A drought upon the land of Judah. (1-7) A confession of sin in the name of the people. (8-9) The Divine purpose to punish is declared. (10-16) The people supplicate. (17-22)
Verses 1-9 The people were in tears. But it was rather the cry of their trouble, and of their sin, than of their prayer. Let us be thankful for the mercy of water, that we may not be taught to value it by feeling the want of it. See what dependence husbandmen have upon the Divine providence. They cannot plough nor sow in hope, unless God water their furrows. The case even of the wild beasts was very pitiable. The people are not forward to pray, but the prophet prays for them. Sin is humbly confessed. Our sins not only accuse us, but answer against us. Our best pleas in prayer are those fetched from the glory of God's own name. We should dread God's departure, more than the removal of our creature-comforts. He has given Israel his word to hope in. It becomes us in prayer to show ourselves more concerned for God's glory than for our own comfort. And if we now return to the Lord, he will save us to the glory of his grace.
Verses 10-16 The Lord calls the Jews "this people," not "his people." They had forsaken his service, therefore he would punish them according to their sins. He forbade Jeremiah to plead for them. The false prophets were the most criminal. The Lord pronounces condemnation on them; but as the people loved to have it so, they were not to escape judgments. False teachers encourage men to expect peace and salvation, without repentance, faith, conversion, and holiness of life. But those who believe a lie must not plead if for an excuse. They shall feel what they say they will not fear.
Verses 17-22 Jeremiah acknowledged his own sins, and those of the people, but pleaded with the Lord to remember his covenant. In their distress none of the idols of the Gentiles could help them, nor could the heavens give rain of themselves. The Lord will always have a people to plead with him at his mercy-seat. He will heal every truly repenting sinner. Should he not see fit to hear our prayers on behalf of our guilty land, he will certainly bless with salvation all who confess their sins and seek his mercy.
Jeremiah 14:1-22 . PROPHECIES ON THE OCCASION OF A DROUGHT SENT IN JUDGMENT ON JUDEA.
1. Literally, "That which was the word of Jehovah to Jeremiah concerning the dearth"
drought--literally, the "withholdings," namely, of rain ( Deuteronomy 11:17 , 2 Chronicles 7:13 ). This word should be used especially of the withholding of rain because rain is in those regions of all things the one chiefly needed ( Jeremiah 17:8 , Margin).
2. gates--The place of public concourse in each city looks sad, as being no longer frequented ( Isaiah 3:26 , 24:4 ).
black--that is, they mourn (blackness being indicative of sorrow), ( Jeremiah 8:21 ).
unto the ground--bowing towards it.
cry--of distress ( 1 Samuel 5:12 , Isaiah 24:11 ).
3. little ones--rather, "their inferiors," that is, domestics.
pits--cisterns for collecting rain water, often met with in the East where there are no springs.
covered . . . heads--( 2 Samuel 15:30 ). A sign of humiliation and mourning.
5. The brute creation is reduced to the utmost extremity for the want of food. The "hind," famed for her affection to her young, abandons them.
6. wild asses--They repair to "the high places" most exposed to the winds, which they "snuff in" to relieve their thirst.
eyes--which are usually most keen in detecting grass or water from the "heights," so much so that the traveller guesses from their presence that there must be herbage and water near; but now "their eyes fail." Rather the reference is to the great boas and python serpents which raise a large portion of their body up in a vertical column ten or twelve feet high, to survey the neighborhood above the surrounding bushes, while with open jaws they drink in the air. These giant serpents originated the widely spread notions which typified the deluge and all destructive agents under the form of a dragon or monster serpent; hence, the dragon temples always near water, in Asia, Africa, and Britain; for example, at Abury, in Wiltshire; a symbol of the ark is often associated with the dragon as the preserver from the waters [KITTO, Biblical Cyclopædia].
7. do thou it--what we beg of Thee; interpose to remove the drought. Jeremiah pleads in the name of his nation ( Psalms 109:21 ). So "work for us," absolutely used ( 1 Samuel 14:6 ).
for thy name's sake--"for our backslidings are so many" that we cannot urge Thee for the sake of our doings, but for the glory of Thy name; lest, if Thou give us not aid, it should be said it was owing to Thy want of power ( Joshua 7:9 , Psalms 79:9 , 106:8 , Isaiah 48:9 , Ezekiel 20:44 ). The same appeal to God's mercy, "for His name's sake," as our only hope, since our sin precludes trust in ourselves, occurs in Psalms 25:11 .
8. The reference is, not to the faith of Israel which had almost ceased, but to the promise and everlasting covenant of God. None but the true Israel make God their "hope." ( Jeremiah 17:13 ).
turneth aside to tarry--The traveller cares little for the land he tarries but a night in; but Thou hast promised to dwell always in the midst of Thy people ( 2 Chronicles 33:7 2 Chronicles 33:8 ). MAURER translates, "spreadeth," namely, his tent.
9. astonied--like a "mighty man," at other times able to help ( Isaiah 59:1 ). but now stunned by a sudden calamity so as to disappoint the hopes drawn from him.
art in the midst of us--( Exodus 29:45 Exodus 29:46 , Leviticus 26:11 Leviticus 26:12 ).
called by thy name--( Daniel 9:18 Daniel 9:19 ) as Thine own peculiar people ( Deuteronomy 9:29 ).
10. Jehovah's reply to the prayer ( Jeremiah 14:7-9 , Jeremiah 2:23-25 ).
loved--( Jeremiah 5:31 ).
not refrained . . . feet--They did not obey God's command; "withhold thy foot" ( Jeremiah 2:25 ), namely, from following after idols.
remember . . . iniquity--( Hosea 8:13 , 9:9 ). Their sin is so great, God must punish them.
11. ( Jeremiah 7:16 , Exodus 32:10 ).
12. not hear--because their prayers are hypocritical: their hearts are still idolatrous. God never refuses to hear real prayer ( Jeremiah 7:21 Jeremiah 7:22 , Proverbs 1:28 , Isaiah 1:15 , 58:3 ).
sword . . . famine . . . pestilence--the three sorest judgments at once; any one of which would be enough for their ruin ( 2 Samuel 24:12 2 Samuel 24:13 ).
13. Jeremiah urges that much of the guilt of the people is due to the false prophets' influence.
assured peace--solid and lasting peace. Literally, "peace of truth" ( Isaiah 39:8 ).
14. ( Jeremiah 23:21 ).
15. ( Jeremiah 5:12 Jeremiah 5:13 ).
By sword and famine . . . consumed--retribution in kind both to the false prophets and to their hearers ( Jeremiah 14:16 ).
16. none to bury--( Psalms 79:3 ).
pour their wickedness--that is, the punishment incurred by their wickedness ( Jeremiah 2:19 ).
17. ( Jeremiah 9:1 , Lamentations 1:16 ). Jeremiah is desired to weep ceaselessly for the calamities coming on his nation (called a "virgin," as being heretofore never under foreign yoke), ( Isaiah 23:4 ).
18. go about--that is, shall have to migrate into a land of exile. HORSLEY translates, "go trafficking about the land (see Jeremiah 5:31 , Margin; 2 Corinthians 4:2 , 2 Peter 2:3 ), and take no knowledge" (that is, pay no regard to the miseries before their eyes) ( Isaiah 1:3 , 58:3 ). If the sense of the Hebrew verb be retained, I would with English Version understand the words as referring to the exile to Babylon; thus, "the prophet and the priest shall have to go to a strange land to practise their religious traffic ( Isaiah 56:11 , Ezekiel 34:2 Ezekiel 34:3 , Micah 3:11 ).
19. The people plead with God, Jeremiah being forbidden to do so.
no healing--( Jeremiah 15:18 ).
peace . . . no good--( Jeremiah 8:15 ).
20. ( Daniel 9:8 ).
21. us--"the throne of Thy glory" may be the object of "abhor not" ("reject not"); or "Zion" ( Jeremiah 14:19 ).
throne of thy glory--Jerusalem, or, the temple, called God's "footstool" and "habitation" ( 1 Chronicles 28:2 , Psalms 132:5 ).
thy covenant--( Psalms 106:45 , Daniel 9:19 ).
22. vanities--idols ( Deuteronomy 32:21 ).
rain--( Zechariah 10:1 Zechariah 10:2 ).
heavens--namely, of themselves without God ( Matthew 5:45 , Acts 14:17 ); they are not the First Cause, and ought not to be deified, as they were by the heathen. The disjunctive "or" favors CALVIN'S explanation: "Not even the heavens themselves can give rain, much less can the idol vanities."
art not thou he--namely, who canst give rain?