first the Lord wants to remind us of who he really is and what he’s really like in the rest of verse 1.

{saith the LORD/Thus declares the Lord/the Lord declares}, {which/who}

{stretcheth forth/stretches out} the {heavens/sky},

and {layeth/lays} the {foundation/foundations} of the earth,

and {formeth/forms} the {spirit of man/human spirit} within {him/a person} {this is what he says…}.

And we’re going to see what this one says in a moment. But first, we notice that the Lord wants people to remember who he is and what he does – especially when it comes to his human creatures. He puts a sky above us. And he puts the earth below us. And he puts that animating force known as our spirit within us.

Above us. Below us. Within us. There is nothing in the life of mankind that the Lord isn’t involved with.

And the Lord is going to reveal some pretty amazing things in this prophecy that covers chapters 12-14 to end this book. So, he starts this last section reminding us – and his original Hebrew audience of Zechariah’s time – that there is nothing in the life of mankind that the Lord isn’t involved in and familiar with and able to accomplish.

Zechariah 12 Commentary Verse 2 J’lem to Become a Source of Destruction for the Godless

And so, in verses 2 and 3 what this all-powerful God wants to tell us is that in the last days – days that are yet to come even for us– God will make Jerusalem a source of destruction for the godless.

2 {Behold, I will/I am about to} make Jerusalem a cup {of trembling/that causes reeling/that brings dizziness} {unto/to} all the {people round about/peoples around/surrounding nations},

So, the effect that Jerusalem will have on the world – on all the people and nations that will surround Israel in the last days – is to make them tremble and reel and dizzy.

And that’s going to involve those nations coming and attacking Jerusalem according to the end of verse 2.

{when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem./and when the siege is against Jerusalem, it will also be against Judah./indeed, Judah will also be included when Jerusalem is besieged./Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem.}

So, it’s not just Jerusalem that these surrounding nations will target. They will also attack Judah – the broader territory surrounding and encompassing Jerusalem.

So, Jerusalem will be like a cup, the contents of which cause people to reel and to be dizzy.

But in addition to that, the Lord says that Jerusalem will be like a really heavy stone in verse 3.

3 {And/It will come about/Moreover} {in/on} that day {will I/that I will} make Jerusalem {a burdensome stone/a heavy stone/a heavy burden/an unmovable rock} for all {people/the peoples/the nations}:

{all/and all} {that burden themselves with/who lift/who try to carry/who try to move} it {shall be cut in pieces/will be severely injured/will be seriously injured/will injure themselves},

So, God pictures these nations coming to attack Jerusalem as if they were attempting to pick up an incredibly heavy stone. And when they come to attack Jerusalem – or to lift that stone – they will be injured severely.

And yet, according to the end of verse 3 these nations will not be able to resist the temptation to attack Jerusalem. It’s bad for them. They shouldn’t do it. But they’re going to do it anyway.

{though/And/yet/when} all the {people/nations/peoples} of the earth {be/will be/are} {gathered together/gathered/assembled} against {it/her}.

And so, despite the fact that the whole world is going to gather troops to attack Jerusalem, it will stand like a heavy stone, ultimately. Not that Jerusalem will be totally invincible and experience no loss. But Jerusalem will remain – even in the face of this massive onslaught from the nations.

Zechariah 12 Commentary Verse 4 The Lord to Destroy the Nations

And here’s why Jerusalem will remain – because the Lord will actively fight for them in the last days, according to verse 4.

4 {In/On} that day,

{saith/declares/says} the LORD,

I will {smite/strike} every horse with {astonishment/bewilderment/confusion/panic}, and {his/its} rider with madness:

{and I/But I/I} will {open mine eyes upon/watch over/pay close attention to/keep a watchful eye over} the house of Judah,

{and will/while I/but will} {smite/strike} {every horse/all the horses} of the {people/nations} with blindness.

By the way, if this battle were to happen today, do you suppose they would use horses? Are modern militaries actually using horses as they go to war?

The answer is no – horses are not the asset in times of war that they used to be during the time that Zechariah wrote this prophecy given to him by the Lord.

So, we have two options in interpreting this part of the prophecy.

One option is to interpret this reference to horses as the Lord speaking in terms that his original readers would understand. They wouldn’t understand tanks and helicopters and drones. And so, the Lord speaks of horses to refer to vehicles used in war. That’s one option for interpreting this passage.

But then the Lord speaks of striking these horses with astonishment and blindness and striking their riders with madness. I’m not sure how you can strike a tank with blindness, for example.

So, that makes me more comfortable with the second option for interpreting this part of this prophecy – which is that in the end times the nations will not have tanks and fighter jets. They will have horses.

But what would make industrialized nations of our day go from stealth bombers to… horses as their chosen vehicle for war? Well, how about 7 years of God pouring his wrath out on them? How about the events we read about in the book of Revelation and all the death and destruction that’s foretold there? I think that would do it.

And so, this is the second option in interpreting this passage. And that is that the horses are literal. The horses are going to be around in the last days whereas the tanks and bombers will be all destroyed by that point from the destruction that God will release on this world before these events that Zechariah is speaking of.

Alright, so there will be literal horses that the nations will use as they surround Jerusalem and Judah to attack them. And God is going to blind those horses and make their riders crazy.

And when the Lord does that, everyone in the surround area of Judah will recognize that they are strong – through God’s power alone – and not their own! Verse 5.

5 {And/Then} the {governors/clans/leaders} of Judah {shall/will} say {in their heart/in their hearts/to themselves},

The {inhabitants/people} of Jerusalem {shall be my strength/are a strong support for us/are a means of strength to us/are strong} {in/through/because} the LORD {of hosts/who rules over all/Almighty} {their/is their} God.

So, there’s some special relationship between the people living in Jerusalem at that time and the Lord. The Lord is going to be their God. They won’t be resisting him anymore.

And what we know from other Scripture is that Jesus Christ will be ruling among them. The Lord will be literally physically dwelling in their midst and providing them strength.

Zechariah 12 Commentary Verse 6 Strength Given to Judah

So, the timeline so far seems to be that God brings these godless nations to attack Jerusalem. And then God himself strikes these nations so that they’re fairly easy to defeat.

And now, with these nations weakened by the Lord himself, Judah is going to go on the offensive. Verse 6.

6 ¶ {In/On} that day will I make the {governors/clans/leaders} of Judah like {an hearth of fire/a firepot/an igniter} {among the wood/among pieces of wood/among sticks/in a woodpile},

{and like a torch of fire/and a flaming torch/and a burning torch/like a flaming torch} {in a sheaf/among sheaves};

{and they shall/so they will/and they will/they will} {devour/consume/burn up} all the {people round about/surrounding nations/surrounding peoples}, {on the right hand and on the left/right and left}:

So, compare a big pile of wood and a small little flame. The pile of wood is much larger. And yet that flame can consume it all in an instant.

And that’s how Judah will deal with the nations that will come to destroy her. Judah – although they’re small – will just burn through them – though they’re massive.

And then at that point, Jerusalem – the city of peace – will finally be at peace, according to the end of verse 6.

{and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem./while the inhabitants of Jerusalem again dwell on their own sites in Jerusalem./Then the people of Jerusalem will settle once more in their place, the city of Jerusalem./but Jerusalem will remain intact in her place.}

So, Jerusalem and her people will be unmoved as the surrounding nations will be overthrown.

And yet, the Lord makes it a point to ensure that Jerusalem won’t think of herself more highly than she ought. There will apparently be some temptation for Jerusalem to gloat over Judah in those last days as Jesus Christ dwells in her midst. And according to verse 7 the Lord is going to prevent that gloating.

7 ¶ The LORD {also shall/also will/will} {save/deliver} the {tents/homes/dwellings} of Judah first,

That’s Judah – not Jerusalem. Why? Continue in verse 7…

that the {glory/splendor/honor} of the {house/kingship} of David and {the glory of/of} the {inhabitants/people} of Jerusalem {do not magnify themselves against/will not be magnified above/may not exceed that of/may not be greater than that of} Judah.

So, God says that in those last days when the nations surround Jerusalem and Judah to do away with the Jewish people – that God is going to deliver his people – but he’s going to start with Judah, not Jerusalem.

And it’s an interesting give-and-take or back-and-forth that the Lord communicates here.

The Lord will deliver Jerusalem and the result of that is that Judah will marvel at God’s protection of that city. We saw that in verse 5.

And yet, on the other hand, God makes this point of saving Judah first in some way that I don’t quite understand. And he’s going to do so in order that Jerusalem won’t boast over Judah.

God is showing this desire of his that his people in those days not be in competition, but be unified. They’re happy for the victory of each other. They’re not seeking their own glory. And God will see to it that that’s the case.

And yet, in verse 8, God gets right back to exalting Jerusalem. The strength of the people living in that city in those last days when Jesus Christ is among them will be tremendous.

8 {In/On} that day {shall the LORD defend/the LORD (himself) will defend/the LORD will shield} {the inhabitants of/those who live in} Jerusalem;

And here’s the result of that defense and shielding of these people…

{and he that is feeble/and the one who is feeble/so that the weakest/so that the feeblest} among them {at that day shall be as David/will be like mighty David};

and the {house/dynasty} of David {shall be as/will be like} God, {as/like} the angel of the LORD {before/going before} them.

So, that’s the result of God’s shielding and defending the people who will live in Jerusalem at that time. They will all be very powerful. The weakest and feeblest among them will be like the mighty warrior-king David of old. And the house or dynasty of David will – and you would think that this is surely hyperbolic – but they’ll be like God. As strong as the Angel of the Lord, who in the Old Testament is frequently an appearance of Jesus before his incarnation in Bethlehem.

And this indicates something very interesting. In the last days, there will be a house of David or a dynasty of David. In other words, there will be a Davidic king.

Now, there will surely be descendants of David. And at this very moment some Jews are able to trace their lineage back to King David (https://www.loebtree.com). So, there will be normal Jewish people who are recognized as being of “the house of David.”

And yet, who is going to be heading up this dynasty of David?

Again, we need to think about the timing in terms of Bible chronology here. It’s the end of the Tribulation. Now, who is going to return at the end of the Tribulation to deliver his people, the Jews? Jesus Christ. From whom did Jesus descend? From David.

So, when verse 8 speaks of the house or dynasty of David being like God – well, yes, the head of that dynasty will be there – Jesus Christ – and he is God! I don’t know that the people who originally received this prophecy understood all of that. I don’t know that we even understand all of how this is completely going to work. And yet, this is what God has been getting these people the Jews ready for for thousands of years at this point.

They will have a descendent of David on the throne in Jerusalem and he is “as God.” He – Jesus Christ – is “as the Angel of the Lord.” And its his strength that will turn the feeblest of the Jews into the mightiest of warriors – even as mighty as Jesus’ ancestor according to the flesh – King David.

Zechariah 12 Commentary Verse 9 Nations Destroyed

Now, in the next few verses of chapter 12 to end this chapter, the Lord is going to contrast his treatment of two groups.

The first group is in verse 9 and gets very brief treatment.

9 {And it shall come to pass in/And in/So on/On} that day, {that I/I} will {seek/set about/set out} to destroy all the nations that {come against/attack} Jerusalem.

So, the first group that God deals with at the end of the Tribulation is these nations that we’ve been discussing. And they’re going to come to Jerusalem to attack it. What is God going to do to them? He will destroy them.

Zechariah 12 Commentary Verse 10 Jesus Received & Mourned

But here’s the thrilling part. The second group. And this group is identified as David’s house and the people who are living in Jerusalem in the last days. And the wonderful truth we’re going to hear revealed about them is that they are finally going to receive their Messiah.

10 ¶ And I will {pour/pour out} {upon/on} the {house/kingship} of David, and {upon the/on the/the} {inhabitants/population} of Jerusalem, {the/a} spirit {NASB capitalizes…} of grace and {of supplications/supplication}:

These people are going to have this spirit about them. They will be given grace from God. And they will finally plead for mercy – make supplications to the Lord. And here’s the result of those activities…

{and/so that} they {shall/will} look {upon/on/to} me

Stop right there! Who do you think is speaking of here in Zechariah 12:10?

Is it Zechariah the prophet? Not ultimately!

It’s the Lord, right? One result of God pouring out a spirit of grace and supplication upon these Jews of the last days is that they will look upon “me” – the Lord says. They will look upon Jehovah / YAHWEH / the Lord of Hosts who is giving this prophecy and has been since the first verse of chapter 12.

But, what secular Jew today is ready to accept how the Lord describes himself in the very next four words of this verse? Look at how the Lord describes how the Jews have treated him.

The Jews of David’s house and of Jerusalem will in a very special way look upon the Lord, continue in verse 10…

{whom/the one} they have pierced,

There’s no getting around this for the Jew who rejects his Messiah Jesus Christ. What other figure in history could this be referring to? This is the Lord – the God of heaven. And he’s been pierced. Who ever in the world could claim this about himself?

None other than Jesus Christ. The Lord, who was pierced for his people.

And the Jews will look upon him, just like they did the serpent in the wilderness. They will look and they will live. Just like every one of us who has looked to Jesus Christ with a saving faith. The Jews – who by and large reject this pierced Messiah – they will look on or to him and they will live.

And this is literal. Jesus Christ will be standing in their midst! After delivering them from numerous enemies. Here he is! Behold the man!

And they will have no choice but to look and live.

But between the looking and the living, there is going to be a great deal of mourning, according to the rest of verse 10.

{and they shall/and they will/They will} {mourn/lament} for him, as one {mourneth/laments} for {his/an}only {son/child},

and {shall be in bitterness for/they will weep bitterly over/there will be a bitter cry for/grieve bitterly for} him, {as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn./like the bitter weeping over a firstborn./like the bitter cry for a firstborn./as one grieves for a firstborn son.}

Can you imagine this? After thousands of years of these people rejecting their Messiah who was pierced for them and after they will have accepted a false Messiah – an Anti-Christ – at that very moment, Jesus comes – the one they reject and pierced – and he will save them.

They have rejected him. He will receive them. What grace!

Let me ask you, when you first trusted Jesus to save you from your sin, what was your reaction? There was surely some emotion to it, I have to assume. Wasn’t there quite a bit of grief?

Oh, there was joy! But you had been so wicked to him… and he’s going to turn around and save you? Forgive you all your sins that put him on the cross? He who would be justified in just ending your miserable life and consigning you to hell for all your sins – that one is going to die for those sins and justify you and receive you as a child of his?

That’s amazing! How incredible this transaction is! He dies and you live. You spit on him and he heals you. You put him on the cross and you mocked him and he willingly stayed there and died for you.

Didn’t that cause in you a little of what the song-writer labels “joyful grief?”

Well, that’s what a new convert experiences. And it’s certainly what these Jews in the last days will experience as the Lord saves all of Israel in a day – as they look on him whom they’ve pierced.

And the Lord can’t be more emphatic about the grief-saturated response of these people. Because in verses 11-14 – 4 entire verses – the Lord goes on to describe at length the grieving of these Jews in the last days as they look on Jesus.

11 {In/On} that day {shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem/the lamentation in Jerusalem will be as great/the weeping in Jerusalem will be great}, {as/like} the {mourning/lamentation/weeping} of Hadadrimmon in the {valley/plain} of Megiddon.

Now, this location Hadadrimmon is a combination of the names of two Canaanite deities. It’s likely the location where King Josiah was mourned and lamented by the Israelites when he was killed in battle by the Egyptians. In fact, King Josiah was killed in the valley of Megiddo (2Ch 35:22). And so, apparently this is what this refers to – the death of Josiah – the last good and righteous king of Israel.

So, the Jews of the last days will lament and mourn over their treatment of their King Jesus Christ just like they mourned for the righteous King Josiah.

And though this mourning will start in Jerusalem, it won’t end there. In fact, the whole land will mourn – all of the Jews will lament according to verse 12.

12 {And the/The} land {shall/will} mourn, {every family apart/every family by itself/clan by clan/each clan by itself};

So, every family of Israel – every Jewish family in those last days will mourn over their treatment of Jesus. Each family will do this.

And so, in the rest of verse 12 and all of verse 13 the Lord foretells of a few different families who with “joyful grief” will mourn their pierced Messiah.

David’s family goes first…

the {family/clan} of the {house/royal household} of David {apart/by itself}, and their wives {apart/by themselves};

Now, it’s not explained to us in this chapter why the wives are going to mourn by themselves. It seems that the men and women will be mourning separately within the family of David and within the other families listed in this prophecy.

My best understanding of the reason behind this is that this mourning is going to be so solemn, that this kind of separation – that really approaches the nature of a fast – will be the only approach worthy of this momentous occasion.

In the Old Testament there were a few times where something so important was going to happen that God commanded the men and women to stay separate. In the New Testament, the apostle Paul tells husbands and wives to not withhold themselves from each other from intimate relations – except it’s by agreement for the solemn purpose of fasting and praying – of diligently seeking the Lord’s mercy and grace.

And that’s what these people will be experiencing – an occasion so significant and crucial that they are going to separate themselves from their own spouses for a time to deal with the Lord appropriately. So, that’s what’s happening here and why I think these folks are separating themselves from their spouses for a time.

So, David’s family will do this. In addition, the family of David’s son Nathan will be involved in this mourning, according to the end of verse 12…

the {family/clan} of the {house/family} of Nathan {apart/by itself}, and their wives {apart/by themselves};

So, Solomon’s family isn’t mentioned here. Instead, David’s other son Nathan is mentioned. Both sons are mentioned in the New Testament genealogies of Jesus Christ. One is Mary’s line and the other is Joseph’s. But Zechariah focuses on Nathan.

Alright, so we’ve seen the lamenting of the rulers of the Jews – David’s house and lineage.

But now in verse 13, we’re going to see the mourning of the religious leaders of Israel. The Lord begins with Levi in verse 13.

13 The {family/clan} of the {house/descendants} of Levi {apart/by itself}, and their wives {apart/by themselves};

And last to be mentioned is one of Levi’s grandson’s, Shimei.

{the/and the} {family/clan} of {Shimei/the Shimeites} {apart/by itself}, and their wives {apart/by themselves};

So, the genealogy there goes Levi to Gershon to Shimei.

These are the religious leaders of Israel and they too are going to mourn their pierced Messiah and how they’ve rejected him for so long and yet how much he loves and cares for them.

And then verse 14 ends this chapter reiterating the fact that not only these four named families will mourn – but that every Jewish family will mourn and lament their Messiah.

14 All the {families that remain/clans that remain/rest of the clans}, {every family apart,/every family by itself/each separately} {and their wives apart/and their wives by themselves/with their wives}.

So, there is coming a day when all Israel will be saved. It will necessitate an unparalleled period of suffering and God’s wrath being poured out on this world. It will take Jesus Christ himself coming to earth and destroying all of his enemies and saving his weak little people – the Jews.

But this is the testimony of Scripture. Jesus is coming again. And he’s coming in wrath for those who reject him. But for those who receive him, it’s all mercy and salvation.

If there’s anyone listening to this who is apart from Christ, receive him today. Trust him. He will save you from that coming wrath.

And for those of us who know Jesus Christ, are you struggling? Is life hard? Are you dissatisfied with the way your life is going? Take courage! You are working for this kingdom that’s surely coming – no matter how menial and monotonous your life’s work feels. Your seemingly ho-hum life and mine are all working toward this final end – the coming of Jesus and us reigning with him.

So, don’t give up! Don’t quit! Refuse to allow Satan to trick you into thinking that your life doesn’t matter or that it’s too hard or that you need some wonderful fulfillment that’s outside of God’s will. Jesus is coming again. And it will all be worth it when we see him.