You have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked in mourning before the LORD of hosts?
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Augustine of Hippo
It was, in fact, of their purely material interpretation of the law and of their failure to perceive that its temporal promises were but symbols of eternal rewards that they broke into such rebellious resentfulness as to say, “He labors in vain that serves God, and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinances and that we have walked sorrowfully before the Lord of hosts? Wherefore now we call the proud people happy, for they that work wickedness are built up.” It was such complaints as these that compelled the prophet to anticipate, as it were, the last judgment in which the wicked will be so far from even a pretense of happiness that their misery will be apparent to all, whereas the good, untroubled by even transitory sorrow, will enjoy a manifest and unending beatitude. Malachi has already given similar illustration of the kind of murmurings that wearied the Lord: “every one that does evil is good in the sight of the Lord and such please him.” The only point I want to make is th...
Vain. Murmuring against God is blasphemous and unsufferable. When the Jews were punished by famine, for neglecting to pay tithes, they laid the blame on God, as if he took more care of other nations which had abundance. (Worthington)
Sorrowful: "humbled. "Chaldean, "in mourning. "(Junius)
But is seems to denote downcast countenances, which our Saviour orders his disciples not to affect, Matthew vi. 16. (Calmet)