Calvin's Commentary on Malachi
    (... continued from file 10)
    Lecture One Hundred and Seventy-ninth.   
    Malachi 3:9 Ye [are] cursed with a curse: for ye have  
    robbed me, [even] this whole nation.   
         Malachi pursues the same subject; for he answers the  
    Jews in the name of God - that they unjustly complained  
    of his rigour as being immoderate, since they themselves  
    were the cause of all their evils. He says that they were  
    cursed, but he adds that this happened to them  
    deservedly, as though he had said - "Be that granted what  
    you say, (for lamentations were continually made,) why is  
    it that God afflicts us without end or limits?" God seems  
    to grant what they were wont reproachfully to declare;  
    but he says in answer to this - "But ye have defrauded  
    Me; what wonder then that my curse consumes you? As then  
    I have been robbed by you, as far as ye could, I will  
    render to you your just recompense; for it is not right  
    that I should be bountiful and kind to you, while ye thus  
    defraud me, and take from me what is my own."   
         The meaning then is this - that it was indeed true  
    that the Jews lamented that they were under a curse, but  
    that the cause ought to have been searched out. They  
    indeed wished their rapines and sacrileges to be  
    forgiven, by which they defrauded God; but God declares  
    that he punished them justly in consuming them with  
    poverty and want, since they so sparingly rendered to him  
    what they owed.   
         He mentions the whole nation, and thus aggravates  
    the wickedness of the Jews; for not a few were guilty of  
    the sacrilege mentioned, but all, from the least to the  
    greatest, they all plundered the tenths and the  
    oblations. It hence follows that God's vengeance did not  
    exceed due limits, since there was as it were a common  
    conspiracy; there were not ten or a hundred implicated in  
    this sin, but, as he says, the whole people. It follows -  
    Malachi 3:10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse,  
    that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now  
    herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you  
    the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that  
    [there shall] not [be room] enough [to receive it].   
         He at length declares that they profited nothing by  
    contending with God, but that a better way was open to  
    them, that is, to return into favour with him. After  
    having then repelled their unjust accusations, he again  
    points out the remedy which he had already referred to -  
    that if they dealt faithfully with God, he would be  
    bountiful to them, and that his blessing would be  
    promptly extended to them. This is the sum of the  
    passage. They had been sufficiently proved guilty of  
    rapacity in withholding the tenths and the oblations; as  
    then the sacrilege was well known, the Prophet now passes  
    judgement, as they say, according to what is usually done  
    when the criminal is condemned, and the cause is decided,  
    so that he who has been defrauded recovers his right.   
         So also now God deals with the Jews. Bring, he says,  
    to the repository (for this is the same as the house of  
    the treasury, or of provisions) all the tenths, or the  
    whole tenths. We hence learn that they had not withholden  
    the whole of the tenths from the priests, but that they  
    fraudulently brought the half, or retained as much as  
    they could; for it was not without reason that he said,  
    Bring all, or the whole. They then so paid the tenths as  
    to supply the priests with a part only, and thus they  
    trifled with God, according to what hypocrites do, who  
    ever claim to themselves high honour, and try to perform  
    their duty in such a way as not to discover their own  
    perfidy, and yet they are not ashamed of the liberty they  
    take to illude God; and of this we have here a remarkable  
    example. We then see that it is no new or unusual thing  
    for men to pretend to do the duties they owe to God, and  
    at the same time to take away from him what is his own,  
    and to transfer it to themselves, and that manifestly, so  
    that their impiety is evident, though it be covered by  
    the veil of dissimulation.   
         He then adds, Let there be meat in my house. We have  
    elsewhere explained this form of speaking, and in the  
    last lecture the Prophet spoke also of the meat of God,  
    not that God needs meat and drink, but that whatever he  
    has given us ought to be deemed his. We have already  
    stated, that it has been recorded for our sake, that the  
    Jews offered bread, and victims, and things of this kind,  
    and that they feasted at Jerusalem in the presence of  
    God: for what is more desirable than that God should  
    dwell in the midst of us? and this is often repeated in  
    the law. But this could not have been set forth to us in  
    a way so familiar, as when God is represented as in a  
    manner sitting at table with us, as though he were our  
    guest, eating of the same bread and of the other  
    provisions: and hence it is said in the law, "Thou shalt  
    feast and rejoice before thy God." (Deut. 2: 18.) Now as  
    God needs not meat and drink, as it has been said, and as  
    men in their grossness are ever prone to superstitions,  
    he substituted the priests and the poor in his own place,  
    to prevent the Jews from entertaining earthly notions  
    respecting him. And this kind of modification or  
    correction deserves to be noticed: for the Lord on the  
    one hand intended to draw men in a kind manner to  
    himself; but, on the other hand, he proposed to raise  
    their minds upward to heaven, lest they should ascribe to  
    him anything unworthy of himself, as is wont to be done,  
    and is very common.   
         But, at the same time, he again accuses them of  
    sacrilege, for he complains that he was deprived of meat;  
    Let there then be meat in my house; and prove me by this,  
    saith Jehovah, if I wily not open, &c. He confirms what  
    he said before, and yet proceeds with his promise, for by  
    subjecting himself to a proof, he boldly repels their  
    calumny in saying that they were without cause consumed  
    with want, and that God had changed his nature, because  
    he had not given a large supply of provisions. God then  
    briefly shows, that wrong had been done to him, for he  
    admits of a proof or a trial, as though he had said, "If  
    you choose to contest the point, I will soon settle it,  
    for if you bring to me the tenths and them entire, there  
    will immediately come to you a great abundance of all  
    provisions: it will hence be evident, that I am not the  
    cause of barrenness, but that it is your wickedness,  
    because ye have sacrilegiously defrauded me."   
         Then he adds, If I will not open to you the windows  
    of heaven. It is the first thing as to fertility that the  
    heavens should water the earth, according to what  
    Scripture declares: and hence God threatens in the law  
    that the heaven would be iron and the earth brass, (Deut.  
    28: 23,) for there is a mutual connection between the  
    heaven and the earth, and he says elsewhere by a Prophet,  
    "The heaven will hear the earth, and the earth will hear  
    the corn and wine, and the corn and wine will hear men."  
    (Hos 2: 99.) For when famine urges us, we cry for bread  
    and wine, as our life seems in a manner to be dependent  
    on these supplies. When there is no wine nor corn, we  
    meet with a denial; but the wine and the corn cry to the  
    earth, and why? because according to the order fixed by  
    God, they seek as it were to break forth; for when the  
    bowels of the earth are closed, neither the corn nor the  
    vine can come forth, and then they in vain call on the  
    earth. The sense is the case with the earth; for when it  
    is dry and as it were famished, it calls on the heavens,  
    but if rain be denied, the heavens seem to reject its  
    prayer. Then God in this place shows that the earth could  
    not produce a single ear of corn, except the heavens  
    supplied moisture or rain. God indeed could from the  
    beginning have watered the earth without rain, as Moses  
    relates he did at first, for a vapour then supplied the  
    want of rain. Though then rain descends naturally, we are  
    yet reminded here that God sends it. This is the first  
         But as rain itself would not suffice, he adds, I  
    will unsheath, &c.; for "raq" means properly to unsheath;  
    but as this metaphor seems unnatural, some have more  
    correctly rendered it, "I will draw out" Unnatural also  
    is this version, "I will empty out a blessing," and it  
    perverts the meaning. Let us then follow what I have  
    stated as the first - that a blessing is drawn out from  
    God when the earth discharges its office, and becomes  
    fertile or fruitful. We hence see that God is not only in  
    one way bountiful to us, but he also intends by various  
    processes to render us sensible of his kindness: he rains  
    from heaven to soften the earth, that it may in its bosom  
    nourish the corn, and then send it forth from its bowels,  
    as though it extended its breast to us; and further, God  
    adds his blessing, so as to render the rain useful.   
         He subjoins the words "'ad-beliy-day", which some  
    render, "that there may not be a sufficiency," that is,  
    that granaries and cellars might not be capable of  
    containing such abundance. They then elicit this meaning  
    - that so great would be the fruitfulness of the earth,  
    and so large would be its produce, that their  
    repositories would not be sufficiently capacious. But  
    others give this version, "Beyond the measure of  
    sufficiency." The word "day" means properly sufficiency,  
    or what is needful, as by inverting the letters it "yad".  
    With regard to the general meaning there is but little  
    difference. Suitable also is this version, "Beyond  
    sufficiency;" that is, I will not regard what is needful  
    for you, as though it were measured, but the abundance  
    shall be overflowing. It follows -  

    Malachi 3:11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your 
    sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your 
    ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the 
    time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts.    
         God now again confirms the truth, that he would not  
    in one way only be bountiful to them. He might indeed  
    distribute to us daily our food, as we know that he thus  
    fed his people in the wilderness; but his will is that  
    the seed should rot in the earth, that it should then  
    germinate, and in course of time grow, until it shoots  
    into ears of corn; but it is still in no small danger,  
    nay the corn is subject to many evils before it be  
    gathered into the garner; for the locusts, the worms, the  
    mildew, and other things may destroy it. God therefore,  
    in order to set forth his kindness to men, enumerates  
    here the ways and the means by which food is preserved;  
    for it would not be enough that the seed should  
    germinate, and that there should appear evidences of a  
    great produce, the ears being fine and abundant, but it  
    is necessary that the ears of corn themselves, before  
    they become ripe, should be preserved from above; for on  
    the one hand the chafers, the locusts, the worms, and  
    other grubs, may suddenly creep in and devour the corn  
    while in the field, and on the other hand, storms, and  
    hail, and mildew, and oilier pestilential things, as I  
    have said, may prove ruinous to the corn.   
         Hence God shows here, that he takes constant care of  
    us, and every day and every night performs the office of  
    a good and careful head of a family, who always watches  
    for its benefit.   
         In the word devourer, I include all the evils to  
    which we see that corn is subject; he therefore says, he  
    shall not destroy the fruit of the earth; nor bereaved  
    shall be the vine for you in the fields. The verb  
    "shachal" properly means to bereave or to deprive; but as  
    this version, "bereaved shall not be vine," would be  
    harsh, some have rendered the words thus, "Miscarry shall  
    not vine," which I do not disapprove: Miscarry then shall  
    not the vine for you in the fields, saith Jehovah of  
    hosts. It follows -  

    Malachi 3:12 And all nations shall call you blessed: for 
    ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts.    
         This verse is taken from the law, in which among  
    other things God promises so happy a state to his chosen  
    people, that the nations themselves would acknowledge in  
    them the blessing of God. There is yet a contrast to be  
    understood, - that having fallen into such misery, they  
    were become as it were detestable to all nations,  
    according to what the law also declares concerning them,  
    "If thou shalt keep my precepts, all nations shall call  
    thee blessed; but if thou wilt despise me, thou shalt be  
    a sport to all nations, all shall shake the head and move  
    the lips; yea, they shall be astonished at the sight of  
    thy misery, and whosoever shall hear his ears will  
    tingle." (Deut. 28: 1,15.) As then the Jews were consumed  
    as it were in their miseries, the Prophet says, "If you  
    turn to God, that happiness which he has promised you  
    shall not be withheld; he has it as it were ready in his  
    hand, like a treasure that is hidden, according to what  
    is said in Ps. 31: 19, 'How great is the abundance of thy  
    goodness! but it is laid up for them who fear thee.'" God  
    then means, that he will not prostitute his blessing to  
    dogs and swine, but that it is always in reserve for his  
    children, who are teachable and obedient. The nations  
    then shall call you blessed, for ye shall be a land of  
         This promise also is taken from the law, in which  
    God says, that he had not in vain separated that land  
    from the rest, because it was to be an example or a  
    representation of his kindness through the whole world.  
    We indeed know that God has ever been bountiful even to  
    all nations, so as to satisfy them abundantly with  
    provisions; but the land of Israel is called the land of  
    desire, or a desirable land, because it was the special  
    scene of God's bounty, not only as to meat and drink, but  
    also as to other more excellent blessings. He now adds -   

    Malachi 3:13-15 
    13 Your words have been stout against me, saith the LORD.
    Yet ye say, What have we spoken [so much] against thee? 
    14 Ye have said, It [is] vain to serve God: and what 
    profit [is it] that we have kept his ordinance, and that 
    we have walked mournfully before the LORD of hosts? 
    15 And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work 
    wickedness are set up; yea, [they that] tempt God are 
    even delivered.    
         Here again God expostulates with the Jews on account  
    of their impious and wicked blasphemy in saying, that he  
    disappointed his servants, and that he made no difference  
    between good and evil, because he was kind to the  
    unfaithful and the faithful indiscriminately, and also  
    that he overlooked the obedience rendered to him.   
         He says now that their words grew strong; by which  
    he denotes their insolence, as though he had said, Vous  
    avez gagn le plus haut; for "chazaq" is to be strong. He  
    means that such was the waywardness of the Jews that it  
    could not by any means be checked; they were like men  
    whom we see, who when once seized by rage and madness,  
    become so vociferous that they will not listen to any  
    admonitions or sane counsels. At first they murmur and  
    are only heard to whisper; but when they have attained  
    full liberty, they then send forth, as I have said, their  
    furious clamours against heaven. This is the sin which  
    the Prophet now condemns by saying, that the Jews grew  
    strong in crying against God. They again answer and say,  
    In what have we spoken against thee? It appears from  
    these so many repetitions that the hypocrisy, which was  
    united with great effrontery, could not be easily  
    corrected in a people so refractory: it ought indeed to  
    have come to their minds that they had wickedly accused  
    God. But they acknowledge here no fault, "What meanest  
    thou?" as though they wished to arraign the Prophet for  
    having falsely charged them, inasmuch as they were  
    conscious of no wrong.   
         He then gives the reason why he said, that their  
    words grew strong against God, that is, that they  
    daringly and furiously spoke evil of God; and the reason  
    was, because they said, that God was worshipped in vain.  
    They thought that they worshipped God perfectly; and this  
    was their false principle; for hypocrites ever lay claim  
    to complete holiness, and cannot bear to confess their  
    own evils; even when their conscience goads them, they  
    deceive themselves with vain flatteries, and always  
    endeavour to draw over them some veil that their disgrace  
    may not appear before men. Hence hypocrites seek to  
    deceive themselves, God, angels, and men; and when they  
    are inflated with the confidence that they worship God  
    purely, rightly, and without any defect, and that they  
    are without any blame, they will betray the virulence  
    which lies within, whenever God does not help them as  
    they wish, whenever he submits not to their will: for  
    when they are prosperous, God is hauntingly blessed by  
    them; but as soon as he withdraws his hand and begins to  
    prove their patience, they will then show, as I have  
    said, what sort of worshippers of God they are. But in  
    the service of God the chief thing is this - that men  
    deny themselves and give themselves up to be ruled by  
    God, and never raise a clamour when he humbles them.   
         We hence see how it was that the Jews found fault  
    with God; for they were persuaded that they fully  
    performed their duty, which was yet most false; and then,  
    they were not willing to submit to God, and to undertake  
    his yoke, because they did not consider in how many ways  
    they had provoked God's wrath, and what just and  
    multiplied reasons he has for chastising his people, even  
    when they do nothing wrong. As then they did not  
    seriously consider any of these things, they thought that  
    he was unjust to them, In vain then do we serve God.  
    These thoughts, as we have said, sometimes come across  
    the minds of the faithful; but they, as it becomes them,  
    resist such thoughts: the Jews, on the contrary, as  
    though they were victorious, vomited forth these  
    blasphemies against God.   
         In vain we serve God; what benefit? they said: for  
    we have kept has charge, we have walked obscurely, or  
    humbly, before Jehovah of hosts; and yet we are  
    constrained to call the proud, or the impious, happy.  
    Here they bring a twofold accusation against God, that  
    they received no reward for their piety when they  
    faithfully discharged their duty towards God, - and also  
    that it was better with the ungodly and the despisers of  
    God than with them. We hence see how reproachfully they  
    exaggerated what they deemed the injustice of God, at  
    least how they themselves imagined that he disappointed  
    the just of their deserved reward, and that he favoured  
    the ungodly and the wicked as though he was pleased with  
    them, as though he intended the more to exasperate the  
    sorrow of his own servants, who, though they faithfully  
    worshipped, yet saw that they did so in vain, as God  
    concealed himself and did not regard their services.   
         That the good also are tempted, as we have said, by  
    thoughts of this kind, is no wonder, when the state of  
    things in the world is in greater confusion. Even Solomon  
    says, "All things happen alike to the just and to the  
    unjust, to him who offers sacrifices, and to him who does  
    not sacrifice," (Eccles. 9: 2,) hence the earth is full  
    of impiety and contempt. There is then an occasion for  
    indignation and envy offered to us; but as God designedly  
    tries our faith by such confusions, we must remember that  
    we must exercise patience. It is not at the same time  
    enough for us to submit to God's judgement, except we  
    also consider that we are justly distressed; and that  
    though we may be attentive to what is just and upright,  
    many vices still cleave to us, and that we are sprinkled  
    with many spots, which provoke God's wrath against us.  
    Let us then learn to form a right judgement as to what  
    our life is, and then let us bear in mind how many are  
    the reasons why God should sometimes deal roughly with  
    us. Thus all our envying will cease, and our minds will  
    be prepared calmly to obey. In short, these  
    considerations will check whatever perverseness there may  
    be in us, so that neither our wicked thoughts nor our  
    words will be so strong as to rise in rebellion against  
    God.  Prayer.  Grant, Almighty God, that since we  
    continue to afford many and various reasons to induce  
    thee to withdraw thy blessing, and to show thyself  
    displeased with us, - O grant, that we may patiently bear  
    thy scourges, by which thou chastises us, and also profit  
    under them, and so contend with all our depraved  
    affections and the corruptions of the flesh, that we may  
    become partakers of thy paternal kindness, which thou  
    offerest to us, and also so taste of thy goodness, which  
    in innumerable ways is manifested towards us, that it may  
    keep us in the pursuit of true religion; finally, may our  
    tongues be consecrated to magnify thy judgement and to  
    celebrate thy justice, that whatever happens to us, we  
    may always serve thee through our whole life as our  
    Father, and declare also thy goodness towards us, and  
    confess that we are justly punished whenever thou  
    visitest us with severity, until we shall at length reach  
    that blessed rest, which is to be the end of all our  
    evils, and an entrance, not only into life, but also into  
    that full glory and happiness, which has been procured  
    for us by the blood of thine only-begotten Son. - Amen.  

    Calvin's Commentary on Malachi
    (continued in file 12...)

    file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: cvmal-11.txt