Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord
All of them were children by national adoption, and some by special grace, and yet "backsliders", O monstrous ingratitude! "backsliders", and yet "children", still the relation continues, O marvellous grace! God's own children may backslide, and often do; either in heart, when love waxes cold, faith declines, zeal wanting; when they get into a carnal sleepy frame of spirit, and have not that quick sense of sin, and of duty, as heretofore: or in practice, when private prayer is restrained; public worship is neglected; get into bad company, and fall into gross sins; all which is owing to the prevalence of indwelling sin, the force of Satan's temptations, and the enticing snares of the world; but God will not leave them, he calls unto them again and again to turn unto him by repentance, and to doing their first works; which calls, at length, through powerful grace, become effectual; see ( Jeremiah 3:22 ) and the arguments used to engage to it follow, for I am married unto you;
in a civil sense as a nation, ( Jeremiah 31:32 ) , and in a spiritual sense to a remnant of them; Christ is the bridegroom, the church is the bride, which he has secretly betrothed to himself in eternity; openly in time, at the conversion of everyone of them; and will more publicly at the last day, when all are gathered in and prepared for him. This relation, as it is a very near one, so it is very astonishing, considering the disparity between the two parties, and it always continues; love, the bond of it, never alters; the covenant, in which this transaction is carried on, is ever sure; and Christ always behaves agreeably to it; wherefore it is base ingratitude to backslide; and reason there is sufficient why his backsliding spouse should return to him. The Septuagint version is, "because I will rule over you." agreeable to which is Jarchi's note,
``because I am your Lord, and it is not for my glory, (or honour) to leave you in the hand of enemies.''Kimchi's father interprets the word used by (ytuq) , "I loath you", or I am weary of you; the reverse of which is the Targum,
``for I am well pleased with you;''and so the Syriac version, "I delight in you"; which carries in it a much more engaging argument to return, and agrees with what follows: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family:
or tribe, or country; for sometimes a whole country is called a family, as in ( Jeremiah 1:15 ) ( Zechariah 14:17 Zechariah 14:18 ) and here it must design more than a city; for otherwise there are many families in a city; the meaning is, according to Kimchi, that though there may be but one Jew in a city of the Gentiles, or two only in a nation, the Lord would take them from thence; and, according to others, that though one or two, or a few, here and there one of the backsliders, should return to him by true repentance, he would receive them graciously; the smallness of their number would be no objection to him; which is a sense not to be despised: but the phrase seems to denote the distinguishing grace of God to his people; which appears in the choice of them in his Son; the redemption of them by him; and the sanctification of them by his Spirit; and very few are the objects of his grace, as it were one of a city, and two of a tribe; however, they shall none of them be lost, notwithstanding their backslidings, to which they are bent: for it is added, and I will bring you to Zion;
to the church of God here, a Gospel church state, whither to come is the great privilege of the saints, ( Hebrews 12:22 ) and to the Zion above, the heavenly state, where all the chosen and ransomed, and sanctified ones, shall come, with songs, and everlasting joy upon their heads, ( Isaiah 35:10 ) and all as the fruit of distinguishing and efficacious grace.