27. But fear not thou, O my servant Jacob, and be not dismayed, O Israel: for, behold, I will save thee from afar off, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and be in rest and at ease, and none shall make him afraid.
27. Et tu ne timeas, serve mi Jacob, et ne expavescas (vel, frangaris animo, chtt significat conteri et frangi, sed magis refertur ad animum metaphorice, ne ergo frangaris animo,) Israel; quia ecce ego servo te a longinquo, et semen tuum e terra captivitatis ipsorum; et revertetur Jacob et quiescet et securus erit, et nemo exterrebit (nemo qui exterreat, ad verbum.)
The Prophet now directs his discourse to the Israelites; for we have already said that he was not appointed a teacher to heathen nations. Whatever, then, he spoke of heathen nations had a reference to the benefit of his people; and for this purpose, as we have said, the Prophets extended their prophecies respecting God's judgments to all nations; for otherwise the Israelites would have been disheartened, as though their condition was worse than that of others: |What can this mean? God has chosen us as his peculiar people; in the meantime we alone are miserable: God pours forth on us his whole rigor, and yet he spares the unbelieving. It would have been better for us to have been rejected wholly by him, for the covenant which he has made with us only renders us more miserable than others.| Thus the miserable Israelites might have rushed headlong into despair, had nothing been done in time to relieve them. And then the Prophets, or rather the Spirit of God who spoke by them, regarded another thing; for if nothing had been predicted they would have passed by, with closed eyes, those judgments which God executed on all their neighbors, for all that Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel had predicted was fulfilled. Had they been silent respecting the ruin of Egypt, of the Philistines and the Moabites, the people, owing to their torpor, would not have considered God's judgments, but would have thought them to have all happened by chance. The Prophets then represented as in a mirror the power of God, that the Israelites might know that it extended to the whole world and to every nation.
This is the reason why Jeremiah now turns his discourse to the chosen people, and says, Fear not, my servant Jacob He still speaks in God's name. Now God calls Jacob his servant, not on the ground of obedience, but because he had chosen him. Then by this word God sets forth the favor of adoption, and not the obedience of the people, for we know how refractory and disobedient they were; we know that they were continually shaking off the yoke, that they insulted as it were God himself; very far were they from quietly submitting to his authority as it became servants. Here, then, the obedience of the Israelites is not commended, but that election is set forth by which God had set them apart from other nations. How then was Jacob God's servant? not because he deserved that honor by his own merits, but because God had been pleased gratuitously to choose him for himself. So also David says,
|I am thy servant, the son of thy handmaid,|
He means that he was as it were a hereditary servant, who had been already dedicated to God before he was conceived in his mother's womb. But as this mode of speaking often occurs, I pass it by with only a few words.
Fear not, O Jacob, he says, and be not broken in mind, O Israel There are indeed two names used, but God thus addresses his people often; and why? because I wall save thee We now then see why God called Jacob his servant, even because the salvation of the elect people depended on this peculiar privilege, that God had chosen them for himself; I will save thee, he says, from far The ten tribes, as it is well known, had already been driven far, and a part of Judah had been led into exile. Distance took away the hope of a return. Hence God here declares that a long distance would be no hindrance to him to restore his people when it seemed good to him; Behold, I will save thee He then obviates this objection; |What! why then does God thus suffer us to be driven to foreign lands? why have we not staid in our own land?| God, he says, will not be less able to save thee in the remotest places, than if thou hadst remained in thy native country, and in thine own habitation. And he adds, and thy seed, from the land of their captivity
We hence learn, that though the Prophet spoke of the temporal restoration of the people, he yet had a regard to higher and greater things, even that the captives should recumb on God's mercy, and believe that he would be propitious to them even when dead. This passage then shews that the hope of God's children is not confined to this life, but extends farther, in order that they may know that God will be propitious to them after death, and that they may sustain themselves with the assurance of his favor, for otherwise this promise that God would restore their children after their death would have been absurd. |But why is he implacable to us? why does he not restore us sooner?| The Jews might have raised this objection; but the Prophet reminds them, that though they were not to be restored immediately to their country, yet the covenant of God would remain valid, and its stability would appear after seventy years.
We now perceive why the Prophet said, Jacob shall return and rest, and shall be secure I wonder that some have rendered the last words, |and shall be happy,| for s'nn, shanun, means to be secure, or to rest; and then the Prophet explains himself, nor will there be any to terrify We indeed know that it is the main part of happiness when no fear disturbs us, when our minds are in a composed and quiet state. Further, by these words he intimates the continuance of God's favor, as though he had said that his favor would not only be evident in restoring the people from exile, but in restoring the miserable in such a way as to grant them full and continued happiness. It follows, --