It will happen at that time
that I will search Jerusalem with lamps,
and I will punish the men who are like wine comfortably settled on the lees,
who say in their heart,
‘Yahweh will not do good, nor will he do evil.’ Bible other translations

“I will search Jerusalem with lamps.” On the day of God’s wrath no one will be able to escape. There will be no dark corners to hide in. The “lamps” were the common oil lamps in use at the time, they put off the same amount of light as a candle.

like wine comfortably settled on the lees.” This refers to the custom of letting wine age and develop strength and flavor by leaving it on the lees instead of straining it (cp. Isa. 25:6). Wine bought in bottles today is well strained and very rarely has any lees, which is a fine sediment at the bottom of the wine bottle or wineskin, but homemade wine almost always has lees. The lees at the bottom of a wine bottle are easily stirred up into the wine if the bottle is moved, so for people to be like wine comfortably settled on the lees is a picture of people who are completely comfortable sitting in their sin. They are not disturbed by their sin and have no intention of moving to correct it. They do not think that God would act against them and they certainly do not think about any future Judgment Day, but their unbelief will not change the reality that a day of reckoning is coming.

“Yahweh will not do good, nor will he do evil.” The essence of this phrase is picked up in the more paraphrased NET translation: “The LORD neither rewards nor punishes.” The people treated Yahweh as an unimportant and powerless god.

Commentary for: Zephaniah 1:12