18. The Lord is righteous; for I have rebelled against his commandment: hear, I pray you, all people, and behold my virgins and my young men are gone into captivity.
18. Justus ipse Jehova, quia os ejus exacerbavi: Audite agedum omnes populii, videte dolorem meum; virgines meae et adolescentes mei profecti sunt in captivitatem.
Jerusalem again acknowledges, and more clearly expresses, that she suffered a just punishment. She had before confessed that her enemies were cruel through God's command; but it was necessary to point out again the cause of that cruelty, even that she had too long provoked the wrath of God.
She says, first, that God was just, or righteous,1 because she had provoked his mouth. By the mouth of God we are to understand the prophetic doctrine, as it is well known. But the phrase is emphatical, for when the word of God was proclaimed by the mouth of prophets, it was despised as an empty sound. As, then, prophetic doctrine has not its own majesty ascribed to it, God calls whatever his servants declare his mouth. This mode of speaking is taken from Moses, and often occurs in his writings. Jehovah, then, is just; how so? because I have provoked his mouth. And it was more grievous and less excusable to provoke the mouth of God than simply to offend God. The ungodly often offend God when they labor under ignorance; but when the Lord is pleased to open his mouth to recall the erring, and to shew the way of salvation, and then men rush headlong, as it were designedly, into sins, it is certainly a mark of extreme impiety. We hence understand why the Prophet mentions the mouth of God, or the teaching of the prophets, even to exaggerate the wickedness of Jerusalem, which had so obstinately disregarded God speaking by his prophets.
The greatness of her sorrow is again deplored; and what follows is addressed to all nations, Hear, I pray, all ye people; see my sorrow. And what was the reason for this great sorrow? because, she says, my virgins and my young men have been driven into captivity. This might seem a light thing; for a previous account has been given of other calamities, which were far more severe; and exile in itself is but a moderate punishment. But we must bear in mind what we have before stated, that the Jews dwelt in that land, as though they had been placed there by the hand of God, that Jerusalem was to be a perpetual rest, which had been granted them from above; in short, that it was as it were a pledge of the eternal inheritance. When, therefore, they were driven into captivity, it was the same as though God had cast them down from heaven, and banished them from his kingdom. For the Jews would not have been deprived of that land, had not God rejected them and shewed his alienation from them. It was then the same as repudiation. It is therefore no wonder that Jerusalem so much lamented because her sons and her daughters were driven into exile.
Grant, Almighty God, that as thou hast hitherto dealt so mercifully with us, we may anticipate thy dreadful judgment; and that if thou shouldest more severely chastise us, we may not yet fail, but that being humbled under thy mighty hand, we may flee to thy mercy and cherish this hope in our hearts, that thou wilt be a Father to us, and not hesitate to call continually on thee, until, being freed from all evils, we shall at length be gathered into thy celestial kingdom, which thine only-begotten Son has procured for us by his own blood. -- Amen.