Here is the doom of Judah and Jerusalem read, and it is heavy doom. The prophets were sent, in the first place, to teach them the knowledge of God, to remind them of their duty and direct them in it. If they succeeded not in that, their next work was to reprove them for their sins, and to set them in view before them, that they might repent and reform, and return to their duty. If in this they prevailed not, but sinners went on frowardly, their next work was to foretel the judgments of God, that the terror of them might awaken those to repentance who would not be made sensible of the obligations of his love, or else that the execution of them, in their season, might be a demonstration of the divine mission of the prophets that foretold them. The prophets were deputed judges to those that would not hear and receive them as teachers. We have here,
I. A recital of the crime. The indictment is read upon which the judgment is grounded, 2 Kgs. 21:11. Manasseh had done wickedly himself, though he knew better things, had even justified the Amorites, whose copy he wrote after, by outdoing them in impieties, and debauched the people of God, whom he had taught to sin and forced to sin; and besides that (though that was bad enough) he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood (2 Kgs. 21:16), had multiplied his murders in every corner of the city, and filled the measure of Jerusalem’s blood-guiltiness (Matt. 23:32) up to the brim, and all this against the crown and dignity of the King of kings, the peace of his kingdom, and the statutes in these cases made and provided.
II. A prediction of the judgment God would bring upon them for this: They have done that which was evil, and therefore I am bringing evil upon them (2 Kgs. 21:12); it will come and it is not far off. The judgment should be, 1. Very terrible and amazing; the very report of it should make men’s ears to tingle (2 Kgs. 21:12), that is, their hearts to tremble. It should make a great noise in the world and occasion many speculations. 2. It should be copied out (as the sins of Jerusalem had been) from Samaria and the house of Ahab, 2 Kgs. 21:13. When God lays righteousness to the line it shall be the line of Samaria, measuring out to Jerusalem that which had been the lot of Samaria; when he lays judgment to the plummet it shall be the plummet of the house of Ahab, marking out for the same ruin to which that wretched family was devoted. See Isa. 28:17. Note, Those who resemble and imitate others in their sins must expect to fare as they fared. 3. That it should be an utter destruction: I will wipe it as a man wipes a dish. This intimates, (1.) That every thing should be put into disorder, and their state subverted; they should be turned upside down, and all their foundations put out of course. (2.) That the city should be emptied of its inhabitants, which had been the filth of it, as a dish is emptied when it is wiped: “They shall all be carried captive, the land shall enjoy her sabbaths, and be laid by as a dish when it is wiped.” See the comparison of the boiled pot, not much unlike this, Ezek. 24:1-14. (3.) That yet this should be in order to the purifying, not the destroying, of Jerusalem. The dish shall not be dropped, not broken to pieces, or melted down, but only wiped. This shall be the fruit, the taking away of the sinners first, and then of the sin. 4. That therefore they should be destroyed, because they should be deserted (2 Kgs. 21:14): I will forsake the remnant of my inheritance. Justly are those that forsake God forsaken of him; nor does he ever leave any till they have first left him: but, when God has forsaken a people, their defence has departed, and they become a prey, an easy prey, to all their enemies. Sin is spoken of here as the alpha and omega of their miseries. (1.) Old guilt came in remembrance, as that which began to fill the measure (2 Kgs. 21:15): “They have provoked me to anger from their conception and birth as a people, since the day their fathers came out of Egypt.” The men of this generation, treading in their fathers’ steps, are justly reckoned with for their fathers’ sins. (2.) The guilt of blood was that which filled the measure, 2 Kgs. 21:16. Nothing has a louder cry, nor brings a sorer vengeance, than that.
This is all we have here of Manasseh; he stands convicted and condemned; but we hope in the book of Chronicles to hear of his repentance, and acceptance with God. Meantime, we must be content, in this place, to have only one intimation of his repentance (for so we are willing to take it), that he was buried, it is likely by his own order, in the garden of his own house (2 Kgs. 21:18); for, being truly humbled for his sins, he judged himself no more worthy to be called a son, a son of David, and therefore not worthy to have even his dead body buried in the sepulchres of his fathers. True penitents take shame to themselves, not honour; yet, having lost the credit of an innocent, the credit of a penitent was the next best he was capable of. And better it is, and more honourable, for a sinner to die repenting, and be buried in a garden, than to die impenitent, and be buried in the abbey.