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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Jeremiah 18

 

 

Verse 1

Jeremiah 18:1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,

Ver. 1. The word which came to Jeremiah.] To show the just punishment of the people for disobeying the precept concerning the Sabbath, [Jeremiah 17:27] and other of God’s commandments. See Jeremiah 7:1.


Verse 2

Jeremiah 18:2 Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words.

Ver. 2. Arise, and go down to the potter’s house.] Whether the prophet was to go actually to the potter’s house, or in vision only, it matters not. This we know, that our Saviour did actually wash his disciples’ feet, and at another time set a child in the midst of them when they were striving about the primacy, expounding to them afterwards what he meant; and so it might well be here. It may not be amiss for us to go down oft with Jeremiah to the potter’s house in our meditations - to consider, I mean, our original, Kεραμος ο ανθρωπος; as the "first man, Adam, was of the earth earthy," so are we ex lute lutei, from the clay, clayish.


Verse 3

Jeremiah 18:3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.

Ver. 3. Then I went down to the potter’s house.] (a) God’s commands must be obeyed without sciscitation. Jeremiah saw that verbal teaching without signs would not work upon his hearers; he is therefore ready to do anything, or to go any whither, for their eternal good.

And, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.] So the poet -

Amphora coepit

Institui, currente rota, cur urceus exit? ”

- Hor. De Art. Poet.


Verse 4

Jeremiah 18:4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make [it].

Ver. 4. And the vessel which he made of clay was marred.] Or, The vessel which he was making miscarried, as clay in the potter’s hand.

Non semper feriet quodcunque minabitur arcus.


Verse 5

Jeremiah 18:5 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

Ver. 5. Then came the word of the Lord unto me.] See Jeremiah 18:1. To the visible word God always addeth the audible; as in the two sacraments.


Verse 6

Jeremiah 18:6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay [is] in the potter’s hand, so [are] ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.

Ver. 6. O house of Israel, cannot I do with you.] Make you or mar you at my pleasure: have I not an absolute sovereignty over you, that ye lift up the heel against me, and awake my power by your provocations?

As the clay is in the potter’s hand.] What, then, hath vain man to vaunt of? or why should any proud Arminian (a) say, Quod potui, miserentis est Dei; quod volui, id meae est potestatis? That I can do good, is of God’s mercy; that I will do it, is merely in mine own power? This man was sure his own potter, and not willing to owe overmuch of himself to God.


Verse 7

Jeremiah 18:7 [At what] instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy [it];

Ver. 7. At what instant I shall speak.] As God loveth to forewarn; and he therefore threateneth, that he may not punish, for he would be prevented.


Verse 8

Jeremiah 18:8 If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.

Ver. 8. Turn from their evil.] If I may see such work among them, as at Nineveh God did. [Jonah 3:10] He saw not their sackcloth and their ashes, but their repentance and works - those fruits of their faith.

I will repent of the evil.] Not by any change of my will, but by the willing of a change: mutatione Rei non Dei.


Verse 9

Jeremiah 18:9 And [at what] instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant [it];

Ver. 9. And at what instant I shall speak.] All is done as God the great Induperator commandeth, whether it be for or against a nation, or a particular man only. [Job 34:29]

To build or to plant it.] As he did this kingdom of England; which was therefore anciently called Regnum Dei, kingdom of God, and reckoned among the fortunate islands.


Verse 10

Jeremiah 18:10 If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.

Ver. 10. Then will I repent of the good.] I will take away mine own, and be gone; [Hosea 2:9] "curse their blessings," [Malachi 2:2] and "destroy them after that I have done them good"; {as Joshua 24:20} and all this, whether for the better or for the worse to a nation, God usually doth on the sudden; "At what instant," &c. Mercies, the more unexpected, the more welcome; judgments, the more sudden, the more direful they are.


Verse 11

Jeremiah 18:11 Now therefore go to, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.

Ver. 11. Behold, I frame evil against you.] As the potter frameth his vessel on the wheel.

Return ye now.] Currat poenitentia, ne praecurrat sententia. Mitte preces et lachrymas, cordis legatos. Let him run from regret not hasten on by feeling. Send prayers and tears as envoys of the heart. Address yourselves to God, and be at peace; so shall good be done unto you. See Jeremiah 3:12; Jeremiah 7:3.


Verse 12

Jeremiah 18:12 And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart.

Ver. 12. And they said, There is no hope.] (a) See the like desperate return, Jeremiah 2:25; Jeremiah 13:9. Actum est: vel desperatum est: vel expectaratum est - that is, we are at a point, and have made our conclusion. Thou mayest save a labour of further exhorting us; for we are as good as we mean to be, and shall not stir from our resolution. Keep thy breath to cool thy broth, &c.

We will do every one the imagination of his evil heart.] As you forsooth please to count it and call it; though we reckon that we have as good hearts as the purest or proudest of you all.


Verse 13

Jeremiah 18:13 Therefore thus saith the LORD Ask ye now among the heathen, who hath heard such things: the virgin of Israel hath done a very horrible thing.

Ver. 13. Therefore thus saith the Lord.] God himself seemeth here to wonder at the desperate obstinace of this people, as not to be matched again. Like as our Saviour marvelled at the unbelief of the Nazarites, and could do for them no mighty work. [Mark 6:5-6] {See Trapp on "Mark 6:5"} {See Trapp on "Mark 6:6"}

The virgin of Israel hath done a very horrible thing.] A "virgin" she is called, either by an irony, or else because she should have been a pure virgin, sincere in God’s service, but was nothing less. What this horrible thing was, see Jeremiah 18:15 cf. Jeremiah 2:13; Jeremiah 2:32.


Verse 14

Jeremiah 18:14 Will [a man] leave the snow of Lebanon [which cometh] from the rock of the field? [or] shall the cold flowing waters that come from another place be forsaken?

Ver. 14. Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon?] See Jeremiah 2:13, which may stand for a commentary on this verse. The rocks of Lebanon were still covered with snow: whence also it was called Lebanon - i.e., white. Now the Lord was to the Jews as this snow was to the thirsty traveller, cooling and comforting, and therefore in no wise to be left.

Or shall the cold flowing waters that come from another place be forsaken?] Heb., Shall strange, cool, flowing water be forsaken, or fail?


Verse 15

Jeremiah 18:15 Because my people hath forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways [from] the ancient paths, to walk in paths, [in] a way not cast up;

Ver. 15. Because my people hath forgotten me.] Not forsaken me only. Of all things God cannot abide to be forgotten; this is that very horrible thing, [Jeremiah 18:13] this is filthiness in virgin Israel, which is most abominable.

From the ancient paths.] Chalked out by the law, and walked in by the patriarchs and prophets; Heb., Paths of antiquity or of eternity. Set a jealous eye upon novelties, and shun untrodden paths, as dangerous. (a)


Verse 16

Jeremiah 18:16 To make their land desolate, [and] a perpetual hissing; every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished, and wag his head.

Ver. 16. To make their land desolate.] Not intentionally so; but yet eventually. Idolatry is a land desolating sin.


Verse 17

Jeremiah 18:17 I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy; I will shew them the back, and not the face, in the day of their calamity.

Ver. 17. I will scatter them.] Whirry and whirl them up and down, as chaff before the force of the enemy.

I will skew them the back, and not the face.] This was woeful, but just upon them for their unworthy dealing in like sort with the Lord. [2 Chronicles 29:6 Jeremiah 2:27; Jeremiah 32:33 Ezekiel 8:16] Every transgression and disobedience hath a just recompense of reward. [Hebrews 2:2]


Verse 18

Jeremiah 18:18 Then said they, Come, and let us devise devices against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, and let us smite him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words.

Ver. 18. Then said they, Come, let us devise devices.] Words savouring of a most exulcerate spirit against God and his faithful prophet, quem toto coelo hic explodunt, whom they shamefully slight, and desperately oppose, both with their virulent tongues and violent hands. Hence his ensuing complaint, and not without cause.

For the law shall not perish from the priest, &c.] As he would persuade us it shall. We shall have priests, sages, and prophets still; better than he is any. Let us therefore stop his mouth, or make him away, there will be no great loss of him.

Come, let us smite him with the tongue.] By loading him with slanders, and laying false accusations against him. Some men have very sharp tongues. He that was famous for abuses stripped and whipped, had nothing but his tongue to whip them with. Some render it, Let us smite that tongue of his - that is, tie it up and tamper it, that he reprove us no more. Or if he do, yet

Let us not give heed to any of his words,] If we cannot rule his tongue, yet let us rule our own ears, and say, Tu linguae, nos aurium domini. And is not this the very language of the Romanists? Non tam ovum ovo simile, &c.


Verse 19

Jeremiah 18:19 Give heed to me, O LORD, and hearken to the voice of them that contend with me.

Ver. 19. Give heed to me, O Lord.] Though they will not, yet do thou, I beseech thee. This is ordinary with good men, when wearied out with the world’s misusages, to turn them to God, and to seek help of him.


Verse 20

Jeremiah 18:20 Shall evil be recompensed for good? for they have digged a pit for my soul. Remember that I stood before thee to speak good for them, [and] to turn away thy wrath from them.

Ver. 20. Shall evil be recompensed for good?] q.d., That is greatest disingenuity and unthankfulness. To render good for evil is divine; good for good is human; evil for evil is brutish; but evil for good devilish. Lo, with such breathing devils had Jeremiah here to do; and, indeed, what good man hath not? See 1 Samuel 24:17, Psalms 35:12; Psalms 109:5.


Verse 21

Jeremiah 18:21 Therefore deliver up their children to the famine, and pour out their [blood] by the force of the sword; and let their wives be bereaved of their children, and [be] widows; and let their men be put to death; [let] their young men [be] slain by the sword in battle.

Ver. 21. Therefore deliver up their children to the famine.] He who had prayed so hard for them, could and did pray here as earnestly against them; yet not out of private revenge, but by a prophetic spirit, whereby he foretelleth their calamities auxesi verborum per hypotyposin. This is usual with the psalmist and other prophets.

And let their men be put to death.] Heb., Be killed with death. See Revelation 2:23. {See Trapp on "Revelation 2:23"}


Verse 22

Jeremiah 18:22 Let a cry be heard from their houses, when thou shalt bring a troop suddenly upon them: for they have digged a pit to take me, and hid snares for my feet.

Ver. 22. When thou shalt bring a troop.] The Vulgate rendereth it, Latronem, a thief, or robber - viz., Nebuchadnezzar, that arch-thief, whose monarchy was grande latrociuium, grand thief, and whose regiment, without righteousness, was robbery by authority.


Verse 23

Jeremiah 18:23 Yet, LORD, thou knowest all their counsel against me to slay [me]: forgive not their iniquity, neither blot out their sin from thy sight, but let them be overthrown before thee; deal [thus] with them in the time of thine anger.

Ver. 23. Yet, Lord, thou knowest all their counsel.] Though I know it not, yet thou art privy to it, and canst prevent it; for wisdom and might are thine. [Daniel 2:20]

To slay me.] All malice is bloody.

Forgive not their iniquity.] He knew their sin to be unpardonable; and therefore prayeth for vengeance upon them unavoidable. This was fulfilled upon the Jews by the Babylonians in respect of Jeremiah, and by the Romans in respect of Christ.

Neither blot out their sin from thy sight.] A heavy curse. Woe to such as whose debts stand uncrossed in God’s book. Their sins may sleep a long time, like a sleeping debt, not called for of many years; as Saul’s sin in slaying the Gibeonites was not punished till forty years after; as Joab’s killing of Abner slept all David’s days. Men’s consciences also may sleep (in such a case) for a season; but their damnation sleepeth not, nor can their condition be safe till God have wiped out their sins for his own sake, till he have crossed out the black lines of our iniquities with the red lines of his Son’s blood, and taken out of his coffers so much as may fully satisfy, &c.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 18:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/jeremiah-18.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, September 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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