35. Yet thou sayest, Because I am innocent, surely his anger shall turn from me. Behold, I will plead with thee, because thou sayest, I have not sinned.
35. Et dixisti (hoc est, dixisti tamen; nam copula hic accipitur pro tamen,) certe (nam ky causalis particula hic audaciam notat, vel illam jactantiam plenam impudentiae, ut auderent asserere Iudaei se esse innoxios, certe) ego sum munda (ego sum innocens;) tantum recedat furor ejus a me: Ecce ego judico to (vel, contendam tecum in judicio,) quia dixisti, non peccavi.
The Prophet here shews that the Jews were possessed of such a brazen front, that they could not be led by any admonitions to feel any shame. Though then they were like adulterous women, and though they gave meretricious hire to such as they ran to in all parts, and though also they had murdered the prophets and the pious ministers of God, yet they boasted, as persons conscious of no evil, that they were innocent.
Thou hast yet said; that is, |How darest thou to pretend to be innocent, since thou art proved to be guilty, not by allegations, but by manifest and glaring proofs?| In short, the Prophet shews that the condition of the people was past remedy, for they would not receive any admonition; nay, they dared, as it were with the front of brass, obstinately to boast that they were innocent: Thou hast said, (he still speaks of a woman, in the feminine gender,) Thou hast yet said, surely I am clean Thus hypocrites not only excuse themselves, and allege vain pretences, but dare to come forth publicly, and to fly as it were above the clouds, elated by their own self -- confidence. |Who will dare to allege anything against me?| Thus hypocrites willfully and impertinently challenge all the servants of God and seek by their own presumption to close the mouth of all. The Prophet now condemns this petulancy in the Jews; for though they were manifestly proved guilty, yet they boastingly asserted that they were innocent. Only ('k, ak, I take here to mean only) depart, etc. The Prophet upbraids the Jews with another crime, -- that they said, that wrong was done to them by God in seeking to bring them to a right mind by punishment and by reproofs. For God, as it is well known, had inflicted many punishments on the Jews, and had also added serious reproofs. He tried by these means to find out whether they were capable of being healed. What did they say? |I am innocent; and God is angry with me without a cause. Let him remove his anger from me;| that is, |only let not God deal severely with us, nor use his supreme authority, and we shall be able to prove our innocency.| Thus ungodly men, when urged with severe warnings, vomit forth their blasphemies against God, -- |O what can I do? I know that I am not able to resist; God fights with a shadow when he afflicts me; his violence I must indeed bear though he may overwhelm me; yet he doeth me wrong: but were he to deal justly and fairly with me, I could prove that I do not deserve these evils.| Such then was the language of the Jews, -- only depart let his fury from me, we could then shew that we are just, or at least excusable.
Now also in this part we perceive the design of the Prophet: it was to shew, that the Jews not only dared dishonestly and proudly to claim innocency for themselves, but hesitated not to contend with God, and to intimate that he with too much severity oppressed them, and did not treat them justly, but announced a cruel sentence for the purpose of overwhelming them.
Behold, he says, I will judge thee, because thou hast said, I have not sinned Some give this version, |I judge, or, condemn thee.| But there is here no doubt a contrast between the fury of God and his judgment. The people said, that God was too rigorous; this was his fury: God now mentions his judgment. |There is no reason,| he says, |for you to allege such a pretext as this, as it will vanish into nothing; for I will in judgment contend with you;| that is, |I will really prove that I am a just judge and not a tyrant, that I execute just punishments and according to the law, and that I am not like a man in anger, who takes vengeance on his enemies and does so precipitantly and rashly: I will shew,| he says, |that I am a just judge.|
We may hence gather a profitable instruction. Let it in the first place be observed, that nothing is so displeasing to God as this headstrong presumption, that is, when we seek to appear innocent, while our own conscience condemns us. Then in the second place observe, that all who thus perversely rebel and strive dishonestly and shamelessly to defend their own vices, contend at the same time with God: for false excuses have ever this tendency -- to charge God with unjust severity. But we see what such men gain for themselves; for God shews that he will be at length their judge, and that he will openly discover the vices of those who thought that they could excuse themselves by evasions and by false charges against himself. They then who thus obstinately resist God, must at length, according to what the Prophet declares, come to this end, -- that they will be constrained to acknowledge that God has not been too violently angry with them, but has only executed a just punishment.