13. Woe unto them! for they have fled from me: destruction unto them! because they have transgressed against me: though I have redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against me.
13. Vae illis, quia recesserunt a me; vastitas illis, (vel, Direptio,) quia perfide egerunt in me: et ego redimam eos (potest etiam resolvi in tempus praeteritum, Redemi eos,) et loquuti sunt contra me mendacia.
Here the Prophet takes away from the Israelites the hope of pardon, and declares that it was all over with them, for God had now resolved to destroy them. For as God everywhere declares himself to be ready and inclined to pardon, hypocrites hope that God will be propitious to them; and entertaining this vain confidence, they despise his threatening and boldly rise up against him. Hence the Prophet here shows, that God would hereafter be inexorable to them, because they had too long pertinaciously abused his patience. Woe to them! he says, for they have withdrawn from me: desolation to them! for they have acted perfidiously towards me There is then no reason, says the Prophet, for them to delude themselves in future with vain confidence, as they have hitherto done; for this has been once for all determined by God -- to indict on them his extreme vengeance, for their defection deserves this.
He then adds, I will redeem them, and they have spoken lies against me. They who render the first word in the future tense, think that the Prophet asks a question, |Shall I redeem them? for they have spoken lies against me:| and they think it to be an indefinite mode of speaking -- |Should I redeem them, men of no faith; for what good should I do by such kindness?| Others give this expositions -- |Though I wished to redeem them, yet I found that this would not be beneficial nor just, because they speak lies against me;| as though God did not express here what he had done, but what he had wished to do. But the past tense is not unsuitable to this place; and we know how common and familiar to the Hebrews was the change of tenses. The meaning, then, will be, |I have redeemed them, and they have spoken lies against me;| that is, |I have often delivered them from death, when they were in extreme peril; but they have not changed their disposition; nay, they have deprived me of the praise due for their deliverance, and they have lived in no way better after their deliverance. Since, then, I have hitherto conferred my benefits to no good purpose, nothing now remains but that I must destroy them.| And this seems to me to be the Prophet's meaning.
He then declares, in the first clause, that they hoped for mercy in vain from God, because their ultimate destruction was decreed. Then follows the reason for this, because they had foolishly and impiously abused the favor of God, inasmuch as, having been redeemed by him, they yet went on in their own wickedness, and even acted perfidiously towards God, while yet they pretended to act differently. Since, then, there was no change for the better, God now shows that he would spend his favor no longer on men so impious. Now this place teaches how intolerable is our ingratitude, when, after having been redeemed by the Lord, we keep not the faith pledged to him, and which he requires from us; for God is our deliverer on this condition, that we be wholly devoted to him. For he who has been redeemed ought not so to live, as if he had a right to himself and to his own will; but he ought to be wholly dependent on his Redeemer. If, then, we thus act perfidiously towards God, after having been delivered by his grace, we shall be guilty of such impiety and perfidiousness as deserve a twofold vengeance: and this is what the Prophet here teaches.
We indeed know how mercifully God had spared the people of Israel: after they had fallen away into superstitious worship, and had also violated their faith to the posterity of David, the Lord did not yet cease to show to that people many favors, notwithstanding their unworthiness. We know also, that under Jeroboam prosperity had attended them beyond all human expectation. But they yet hardened themselves more and more in their wickedness, so far were they from returning to the right way. Let us now proceed --