Saw to yourselves in righteousness
Not the seed of grace, which bad men have not, and cannot sow it; and which good men need not, it being sown in them already, and remaining; rather the seed of the word, which should be laid up in their hearts, dwell richly in them, and be kept and retained by them; though it is best of all to understand it of works of righteousness; as sowing to the flesh is doing the works of the flesh, or carnal and sinful acts; so sowing "unto righteousness" F7, as it may be rendered, is doing works of righteousness; living soberly and righteously; doing works according to the word of righteousness, from good principles, and with good views, with a view to the glory of God: and which will be "sowing to themselves", turn to their own account; for though such works are not profitable to God, as to merit anything at his hands; yet they are not only profitable to others, but to those that do them; for though not "for", yet "in keeping" the commands of God there is "great reward", ( Psalms 19:11 ) . Reap in mercy; or "according to mercy" F8 not according to the merit of works, for there is none in them; but according to the mercy of God, to which all blessings, temporal, spiritual, and eternaL, are owing; and such who sow to the Spirit, or spiritual things, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting; not as the reward of debt, but of grace; not as of merit, but as owing to the mercy of Christ, ( Galatians 6:9 ) ( Jude 1:21 ) ; break up your fallow ground;
that is, of their hearts; which were like ground unopened, unbroken, not filled and manured, nor sown with seed, but overrun with weeds and thistles; and so were they, hard and impenitent, destitute of grace, and full of sin and wickedness, and stood in need of being renewed in the spirit of their minds; which this exhortation is designed to convince them of, and to stir them up to make use of proper methods of obtaining it, through the efficacious grace of God; see ( Jeremiah 4:5 ) ; for [it is] time to seek the Lord:
for his grace; as the husbandman seeks, prays, and waits for rain, when he has tilled his ground, and sowed his seed, to water it, and make it fruitful, that he may have a good reaping time, a plentiful harvest; and as there is a time to seek for the one, so for the other: till he come and rain righteousness upon you;
that is, Christ, whose coming is as the rain, ( Hosea 6:3 ) ( Psalms 72:6 ) ; and who, when he should come, whether personally by his incarnation, or spiritually by his gracious presence, would rain a plentiful rain of the doctrines of grace, and the blessings of it, such as peace pardon, righteousness, and eternal life by him; particularly the justifying righteousness wrought out by him, which is fully manifested in the Gospel, the ministration of that righteousness, and is applied unto, and put upon, all them that believe: or "till he come and teach you righteousness" F9; as Christ did when come; he taught the word of righteousness in general, and the righteousness of God in particular, and directed men to seek it; declared he came to fulfil all righteousness, and taught men to believe in him for it, and that he is their righteousness, and the end of the law for it; as well as he taught them to live righteously and godly; see ( Joel 2:23 ) . The Targum is,
``O house of Israel, do for yourselves good works; walk in the way of truth; establish for yourselves the doctrine of the law; behold, at all times the prophets say to you, return to the fear of the Lord; now shall he be revealed, and bring righteousness to you.''But these exhortations were vain and fruitless, as appears by what follows:
F7 (hqdul) "ad justitiam", Pagninus, Montanus, Munster, Calvin, Junius & Tremellius, Drusius, Tarnovius, Cocceius.
F8 (dox ypl) "ad os miserecordiae", Montanus; "secundum misericordiam", Pagninus; "secundum pietatem", Cocceius, Schmidt.
F9 (Mkl qdu hrwyw) "et doceat justitiam vos", Pagninus, Montanus, Drusius, Cocceius, Schmidt.