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.
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.