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Commentary On Jeremiah And Lamentations Volume 4 by Jean Calvin

Jeremiah 31:4

4. Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry.

4. Adhuc aedificabo to, et aedificaberis, puella Israel: adhuc ornaberis tympanis tuis, et exibis in choros ludentium.

Jeremiah, in this verse, proceeds with the same subject, -- that though there would be the long time of seventy years, yet God would become the liberator of his Church. Length of time might have extinguished the faith of the people, as it is too commonly the case: for when nothing appears to us but the naked word, and when God repeats the same promises from day to day, we think it of no moment; and then when some evil has been prevailing, we think that all ways have been already closed up, so that God cannot bring a remedy; we thus measure his power by our own standard: and as he comes late to help us, because he suffers men to be long afflicted with disease or other evils, so we imagine that God will never come, when he suspends and delays his favor longer than we wish.

Hence the Prophet says here, I will yet build thee, and built shalt thou be, virgin of Israel; and then, thou shalt yet be adorned with thy tabrets Joy is here set in opposition to the grief with which the people were to be oppressed in exile, and in part had been already oppressed, for many had been driven into exile. But Jeremiah expresses their joy and gladness by a figurative mode of speaking, by tabrets and dances of those who play For when the Prophets announce the vengeance of God, they are wont to say, |cease shall all joy among you; ye shall not play any more with the harp or with musical instruments.| So also in this place Jeremiah says, that they would return to the tabrets and dances, when God restored them to their own country. We ought not at the same time to turn this testimony of the Prophet to excuse profane lasciviousness, by which profane men pervert the benefits of God, for they preserve no moderation in their joy, but abandon themselves, and thus become wanton against God. And it is the tendency of all dances and sounds of tabrets, to besot profane men. The Prophet then did not intend to allow this sort of licentiousness to the people: for we must ever bear in mind what he said yesterday, that the voice of praise would go forth with joy. By tabrets and dances, he then means holy joy, connected with praises to God, and with the sacrifice of thanksgiving. It afterwards follows --

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