2. Thou hast planted them; yea, they have taken root: they grow; yea, they bring forth fruit: thou art near in their mouth,and far from their reins.
2. Plantasti eos, etiam radieem egerunt; prodierunt, etiam fecerunt frueturn (produxerunt fructum:) prope es in ore ipsorum, et procul es a renibus ipsorum (hoc est, ab intimo affectu, renes enim alibi dixinms accipi pro affectibus arcanis)
When the happiness of the wicked disturbs our minds, two false thoughts occur to us, -- either that this world is ruled by chance and not governed by God's providence, or that God does not perform the office of a good and righteous judge when he suffers light to be so blended with darkness. But the Prophet here takes it as granted, that the world is governed by God's providence; he therefore does not touch the false notion, which yet harasses pious minds, that fortune governs the world. Well known are these words, "I am disposed to think that there are no gods."1 It was thought there were no gods who ruled the world, because he died who deserved a longer life. And the wisest heathens have thus spoken, "I see fortune, which yet no reason governs; I see fortune, which prevails more than reason in these matters."2 But the Prophet, who was far removed from these profane notions, held this truth,mthat the world is governed by God; and he now asks, How it was that God exercised so long a forbearance? The ungodly, the thoughtless, and inconsiderate might have said that this forbearance was far too scanty. But the Prophet, as I have said, clearly describes what the Jews deserved.
Then he says, that they had been planted by God; for they could not have prospered had not God blessed them. The metaphor of planting, as we have before seen, often occurs, but in a different sense. When the celestial life is the subject, God is said to have planted his own elect, because their salvation is sure. He is said also to have planted his people in the land which he had given to them as an heritage. Now, when he speaks of the reprobate, the Prophet says that they had been planted by God, and for these reasons, because they flourished, because they produced leaves, and because they brought forth some fruit. In short, as Scripture, for various reasons, compares men to trees, so it employs the word planting in a corresponding sense. The Prophet indeed says that the ungodly are supported by God, and this is certain; for were not God to deal kindly with them for a time, they could not but instantly perish. Hence their prosperity is a proof of God's indulgence. But the Prophet expresses his wonder at this, not so much through his own private feeling, as for the purpose of shewing to the Jews that it was a strange thing that they were tolerated so long by God, as they had a hundred times deserved to be wholly destroyed.
He afterwards adds,
As then the Prophet knew that the Jews were wont thus loquaciously and perversely to defend their own cause, he says, "O, I see what they will say to me, even that which they are wont to say; for the common burden of their song is, that they are the children of Abraham, that. they sacrifice, and have other ways of pacifying God, and then that they possess a priesthood and a kingdom. These things," he says, "are well known to me: but, O Lord, thou knowest that they are mere words; thou knowest that they act fallaciously, and that they do nothing but declare what is false when they pretend these vain shifts and evasions; for thou knowest the heart, (
1 Ovid, Eleg. 8.
2 Ovid, Eleg. 8.
3 The verb is
Thou hast planted them, yea, they have taken root; They thrive, yea, they have produced fruit: Nigh art thou to their mouth, But far from their reins.
"They thrive," is literally "they go on," that is, after having rooted, or taken root. The "reins" stand for the affections -- fear, reverence, love,etc. -- Ed.
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