18:2 What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, a The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the childrens teeth are set on edge?
(a) The people murmured at the chastising of the Lord, and therefore used this proverb meaning that their fathers had sinned and their children were punished for their transgressions. See Jeremiah 31:29 18:6 [And] hath not eaten b upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, neither hath defiled his neighbours wife, neither hath come near to a polluted woman,
(b) If he has not eaten flesh that has been offered up to idols, to honour them by it. 18:13 Hath given forth upon interest, and hath taken increase: shall he then live? he shall not live: he hath done all these abominations; c he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him.
(c) He shows how the son is punished for his fathers sin: that is, if he is wicked as his father was and does not repent, he will be punished as his father was, or else not. 18:21 But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my d statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.
(d) He joins the observation of the commandments with repentance; for none can repent indeed, unless he labour to keep the Law. 18:22 All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned to him: in his e righteousness that he hath done he shall live.
(e) That is, in the fruit of his faith which declares that God accepts him. 18:23 f Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: [and] not that he should return from his ways, and live?
18:24 But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, [and] doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked [man] doeth, shall he live? All his g righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.
(f) He speaks this to commend Gods mercy to poor sinners, who rather is ready to pardon than to punish, as his long suffering declares, ( Ezekiel 33:11 ). Though God in his eternal counsel appointed the death and damnation of the reprobate, yet the end of his counsel was not their death only, but chiefly his own glory. Also because he does not approve sin, therefore it is here said that he would have them turn away from it that they might live.
(g) That is, the false opinion that the hypocrites have of their righteousness. 18:25 Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not h equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal?
(h) In punishing the father with the children. 18:31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, by which ye have transgressed; and make i you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
(i) He shows that man cannot forsake his wickedness, till his heart is changed which is only the work of God.