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Commentary On Jeremiah And Lamentations Volume 3 by Jean Calvin

Jeremiah 20:10

10. For I heard the defaming of many, fear on every side. Report, say they, and we will report it. All my familiars watched for my halting, saying, Peradventure he will be enticed, and we shall prevail against him, and we shall take our revenge on him.

10. Quia audivi contumeliam multorum, terrorem undique, Nuntiate et nuntiabimus: omnis vir (id est, omnes homines, homo pacis, ad verbum, 'nvs omnes homines) pacis meae (id est, familiares mei, qui debuerant colere mecum amicitiam), observant latus meum (vel, claudicationem, metaphorice et melius,) si forte erret, et praevaleamus ei, et sumamus ultionem nostram ex eo.

Jeremiah proceeds with the same subject, and before God accuses his enemies, -- that they disgracefully contended with him, though he deserved no such treatment, for he had endeavored to secure as far as he could their safety. He then says, that he had heard the slander of many, or as it may be rendered, of the great; but the former rendering is more suitable, for it immediately follows, that there was terror on every side, as though all with one consent assailed him. He then says, that he was surrounded with terror on every side, because he saw that the whole mass was opposed and hostile to him, and that he stood alone. He says, also, that his enemies laid in wait for him, and sought occasions to destroy him.

Report ye, and we will report to him Here he assumes their person and relates what they consulted to do. He, no doubt, introduces here the chief men and the priests as the speakers, who were contriving means to form an accusation against the holy man; for we know what is commonly done in conspiracies of this kind; worthless men run here and there and hunt for every little thing; then they bring their report, and from this the accusation is formed. As, then, it did not comport with the dignity of the chief men and of the priests, to run here and there and to inquire of such as they might meet with what Jeremiah had said, they sat still and sent others, and said, |Go and report to us, and we shall then report to the king.| For the word |king| must be here understood, as the pronoun is put without an antecedent; come then and report, and we will report to him We now perceive what Jeremiah complained of, even that he had not only many enemies who calumniated him, but that he had also those who wished insidiously to entrap him.

And he adds what was still worse, -- that he was thus unjustly treated, not only by strangers or those who were openly his enemies, but by his own friends or relations; for the Hebrews called domestics and those connected by relationship, men of peace;

|the man of my peace, in whom I trusted,|

is an expression used in Psalm 41:9; but it is a phrase which often occurs. In short, Jeremiah means, that he was not only in a manner overwhelmed by a vast number of enemies, but that he was also without any friends, for they treacherously betrayed him. He says that they watched his side, or halting. Some render it |breaking;| but halting or debility is the most suitable; and the metaphor is most appropriate; it is taken from the side, and they who halt or through weakness totter, incline now on this side, then on that side. So Jeremiah says, that they watched him; if by chance he go astray, he again speaks in their name, |Let us then watch whether he will halt or go astray from the road; and then we shall prevail against him.|

We may, in short, gather from these words, that this holy servant of God was not only harassed openly by professed enemies, but that he was also insidiously watched, and perfidiously, too, by men who pretended to be his friends, while yet they were his worst enemies. If, then, deceitful men at this time assail us by secret means, and others oppose us openly, let us know that nothing new has happened to us; for in these two ways God tried Jeremiah. We also see that it was a common thing with the ungodly to lay hold on some pretext for calumny; for as soon as the Prophets opened their mouth, they could have said nothing but what was immediately misrepresented; and hence Micah complained that he was assailed by a similar artifice, for when the spoke with severity, they all cried out that he raised a tumult among the people, and sought nothing but new things, so that by disturbing the state of the city and kingdom, he would bring all things to ruin. (Micah 2:6.) If, then, God suffers us to be tried by such intrigues, let us bear such indignity with resigned and calm minds; for no Prophet has been exempt from this kind of trouble and annoyance.

They said further, Let us take our revenge on him, as though, indeed, they had a cause for revenge! for what had Jeremiah done? In what had he offended them? Though, then, they had suffered no wrong, they yet would take revenge! But it is no wonder that the ungodly and the despisers of God spoke thus; for we know that they thought themselves grievously injured whenever their wounds were touched; for they considered reproofs, however just and necessary, to be reproaches. Hence then it was, that their rage kindled in them a desire for revenge, though yet no wrong had been done to them. He afterwards adds, --

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