11. For I am with thee, saith the LORD, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished.
11. Quoniam ego tecum, dicit Jehova, ad servandum to; nam faciam consumptionem in cunctis gentibus, ad quas dispergam to illuc; atqui tecum non faciam consumptionem, et castigabo to in judicio, et mundando non mundabo to (vel, purgando non purgabo to, vel, succidendo non succidam to: dicemus postea de verbo)
He repeats in other words what we have already stated, but for the purpose of giving fuller support to trembling and wavering minds. God then promises that he would be present with his people to save them. Now as this could not easily be believed, and as the Jews looking only on their state at that time could not but despair, the Prophet added this comparison between them and the Gentiles. The Chaldeans and the Assyrians flourished seventy years in every kind of wealth, in luxuries, in honor -- in short, they possessed every thing necessary for an earthly happiness. What, then, could the Jews have thought, but that unbelievers and God's enemies were happy, but that they were miserable, being oppressed by hard servitude and loaded with many reproaches, and living also in poverty, and counted as sheep destined for the slaughter? When, therefore, all these things were plain before their eyes, what but despair must have laid hold on their minds? Therefore God obviates this evil;
And he says that he would make a consummation among the nations, as though he had said, |When I begin to punish the Gentile nations, I will destroy them with an utter destruction, no hope will remain for them. But as to thee, I will not make a consummation.| Thus he makes a difference between the punishment inflicted on the reprobate and ungodly and that by which he would chastise the sins of his people; for the punishment he would inflict on the wicked would be fatal, while the punishment by which he would chastise his Church would be only for a time; it would therefore be to it for medicine and salvation.
We now, then, perceive what the Prophet had in view: he mitigated the bitterness of grief as to the faithful, for God would not wholly cast them away. And he shews that their scourges ought to be patiently borne, because they were to hope for an end of them; but that it would be different when he visited the reprobate, because he would leave them without any hope. In short, he says, that he would be a severe judge to the last degree as to the unbelieving, but that he would chastise his own people as a Father.
Other passages seem, however, to militate against this view; for God declares that he would make a consummation as to his chosen people, as in Isaiah 10:23, and in other places. But the explanation is obvious; for there he refers to the whole body of the people, which were alienated from him; but here his word is addressed to the faithful,
|the remnant of grace,|
as Paul calls them, (Romans 11:5) We ought, therefore, ever to consider who those are whom the Prophets address; for at one time they refer to the promiscuous mass, and at another time they address apart the faithful, and promise them salvation. Thus, then, we have before seen that God would make a consummation as to his people, that is, the reprobate; but the Prophet here turns his discourse to the Church and the seed which God would preserve in safety among a people apparently cut off and lost. Whenever, therefore, the devil would drive us to despair, whenever we are harassed in our minds when God deals with us more severely than we expect, let this consolation be remembered, that God will not make a consummation with us; for what is here said of the Church may and ought to be applied to every individual believer. God, indeed, handles them often roughly when he sees it necessary for them, but he never wholly consumes them.
I will not make, he says, a consummation with thee, but I will chastise thee in judgment Here the copulative ought to be taken as an adversative particle, and |judgment| has the sense of moderation, as we have seen in Jeremiah 10:24,
|Chastise me, O Lord, but not in thy wrath;|
he had mentioned |judgment| before. In this sense is judgment used here, that is, for that moderation which God adopts towards his chosen, for he is ever mindful of his mercy, and regards not what they deserve, but what they can bear. When, therefore, God withholds his hand and gently chastises his people, he is said to punish them in judgment, that is, moderately. For judgment is not to be taken here for rectitude, because God never exceeds due limits so as to be subject to the charge of cruelty; judgment is also opposed to just rigor, and it is often opposed to injustice; but in this place we are to understand that the contrast is between judgment and the just rigor of God. Then judgment is nothing else but the mitigation of wrath.
At last he adds, By cleansing I will not cleanse thee, or, |by cutting down I will not cut thee down.| The verb, nqh, nuke, means sometimes to cleanse, or to render innocent; and it means also intransitively to be pure and harmless; but it is to be taken here transitively. It cannot, then, be rendered otherwise than |by cleansing I will not cleanse thee,| or, |I will not cut thee down;| for it has also this meaning, and either of the two senses is suitable. If we read, |I will not cut thee down,| it is the continuation of the same subject; |I will chastise thee in judgment, and I will not therefore cut thee down,| that is, I will not make a consummation. It would then be, as it is evident, a very suitable connection, and it would run smoothly were we to read, |I will not cut thee down.| But the other version is also appropriate, though it may admit of a twofold meaning; some take it adversatively, |Though I shall not make thee innocent;| that is, though I shall not spare thee, but chastise thee moderately; and this intimation was very seasonable; for the flesh ever seeks impunity. Now God sees that it is not good for us to escape unpunished when we offend; it is then necessary to bear in mind this doctrine, that though God will not allow us to be exempt from punishment, nor indulge us, but smite us with his rods, he is yet moderate in his judgment towards us. But others refer to this passage in Isaiah,
|I made thee to pass through the furnace and refined thee, but not as silver, otherwise thou wouldest have been consumed.| (Isaiah 48:10)
God then tries his people, or cleanses them with chastisements; but how? or, how long? -- not as silver and gold, for that would wholly consume them. For when silver is purged from its dross, and also gold, the purer and clearer portion remains; but men, as there is nothing in them but vanity, would be wholly consumed, were God to try them as silver and gold. But as this interpretation is too refined, I am more disposed to adopt one of the two first, that is, that God would not wholly cut them down, though he would chastise them, or, that though he would not count or regard them wholly innocent, nor so indulge them as to let them go unpunished, he would yet be merciful and propitious to them, as he would connect judgment with his chastisements, that they might not be immoderate.