22. Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain? or can the heavens give showers? Art thou not he, O Lord our God? therefore we will wait upon thee; for thou hast made all these things.
22. An in idolis (vel, vanitatibus) gentium, qui pluere faciat? et an coeli dabunt pluviam (vel, et an ex coelis dabunt pluviam) an non tu ipse Jehova Deus noster? et speravimus in te (expectavimus ad te:) quoniam tu fecisti omnia haec.
In order to conciliate the favor of God, Jeremiah says here, that with him is the only remedy in extremities; and it is the same as though by avowing despair he wished to turn God to mercy; as if he had said, "What will become of us, except thou shewest thyself propitious? for if thou remainest implacable, the Gentiles have their gods from whom they seek safety; but with us it is a fixed principle to hope for and to seek salvation from thee alone." Now this argument must have been of great weight; not that God had need of being reminded, but he allows a familiar dealing with himself. For if we wish stoically to dispute, even our prayers are superfluous; for why do we pray God to help us? Does he not himself see what we want? Is he not ready enough to bring us help? But these are delirious things, wholly contrary to the true and genuine feeling of piety. As then we flee to God, whenever necessity urges us, so also we remind him, like a son who unburdens all his feelings in the bosom of his father. Thus in prayer the faithful reason and expostulate with God, and bring forward all those things by which he may be pacified towards them; in short, they deal with him after the manner of men, as though they would persuade him concerning that which yet has been decreed before the creation of the world: but as the eternal counsel of God is hid from us, we ought in this respect to act wisely and according to the measure of our faith.
However this may be, the Prophet, according to the common practice of the godly, seeks to conciliate the favor of God by this argument, -- that unless God dealt mercifully with his people and in his paternal kindness forgave them, it was all over with them, as though he had said, "O Lord, thou alone art he, from whom we can hope for salvation; if now we are repudiated by thee, there remains for us no refuge: wilt thou send thy people to the idols and the inventions of the heathens? but
But the Prophet here testifies in the name of the faithful, that when extremities oppress the miserable, they cannot obtain any help from the idols of the heathens.
He then says,
Here many, in my judgment, are mistaken, for they apply "these things" to the heavens and the earth, and to all the elements, as though the Prophet declared that God was the creator of the world, and that therefore all things are under his control. But I have no doubt but that he speaks of those punishments which God had already inflicted on the people, and had resolved soon to inflict; for he does not speak here of God's power, whiich shines forth in the workmanship of the world; but he says, "We have looked to thee, for thou hast made all these things;" that is, from thee alone salvation will come to us: for thou who hast inflicted the wound canst alone heal, according to what is said in another place,
"God kills and brings to life, he leads to the grave and restores."
(1 Samuel 2:6)
It is then the same as though the Prophet had said, "We, O Lord, do now flee to thy mercy, for no one but thou alone can help us, as thou art he who has punished our sins. Since then thou hast been our Judge, thou also canst alone deliver us now from our calamities; and no one can resist thee, since the highest power is thine alone. Let all the gods of the heathens unite, yea, all the elements and all creatures, for the purpose of serving us, yet what will all that they can do avail us? As then thou hast made all these things, that is, as these things have not happened to us by chance, but are the effects of thy just vengeance -- as thou hast been judge in inflicting these punishments, be now our Physician and Father; as thou hast heavily afflicted us, so now bring comfort and heal those evils which we justly suffer, and indeed through thy judgment." We now understand the real meaning of the Prophet.
And hence may be learned a useful doctrine, -- that there is no reason why punishments, which are signs of God's wrath, should discourage us so as to prevent us from venturing to seek pardon from him; but, on the contrary, a form of prayer is here prescribed for us; for if we are convinced that we have been chastised by God's hand, we are on this very account encouraged to hope for salvation; for it belongs to him who wounds to heal, and to him who kins to restore to life. Now follows --
1 It is better to regard this line as declaring that God is the giver of rain and showers, --
22. Are there any among the vanities of the nations who bring rain? And do the heavens give showers? Art thou not he who givest them, Jehova, our God? So we will look to thee, For thou makest all these.
To introduce the word "can," borrowed from the Vulgate, into the first questions, obscures the passage. "All these" refer, as it appears, to the rain and showers. The perfect tense in Hebrew often includes the past and the present, "For thou hast made and makest all these," etc. So Gataker regards the meaning. The Syriac has "For thou makest," etc. Calvin as far as I can find, stands alone in the sense he attaches to these words. If we take the verb strictly in the past tense, the meaning commonly given is, that God made the heavens, rain, and showers, and that, as he has made them, they are still under his control. But the other meaning is more suitable to the passage, -- that God makes the rain and the showers. - Ed.
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