The Jews' profession of religion was hypocritical. (1-9) The cruel proceedings of their enemies. (10-18) Their apostacy and idolatry. (19-31)
Verses 1-9 None could be found who behaved as upright and godly men. But the Lord saw the true character of the people through all their disguises. The poor were ignorant, and therefore they were wicked. What can be expected but works of darkness, from people that know nothing of God and religion? There are God's poor, who, notwithstanding poverty, know the way of the Lord, walk in it, and do their duty; but these were willingly ignorant, and their ignorance would not be their excuse. The rich were insolent and haughty, and the abuse of God's favours made their sin worse.
Verses 10-18 Multitudes are ruined by believing that God will not be so strict as his word says he will; by this artifice Satan undid mankind. Sinners are not willing to own any thing to be God's word, that tends to part them from, or to disquiet them in, their sins. Mocking and misusing the Lord's messengers, filled the measure of their iniquity. God can bring trouble upon us from places and causes very remote. He has mercy in store for his people, therefore will set bounds to this desolating judgment. Let us not overlook the "nevertheless," ver. ( 18 ) . This is the Lord's covenant with Israel. He thereby proclaims his holiness, and his utter displeasure against sin while sparing the sinner, ( Psalms 89:30-35 ) .
Verses 19-31 Unhumbled hearts are ready to charge God with being unjust in their afflictions. But they may read their sin in their punishment. If men will inquire wherefore the Lord doeth hard things unto them, let them think of their sins. The restless waves obeyed the Divine decree, that they should not pass the sandy shores, which were as much a restraint as lofty mountains; but they burst all restraints of God's law, and were wholly gone into wickedness. Neither did they consider their interest. While the Lord, year after year, reserves to us the appointed weeks of harvest, men live on his bounty; yet they transgress against him. Sin deprives us of God's blessings; it makes the heaven as brass, and the earth as iron. Certainly the things of this world are not the best things; and we are not to think, that, because evil men prosper, God allows their practices. Though sentence against evil works is not executed speedily, it will be executed. Shall I not visit for these things? This speaks the certainty and the necessity of God's judgments. Let those who walk in bad ways consider that an end will come, and there will be bitterness in the latter end.
This chapter contains a further account of the destruction of the Jews by the Chaldeans, and the causes of it, the sins of the people, as want of justice and truth; being so corrupt, that a just and faithful man was not to be found among them; could there, the city would have been pardoned for his sake, Jer 5:1, their swearing falsely by the name of the Lord, Jer 5:2, their incorrigibleness by chastisements, which was the case not only of the lower, but higher rank of people, Jer 5:3-5, wherefore the enemy, who for his cruelty is compared to a lion, a wolf, and a leopard, is threatened to be let in among them, Jer 5:6, then other sins are mentioned as the cause of it, as idolatry and adultery, Jer 5:7-9 hence the enemy has a commission to scale their walls, take away their battlements, though not to make a full end, the Lord disowning them for his, Jer 5:10, because of their perfidy against him, their belying of him, contradicting what he had said, and despising the word sent by his prophets, Jer 5:11-13, wherefore it is threatened, that his word like fire should devour them; and that a distant, mighty, and ancient nation, of a foreign speech, should invade them; who, like an open sepulchre, would devour them, and eat up the increase of their fields, vineyards, flocks, and herds, and impoverish their cities, yet not make a full end of them, Jer 5:14-18, and in just retaliation should they serve strangers in a foreign country, who had served strange gods in their own, Jer 5:19 then a declaration is published, and an expostulation is made with them, who are represented as foolish, ignorant, and blind, that they would fear the Lord; which is pressed by arguments taken from the power of God, in restraining the sea, which had no effect upon them; and from the goodness of God, in giving the former and latter rain, and the appointed weeks of the harvest, which their sins turned away and withheld from them, Jer 5:20-25, and then other sins are mentioned as the cause of God's visiting them in a way of vengeance, as the defrauding of men in trade, and the oppression of the fatherless and the poor in judgment; and false prophesying, to the advantage of the priests, and the king of the people, Jer 5:26-31.