37. And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant.
37. Et transire faciam vos sub virga, et adducam vos in vinculo foederis.
He follows up the same kind of instruction, that the people were not permitted to perish because they belonged to him, as if he had said that they should be always his, whether they liked it or not. And yet he seems to promise here what was very agreeable, that he would always esteem them as his flock. This is the meaning of to pass under the rod; for
He says, in the bonds of a covenant, but in a different sense from what Hosea denominates a bond of affection. (Hosea 11:4.) He is there treating of reconciliation; but in this passage God pronounces that he will no longer be en-treated by the Israelites. Hence, the bond of the covenant means the constancy of his covenant, as far as he is concerned: and the, simile is suitable, because God had bound his people to himself, on the condition that they should be always surrounded with these bonds. Hence, when they petulantly wandered like untamed beasts, yet God had hidden bonds of his covenant: that is, he persevered in his own covenant, so that he collected them all again to himself, not to rule over them as a father, but to punish their revolt more severely. Here is a tacit comparison between the Israelites and the Gentiles; for the Gentiles, through their never approaching nearer to God, wandered away in their licentiousness without restraint. But the state of the elect people was different, since the end of their covenant was this, that God held them bound to him, even if the whole world should escape from him. It follows --
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