Exhortations and promises. (1-2) Judah exhorted to repentance. (3-4) Judgements denounced. (5-18) The approaching ruin of Judah. (19-31)
Verses 1-2 The first two verses should be read with the last chapter. Sin must be put away out of the heart, else it is not put away out of God's sight, for the heart is open before him.
Verses 3-4 An unhumbled heart is like ground untilled. It is ground which may be improved; it is our ground let out to us; but it is fallow; it is over-grown with thorns and weeds, the natural product of the corrupt heart. Let us entreat the Lord to create in us a clean heart, and to renew a right spirit within us; for except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Verses 5-18 The fierce conqueror of the neighbouring nations was to make Judah desolate. The prophet was afflicted to see the people lulled into security by false prophets. The approach of the enemy is described. Some attention was paid in Jerusalem to outward reformation; but it was necessary that their hearts should be washed, in the exercise of true repentance and faith, from the love and pollution of sin. When lesser calamities do not rouse sinners and reform nations, sentence will be given against them. The Lord's voice declares that misery is approaching, especially against wicked professors of the gospel; when it overtakes them, it will be plainly seen that the fruit of wickedness is bitter, and the end is fatal.
Verses 19-31 The prophet had no pleasure in delivering messages of wrath. He is shown in a vision the whole land in confusion. Compared with what it was, every thing is out of order; but the ruin of the Jewish nation would not be final. Every end of our comforts is not a full end. Though the Lord may correct his people very severely, yet he will not cast them off. Ornaments and false colouring would be of no avail. No outward privileges or profession, no contrivances would prevent destruction. How wretched the state of those who are like foolish children in the concerns of their souls! Whatever we are ignorant of, may the Lord make of good understanding in the ways of godliness. As sin will find out the sinner, so sorrow will, sooner or later, find out the secure.
This chapter begins with several exhortations to repentance; first to Israel, or the ten tribes, to return to the Lord with their whole hearts, and put away their abominations, and serve him in sincerity and uprightness of soul; with promises of rest and safety to themselves; and that it would have a happy influence on the Gentiles, and issue in their conversion; who would hereupon bless themselves in the Lord, and glory in him, Jer 4:1,2, and next to the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem, to show a concern for renewing and sanctifying grace, signified by various metaphors, lest they should be consumed with the fire of divine wrath, Jer 4:3,4 and then the destruction of that land and city is foretold and described, partly by what was introductory to it, and the proclamation of it, signified by blowing the trumpet, and setting up the standard, Jer 4:5,6,15,19,20, by an account of the destroyers, their cruelty, swiftness, and diligence, Jer 4:7,13,16,17, and of the destruction itself, compared to a violent wind, Jer 4:11,12, by the effect it should have upon the inhabitants of all sorts, high and low, Jer 4:8,9, and had upon the prophet himself, Jer 4:10,19,21, and by the cause and ground of it, the sins of the people, which they are called upon to repent of, Jer 4:14,17,18,22 and by a vision the prophet had of the dreadful desolation of the land, Jer 4:23-29 and by the vain and false hopes the people would have of their recovery, and the great anxiety and distress they would be in, Jer 4:30,31.