WHO CAN BE COMPARED WITH YOU...?: Egypt is like
CONSIDER ASSYRIA, ONCE A CEDAR IN LEBANON: Assyria is
compared to a cedar of Lebanon, which is an emblem of earthly magnificence. It
is the favorite tree in Bible imagery to express splendor. In this respect it
could be taken as a symbol of a great triumphant empire such as that of Assyria.
There is a "splendor" of this world; we should not be surprised when we see the
wicked flourishing like green trees (Psa 37:35). They may even attain to the
proportions of the cedar of Lebanon.
The cedar was known for its: (a) Size: Assyria was a big
empire; its worldly success was immense. (b) Altitude: the cedar is not only
broad-spreading, but it also towers high. There was an unchecked pride in its
worldly success. (c) Persistence: the cedar is green in winter. By clever
devices unscrupulous people may escape many of the troubles of the true servants
of God. (d) Fragrance: it cannot be denied that there is a certain fascination
in worldly splendor.
There are points in which worldly magnificence surpasses the
visible excellence of spiritual goodness -- "no tree in the garden of God could
match its beauty" (v 8). The cedar appears huge before the eye of an observer,
while the vine seems to cower feebly among the rocks. Yet it is the vine that
yields refreshing fruit.
There is a striking aspect in worldly success. Spiritual
achievements do not arrest attention in the same way, because they are
spiritual. Yet God looks not to worldly greatness, but to spiritual
Also, the cedar is unpruned. It grows in wild, rank luxuriance
upon the slopes of Lebanon. But the trees in the "garden of the Lord" are
carefully pruned, "because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes
everyone he accepts as a son" (Heb 12:6; cp Pro 3:11,12). Life for the "vines",
now, may be far more restrictive and difficult than life for the "cedars" -- but
in the end, it will be infinitely more rewarding.
Vv 5,6: The same language is used by Jesus in Luke 13:19,
being applied to the Kingdom of God -- which will rise above all other
RULER OF THE NATIONS: Heb "el goyim" = the mighty one
of the Gentiles, ref king Nebuchadnezzar.