Jeremiah 12

Listen to Jeremiah 12

Jeremiah's Complaint

1 1Righteous are you, O LORD, when I complain to you; yet I would plead my case before you. 2Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all 3who are treacherous thrive?
2 You plant them, and they take root; they grow and produce fruit; 4you are near in their mouth and far from their heart.
3 5But you, O LORD, know me; 6you see me, and test my heart toward you. 7Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and set them apart for 8the day of slaughter.
4 9How long will the land mourn and the grass of every field wither? 10For the evil of those who dwell in it 11the beasts and the birds are swept away, because they said, "He will not see our latter end."

The Lord Answers Jeremiah

5 "If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? And if in a safe land you are so trusting, what will you do in 12the thicket of the Jordan?
6 For 13even your brothers and the house of your father, 14even they have dealt treacherously with you; they are in full cry after you; 15do not believe them, though they speak friendly words to you."
7 "I have forsaken my house; I have abandoned 16my heritage; I have given 17the beloved of my soul into the hands of her enemies.
8 18My heritage has become to me like a lion in the forest; she has lifted up her voice against me; therefore I hate her.
9 Is 19my heritage to me like 20a hyena's lair? Are the 21birds of prey against her all around? Go, 22assemble all the wild beasts; bring them to devour.
10 Many shepherds have destroyed my vineyard; 23they have trampled down my portion; they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.
11 They have made it a desolation; desolate, 24it mourns to me. The whole land is made desolate, 25but no man lays it to heart.
12 Upon all the bare heights in the desert destroyers have come, for the sword of the LORD devours from one end of the land to the other; no flesh has peace.
13 26They have sown wheat and have reaped thorns; 27they have tired themselves out but profit nothing. They shall be ashamed of their[a] harvests 28because of the fierce anger of the LORD."
14 Thus says the LORD concerning all 29my evil neighbors 30who touch the heritage that 31I have given my people Israel to inherit: "Behold, I will pluck them up from their land, and I will pluck up the house of Judah from among them.
15 And after I have plucked them up, I will again have compassion on them, 32and I will bring them again each to his heritage and each to his land.
16 And it shall come to pass, if they will diligently learn the ways of my people, 33to swear by my name, 'As the LORD lives,' even as they taught my people to swear by Baal, 34then they shall be built up in the midst of my people.
17 35But if any nation will not listen, then I will utterly pluck it up and destroy it, declares the LORD."

Jeremiah 12 Commentary

Chapter 12

Jeremiah complains of the prosperity of the wicked. (1-6) The heavy judgments to come upon the nation. (7-13) Divine mercy to them, and even to the nations around. (14-17)

Verses 1-6 When we are most in the dark concerning God's dispensations, we must keep up right thoughts of God, believing that he never did the least wrong to any of his creatures. When we find it hard to understand any of his dealings with us, or others, we must look to general truths as our first principles, and abide by them: the Lord is righteous. The God with whom we have to do, knows how our hearts are toward him. He knows both the guile of the hypocrite and the sincerity of the upright. Divine judgments would pull the wicked out of their pasture as sheep for the slaughter. This fruitful land was turned into barrenness for the wickedness of those that dwelt therein. The Lord reproved the prophet. The opposition of the men of Anathoth was not so formidable as what he must expect from the rulers of Judah. Our grief that there should be so much evil is often mixed with peevishness on account of the trials it occasions us. And in this our favoured day, and under our trifling difficulties, let us consider how we should behave, if called to sufferings like those of saints in former ages.

Verses 7-13 God's people had been the dearly-beloved of his soul, precious in his sight, but they acted so, that he gave them up to their enemies. Many professing churches become like speckled birds, presenting a mixture of religion and the world, with its vain fashions, pursuits, and pollutions. God's people are as men wondered at, as a speckled bird; but this people had by their own folly made themselves so; and the beasts and birds are called to prey upon them. The whole land would be made desolate. But until the judgments were actually inflicted, none of the people would lay the warning to heart. When God's hand is lifted up, and men will not see, they shall be made to feel. Silver and gold shall not profit in the day of the Lord's anger. And the efforts of sinners to escape misery, without repentance and works answerable thereto, will end in confusion.

Verses 14-17 The Lord would plead the cause of his people against their evil neighbours. Yet he would afterwards show mercy to those nations, when they should learn true religion. This seems to look forward to the times when the fulness of the Gentiles shall come in. Those who would have their lot with God's people, and a last end like theirs, must learn their ways, and walk in them.

Cross References 35

  • 1. Ezra 9:15; Psalms 51:4; Lamentations 1:18; Daniel 9:7
  • 2. Job 12:6; Psalms 37:1, 7; Psalms 92:7; Habakkuk 1:13; Malachi 3:15; See Job 21:7-15; Psalms 73:3-12
  • 3. [Isaiah 21:2]
  • 4. Isaiah 29:13
  • 5. Jeremiah 15:15; Psalms 139:1
  • 6. Psalms 17:3
  • 7. [2 Peter 2:12]
  • 8. James 5:5
  • 9. ver. 11; Jeremiah 9:10; Jeremiah 23:10
  • 10. Psalms 107:34
  • 11. Jeremiah 4:25; Jeremiah 7:20; Jeremiah 9:10; Hosea 4:3; [Romans 8:22]
  • 12. Jeremiah 49:19; Jeremiah 50:44; Zechariah 11:3; [Joshua 3:15]
  • 13. Jeremiah 9:4; [Jeremiah 11:19, 21]
  • 14. [See ver. 1 above]
  • 15. Proverbs 26:25
  • 16. Isaiah 19:25
  • 17. Jeremiah 11:15
  • 18. [See ver. 7 above]
  • 19. [See ver. 7 above]
  • 20. Isaiah 46:11
  • 21. Isaiah 46:11
  • 22. Jeremiah 7:33; Isaiah 56:9; [Ezekiel 39:17; Revelation 19:17]
  • 23. Isaiah 63:18
  • 24. [See ver. 4 above]
  • 25. Isaiah 42:25
  • 26. [Leviticus 26:16; Deuteronomy 28:38; Micah 6:15; Haggai 1:6]
  • 27. Isaiah 55:2; Habakkuk 2:13
  • 28. Jeremiah 4:8, 26; Jeremiah 25:37, 38; Jeremiah 30:24; Jeremiah 49:37; Jeremiah 51:45; Lamentations 1:12; Lamentations 4:11
  • 29. [Psalms 137:7]; See Ezekiel 25
  • 30. Zechariah 2:8
  • 31. Jeremiah 3:18
  • 32. Jeremiah 48:47; Jeremiah 49:6
  • 33. Jeremiah 4:2
  • 34. Jeremiah 24:6; [1 Peter 2:5]
  • 35. [Isaiah 60:12]

Footnotes 1

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO JEREMIAH 12

This chapter contains the prophets complaint of the prosperity of the wicked, and the Lord's answer to it; an account of the deplorable and miserable estate of the Jewish nation; and a threatening to the neighbouring nations that had used them ill; with a promise of deliverance of the Jews from them, and settlement among God's people in case of obedience. The prophet's complaint is in Jer 12:1,2 in which he asserts the justice of God, yet seems at a loss to reconcile it with the prosperity of the wicked; and the rather, because of their hypocrisy; and appeals to the Lord for his own sincerity and uprightness, Jer 12:3 and prays for the destruction of the wicked, and that the time might hasten, for whose wickedness the land was desolate, and herbs, beasts, and birds, consumed, Jer 12:3,4, the Lord's answer, in which he reproves him for his pusillanimity, seeing he had greater trials than those to encounter with, and instructs him how to behave towards his treacherous friends, is in Jer 12:5,6 the account of the miserable condition of the Jewish nation is from Jer 12:7-14, under the simile of a house and heritage left by the Lord, given up to enemies, and compared to a lion and a speckled bird, hateful to God, and hated by those about it, Jer 12:7-9 and of a vineyard destroyed and trodden down by shepherds, and made desolate, Jer 12:10,11 even as a wilderness through the ravage of the sword; so that what is sown upon it comes to nothing, Jer 12:12,13 then follows a threatening to those who had carried the people of Israel captive, with a promise to deliver the Jews out of their hands, and bring them into their own land, and settle them among the Lord's people, in case they use diligence to learn their ways, Jer 12:14-16, but in case of disobedience are threatened to be plucked up and utterly destroyed, Jer 12:17.

Jeremiah 12 Commentaries