The prophet is bidden to prophecy:
(a) against the south (of Palestine) (20:45-49), and
(b) against Jerusalem and the land of Israel (21:1-17). The sword of the Lord is drawn from its sheath (21:1-7), sharpened and polished (21:8-13), and smites repeatedly in its deadly work (21:14-17).
In 21:18-27, the explanation is given. The king of Babylon is seen, standing at the parting of the ways, seeking guidance by divination – Ammon or Jerusalem? The decision falls of Jerusalem, the city is taken, and the king (Zedekiah) slain. The closing verses of the chapter (verses 28-32) are a short prophecy of utter doom upon Ammon as well.
- Who kindles the fire? Whose sword is drawn?
Yet it was by a heathen king that the judgment was affected. What does this teach us concerning God’s methods of accomplishing his purpose of judgment in the world?
Cf. Jer. 25:9 (‘my servant’); Is. 25:1-4.
- When human leaders and confidences all fail and are overthrown, where can we still look for the establishment of a reign of peace? See 21:25-27; cf. Ps. 2:6-9; Luke 21:25-28.
- 21:21 refers to three well-known forms of divination practiced by the Babylonians: drawing marked arrows from a quiver (or throwing them in the air to see how they fall); consulting the teraphim, the ancestral household gods, in some form of necromancy; and studying the marks on the entrails of sacrificial victims.
- 21:27. ‘To whom it rightfully belongs’: i.e., the Davidic Messiah who is entitled to the kingship. Cf. Gen. 49:10.