Zechariah chapter 9 contains important prophecies and promises from God that would have been encouraging to the Israelites who had returned from exile in Babylon. This chapter focuses on God’s protection and deliverance of His people, as well as the promise of a future king for Israel and Jerusalem. There are several key themes and takeaways in this chapter:
- God will protect and deliver His people, specifically Judah and Jerusalem
- The surrounding nations who oppose God’s people will be judged and defeated
- A future king is coming for God’s people, riding humbly on a donkey
- This king will proclaim peace and bring salvation to the nations
- There will be a restored covenant between God and His people in the future
- God will save and restore His people in the end times
Looking at this chapter verse-by-verse, we gain insight into God’s heart for His people and His future plans to redeem and restore them through the Messiah fully.
Commentary on Zechariah Chapter 9
Verses 1-8 – Judgment on Surrounding Nations
The first section of Zechariah 9 pronouncements God’s judgment on the nations surrounding Israel. Though His people had suffered exile because of their sin, God had not forgotten them and still claimed them as His own. He declares that He is watching over His people and will defend them against their enemies:
The burden of the word of the LORD Against the land of Hadrach, And Damascus its resting place (For the eyes of men And all the tribes of Israel Are on the LORD); Also against Hamath, which borders on it, And against Tyre and Sidon, though they are very wise. For Tyre built herself a tower, Heaped up silver like the dust, And gold like the mire of the streets. Behold, the Lord will cast her out; He will destroy her power in the sea, And she will be devoured by fire. (Zechariah 9:1-4 NKJV)
God pronounces judgments against the major powers that surrounded Israel during Zechariah’s time – Aram (Syria), Hamath, Tyre and Sidon. Though these nations were strong in their own right and kings like Hiram of Tyre had opposed Israel in the past, God declares that He will remove them all. Their power and wealth will not be able to withstand the Lord’s judgment. God will defend His people against those who would harm them.
God then shifts His focus onto two Philistine cities, Ashkelon and Gaza. These cities had been thorns in Israel’s side for centuries, opposing and attacking them at various times:
Ashkelon shall see it and fear;
Gaza also shall be very sorrowful; And Ekron, for He dried up her expectation. The king shall perish from Gaza, And Ashkelon shall not be inhabited. (Zechariah 9:5 NKJV)
Because of their hostility against God’s people, the Lord declares that these cities will experience judgment. Ashkelon’s strength will fail her and Gaza’s king will perish. The prideful expectations of the Philistines will be dried up and dashed. God will remove these adversaries of Israel, displaying His might and faithfulness to defend His chosen people.
The chapter then culminates with a prophecy against the Philistine remnant. God declares that though they dwell in the land of Israel with the Jews as a mixed race, He will cut them off and remove their abominations:
“A mixed race shall settle in Ashdod,
And I will cut off the pride of the Philistines.
I will take away the blood from his mouth,
And the abominations from between his teeth.
But he who remains, even he shall be for our God,
And shall be like a leader in Judah,
And Ekron like a Jebusite.
I will camp around My house
Because of the army,
Because of him who passes by and him who returns.
No more shall an oppressor pass through them,
For now I have seen with My eyes.” (Zechariah 9:6-8 NKJV)
This section demonstrates God’s commitment to purify His people Israel. Though they are surrounded by enemies and have intermarried with ungodly nations, the Lord promises to defend them and cut off the unholy influences. He will remove the prideful, violent Philistines from their midst and establish His dwelling with a purified people. This promise of God’s protection and deliverance would have brought comfort to Zechariah’s audience, reassuring them of God’s covenant faithfulness.
Verses 9-10 – The Coming King
After promising to defend Israel from her enemies, the focus shifts to a remarkable prophecy of a future king coming to rule in Jerusalem:
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your King is coming to you;
He is just and having salvation,
Lowly and riding on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.
I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
And the horse from Jerusalem;
The battle bow shall be cut off.
He shall speak peace to the nations;
His dominion shall be
‘From sea to sea,
And from the River to the ends of the earth.’ (Zechariah 9:9-10 NKJV)
This prophecy describes the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem before His death, as recorded in the New Testament Gospels (Matt. 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-40, John 12:12-19). The verses give vivid details about this coming king – He will be righteous, victorious, and humble – riding on a donkey rather than a warhorse. He will proclaim peace rather than military might. Through this humble king, God’s reign will extend to the ends of the earth.
For Zechariah’s original audience, this prophecy would have stirred up hope and anticipation of a coming Davidic king to restore Israel’s kingdom and influence. The line of kings had been interrupted by the Babylonian exile, so this promise was deeply meaningful. God had not forgotten His covenant with David and one of his descendants would reign forever.
Christians recognize this passage as a clear prophecy of Jesus Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem at the end of His earthly ministry. The Gospel writers directly connect Jesus’ choice to ride a donkey into the city with this Messianic prophecy from Zechariah. As the crowds spread cloaks and palm branches before Him, they cried out “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matt. 21:9). Though they failed to understand the nature of His kingdom, the people identified Jesus as the promised king coming to Zion. This humble but deliberate action fulfilled Zechariah’s prophecy centuries prior.
Verses 11-17 – God’s Promise to Restore His People
After promising a future king, the remainder of Zechariah 9 shifts focus to the covenant between God and His people Israel. God declares that He is freeing them from captivity and promising to once again dwell in their midst:
“As for you also,
Because of the blood of your covenant,
I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.
Return to the stronghold,
You prisoners of hope.
Even today I declare
That I will restore double to you.” (Zechariah 9:11-12 NKJV)
Because of His unchanging covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, God promises to deliver the Israelites from exile in Babylon. This promise of restoration points to the end of the 70 year Babylonian captivity spoken of by Jeremiah (Jer. 25:11-12, 29:10-14). God will keep His covenant by returning His people to the land and city He had given them. The exiles are “prisoners of hope” because God has promised to restore what was taken from them.
The passage continues with a vivid description of victory and restoration for God’s people:
For I have bent Judah, My bow,
Fitted the bow with Ephraim,
And raised up your sons, O Zion,
Against your sons, O Greece,
And made you like the sword of a mighty man.”
Then the LORD will be seen over them,
And His arrow will go forth like lightning.
The Lord GOD will blow the trumpet,
And go with whirlwinds from the south.
The LORD of hosts will defend them;
They shall devour and subdue with slingstones.
They shall drink and roar as if with wine;
They shall be filled with blood like basins,
Like the corners of the altar.
The LORD their God will save them in that day,
As the flock of His people.
For they shall be like the jewels of a crown,
Lifted like a banner over His land (Zechariah 9:13-16 NKJV)
Here the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel and Judah are depicted together as the Lord’s weapons against the Greeks (Javan). This likely refers to the conflict between the Jews and Seleucid Greeks that occurred centuries later under Antiochus Epiphanes. Though oppressed for a time, the Jews would eventually be victorious and purified under Judas Maccabeus. More broadly, it speaks to God using Israel to conquer the nations that would seek to destroy her.
The vivid imagery of this section emphasizes God fighting on behalf of His people, destroying their enemies and restoring what was lost. He will save and redeem them, bringing them back from exile to dwell securely in the land once again. For Zechariah’s listeners, these promises would stir their hope and remind them that God’s purposes for Israel would ultimately prevail, despite present opposition and circumstances. The temple and Jerusalem would be restored because God had promised to return and defend His people.
Verses 8:17-21 – Restoration of the People
For how great is its goodness
And how great its beauty!
Grain shall make the young men thrive,
And new wine the young women. (Zechariah 9:17 NKJV)
Because of God’s grace and faithfulness to His promises, the land will once again be bountiful and provide abundant crops and goods for the people. Israel will be blessed and receive the covenant blessings God had promised to pour out on His people (Lev. 26:4-5, Deut. 28:11-12).
Not only will the people be blessed materially, but their hearts will be softened and renewed spiritually as well:
Ask the LORD for rain
In the time of the latter rain. The LORD will make flashing clouds;
He will give them showers of rain,
Grass in the field for everyone. For the idols speak delusion;
The diviners envision lies,
And tell false dreams;
They comfort in vain.
Therefore the people wend their way like sheep;
They are in trouble because there is no shepherd. (Zechariah 10:1-2 NKJV)
As the land flourishes under God’s blessing, the hearts of the people will turn back to worshipping the one true God. They will no longer put their hope in false gods and idols or trust in deceitful divination. God’s faithfulness will cause the people to recognize the emptiness of chasing after things that cannot satisfy.
The result of God’s outpouring of blessing is a dramatic restoration of His people:
“My anger is kindled against the shepherds,
And I will punish the goatherds. For the LORD of hosts will visit His flock,
The house of Judah,
And will make them as His royal horse in the battle.
From him comes the cornerstone,
From him the tent peg,
From him the battle bow,
From him every ruler together.
They shall be like mighty men,
Who tread down their enemies
In the mire of the streets in the battle.
They shall fight because the LORD is with them,
And the riders on horses shall be put to shame.
I will strengthen the house of Judah,
And I will save the house of Joseph.
I will bring them back,
Because I have mercy on them.
They shall be as though I had not cast them aside;
For I am the LORD their God,
And I will hear them.” (Zechariah 10:3-6 NKJV)
God will restore Judah and the northern tribes, using them once again to conquer their enemies by the power of His Spirit. He will have mercy and make His people strong. This connects back to the victory described in chapter 9, where Israel and Judah together defeat the nations aligned against them. God the Divine Warrior fights on their behalf. The restoration spoken of here ultimately points forward to the end times when God will regather and redeem His people under the Messiah’s rule (Isa. 11:12).
The chapter concludes with a beautiful scene of the people regathered to their land with their hearts turned back to the Lord:
Those of Ephraim shall be like a mighty man,
And their heart shall rejoice as if with wine.
Yes, their children shall see it and be glad;
Their heart shall rejoice in the LORD.
I will whistle for them and gather them,
For I will redeem them;
And they shall increase as they once increased.
“I will sow them among the peoples,
And they shall remember Me in far countries;
They shall live, together with their children,
And they shall return.
I will also bring them back from the land of Egypt,
And gather them from Assyria.
I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon,
Until no more room is found for them.
(Zechariah 10:7-10 NKJV)
Here we see the fulfillment of God’s promise to regather and restore His people, bringing them back to dwell in the Promised Land. Their hearts will be healed and they will rejoice in the Lord with gladness. He will rescue them from far off lands just as He brought them out of Egypt long ago. They will be fruitful and multiply once again in the land God had given them. What an encouragement this vivid restoration imagery would have been to Zechariah’s listeners!
Zechariah 9 promises God’s protection and deliverance for His people Israel, judgment of the nations who oppose them, and the coming of a future king to rule in their midst. This king will come humbly yet proclaim peace that extends to the ends of the earth. God will keep His covenant by restoring and regathering His people, blessing them, and defeating their enemies by His strength. He promises to forgive and make His people strong once again as they turn their hearts back to Him.
For Christians, this chapter contains important Messianic prophecies that point clearly to the person and work of Jesus Christ. He is the righteous king who arrived lowly and riding on a donkey, whose rule extends to all nations. Through His victory on the cross, Jesus provides the spiritual peace, redemption and restoration promised here. God keeps His promises, and these prophecies of Zechariah find their ultimate fulfillment in Christ.
As we study this chapter, we gain insight into God’s steadfast commitment to His people and His future plans to redeem creation. Despite circumstances around us, we can have hope and confidence in God’s promises. Someday Jesus will return to fully establish God’s kingdom on earth and dwell with His people forever.