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The Prophet is going on with the same Sermon, in the same strain and on the same subject. The Chapter is made up of reproof and lamentation.
It is more than probable, that the ransacking of the sepulchres of the kings of Israel and Judah by the enemy, was more in their view to find treasure, than to show contempt. David's grave we are told by an ancient historian, Hicarnus, had three thousand talents of gold and silver in it. But what designs soever the enemy had; the Lord's over-ruling it, was for punishment. What could have been more humbling, or more distressing! And indeed we are told the effect wrought by it, was dreadful? so that death rather than life, became the wish of the people. Reader! let us learn from it, how awful it must be, to have God for our enemy? When he permits the enemy to govern; alas! how truly tyrannical they govern!
Was there ever a more beautiful figure chosen to depicture the extreme folly of the human understanding, than in the contrast here drawn between the inconsiderateness of man, and the thoughtfulness of the birds of passage. How stated, how regular, how constant, to the season of emigration, are those fowls of the heavens? But poor fallen senseless man, never of himself seeketh the change of climate from the perishing things of time and sense, to the everlasting love and mercy in Christ Jesus!
I bring the whole of this beautiful Chapter, from this verse to the end into one view, for the sake of shortness, and from necessity; but otherwise nothing could be more desirable than to dwell upon each verse. Taken in one mass, it contains the gracious expostulation of the Lord, with his people: blessed as they were, with every means, but destitute of the desired end. And how beautiful the Chapter closeth. Gilead, was a place remarkable in the land for loveliness, and for health and fertility (see Jeremiah 22:6 .) and therefore the question becomes the more striking, as it was intended: Is there no balm in Gilead: no Physician there? Reader! spiritualize the passage, and the beauty of it will still be more blessed. There is balm in Gilead, and there is a Physician there. For Jesus's blood and righteousness is an everlasting, never failing balm: and Jesus himself is there an Almighty, All-present, and All-sufficient Physician, whereby all the diseased in our nature may have in him an healing. If it be asked, why then are we not recovered? Jesus himself answereth; ye will not come to me that ye might have life. John 5:40 . Here is the cause. The evil is in man, not in God. Sinners reject the counsel of God against their own souls, and refuse to hear the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely!
BEHOLD my soul, from the perusal of this Chapter, what a poor, ignorant, unthinking, and improvident creature is man! The birds of the air, and the beasts of the field, do, by instinct, what man by reason, now in his fallen state doth not do. If the winter approacheth, the swallow seeks a warmer climate. If a storm falls, the cattle flee to the barn, or to the hedge for shelter. But neither the winter of life, nor the storm of threatened judgments, prevail upon the sinner, void of grace, to flee from the wrath to come.
But is not the Lord in Zion? Is not her King in her? Shall there be balm in Gilead, and yet no remedy be applied? Shall Jesus indeed, the great Physician be there; and the health of his redeemed not be recovered? Oh! let thy name, thou dear Lord, be as ointment poured forth, that by the quickening and regenerating influences of thy blessed Spirit, such views of our misery, by reason of the fall, may open before us, and such a sense of thy suitability to all our wants may appear, and become desirable; that apprehending thee by faith, in thy Person, work, and offices, and in all thy relations, righteousness, and grace, our souls may find a recovery. Speak blessed Lord to my heart, to my conscience; and while thou speakest, in the same tender words as of old, to the diseased; wilt thou be made whole? Oh! give me grace and faith, in lively exercise, to answer and to believe, and to depend upon thy sovereign, power to heal. Oh! let me know thee by that precious name, Jehovah Rophe! And let me hear thy gracious voice as to Israel, saying, I am the Lord that healeth thee! Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Jeremiah 8". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent