3. O Lord, are not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return.
3. Jehova, oculi tui annon ad veritatem? Percussisti eos, et non doluerunt; consumpsisti eos, et renuerunt suscipere disciplinam (vel, correctionem;) obduraverunt facies suas magis quam petram (vel, lapidem, magis quam saxum;) renuerunt converti (vel, redire.)
Some give a strained exposition of the beginning of the verse, or rather pervert it, as though the Prophet had said, that God would not turn his eyes from what was right, because he would rigidly execute his vengeance on his people. But Jeremiah goes on here with the same subject, for there is no importance to be attached to the division of the verses. They who have divided them have often unknowingly perverted the meaning. The divisions then are not to be heeded, only the number is to be retained as a help to the memory; but as to the context, they often are a hindrance to readers; for it is preposterous to blend things which are separate, and to divide what is connected. This remark has just now occurred to me, and it is necessary, as this place calls for it; for the Prophet, after having said that the Jews were perfidious and guilty of duplicity, and destitute of all integrity, immediately adds, But the eyes of God
The Prophet very significantly turns his discourse to God, to shew that he was wearied in addressing the people, for he saw that he prevailed nothing with the obstinate; for had there been any teachable spirit in the Jews, he would no doubt have exhorted them to practice integrity. He might have said, "They are mistaken who swear falsely in God's name, and persuade themselves that he will be their Father; for his eyes regard fidelity and uprightness of heart." This would have been a regular way of proceeding, and this mode of teaching would have been most suitable: but Jeremiah abruptly breaks off his address, and leaves his own people; "O God, "he says, "thy eyes look on fidelity;" as though he had said, "What more can I have to do with this wretched people? I address words to rocks and stones: therefore I bid you adieu, and shall have no more to do with you; I will now turn to God." We now see how much more forcible and striking is this turning from the people to God, than if the Prophet continued his address to the Jews, and sought to instruct them: for he now shews that he was broken down with weariness; for he saw that his labor was useless, and that all whom he had addressed were altogether refractory: nor did he, at the same time, intend to speak these words at random, and to no purpose; nay, his object was more sharply to touch those who were stupid, by letting them know that he left off addressing them, because he had no hope respecting them.
But what I have said elsewhere ought to be borne in mind, -- that the Prophets did not write all that they preached, but collected the substance of what they had delivered to the people; and this collection now forms the prophetic books. There is therefore no doubt but that Jeremiah had spoken at large on repentance, -- that he had exposed the sins of hypocrites, -- that he had denuded the fallacious pretences of the people, -- and that he had severely reproved their obstinacy. But after having done all these things, he found it necessary to desist from pursuing his course, for he saw that no fruit could be hoped from his labors and his preaching. Now, when the Jews knew this, they ought to have been deeply affected; and this ought to be the case with us now, when we see that God's Spirit is provoked by our perverseness; and as this is a dreadful thing, it is what ought more than anything else to touch our hearts. Consider what it is: God daily invites us most kindly to himself; but when he sees that our hearts and heads are so extremely hard, he leaves us, because we grieve his Spirit, as it is said by Isaiah. (Isaiah 63:10.) It was not, then, an usual or common mode of teaching which the Prophet adopted; but it was calculated to have more effect than plain instruction; for he shews that the wickedness of the people could no longer be endured.
"Man sees what appears outwardly; but God looks on the heart."
There the Holy Spirit expresses the same thing by "heart" as he does here by fidelity or "truth." For Samuel shews that David's father was mistaken, because he brought forward his sons who excelled in their outward appearance: "Man sees, "he says, "what appears outwardly; but God looks on the heart."
We now understand the true meaning of the Prophet, -- that though hypocrites flatter themselves, and the whole world encourage them by their adulations, all this will not avail them; for they must at last come before the tribunal of God, and that before God truth only will be approved and honored.
He afterwards adds,
He afterwards enlarges on the subject,
Grant, Almighty God, that as the devil ceases not to soothe us by his allurements, so that we may become torpid and stupefied, -- O grant, that thy word may so shine in our minds and hearts that we may not grow torpid in darkness; and do thou also so rouse us by thy Spirit, that we may attend to those warnings of thy prophets, by which thou wouldest bring us to the right way, that we may not perish; and may we so assiduously exercise repentance through the whole course of our life, that we may ever be displeased with ourselves on account of our sins; and may we judge ourselves daily, that we may turn away from us thy wrath, until having at length finished our warfare, which we have to carry on continually with our sins, we shall come to that blessed rest which has been procured for us in heaven, by Jesus Christ our Lord. -- Amen.
1 The literal rendering of this verse is as follows,-
Jehovah! thine eyes, are they not on faithfulness? Smitten them hast thou, but they have not grieved; Thou hast consumed them,-they have refused to receive correction; Harder have they made their faces than a rock; They have refused to return.
The "truth" here, and in the first verse, is regarded by Calvin and most commentators, as faithfulness towards men. But a right view of the context will shew that it refers to fidelity towards God. Of what does the preceding verse speak? Of unfaithfulness towards God-swearing falsely in his name; that is, making a false and hypocritical profession of him; and in this verse they are described as refusing to return to him. In the fifth and sixth verses they are represented as having "broken the yoke, "and as having apostatized from him; and in the seventh their going after other gods is expressly mentioned.
The word "judgment" has been taken in the same way, but not, in my view, agreeably to the context. To do judgment, is to do what is just and right; and "the way of Jehovah, "and "the judgment of God, "in the next verse, are the same, and hence put in apposition; the word "nor, "in our version, being improperly introduced. The way of the Lord is the way he has prescribed in his word; and it is called his judgment, because it is what he has determined and ordained, or what is just and right. God had not only revealed his law, but had also appointed and ordained it for the people of Israel. His law is called a way, because it points out the course which we are to take; and it is his judgment, because it is what God has determined, fixed, and appointed. Hence in the fifth verse they are said to have broken the yoke and burst the bonds. The yoke was the law, and the bonds were those of loyalty and obedience; or they were the bonds of justice, such as were justly ordained and imposed on them.-Ed.
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