19. Hast thou utterly rejected Judah? hath thy soul loathed Zion? why hast thou smitten us, and there is no healing for us? we looked for peace, and there is no good; and for the time of healing, and behold trouble!
19. An abjiciendo abjecisti Jehudah? an in Sion (an Sion, v redundat) abominata est anima tua? quare percussisti nos, et nulla nobis medela? expectando pacem (id est, expectavimus pacem) et nihil boni (vel, non bonum) et tempus medelae (idem est verbum,) et ecce terror.
The Prophet now turns to prayer and to complaints, that by his example he might at length rouse the people to lamentation, in order that they might humbly implore God's forgiveness, and sincerely confess their sins and be displeased with themselves. At the same time he indirectly reproves that hardness of which we have before spoken. As then he effected nothing by teaching, he changed his manner of speaking, and leaving the people he addressed God, according to what we have before noticed.
He then asks, Repudiating hast thou repudiated Judah? Has thy soul abominated Sion? Jeremiah seems to reason here from what is inconsistent, as though he had said, |Is it possible that thou hast rejected the tribe of Judah and Mount Sion?| For God had promised that he should ever have a lamp at Jerusalem. The ten tribes had already been overthrown, and their kingdom had not only been distressed, but wholly demolished: still there remained a seed, because the tribe of Judah continued, which was as it were the flower of the whole people; and from him the salvation of the world was to proceed. Hence the Prophet does here, as it were, expostulate with God, as though he had said, |Thou hast chosen the tribe of Judah for this end, that it might be safe perpetually; thou hast also commanded the Temple to be built on Mount Sion for thy name; thou hast said that it would be thy rest for ever: hadst thou then by rejecting rejected the tribe of Judah? does thy soul abominate Mount Sion?
There seems, however, to be a kind of irony implied: for though Jeremiah prayed sincerely, he yet intended to remind the people how foolishly they promised themselves impunity as to their sins, because God had his habitation in the Temple, and because Jerusalem was as it were his royal palace. It is indeed evident that the Prophet recalled to mind the promises of God; but yet he wished briefly to shew, that though God should apparently destroy the remnant, and suffer the Temple to be demolished, he would be still faithful to his promises. In asking therefore these questions, as in astonishment, he had partly a regard to God, and partly also he reminded the people, that though God delivered the body of the people to destruction, he would yet be faithful and constant in what he had promised.
He then says, Why hast thou smitten us, and there is no healing? There is no doubt but that the Prophet in this place also wished to turn God to mercy for this reason, because he had promised to be merciful to the posterity of David, though sometimes he punished them for their sins; for there was this remarkable promise,
|If his children shall offend and violate my covenant, I will smite them with a rod and chastise their iniquities; yet my mercy will I not take from them.|
(2 Samuel 7:14; Psalm 89:31-33)
And to the same purpose is what he said in Jeremiah 10:24,
|Chastise me, O Lord, but in judgment,|
that is, moderately, |lest thou bring me to nothing.| There the Prophet, as we have said, reminded God of his covenant; and he does the same here, Why hast thou smitten, so that there is no healing? For the punishment which God inflicts on his Church would be, as he declares, a kind of medicine; but when there is no hope of healing, God seems to render void what he had promised. Hence Jeremiah goes on in drawing his argument from what is inconsistent, as though he had said, that it was not possible that God should so severely smite his people as not to allow a place for forgiveness, but that he would at length be intreated and heal the wound inflicted.
We have expected peace, and there is no good; and the time of healing, and behold trouble, or terror. This latter part of the verse confirms what I just stated, that the Prophet had partly a reference to God in this mode of prayer, and that he partly reproved the Jews, because they thought, being deceived by false confidence, that they were beyond the reach of danger, inasmuch as God had consecrated Jerusalem, that his name might be there called upon, and that the Temple might be his perpetual habitation. As then he saw that his nation were inebriated, as it were, with this foolish notion, he intended briefly to shew to them that God would Ilave an unknown way by which he would retain his faithfulness, and yet punish the ungodly and the transgressors; for by saying, |We expected peace, and there is no good,| he certainly does not commend the fidelity of the people; for relying on God's promises, they sought comfort in evils, and hoped that God would at length be exorable and propitious. The word expecting is not to be taken in a good sense; but he on the contrary reproves the Jews, because they put too much faith in false prophets. We hence see that he condemns that false expectation by which they had been deceived. Hence also we learn what has been before stated, that the Jews foolishly promised to themselves impunity, because God had chosen his habitation among them; for he shews that God had not in vain threatened their ruin by his servants. This then is also the meaning when he says, We expected the time of healing, and behold terror It now follows --