33. And they have turned unto me the back, and not the face: though I taught them, rising up early and teaching them, yet they have not hearkened to receive instruction.
33. Et verterunt mihi cervicem et non faciem; et docendo eos, et mane surgendo et docendo, et non audierunt (et ipsi non audientes, ad verbum, sed, non audierunt) ut reciperent correctionum (vel, disciplinam)
Here the Prophet expresses more clearly the perverseness of the people, as though he had said, that they had deliberately rejected every instruction, and had shewn no regard for God; for he who turns his back on us, does this knowingly and wilfully, and indeed not without contempt. When any one addresses me, and I look another way, is it not a manifest sign of contempt or disdain? and he who speaks, does he not see that he is disregarded? Thus God then complains that the Jews had not fallen away through ignorance, but as it were through a premeditated obstinacy: they then turned to me, he says, the neck, when yet they ought to have been attentive to hear the doctrine of the Law. For God shews to us his face whenever he is pleased to prescribe what ought to be done, or to shew the way of salvation. When he looks on us, how detestable must be our pride, if we look not also on him in return? This, then, is the first thing, that the Jews had knowingly and wilfully despised God and his Law.
Then he amplifies their guilt by saying, And I taught them, I rose up early and taught them, and they hearkened not If the Law had been only once promulgated, the Jews might have objected and said, that they were for the most part illiterate; but no color of pretense remained for them, since the Prophets were continually interpreting the Law, as God had also promised by Moses,
|A Prophet will I raise up for thee from the midst of thy brethren.| (Deuteronomy 18:18)
For he intimates that this benefit would be perpetual in the Church, so that there would never be wanting Prophets to shew the right way to the people. For he sets Prophets in opposition to soothsayers, diviners, foretellers, and all other ministers of Satan, as though he had said, that there was no reason for the people to seek the fallacies of Satan, since the Prophets were sufficient. Lest the Jews then should complain that they were hardly dealt with, God here shews that he had taught them, for he ascribes to himself what he had done by his Prophets: and doubtless Prophets and teachers are nothing else but the instruments of the Holy Spirit; for no one is fit to teach, but when he is guided by the Spirit of God. Justly then does God claim for himself these offices, so that all the praise for the building up of his Church is due to him, though he employs the labors of men. In this sense it is, that he says, that he had taught them.
Then he adds, that he rose up early, that is, that he had been sedulous. As a master of a family, who is solicitous for his own, early inquires how they are, and looks around the whole house; so also God represents himself here, speaking of his care in teaching the Israelites, as though he had said, that not only his Law was set before their eyes, by which they might learn what was right, but that Prophets were also given who ceased not to admonish and exhort them.
Now this manner of speaking ought to be particularly observed, as we hence learn how base their ingratitude is who reject the teaching of the Prophets; for they not only disregarded men, but God himself, as Christ also declares,
|He who hears you, hears me; and he who rejects you, rejects me.| (Luke 10:16)
This form of speaking, then, commends the truth of the doctrine taught by the Prophets; for God comes forth and shews that he speaks by his servants. And on the other hand, we learn what an incomparable blessing it is to have faithful and true teachers; for God, through them and their labors, with certainty declares that he cares for our salvation, as though he watched over us, as though he rose up early, as though he visited us; and the preaching of the Gospel is not without reason called the visitation of God. There is, then, no reason for us to seek anything better, when God is present with us by his word; for we have a sure testimony of his presence whenever true and faithful teachers rise up.
He adds, to receive correction He intimates by the word mvsr musar, that the Jews had not sinned through ignorance, but that they had been intractable, for they refused to be corrected. The word is, indeed, taken sometimes for doctrine, but it means here correction, even when any one, who generally holds a right course, deviates from the right way, but being warned, repents. We hence see what the Prophet means, even that the Jews had not only closed their eyes against the clear light which shone forth in the Law, but that they had been wholly refractory, so that they could not be subdued when God called them to repentance, that when he sought to heal their diseases, they showed such stubbornness that they cast aside all correction and discipline. We hence learn that the time of vengeance had come, because God had tried all means to promote their welfare, and had lost, as the common saying is, both pains and cost. It follows, --