“spring rain.” The “former rain” (sometimes called the “early rain”) is the rain that falls in October and November, after the dry months of May-September and it softens the ground for plowing and planting, and waters the seed as it starts growing. The planting of grains is done in what is autumn and early winter to us (similar to our “winter wheat”). The grains grow slowly over the winter months, and as the ground warms up in March and April the spring rains, or “latter” rains fall (sometimes called the “later” or “late” rains), watering the crops and bringing them into full fruit. The former and latter rains are mentioned in many verses (Deut. 11:14; Job 29:23; Jer. 3:3; Hos. 6:3; Joel 2:23; Zech. 10:1). Having the favor of the king is a great blessing, resulting in fruit in one’s life, just as the spring rain, or “latter rain,” brings fruit to the farmer.
[For more on the latter rains, see commentary on James 5:7.]