19. Woe is me for my hurt! my wound is grievous: but I said, Truly this is a grief, and I must bear it.
19. Hei mihi super contritione mea; dolore plena est percussio mea: et ego dixi, Certe (vel, utique) haec plaga mea, et feram eam.
The Prophet here no doubt speaks in the name of the whole people; for he saw that no one was moved by threatenings, though very grievous and severe; and this mode of speaking must be sufficiently known to us, for it is commonly used by all the prophets. They first, addressed the people; but when they saw that they produced no effect, in order to shew their indignation, they speak of themselves as in the presence of God: thus they rebuked the hardness and torpidity of men. So now does Jeremiah speak, Woe to me for my bruising! He did not grieve on his own account; but, as I have said, he represents the grief which the whole people ought to have felt, which yet they did not feel at all. As then they were so stupid, and proudly derided God and his threatenings, the Prophet shews to them, as it were in a mirror, what grievous and bitter lamentation awaited them.
We must then bear in mind that the Prophet speaks not here according to the feeling which the people had, for they were so stupified that they felt nothing; but that he speaks of what they ought to have felt, as though he had said, -- |Were there in them a particle of wisdom, they would all most surely bewail their approaching calamity, before God begins to make his judgment to fall on their heads; but no one is moved: I shall therefore weep alone, but it is on your account.| There is yet no doubt but he intended to try in every way whether God's threatenings would penetrate into their hearts.
He says that his smiting was full of pain; and then adds, And I said, Surely it is my stroke, and I will bear it. As I have already said, he does not relate what the Jews said or thought, but what would have been the case with them had they the smallest portion of wisdom. Some connect this with the following verse, as though the Prophet had said that he thought himself able to bear his grief, but was deceived, as he was at length constrained to succumb. But this is an incorrect view, and the passage runs better otherwise. The Prophet here reminds his own people with what feeling they ought to have regarded the fact, that God was angry with them; for he no doubt indirectly condemns their sottishness, because God's hand was put forth to chastise them, and yet they disregarded the hand of him who smote them. He then relates what they ought to have thought and felt, when God shewed tokens of his wrath, -- that they ought to have acknowledged that it was their own stroke, and that it was therefore to be borne: for it is the best preparation for repentance when the sinner acknowledges that he is justly smitten, and when he willingly receives the yoke. When, therefore, any one proceeds thus far, his conversion is half effected.
The Prophet then teaches us here that the only remedy which remained for the Jews was to be fully convinced that they deserved the punishment which they endured, and then patiently to submit to God's judgment, according to what a dutiful son does who suffers himself to be chastised when he offends. The word is used in another sense in Psalm 77:10,
|To die is my lot.|
The Prophet has chly, cheli, here; but there it is chlvty cheluti. That passage is indeed variously explained; but it seenis to be an expression of despair, when it is said, |To die is my lot;| that is, it is all over with me. But the Prophet here shews that it was the beginning of repentance, when the Jews confessed that they deserved their stroke; for no doubt there is here a comparison made between sin and its punishment, as though the Prophet had said, |We have thus deserved, and God allots to us the reward due to our sins.| It is one thing, -- to give glory to God, by confessing that he inflicts due punishment; but it is not sufficient unless patience be added, -- I will bear it; that is, I will submit to God. For there are many who, when convinced of their sins, do yet complain against their judge, and also raise a clamor. Hence the Prophet joins together these two things, -- the confession of sin and patience; so that they who experience the severity of God quietly submit to him as long as He exercises towards them the office of a judge. He afterwards adds --