3:8 Was the Lord displeased against the rivers? was thine anger against the rivers? was thy wrath against the sea, that thou didst ride upon thine horses and thy chariots of salvation? The question of this verse is hypothetical. It is asked by an uninformed imaginary spectator of the terrible slaughter of nations. Being ignorant of the Word, the logical question when the destruction is witnessed will be this. Observers in the world will ask this on the day of Armageddon (Rev 17:8).

Rivers and sea are frequently symbols of nations and people. A nation is often designated by its principal river, eg Turkish Empire by the Euphrates (Rev 16:12; Jer 2:18 RSV; Isa 57:20; 8:7; 17:13; Rev 17:1,15 cp Isa 43:14–17). From the sore treatment they receive it is clear that Yahweh was angry with them—“Thy wrath is come” (Rev 11:18; Psa 2:5,12)!!

Ride upon thine horses and thy chariots of salvation”—(RSV “victory”). Read the similar description of Divine intervention in Psalm 18:7–15. Yah is represented as riding swiftly in a chariot of horses with the object of saving His people. The saints will be the “chariot of the cherubim” in that day (Compare Rev 4:6,7 and 5:8–10 where the four living ones symbolise the saints. See also Ezek 1:10).

3:9 Thy bow was made quite naked, according to the oaths of the tribes, even thy word. Selah. Thou didst cleave the earth with rivers.

 Thy bow was made quite naked”—RSV “Thou didst strip the sheath from thy bow”. The body of Christ going forth belligerently is depicted as a mighty man in a chariot (v8), with his bow unsheathed and, therefore, ready for action. The long-suffering of God has come to its end, and “His wrath is come”. The figure of the “bow” is used of Judah when converted and marshalled by Christ, going forth to conquer the nations following Armageddon (Zech 9:13–14; Jer 51:20).

According to the oaths of the tribes, even thy word. Selah”—RV (margin) “Sworn were the chastisements (Heb rods) of thy word”. Translations vary, but the sense seems to be that in Yahweh’s declared Word, judgment will be poured out upon those who would presume to invade and destroy His people. The saints will “execute the judgment writtenand declared by the mouth of all the holy prophets (Acts 3:21). Indeed, in the context of this chapter we find that, when the Christ and Abraham’s true seed come forth, they will find in the land promised to them a hostile occupant.

When the Abrahamic Covenant was sealed by God’s irrevocable oath, one of the guarantees given to Abraham was: “thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies” (Gen 22:16,17). When Abraham’s seed goes forth, then this oath of chastisement will be fulfilled and their enemies shall lick the dust.

Thou didst cleave the earth with rivers”—When the feet of Christ and the holy ones touch the Mount of Olives, there will be an enormous earthquake, which, besides having world-wide repercussions, (cp Ezek 38:19–20; Hag 2:6–7; Isa 2:19; Rev 16:18) will literally create a river from Zion (Zech 14:4,8) and no doubt others as well. The verse in its larger import no doubt dramatically depicts the utter destruction of the Kingdom of Men by the hand of the multitudinous Christ. Compare this with the judgment of Korah, Dathan and company. It was swift, decisive and frightening (Num 16).

3:10 The mountains saw thee and trembled: the overflowing of the water passed by: the deep uttered his voice, and lifted up his hands on high.

 The swift execution of Divine judgment has fearful effects on the great nations and Kingdom of Men. They are represented as mountains “trembling” (see v6), and as the deep, roaring in despair.

The overflowing of the water passed by”—RSV “The raging waters swept on”; Roth “ a down-pour of waters hath swept along”; RV “the tempest of waters passed by”.

This appears to refer to a great storm of waters in the hand of Christ which creates the despair in the “mountains” and “deep”. If so, it links up with other descriptions of Armageddon (Rev 16:21; Ezek 38:22).

3:11 The sun and moon stood still in their habitation: at the light of thine arrows they went, and at the shining of thy glittering spear—RSV “sped at the flash of thy glittering spear”; Roth “like light thine arrows speed along, like brightness is the flash of thy spear”; Moffat “before the flashes of thy darting arrows, before the sheen of the lightning, thy lance”.

The sun and moon” are symbolic of political and religious authorities and powers (Isa 24:23; Lk 21:25; Joel 3:15). Before the incredible might of Christ they shall be numbed, motionless and cease to function. Seeing God had literally done this before (Josh 10:12–13), He has ample power to do it in the affairs of this world.

The “weapons” of God will strike with speed accuracy and force, and the effect on the world will be wonder and awe: they shall “go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for the fear of Yahweh and for the glory of His majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth” (Isa 2:19; cp 2 Thess 1:8–9; 2:8).

  3:12 Thou didst march through the land in indignation, thou didst thresh the heathen in anger—Roth “In wrath thou didst stride through the land, in anger thou didst thresh the nations”. This verse has some literal aspects and this helps to interpret those verses which are more figurative. It speaks of the time of Yahweh’s wrath, that is Armageddon (Rev 11:18; Psa 2:5–12; 110:5–7). The figure of trampling and threshing, so often associated with Armageddon, is again used (cp Joel 3:13–16; Isa 41:15; Mic 4:13; Mal 4:3; Dan 2:35). Vengeance is poured out on the nations—again a constant feature of Armageddon (Rev 16:14–16; Zech 14:2; Joel 3 etc).