How are the things of Esau searched out! how are his hidden things sought up!…
Man's sin is, that he puts his confidence on objects unworthy and unsafe. The Edomites trusted to the insecure.
I. DID THEY TRUST TO THEIR MATERIAL DEFENCES? These are worthless. The cities of Edom consisted of houses mostly cut in the rocks, Nations may trust to their material defences, their armies, navies, fortifications; but they are as stubble to the raging fire when justice begins its work. Individuals may trust to their wealth, to material science and medical skill, to preserve their bodily lives; but when justice sends forth its emissary — death, what are these defences? Nothing; less than nothing, vanity.
II. Did they trust to their PLEDGED CONFEDERATES: these were worthless "All the men of thy confederacy have brought thee even to the borders." etc. Those confederates were probably Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon, with whom the Edomites joined in resisting Nebuchadnezzar; but these failed them, probably turned against them: and even their friends who were at peace with them and ate their bread deceived them in their hour of trial. "To no quarter could the Idumeans look for aid. Their allies, their neighbours, their very dependants, so far from assisting them, would act treacherously towards them, and employ every means both of an open and covert nature to effect their ruin." How often it happens that, when men get into adverse circumstances, their old allies, professed friends, those who have often partaken of their hospitality, not only fail them but turn against them. "Cursed is the man that trusteth in man and maketh flesh his arm."
III. Did they trust to the WISDOM OF THEIR GREAT MEN; this was worthless. "Shall I not in that day, saith the Lord, even destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of Esau?" "The Idumeans confided not only in the natural strength of their country, but in the superiority of their intellectual talent. That they excelled in the arts and sciences is abundantly proved by the numerous traces of them in the Book of Job, which wins undoubtedly written in their country. They were indeed proverbial for their philosophy, for the cultivation of which their intercourse with Babylon and Egypt was exceedingly favourable, as were likewise their means of acquiring information from the numerous caravans whose route lay through, their country, thus forming a chain of communication between Europe and India." — Henderson. Yet what is the wisdom, of man to trust in"? "He taketh the wise in their own craftiness."
IV. Did they trust to the POWER OF THEIR MIGHTY MEN: this was worthless. "And thy mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed to the end that every one of the mount of Esau may be cut off by slaughter." Delitzsch renders this, "And thy heroes despair, O Teman." Teman was the proper name of the southern portion of Idumea, called so after Tema, a grandson of Esau. Men trust in their heroes. A false confidence this also! God, by a breath of pestilence, can wither all the armies of Europe in an instant. Men who trust in anything short of God are like the man who in a thunderstorm takes shelter under a tree, whose tall branches attract the lightning which scorches him to ashes.
Parallel VersesKJV: How are the things of Esau searched out! how are his hidden things sought up!