The destruction of the wicked described. (1-9) The prophet laments such messages, and is reproved. (10-14) He supplicates pardon, and is promised protection. (15-21)
Verses 1-9 The Lord declares that even Moses and Samuel must have pleaded in vain. The putting of this as a case, though they should stand before him, shows that they do not, and that saints in heaven do not pray for saints on earth. The Jews were condemned to different kinds of misery by the righteous judgment of God, and the remnant would be driven away, like the chaff, into captivity. Then was the populous city made desolate. Bad examples and misused authority often produce fatal effects, even after men are dead, or have repented of their crimes: this should make all greatly dread being the occasion of sin in others.
Verses 10-14 Jeremiah met with much contempt and reproach, when they ought to have blessed him, and God for him. It is a great and sufficient support to the people of God, that however troublesome their way may be, it shall be well with them in their latter end. God turns to the people. Shall the most hardy and vigorous of their efforts be able to contend with the counsel of God, or with the army of the Chaldeans? Let them hear their doom. The enemy will treat the prophet well. But the people who had great estates would be used hardly. All parts of the country had added to the national guilt; and let each take shame to itself.
Verses 15-21 It is matter of comfort that we have a God, to whose knowledge of all things we may appeal. Jeremiah pleads with God for mercy and relief against his enemies, persecutors, and slanderers. It will be a comfort to God's ministers, when men despise them, if they have the testimony of their own consciences. But he complains, that he found little pleasure in his work. Some good people lose much of the pleasantness of religion by the fretfulness and uneasiness of their natural temper, which they indulge. The Lord called the prophet to cease from his distrust, and to return to his work. If he attended thereto, he might be assured the Lord would deliver him from his enemies. Those who are with God, and faithful to him, he will deliver from trouble or carry through it. Many things appear frightful, which do not at all hurt a real believer in Christ.
Jeremiah 15:1-21 . GOD'S REPLY TO JEREMIAH'S INTERCESSORY PRAYER.
1. Moses . . . Samuel--eminent in intercessions ( Exodus 32:11 Exodus 32:12 , 1 Samuel 7:9 , Psalms 99:6 ).
be toward--could not be favorably inclined toward them.
out of my sight--God speaks as if the people were present before Him, along with Jeremiah.
2. death--deadly plague ( Jeremiah 18:21 , 43:11 , Ezekiel 5:2 Ezekiel 5:12 , Zechariah 11:9 ).
3. appoint--( Leviticus 26:16 ).
4. cause . . . to be removed--( Deuteronomy 28:25 , Ezekiel 23:46 ). Rather, "I will give them up to vexation," I will cause them to wander so as nowhere to have repose [CALVIN]; ( 2 Chronicles 29:8 , "trouble;" Margin, "commotion").
because of Manasseh--He was now dead, but the effects of his sins still remained. How much evil one bad man can cause! The evil fruits remain even after he himself has received repentance and forgiveness. The people had followed his wicked example ever since; and it is implied that it was only through the long-suffering of God that the penal consequences had been suspended up to the present time (compare 1 Kings 14:16 , 2 Kings 21:11 , 23:26 , 2 Kings 24:3 2 Kings 24:4 ).
5. go aside . . . how thou doest--Who will turn aside (in passing by) to salute thee (to wish thee "peace")?
6. weary with repenting--( Hosea 13:14 , 11:8 ). I have so often repented of the evil that I threatened ( Jeremiah 26:19 , Exodus 32:14 , 1 Chronicles 21:15 ), and have spared them, without My forbearance moving them to repentance, that I will not again change My purpose (God speaking in condescension to human modes of thought), but will take vengeance on them now.
7. fan--tribulation--from tribulum, a threshing instrument, which separates the chaff from the wheat ( Matthew 3:12 ).
gates of the land--that is, the extreme bounds of the land through which the entrance to and exit from it lie. MAURER translates, "I will fan," that is, cast them forth "to the gates of the land" ( Nahum 3:13 ). "In the gates"; English Version draws the image from a man cleaning corn with a fan; he stands at the gate of the threshing-floor in the open air, to remove the wheat from the chaff by means of the wind; so God threatens to remove Israel out of the bounds of the land [HOUBIGANT].
8. Their widows--My people's ( Jeremiah 15:7 ).
have brought--prophetical past: I will bring.
mother of the young men--"mother" is collective; after the "widows," He naturally mentions bereavement of their sons ("young men"), brought on the "mothers" by "the spoiler"; it was owing to the number of men slain that the "widows" were so many [CALVIN]. Others take "mother," as in 2 Samuel 20:19 , of Jerusalem, the metropolis; "I have brought on them, against the 'mother,' a young spoiler," namely, Nebuchadnezzar, sent by his father, Nabopolassar, to repulse the Egyptian invaders ( 2 Kings 23:29 , 24:1 ), and occupy Judea. But Jeremiah 15:7 shows the future, not the past, is referred to; and "widows" being literal, "mother" is probably so, too.
at noonday--the hottest part of the day, when military operations were usually suspended; thus it means unexpectedly, answering to the parallel, "suddenly"; openly, as others explain it, will not suit the parallelism (compare Psalms 91:6 ).
it--English Version seems to understand by "it" the mother city, and by "him" the "spoiler"; thus "it" will be parallel to "city." Rather, "I will cause to fall upon them (the 'mothers' about to be bereft of their sons) suddenly anguish and terrors."
the city--rather, from a root "heat," anguish, or consternation. So the Septuagint.
9. borne seven--( 1 Samuel 2:5 ). Seven being the perfect number indicates full fruitfulness.
languisheth--because not even one is left of all her sons ( Jeremiah 15:8 ).
sun is gone down while . . . yet day--Fortune deserts her at the very height of her prosperity ( Amos 8:9 ).
she . . . ashamed--The mothers (she being collective) are put to the shame of disappointed hopes through the loss of all their children.
10. ( Jeremiah 20:14 , Job 3:1 , &c.). Jeremiah seems to have been of a peculiarly sensitive temperament; yet the Holy Spirit enabled him to deliver his message at the certain cost of having his sensitiveness wounded by the enmities of those whom his words offended.
man of strife--exposed to strifes on the part of "the whole earth" ( Psalms 80:6 ).
I have neither lent, &c.--proverbial for, "I have given no cause for strife against me."
11. Verily--literally, "Shall it not be?" that is, "Surely it shall be."
thy remnant--the final issue of thy life; thy life, which now seems to thee so sad, shall eventuate in prosperity [CALVIN]. They who think that they shall be the surviving remnant, whereas thou shalt perish, shall themselves fall, whereas thou shalt remain and be favored by the conquerors [JUNIUS], ( Jeremiah 40:4 Jeremiah 40:5 , Jeremiah 39:11 Jeremiah 39:12 ). The Keri reads, "I will set thee free (or as MAURER, 'I will establish thee') for good" ( Jeremiah 14:11 , Ezra 8:22 , Psalms 119:122 ).
to entreat thee well--literally, "to meet thee"; so "to be placable, nay, of their own accord to anticipate in meeting thee with kindness" [CALVIN]. I prefer this translation as according with the event ( Jeremiah 39:11 Jeremiah 39:12 , Jeremiah 40:4 Jeremiah 40:5 ). GESENIUS, from Jeremiah 7:16 , 27:18 , Job 21:15 , translates (not only will I relieve thee from the enemy's vexations, but) "I will make thine enemy (that now vexeth thee) apply to thee with prayers" ( Jeremiah 38:14 , 42:2-6 ).
12. steel--rather, brass or copper, which mixed with "iron" (by the Chalybes near the Euxine Pontus, far north of Palestine), formed the hardest metal, like our steel. Can the Jews, hardy like common iron though they be, break the still hardier Chaldees of the north ( Jeremiah 1:14 ), who resemble the Chalybian iron hardened with copper? Certainly not [CALVIN]. HENDERSON translates. "Can one break iron, (even) the northern iron, and brass," on the ground that English Version makes ordinary iron not so hard as brass. But it is not brass, but a particular mixture of iron and brass, which is represented as harder than common iron, which was probably then of inferior texture, owing to ignorance of modern modes of preparation.
13. Thy substance . . . sins--Judea's, not Jeremiah's.
without price--God casts His people away as a thing worth naught ( Psalms 44:12 ). So, on the contrary, Jehovah, when about to restore His people, says, He will give Egypt, &c., for their "ransom" ( Isaiah 43:3 ).
even in all thy borders--joined with "Thy substance . . . treasures, as also with "all thy sins," their sin and punishment being commensurate ( Jeremiah 17:3 ).
14. thee--MAURER supplies "them," namely, "thy treasures." EICHORN, needlessly, from Syriac and the Septuagint, reads, "I will make thee to serve thine enemies"; a reading doubtless interpolated from Jeremiah 17:4 .
fire--( Deuteronomy 32:22 ).
15. thou knowest--namely, my case; what wrongs my adversaries have done me ( Jeremiah 12:3 ). regard to, not his own personal feelings of revenge, but the cause of God; he speaks by inspiration God's will against the ungodly. Contrast in this the law with the gospel ( Luke 23:34 , Acts 7:60 ).
take me not away in thy long-suffering--By Thy long-suffering towards them, suffer them not meanwhile to take away my life.
for thy sake I have suffered rebuke--the very words of the antitype, Jesus Christ ( Psalms 69:7 Psalms 69:22-28 ), which last compare with Jeremiah's prayer in the beginning of this verse.
16. eat--( Ezekiel 2:8 , Ezekiel 3:1 Ezekiel 3:3 , Revelation 10:9 Revelation 10:10 ). As soon as Thy words were found by me, I eagerly laid hold of and appropriated them. The Keri reads, "Thy word."
thy word . . . joy--( Job 23:12 , Psalms 119:72 Psalms 119:111 ; compare Matthew 13:44 ).
called by thy name--I am Thine, Thy minister. So the antitype, Jesus Christ ( Exodus 23:21 ).
17. My "rejoicing" ( Jeremiah 15:16 ) was not that of the profane mockers ( Psalms 1:1 , Psalms 26:4 Psalms 26:5 ) at feasts. So far from having fellowship with these, he was expelled from society, and made to sit "alone," because of his faithful prophecies.
because of thy hand--that is, Thine inspiration ( Isaiah 8:11 , Ezekiel 1:3 , 3:14 ).
filled me with indignation--So Jeremiah 6:11 , "full of the fury of the Lord"; so full was he of the subject (God's "indignation" against the ungodly) with which God had inspired him, as not to be able to contain himself from expressing it. The same comparison by contrast between the effect of inspiration, and that of wine, both taking a man out of himself, occurs ( Acts 2:13 Acts 2:15 Acts 2:18 ).
18. ( Jeremiah 30:15 ). "Pain," namely, the perpetual persecution to which he was exposed, and his being left by God without consolation and "alone." Contrast his feeling here with that in Jeremiah 15:16 , when he enjoyed the full presence of God, and was inspired by His words. Therefore he utters words of his natural "infirmity" (so David, Psalms 77:10 ) here; as before he spoke under the higher spiritual nature given him.
as a liar, and as--rather, "as a deceiving (river) . . . waters that are not sure (lasting)"; opposed to "tiring (perennial) waters" ( Job 6:15 ). Streams that the thirsty traveller had calculated on being full in winter, but which disappoint him in his sorest need, having run dry in the heat of summer. Jehovah had promised Jeremiah protection from his enemies ( Jeremiah 1:18 Jeremiah 1:19 ); his infirmity suggests that God had failed to do so.
19. God's reply to Jeremiah.
return . . . bring . . . again--Jeremiah, by his impatient language, had left his proper posture towards God; God saith, "If thou wilt return (to thy former patient discharge of thy prophetic function) I will bring thee back" to thy former position: in the Hebrew there is a play of words, "return . . . turn again" ( Jeremiah 8:4 , 4:1 ).
stand before me--minister acceptably to Me ( Deuteronomy 10:8 , 1 Kings 17:1 , 18:15 ).
take . . . precious from . . . vile--image from metals: "If thou wilt separate what is precious in thee (the divine graces imparted) from what is vile (thy natural corruptions, impatience, and hasty words), thou shall be as My mouth": my mouthpiece ( Exodus 4:16 ).
return not thou unto them--Let not them lead you into their profane ways (as Jeremiah had spoken irreverently, Jeremiah 15:18 ), but lead thou them to the ways of godliness ( Jeremiah 15:16 Jeremiah 15:17 ). Ezekiel 22:26 accords with the other interpretation, which, however, does not so well suit the context, "If thou wilt separate from the promiscuous mass the better ones, and lead them to conversion by faithful warnings," &c.
20, 21. The promise of Jeremiah 1:18 Jeremiah 1:19 , in almost the same words, but with the addition, adapted to the present attacks of Jeremiah's formidable enemies, "I will deliver thee out of . . . wicked . . . redeem . . . terrible"; the repetition is in order to assure Jeremiah that God is the same now as when He first made the promise, in opposition to the prophet's irreverent accusation of unfaithfulness ( Jeremiah 15:18 ).