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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Jeremiah 12

 

 

Verse 1

Jeremiah 12:1 Righteous [art] thou, O LORD, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of [thy] judgments: Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? [wherefore] are all they happy that deal very treacherously?

Ver. 1. Righteous art thou, O Lord, when I plead with thee.] Or, Though I should contend with thee. This the prophet fitly sets forth the ensuing disceptation, that he might not be mistaken. Thy judgments, saith he, are sometimes secret, always just; this I am well assured of, though I thus argue. (a)

Yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments.] Let me take the humble boldness so to do, that I may be further cleared and instructed by thee.

Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper?] viz., While better men suffer; as now the wicked Anathothites do, while I go in danger of my life by them. This is that noble question which hath exercised the wits and molested the minds of many wise men, both within and without the Church. See Job 21:7-13, Psalms 37:1; Psalms 73:1-12, Habakkuk 1:4-5; Plato, Cicero, Seneca, Epictetus, Claudian against Ruffin, &c.

Wherefore are all they happy?] Heb., At ease. Not all either; for some wicked have their payment here, their hell aforehand. To this question the Lord, who knoweth our frame, [Psalms 103:14] being content to condescend where he might have judged, calmly maketh answer, [Jeremiah 12:5] like as Christ in like case did to Peter. [John 21:21-22]


Verse 2

Jeremiah 12:2 Thou hast planted them, yea, they have taken root: they grow, yea, they bring forth fruit: thou [art] near in their mouth, and far from their reins.

Ver. 2. Thou hast planted them, and they have taken root.] All goes well with them; they have more than heart can wish. [Psalms 73:7] And in lieu of God’s goodness to them, they profess largely, and pretend to great devotion; but that is all.

Thou art near in their mouth, and far from their reins.] That is, From their affections. [Titus 1:16] Hypocrites are like that heap of heads [2 Kings 10:8] that had never a heart among them; they have vocem in choro, mentem in foro; virtutem non colunt sed colorant. Voices in the choir, minds in the market place, they do not worship in strength but in deception. That Persian ambassador - of whom before - when conversing with Christians, he had so oft in his mouth, Soli Deo gloria, made believe that he gave glory to the only true God, whenas he meant the sun, whom he worshipped as his god. The king of Bohemia, when beaten out of Prague, was encouraged by some great commanders about him that he had many princes his friends and allies that would readily assist him; to which he made no answer, but wrote the word Deus God, in large letters. But some thought he meant Denmark in D, England in E, Hungary in U, and the Swedes in S. God knows what his meaning was; but he will make "all the Churches to know that he searcheth the hearts and reins," and that he will "kill with death" all such as had rather seem to be good, than seek to be so. If Jeremiah had been one of those, he dared never to have said,


Verse 3

Jeremiah 12:3 But thou, O LORD, knowest me: thou hast seen me, and tried mine heart toward thee: pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter.

Ver. 3. But thou, Lord, knowest me, &c., ] q.d., I can safely appeal unto thee, and take thee for a witness of mine innocence and integrity, that I have thee not in my mouth only, as they, but in my heart also, which is wholly devoted to thy fear, ut sit tecum, hanging toward thee, and hankering after thee continually. (a)

Pull them out as sheep.] Punish some of them presently for an example of thy providence, and reserve others of them till hereafter for an instance of thy patience. See Jeremiah 11:20.

Prepare them.] Heb., Sanctify them. {as Isaiah 13:3; Isaiah 6:7} Fatted ware is but fitted for the shambles.


Verse 4

Jeremiah 12:4 How long shall the land mourn, and the herbs of every field wither, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein? the beasts are consumed, and the birds; because they said, He shall not see our last end.

Ver. 4. How long shall the land mourn?] For the sake of those wicked wretches aforementioned.

The beasts are consumed, and the birds.] See Jeremiah 4:25-26.

Because they said, He shall not see our last end.] God shall not, and so they deny his providence and prescience; or the prophet shall not, though now he thunder out our punishment with so great vehemence. Compare Jeremiah 11:23.


Verse 5

Jeremiah 12:5 If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and [if] in the land of peace, [wherein] thou trustedst, [they wearied thee], then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?

Ver. 5. If thou hast run with the footmen.] Here God returneth an answer to the prophet’s foregoing complaint, saith the Chaldee, partly checking him for his discontentedness, and partly exciting him to a humble submission and a well-knit resolution.

Then how wilt thou contend with horses?] If thy countrymen of Anathoth overmatch and overmaster thee, how wilt thou deal with those of Jerusalem, who are a far deal worse?

And if in a land of peace.] These are proverbial speeches, both to one purpose:

Ferre minora velis, ut graviora feras.

How wouldst thou endure wounds for Christ, that canst not endure words? saith one. And how wilt thou fry a faggot that startlest at a reproach for the truth? While William Cobberly, martyr, was in durance, his wife also, called Alice, being apprehended, was in the keeper’s house the same time detained, where the keeper’s wife had secretly heated a key fire hot, and laid it in the grass on the back side; so speaking to Alice Cobberly to fetch her the key in all haste, she went with speed to bring the key, and taking it up in haste, did piteously burn her hand, whereupon she cried out, Ah, thou drab! Quoth the other, Thou that canst not abide the burning of thy hand, how wilt thou be able to abide the burning of thy whole body? And so she afterwards repented. (a)


Verse 6

Jeremiah 12:6 For even thy brethren, and the house of thy father, even they have dealt treacherously with thee; yea, they have called a multitude after thee: believe them not, though they speak fair words unto thee.

Ver. 6. For even thy brethren.] Let this comfort us in like case. Abel and John Diazius were butchered by their own unnatural brethren. Paul suffered most of all from his own countrymen.

Yea, they have called a multitude after thee.] (a) Or, With full mouth, as those did against Christ who cried, "Crucify him, crucify him"; and those against Paul, "Away with such a fellow from the earth"; and those against the primitive Christians, Christianos ad leones, To the lions with them. In Rhodanum, in Rhodanum, cried many at Geneva against Farellus, their faithful preacher, Into the river with him; but God preserved him from their fury, for the good of many other cities after that converted by him.

Believe them not, though they speak fair words to thee.] ‘Fair words make fools fain,’ we say; but be not light of belief, the world’s naught:

Mel in ore, verba lactis:

Fel in corde, fraus in factis. ”

“Honey in the mouth, with words of milk:

Gall in the heart, fruad in the act.”

{a} Clamant post te pleno gutture.


Verse 7

Jeremiah 12:7 I have forsaken mine house, I have left mine heritage; I have given the dearly beloved of my soul into the hand of her enemies.

Ver. 7. I have forsaken my house.] A man’s house is dear to him, dearer his heritage, dearest his well beloved wife. Jerusalem had been all this to God, but now for sin abandoned by him.

I have given the dearly beloved of my soul.] Or, My dearly beloved, my soul - i.e., Myself, my second self. Heb., The love of my soul. Gr. and Vulgate, My beloved soul. "God is jealous, and the Lord revengeth." [Nahum 1:2]


Verse 8

Jeremiah 12:8 Mine heritage is unto me as a lion in the forest; it crieth out against me: therefore have I hated it.

Ver. 8. Mine heritage is unto me as a lion in the forest.] Roaring against me, and revelling in the ruin of my messengers. Ubi affectus augetur in antithesi verborum; haereditas mea, et contra me; sheep they were wont to be, now they are become lions.


Verse 9

Jeremiah 12:9 Mine heritage [is] unto me [as] a speckled bird, the birds round about [are] against her; come ye, assemble all the beasts of the field, come to devour.

Ver. 9. Mine heritage is unto me as a speckled bird.] As an owl, say some, that loveth not the light; as a peacock, say others, proud and inconstant, all in changeable colours, as oft changed as moved. God, that could not endure miscellany seed, nor linsey woolsey, in Israel, can less endure that his people should be as a "speckled bird," here of one colour, and there of another; or as a cake not turned. [Hosea 7:4-10]


Verse 10

Jeremiah 12:10 Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.

Ver. 10. Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard.] Those who before were called beasts, [Jeremiah 12:9] are here called pastors - viz., Nebuchadnezzar’s captains. See Jeremiah 6:3.


Verse 11

Jeremiah 12:11 They have made it desolate, [and being] desolate it mourneth unto me; the whole land is made desolate, because no man layeth [it] to heart.

Ver. 11. Because no man layeth it to heart.] Heb., There is not a man putting it upon heart, that is, duly and deeply affected with my menaces, so as to take a timely course for prevention, and their own preservation.


Verse 12

Jeremiah 12:12 The spoilers are come upon all high places through the wilderness: for the sword of the LORD shall devour from the [one] end of the land even to the [other] end of the land: no flesh shall have peace.

Ver. 12. For the sword of the Lord,] i.e., Of the enemy set on by the Lord; for whencesoever the sword cometh, it is bathed in heaven. [Isaiah 34:5] See Ezekiel 14:17.


Verse 13

Jeremiah 12:13 They have sown wheat, but shall reap thorns: they have put themselves to pain, [but] shall not profit: and they shall be ashamed of your revenues because of the fierce anger of the LORD.

Ver. 13. They have sown wheat.] The prophets have, say some, but to no profit.

They shall put themselves to pain.] Or, They are sick, sc., for the affliction of Joseph. {as Amos 6:6} {See Trapp on "Amos 6:6"} Others (a) interpret it of the Jews, who sought to help themselves by this means and that, but lost their labours and their hopes together.

Because of the fierce anger of the Lord.] Quo laeso nihil est illaesum, tutum, et fidum hominibus.


Verse 14

Jeremiah 12:14 Thus saith the LORD against all mine evil neighbours, that touch the inheritance which I have caused my people Israel to inherit; Behold, I will pluck them out of their land, and pluck out the house of Judah from among them.

Ver. 14. Thus saith the Lord against all mine evil neighbours.] These were the Syrians, Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, &c. God also hath his evil neighbours, and this may be a comfort to us in like case.

Behold, I will pluck them out, &c., and pluck out the house of Judah.] This was a different plucking.


Verse 15

Jeremiah 12:15 And it shall come to pass, after that I have plucked them out I will return, and have compassion on them, and will bring them again, every man to his heritage, and every man to his land.

Ver. 15. After that I have plucked them out,] sc., In both senses. [Jeremiah 12:14]

I will return.] In the "midst of judgment, I will remember mercy."

And bring again every man to his heritage.] To the Church; for in every nation he that feareth God and worketh righteousness shall be accepted with him, and have a child’s part, even the reward of inheritance.


Verse 16

Jeremiah 12:16 And it shall come to pass, if they will diligently learn the ways of my people, to swear by my name, The LORD liveth; as they taught my people to swear by Baal; then shall they be built in the midst of my people.

Ver. 16. If they will diligently learn.] Heb., Learning, learn the ways of my people, chalked out unto them in my Word, and their conformity thereunto; for the lives of God’s people are but the Word exemplified, they walk as patterns of the rule, and are of exemplary holiness. {as Luke 1:6}

To swear by my name.] In righteousness, in truth, and in judgment. {as Jeremiah 4:2}

Then shall they be built,] i.e., Blest.


Verse 17

Jeremiah 12:17 But if they will not obey, I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation, saith the LORD.

Ver. 17. But if they will not obey.] The tartness of the threatening maketh us best taste the sweetness of the promise, and a mixture of them serves to keep the heart in the best temper.

I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation.] This is fulfilled to the utmost upon the Jews, especially since the last destruction of Jerusalem.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 12:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/jeremiah-12.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, September 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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