THOSE who bring discredit to God’s name — those encouragers of idolatrous practices — those harlots of harm — those shepherds who are not shepherds — will be struck down by the Shepherd: Yahweh. Yahweh will deliver his remnant; those who ask for rain (verse 1) from the only one who can give rain.
The teraphim that “utter nonsense” are small household gods or idols, not unlike the little buddhas and other spiritual trinkets we see in households of misguided persons in this day. The diviner is the false teacher who leads the people away from truth. They’re a shepherd who is no shepherd at all; the people lack good direction, and they’re given “empty consolation.” Think nowadays of the preachers of prosperity (“success”) doctrine.
These shepherds who are no shepherds at all — for they betray truth at every turn — shall be punished. They offer vain hope in the name of hope; a bad faith when only a good faith ought to be preached.
The Lord, himself, Yahweh, is empowering the people to be like a “battle horse” driven by but one purpose: speed… to run headlong, with audacity, into battle. No fear is present in this people who trust their God, as the martyrs have century after century over the corpus of Christian history.
“Out of them” (the people being redeemed) shall come a leader — a cornerstone, a securing peg, a highly tensioned strong battle bow — a commander who is an oppressor of the oppressors. Little wonder that Israel’s religious elite were expecting a mighty military conqueror as their saviour — not a lamb to the slaughter in Jesus. But Jesus fights a fight that the evil one could not conceive. This is the only viable finalising oppression of the oppressor of oppressors.
Those that fight this good fight for the Lord are assured of his Presence. They’ll put to shame those better equipped warriors on horses because of who they fight for and for the way they fight. They will never be put to shame.
The remnant are “strengthened” and saved by Yahweh. Those from the house of Judah (the Southern kingdom) and those from the house of Joseph (Ephraim; the Northern kingdom) are delivered in such a way as if the exile had never occurred. Such is the Lord’s compassion, his “answer” is to redeem them and restore them. Imagery of close kinship is developed here, as the Lord “whistles” to his people.
The promises of land and progeny are made in verses 8 through 10. There was no better sign of the Lord’s blessing in ancient times than possession of a good land and the provision of many children. Though the people of God were scattered now they shall be gathered, to walk in Yahweh’s name.
That they shall pass through the sea of distress is a promise of prevailing in Yahweh’s Presence, no matter the affliction. The waves of threat are cut off and Assyria and Egypt are made no menace at all.
Verse 12 is ever significant; a refrain for and of the covenant people:
The Lord makes the people strong; they that walk in his name!
Yahweh, the Lord, is adored, by those in his Presence who are assured.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.
Reference: Petterson, A.R., Haggai, Zechariah & Malachi (Apollos Old Testament Commentary, Vol. 25) (Nottingham: InterVarsity Press, 2015).