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Commentary On Jeremiah And Lamentations Volume 2 by Jean Calvin

Jeremiah 14:8-9

8. O the hope ot: Israel, the saviour thereof in time of trouble, why shouldest thou be as a stranger in the land, and as a wayfaring man that turneth aside to tarry for a night?

8. Spes Israel (vel, expectatio; qvh est expectare,) servator ejus in tempore angustiae (vel, tribulationis,) cur eris quasi peregrinus in terra? quasi viator divertens ad pernoctandum?

9. Why shouldest thou be as a man astonied, as a mighty man that cannot save? yet thou, O LORD, art in the midst of us, and we are called by thy name; leave us not.

9. Quare eris vir territus? quasi gigas qui non potest servare? atqui (copula enim valet hic adversativum) tu in medio nostri Jehova, et nomen tuum super nos invocatum est, ne deseras nos.

I have said that the former verse is confirmed by these words; for since the Prophet mentions to God his own name, we must consider the cause of the confidence with which he was supported, which was even this, -- because God had chosen that people, and promised that they should be to him a peculiar people. It is then on the ground of that covenant that the Prophet now prays God to glorify his name; such a prayer could not have been made for heathen nations. We hence perceive how the Prophet dared so to introduce God's name, as to say, Deal with us for thy name's sake

He calls God, in the next place, the hope of Israel; not that the Israelites relied on him as they ought to have done, for the ten tribes had long before revolted from him, and so great a corruption had also prevailed in Judah, that hardly one in a thousand could be deemed faithful. Hope then among the people had become extinct; but the Prophet here regards the perpetuity of the covenant, as though he had said, |Even though we are unworthy to be protected by thee, yet as thou hast promised to be always ready to bring us help, thou art our hope. In short, the word hope or expectation, is to be referred to God's promise, and to the constancy of his faithfulness, and not to the faithfulness of men, which did not exist, at least it was very small and in very few.

To the same purpose he adds, His Savior in time of trouble He had in view the many proofs by which God had manifested his power in the preservation of the faithful. And he expressly mentions trouble or distress, as though he had said, that the aid of God had been known by evidences sufficiently clear; for had the people never wanted his help, his favor would have been less evident; but as they had been often reduced to great straits, the bounty and the power of God had become more manifest by delivering them from extreme dangers.

It is then added, Why shouldest thou be as a stranger in the land? as a traveler, who turns aside for a short time in his journey to pass the night? Here must be noticed a contrast between a stranger and one that is stationary, spoken of afterwards. God would have his name to be invoked in Judea; it was therefore necessary that his favor should continue there; and hence he called the land his rest, and he had also promised by Moses that he would ever be in the midst of his people. The Prophet no doubt had taken from the law what he relates here, Thou art in the midst of us, Jehovah, thy name is called on us He therefore reasons from what seemed inconsistent, that he might obtain pardon from God; for if he was inexorable, his covenant would have failed and perished, which would have been unreasonable, and could not indeed have been possible. Hence he says, |Lord, why shouldest thou be as a stranger and as a traveler, who seeks only a lodging for one night, and then goes forward?| God had promised, as I have already said, that he would rest perpetually in the land, that he would be a God to the people; it, was not then consistent with the covenant that God should pass as a stranger through the land. As he had then formerly defended the Jews, and made them safe and secure even in the greatest dangers, so the Prophet now says, that it was right that he should he consistent with himself and continue ever the same.

As to the words which follow, Why shouldest thou be as a man astonished or terrified? I take |terrified| for an uncultivated person, as we say in our language, homme savage It is then added, As a giant who cannot save; that is, a strong helper, but of no skin, who possesses great strength, but fails, because he is rendered useless by his own bulk. And so the Prophet says, that it would be a strange thing, that God should be as a strong man, anxious to bring help and yet should do nothing.

After having said these things, he subjoins the contrast to which I have referred, But thou art in the midst of us, Jehovah, thy name is called on us, forsake us not We now see that the Prophet dismisses all other reasons and betakes himself to God's gratuitous covenant only, and recumbs on his mercy. Thou art, he says, in the midst of us God had bound himself by his own compact, for no one else could have bound him. Then he says, Thy name is called on us Could the people boast of anything of their own in being thus called? By no means; but that they were so called depended on a gratuitous covenant. As then the Prophet did cast away every merit in works, and every trust in satisfactions, there remained nothing for him but the promise of God, which was itself founded on the free good pleasure of God. Let us hence learn, whenever we pray to God, not to bring forward our own satisfactions, which are nothing but filthy things, abominable to God, but to allege only his own name and promise, even the covenant, which he has made with us in his only -- begotten Son, and confirmed by his blood.

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