I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.
Verse 10 is clearly a prophecy about Jesus. Zechariah’s statement, “…they look on Me whom they have pierced…”, is cited by John (“And again another Scripture says, ‘They will look on him whom they have pierced.’”) and directly stated as being fulfilled by the death of Christ, specifically when the soldier “pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water” (John 19:34-37).
Yet there is much more to unpack in this verse. Christ is speaking in first person through Zechariah’s prophecy. That is made clear when He cited Himself as the one “whom they have pierced,” a foretelling of the crucifixion. Thus, “I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication” could be a prophecy that Christ would pour out the Holy Spirit. Speaking of Jesus on the Day of Pentecost, Peter said, “Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear” (Acts 2:33). Thus, this prophecy could have its fulfillment in the beginning of the church on Pentecost, with “the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem” referring to the Jews in Jerusalem who obeyed the gospel that day (Acts 2:38-41), and as a secondary application to the church as a whole, the spiritual house of David and the heavenly Jerusalem (Heb. 12:22-23). Wayne Jackson holds this view. He states, “The expression ‘pour’ suggests the abundance of power resident in the divine Spirit to be bestowed upon the apostles and, through them, others. The practical effect of this power would authenticate the validity of the gospel of Christ.” He also correctly observes, “Contrary to the allegation of some premillennialists, this does not refer to the second coming of the Lord.”
Homer Hailey holds another possible view. This interpretation would render the term “spirit” as lower-case (as the ESV renders verse 10), indicating that the Holy Spirit is not being referenced. Rather, as Hailey puts it: “The strength through which Jehovah enables His saints to overcome and defeat their enemies is provided through His grace and their turning to Him in supplication. Therefore Jehovah promises to pour upon both the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace – divine unmerited favor – which would cause them to seek that which His grace provides. This spirit of grace would bring them to repentance and turn them to Him in supplication.”
Both views have merit, and I leave it up to the reader to determine which has more validity. If the correct interpretation points to the Holy Spirit and Pentecost, then the newly converted Jews – some of whom being the same ones who had called for the death of Christ fifty days earlier (cf. Acts 2:23, 36) – would indeed view the One whom they had crucified in a different way than they had before (“they will look on Me whom they have pierced”). Hailey’s view that Christ is pouring out grace – the offer of salvation in spite of the fact that humanity sinned (Rom. 5:6, 8, 10; 2 Cor. 5:18-20; cf. Col. 1:20-21) – also fits in that it would cause all recipients of that grace to view Christ in a completely different way than they had before.
Zechariah describes that view: “and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.” This no doubt would produce the “supplication” (“pleas of mercy” – ESV) mentioned by Zechariah in this verse. I’m reminded of the godly sorrow that produces repentance that leads to salvation (2 Cor. 7:9-11). Lord willing, the next article will explore this more fully as we study this mourning described prophetically by Zechariah in verses 11-14.