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hath mine enemy consumed; wherever I turn, I see terrors coming as thick as I have seen worshippers coming from all parts, in the days of our feasts.
Whose privileges which men abuse. Israel had many
E must acknowledge that it is just in God to take away
glorious advantages above other nations, but they grew careless, disobedient, and presumptuous; therefore God was righteous in taking them away. He destroyed the tabernacle, which they had neglected; made the ways of Zion mourn, which they had forsaken; he caused the solemn feasts and sabbaths to cease, which they had deserted and profaned; he took away the prophets, whom they had ill treated, and the law which they had forgotten. Let us take warning by this; for if we do not value and improve our christian privileges, God will take them away. Let us remember, whence we have fallen, and repent, lest he come quickly and take his vandlestick from us.
2. In God's dealings with his church, it is good to take notice of the accomplishment of his word. This Israel is often reminded of, that the Lord hath done what he hath proposed and devised, and fulfilled the word which he commanded in the days of old. There is a constant agreement between the declarations of God's word, and the events of his providence; and the more carefully we compare them together, the greater reason we shall see to acknowledge that his judgments are right, and to be afraid of his just indignation.
3. The want of faithfulness and plainness in christian ministers, is one source of national calamities. It is their duty to discover to men their iniquities, and to show them their sins, in order to prevent their everlasting banishment from God and happiness. If they flatter them, and address them as if all was well, when they know, or have reason to believe, that they are yet in their sins, they are false prophets, are accessary to the ruin of souls, and endanger their own salvation. We should therefore allow them to deal plainly with us, because they are thereby consulting our happiness, as well as discharging their own duty.
4. Prayer ought to be our business, and will be our best relief in time of trouble. An instructive view is here given us of the nature of prayer, and that fervency in it which we ought to manifest, v. 19. It is crying to the Lord, lifting up the hands toward him, with earnestness and importunity, pouring out the heart like water; so free and full and particular should our supplications be. Is any man afflicted, let him thus pray; stir up himself to take hold on God; and he will in the best time and way deliver him out of all his distresses.
The prophet in this chapter encourages the people to resignation, and to trust in the divine mercy; he vindicates the goodness of God in all his dispensations, and the unreasonableness of murmuring under them; he recommends self examination and repentance; and then, from their experience of former deliverances, encourages them to look to God for the pardon of their sins, and retribution to their enemies. The chapter is poetical, like the former; but as may be seen by the length of the verses, is of different measure: it contains twenty two periods, according to the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet; and each period contains three verses, which have all the same initial letter.
[AM] the man [that] hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath; representing the case of his country as his own. hath led me, and brought [me into] darkness, but not [into] light. 3 Surely against me is he turned, he who was formerly kind to me; 4 he turneth his hand [against me] all the day. My flesh and my 5 skin hath he made old; he hath broken my bones. He hath
builded against me, and compassed [me] with gall and travel. 6 He hath set me in dark places, as [they that be] dead of old. 7 He hath hedged me about, that I cannot get out; there is no
possibility of my escape he hath made my chain heavy; I am 8 like a malefactor strongly fettered. Also when I cry and shout, 9 he shutteth out my prayer. He hath inclosed my ways with
hewn stone, he hath made my paths crooked; I try every way 10 and place to get out of my trouble, but cannot. He [was] unto 11 me [as] a bear lying in wait, [and as] a lion in secret places. He
hath turned aside my ways, cut off my retreat, and turned full up12 on me, and pulled me in pieces: he hath made me desolate. He 13 hath bent his bow, and set me as a mark for the arrow. He
hath caused the arrows of his quiver to enter into my reins; he 14 hath given me mortal and incurable wounds. I was a derision to
all my people; or, the people of my enemies; [and] their song all 15 the day. He hath filled me with bitterness, he hath made me 16 drunken with wormwood. He hath also broken my teeth with
gravel stones, he hath covered me with ashes; or, deceived me 17 with ashes, giving me ashes instead of bread. And thou hast re
moved my soul far off from peace: I forgat prosperity, and 18 despaired of its return. And I said, My strength and my hope is 19 perished from the LORD: Remembering mine affliction and my 20 misery, the wormwood and the gall. My soul hath [them] still
in remembrance, and is humbled in me; I have still new occa21 sions to recollect them. This I recall to my mind, that is, this which follows; I have yet stores of comfort, therefore have I hope. 22 [It is of] the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, be23 cause his compassions fail not. [They are] new every morn
24 ing great [is] thy faithfulness. The LORD [is] my portion, 25 saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD [is] good 26 unto them that wait for him, to the soul [that] seeketh him. [It
is] good that a [man] should both hope and quietly wait for the 27 salvation of the LORD. [It is] good for a man that he bear the 28 yoke in his youth. He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, be
cause he hath borne [it] upon him; when it is laid upon him he 29 is disposed to serious reflection and consideration. He putteth his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope of regaining the SO divine favour. He giveth [his] cheek to him that smiteth him ;
he submits to injuries from men: he is filled full with reproach. 31 For the LORD will not cast off for ever: But though he cause 32 grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of
his mercies; he will plead the cause of his people, and bring them 33.out of captivity. For he doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve 34 the children of men. To crush under his feet all the prisoners 35 of the earth, by violence or fraud, To turn aside the right of a
man before the face of the most High, without any regard to 36 him, To subvert a man in his cause, the LORD approveth not; but is displeased with these things, and will punish them; as if he had said, Though God gave the Israelites into the hands of their enemies, yet he disapproved of their inhuman and cruel conduct, and will reckon with them for it.
Who [is] he [that] saith, and it cometh to pass, [when] the 38 LORD commandeth [it] not? Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good? or, doth not evil and good come from him? that is, however they may boast, he overrules 39 their designs. Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man 40 for the punishment of his sins? Let us search and try our ways, 41 and turn again to the LORD. Let us lift up our heart with [out] *42 hands unto God in the heavens. We have transgressed and have
rebelled: thou hast not pardoned; hast not removed thy judgments 43 from us. Thou hast covered thy face with anger, and persecuted 44 us thou hast slain, thou hast not pitied. Thou hast covered
thyself with a cloud, that [our] prayer should not pass through. 45 Thou hast made us [as] the offscouring and refuse in the midst 46 of the people. All our enemies have opened their mouths 47 against us. Fear and a snare is come upon us, desolation and 48 destruction. Mine eye runneth down with rivers of water for 49 the destruction of the daughter of my people. Mine eye trick50 leth down and ceaseth not, without any intermission, Till the 51 LORD look down and behold from heaven. Mine eye affecteth
mine heart because of all the daughters of my city; or, because of the desolation of the city and country, and the calamities which I 52 see in the towns and cities about Jerusalem. Mine enemies chas53 ed me sore, like a bird without cause. They have cut off my
life in the dungeon, and cast a stone upon me; this was applicable to Jeremiah literally, and, figuratively to others; all are dê54 sc:ibed as one person in deep distress. Waters flowed over mine
55 head; [then] I said, I am cut off. I called upon thy name, O 56 LORD, out of the low dungeon. Thou hast heard my voice: 57 hide not thine ear at my breathing, at my cry. Thou drewest hear in the day [that] I called upon thee: thou saidst, Fear not, 58 O LORD, thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul; thou hast 59 redeemed my life. O LORD, thou hast seen my wrong; judge 60 thou my cause. Thou hast seen all their vengeance, [and] all 61 their imaginations against me. Thou hast heard their reproach, 62 O LORD, [and] all their imaginations against me; The lips of
those that rose up against me, and their device against me all the 63 day. Behold their sitting down and their rising up; I [am] 64 their music. Render unto them, or, thou wilt render unto them
a recompense, O LORD, according to the work of their hands 65 against us. Give them sorrow of heart, thy curse unto them; 66 or, the curses threatened against the enemies of thy people. Persecute and destroy them in anger from under the heavens of the LORD, where thou rulest supreme, and from whence they can go no where, but thou canst reach them.
HE practical reflections that may be drawn from this chapter are too many to be distinctly specified. The most important of them have been illustrated and recommended at large. It is sufficient now to observe, that it is particularly suited to the case of those who are in affliction, It directs them to observe the hand of God in it; not to be surprized if their afflictions be long and heavy, and if God seems to shut out their prayer. It is our duty in such cases to humble ourselves before him, and to acknowledge that it is of his mercies that we are not consumed. It is unreasonable to com, plain of the punishment of our sins; and our duty to search and try ourselves; to repent, and return to God; and continue in prayer, though we are not immediately answered. We are to hope and wait for his salvation; and in the mean time to observe the mercies that are continued, which are new every morning; to call to mind former kindnesses, and all his promises. No condition is so desolate, but the thoughts of God may afford relief, He does not afflict willingly, and will at length have compassion. In the mean time let us rejoice in him as our portion. By accommodating ourselves to his providence, considering our ways, repenting, and returning to him, we shall find unspeakable and everlasting benefit; he will at length wipe away all tears, and turn our sighs and greans into everlasting praise.
In which the pitiful state of Zion is bewailed, as contrasted with its ancient prosperity; the national calamities are tenderly lamented; and the ruin of the Edomites predicted; see Psalm cxxxvii.7. Obad. x. 12.
HOW is the gold become dim! [how] is the most fine
gold, the gildings of the temple, changed the stones of the sanctuary are poured out in the top of every street; there were many streets which led to the temple, at the ends of which the ruins appeared, from whence there used to be the most beautiful 2 prospects. The precious sons of Zion, the princes and priests, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitch3 ers, the work of the hands of the potter! Even the sea monsters, the very dragons, draw out the breast, they give suck to their young ones the daughter of my people [is become] eruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness, and are forced through 4 famine to neglect their own children. The tongue of the sucking child cleaveth to the roof of his mouth for thirst: the young 5 children ask bread [and] no man breaketh [it] unto them. They that did feed delicately are desolate in the streets: they that were brought up in scarlet embrace dunghills; they seek their food in the most nasty places, and lie on dunghills without strength to raise 6 themselves up. For the punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of my people is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom, that was overthrown as in a moment, and no hands stayed on her; it were better to have been at once burned in their houses, than to endure the horrors of a siege, and die by famine. 7 Her Nazarites, or nobles, were purer than snow, they were whiter than milk, they were more ruddy in body than rubies, 8 their polishing [was] of sapphire: Their visage is blacker than a coal; they are not known in the streets: their skin cleaveth to their bones; it is withered, it is become like a stick; their temperate diet contributed to their health and beauty, but, through famine and hardship, they were reduced to skeletons. A beautiful 9 but dreadful contrast. [They that be] slain with the sword are better than [they that be] slain with hunger for these pine away, stricken through, for [want of] the fruits of the field; it is better to die by a sudden stroke than such a lingering death. 10 The hands of the pitiful women have sodden, or boiled, their own children they were their meat in the destruction of the daughfter of my people. The LORD hath accomplished his fury; he hath poured out his fierce anger, and fulfilled his threatenings that they should eat their children, (see Deut. xxxii. 22. Jer. xxi. 14;) and hath kindled a fire in Zion, and it hath devoured the 12 foundations thereof. The kings of the earth, and all the inhab
This happened in three instances to the Jews, in the siege of Samaria, in the siege of Jerusalem, by the Chaideans, and afterward by the Romans. It is remarkable that we never read of such another instance in history.