16. Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts.
16. Inventi sunt sermones tui, et comedi eos, et fuit sermo tuus mihi in gaudium et laetitiam cordis mei; quia invocatum est nomen tuum super me, Jehova Deus exereituum.
The Prophet had said in the last verse that he was loaded with reproach on God's account; for in his intercourse with his own people he did not incur their hatred for any private affair, but for his faithfulness in the discharge of his duty: hence arose their reproaches and slanders. He now confirms the same thing in other words, and at the same time explains what might have appeared obscure on account of the brief statement which he had made. This verse, then, is explanatory; for the Prophet shews what he meant by saying that he was burdened with reproaches and calumnies on account of God's name.
"Ah! Lord, I cannot speak." (Jeremiah 1:8)
We hence see that the Prophet sought to decline the office rather than to desire it as a vocation of honor. So he now rightly declares that God's words had been found by him, that is, that they had been gratuitously bestowed on him, according to what the Lord says by Isaiah,
"I have been found by them who sought me not, and I have manifested myself to them who asked not for me." (Isaiah 65:1; Romans 10:20)
This indeed is to be applied to all; but as to the meaning of the term, to find, we see how suitable it is. the Prophet then did not hunt for this honor, nor did he desire any such thing, but the favor of God anticipated him.
He afterwards adds,
It may however be asked, how could the word of God be so sweet and pleasant to the Prophet, when yet it was so full of bitterness; for we have seen elsewhere that many tears were shed by the holy man, and he had expressed a wish that his eyes would flow, as though they were fountains of water. How then could these things agree -- the grief and sorrow which the holy man felt for God's judgments, and the joy and gladness which he now mentions? We have said elsewhere that these two feelings, though apparently repugnant, were connected together in the Prophets; they as men deplored and mourned for the ruin of the people, and yet, through the power of the Spirit, they performed their office, and approved of the just vengeance of God. Thus then the word of God became joy to the Prophet, not that he was not touched by a deep feeling for the destruction of the people, but that he rose above all human feelings, so as fully to approve of God's judgments. Hosea says the same thing --
"Right are the ways of the Lord; the just will walk in them, but the ungodly will stumble and fall." (Hosea 14:9)
The Prophet indeed speaks thus, not of the word itself, but of its execution; but yet the design is the same; for the Prophet Hosea checks the wantonness of the people, because they complained that God was too rigid and severe. Right, he says, are the ways of the Lord; the just will walk in them, that is, they will consent to God, and acknowledge that he acts rightly, even when he punishes for sins; but the ungodly will stumble, according to what the Lord says in another place --
"Are my ways perverse and not rather yours?"
For they said that the Lord's ways were crooked, because they, being soft and delicate, could not endure those severe rebukes, which their own wickedness forced from the holy Prophets. God answers them, and says, that his ways were not crooked, nor thorny, nor tortuous, but that the fault was in the people themselves.
We now then understand the real meaning of this passage. The Prophet knew that nothing was better than to receive whatever proceeded from God; and he testifies that he found sweetness in God's word.
He afterwards adds,
"Let every one who calls on the name
of the Lord depart from iniquity," (2 Timothy 2:19)
There is in this case a mutual connection; for to call on the name of the Lord, and to have his name called on any one, amounts to the same thing. We hence see that the name of God is only truly and really called on those, who not only boast that they are the faithful, but who have been also regenerated by the Holy Spirit.
But the Prophet here refers to his office when he says, that the name of God was called on him; for he had been chosen to his office of teaching; he was not only dignified with the title, but was really approved by God. We now then perceive in what sense he says that God's name was called on him, even because God had laid his hand on him and resolved to employ him in the work of teaching the people. But there are many mercenaries in the Church, and though they do not openly corrupt or adulterate the truth of God, they yet, as Paul says, preach it for gain, (2 Corinthians 2:17) It must be observed, that God's name was called on Jeremiah, because he was known to God as being true and faithful; and he had not only proved himself to be so to men, but he had been chosen by God to be his faithful messenger.2
There is emphasis in the words,
1 The received text has "thy words." Calvin has followed the Keri and the ancient versions, as well as our version; but "words" being mentioned in the previous line, the same thing being meant. It is more proper to use "words" here, --
And thy words were to me for exultation, And (or, even) for the joy of my heart.
It is no objection that the verb, which precedes in Hebrew the noun "words," is in the singular number; it is the idiom of the language, which is exactly the same in Welsh. "Exultation" is the visible effect; "the joy of the heart" is the inward feeling, the hidden cause. It is common in Scripture to mention the effect first, and to go back to the cause. - Ed.
2 The connection of this clasue is variously understood. It cannot be considered as a reason for the previous clasue. Gataker, Grotius, and others render
15. Thou knowest, Jehonah; Remember me and visit me, And take vengeance for me on my persecutors; Through thy long suffering towards them take me not away; (Know that I have been for thee borne reproach;
16. Found have been thy words and I did eat them; And thy words were to me for exultation, Even for the joy of my heart;) Because called on my has been thy name, Jehovah thou God of hosts.
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