Verses 16-18 (Numbers 25:16-18)

God had punished the Israelites for their sin with a plague; as a Father he corrected his own children with a rod. But we read not that any of the Midianites died of the plague; God took another course with them, and punished them with the sword of an enemy, not with the rod of a father. 1. Moses, though the meekest man, and far from a spirit of revenge, is ordered to vex the Midianites and smite them, Num. 25:17. Note, We must set ourselves against that, whatever it is, which is an occasion of sin to us, though it be a right eye or a right hand that thus offends us, Matt. 5:29, 30. This is that holy indignation and revenge which godly sorrow worketh, 2 Cor. 7:11. 2. The reason given for the meditating of this revenge is because they vex you with their wiles, Num. 25:18. Note, Whatever draws us to sin should be a vexation to us, as a thorn in the flesh. The mischief which the Midianites did to Israel by enticing them to whoredom must be remembered and punished with as much severity as that which the Amalekites did in fighting with them when they came out of Egypt, Exod. 17:14. God will certainly reckon with those that do the devil?s work in tempting men to sin. See further orders given in this matter, Num. 31:2.

- Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary