Lamentations 3:27

27. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.

27. Bonum viro, si tulerit jugum in pueritia sua.


This verse admits of two meanings; for the word yoke may be explained as signifying teaching, or the scourges of God. We, indeed, undertake or bear in two ways the yoke of God, even when we are taught to receive his doctrine, or when we are resigned when he chastises us, when we are not obstreperous, but willingly submit to his corrections. As then some take the word lwe, for the yoke of instruction, and others for the yoke of chastisement, two explanations, as I have said, are given; and both are admissible. It is indeed truly said, that it is good for man to be accustomed from his youth to God's corrections; but Jeremiah seems rather to speak of that obedience generally, which the faithful render to God when they submit to his will. It is then our true happiness when we acknowledge that we are not our own, and allow God, by his sovereign power, to rule us as he pleases. But we ought to begin with the law of God. Hence, then, it is, that we are said to bear the yoke of God, when we relinquish our own judgment, and become wise through God's word, when, with our affections surrendered and subdued, we hear what God commands us, and receive what he commands. This, then, is what Jeremiah means by bearing the yoke.

And he says, in youth. For they who have lived unrestrained throughout their life, can hardly bear to be brought into any order. We indeed know, that, the aged are less tractable than the young; nay, whether we refer to the arts or to the liberal sciences, the youthful age is the most flexible. The aged are also much slower; and added to this is another evil, they are very obstinate, and will hardly bear to be taught the first rudiments, being imbued with a false notion, as though they must have lived long in vain. As, then, the disposition in the old is not easily changed, the Prophet says that it is good for us to be formed from childhood to bear the yoke. And this is also seen in brute animals; when a horse is allowed full liberty in the fields, and not in due time tamed, he will hardly ever bear the curb, he will be always refractory. The oxen, also, will never be brought to bear the yoke, if they be put under it in the sixth or eighth year. The same is found to be the case with men. Jeremiah, then, does not say, without reason, that it is good for every one to be trained from his youth in the service of God; and thus he exhorts children and youth not to wait for old age, as it is usually the case. For it has been a common evil, in all ages, for children and youth to leave the study of wisdom to the old. "Oh! it will be time enough for me to be wise, when I arrive at a middle age; but some liberty must be given to childhood and youthful days." And for this reason, Solomon exhorts all not to wait for old age, but duly to learn to fear God in childhood. So also our Prophet declares that it is good for one to bear the yoke in his childhood. It then follows. --


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