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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Jeremiah 20

 

 

Verse 1

Jeremiah 20:1 Now Pashur the son of Immer the priest, who [was] also chief governor in the house of the LORD, heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things.

Ver. 1. Now Pashur the son of Immer,] i.e., One of the posterity of Immer, after many generations. See 1 Chronicles 24:14.

Who was also chief governor.] Not high priest, as some have said, but a principal priest, haply the head of the sixteenth course; or, as Junius and others think, the high priest’s vicar, or second. Such as was Eleazar to Aaron his father. [Numbers 4:16]

Heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things.] Or, Heard Jeremiah prophesying; and having gall in his ears, as they say some creatures have, he was galled at the hearing of so smart a truth.


Verse 2

Jeremiah 20:2 Then Pashur smote Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that [were] in the high gate of Benjamin, which [was] by the house of the LORD.

Ver. 2. Then Pashur smote Jeremiah the prophet.] Either with his fist, as Zedekiah did Micaiah, [1 Kings 22:24] and as Bonner did Hawkes and other martyrs, pulling off part of their beards; or else with a staff, as they dealt by our Saviour, [Matthew 26:67] and as that Popish bishop, degrading a martyr minister, struck him so hard with his crosier staff as he was kneeling on the stairs at Paul’s, that he fell down backwards and broke his head. (a) Atqui lapidandi sunt haeretici sacrarum literarura argumentis, saith Athanasius. (b) But heretics are to be stoned with Scripture arguments; and men may a great deal sooner be cudgelled into a treaty than into a tenet.

And put him in the stocks.] As they did afterwards Paul and Silas; [Acts 16:22-24] Clerinus the martyr, mentioned in Cyprian’s epistles; (c) Mr Philpot, in the Bishop of London’s coal house; and that good woman who, suffering afterwards for the same cause, rejoiced much that her leg was put in the same hole of the stocks where Philpot’s leg had lain before.

That were in the high gate of Benjamin.] Which might be a prison like Lollard’s tower in London whereunto were sent the martyrs, many of them for their zeal and forwardness. Action and passion go together - omne agens agendo repatitur - especially if men go a little faster than others do. "They who will live godly in Christ Jesus" - and be set upon it - "shall suffer persecution." This gate-house might well be the priests’ prison, whither they used to send such as they took for false prophets.


Verse 3

Jeremiah 20:3 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Pashur brought forth Jeremiah out of the stocks. Then said Jeremiah unto him, The LORD hath not called thy name Pashur, but Magormissabib.

Ver. 3. Pashur brought forth Jeremiah.] To be judged, say some; but why then did he first smite him? An officer should retain the majesty of the law, and not do anything passionately. To set him at liberty, say others; as perceiving that the "word of God could not be bound," nor a prophet’s mouth stopped by a prison, as Pashur also shall well perceive ere Jeremiah hath done with him. Bonner said to Hawkes the martyr, A faggot will make you believe the sacrament of the altar. He answered, No, no, a point for your faggot; God will meet with you one day. (a) So true is that of the poet,

Pressa sub ingenti ceu pondere palms virescit,

Sub cruce sic florent debita corda Deo. ”

The Lord hath not called thy name Pashur.] That is, black mouth, as some {b} derive it; or diffusing paleness, as others; but on the contrary. (c)

Magormissabib,] i.e., Terror round about, or, Fear on every side; a proverbial form of speech, denoting extreme consternation of spirit and greatest distress. Such as befell Tullus Hostilius, King of Rome, who had for his gods Payor and Pallor. Dignissimus sane qui deos suos semper haberet praesentes, saith Lactantius wittily; i.e., great pity but this man should ever have had his gods at hand, since he was so fond of them. Our Richard III and Charles IX of France, a pair of bloody princes, were Magormissabibs in their generations, as terrible at length to themselves as they had been formerly to others; and therefore could never endure to be awakened in the night without music or some like diversion. (d)


Verse 4

Jeremiah 20:4 For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will make thee a terror to thyself, and to all thy friends: and they shall fall by the sword of their enemies, and thine eyes shall behold [it]: and I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall carry them captive into Babylon, and shall slay them with the sword.

Ver. 4. I will make thee a terror.] Heb., I will give thee unto a terror - i.e., I will frighten thy conscience, and then turn it loose upon thee, so that thou shalt be a corde tuo fugitivus, and thy friends shall have small joy of thee, or thou help by them. See on Jeremiah 20:3.


Verse 5

Jeremiah 20:5 Moreover I will deliver all the strength of this city, and all the labours thereof, and all the precious things thereof, and all the treasures of the kings of Judah will I give into the hand of their enemies, which shall spoil them, and take them, and carry them to Babylon.

Ver. 5. Moreover I will deliver all the strength of this city.] Thus Pashur prevailed nothing at all with good Jeremiah by imprisoning him, to make him give over menacing. But as Baruch wrote the roll anew that had been cut in pieces, and added unto it many like words, [Jeremiah 36:32] so doth Jeremiah here; he will not budge to die for it. This was to show the magnanimity of a prophetic spirit.


Verse 6

Jeremiah 20:6 And thou, Pashur, and all that dwell in thine house shall go into captivity: and thou shalt come to Babylon, and there thou shalt die, and shalt be buried there, thou, and all thy friends, to whom thou hast prophesied lies.

Ver. 6. There shalt thou be buried.] In a dunghill perhaps, as Bishop Bonner was, and have cause enough to cry out, as that great Parisian doctor did from his bier, when brought to be buried,

Parcite funeribus: mihi nil prodesse valebit.

Heu infelicem cur me genuere parentes?

Ah miser aeternos vado damnatus ad ignes. ”

“Spare funeral costs: why was I born

By hell’s black fiends now to be torn?”


Verse 7

Jeremiah 20:7 O LORD, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived: thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me.

Ver. 7. O Lord, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived.] (a) From hence to the end of the chapter the prophet, not without some tang and taint of human frailty, grievously quiritateth and expostulateth with God about the hard usage and ill success he met with in the execution of his prophetic function. But as ex incredulitate Thomae nostra contirmata est fides, Thomas’s unbelief serveth to the settling of our faith; and as Peter’s fall warneth us to look well to our standings; so when such a man as Jeremiah shall miscarry in this sort, and have such outbursts, oh be not high minded, but fear. Some render the text, Lord, if I be deceived, thou hast deceived me; and so every faithful man who keepeth to the rule, may safely say. Piscator hath it, Persuasisti mihi Iehova, et persuasus sum. O Lord, thou persuadedst me, and I was persuaded - sc., to undertake this prophetic office - but I have small joy of it. Some think he thus complained when he was put in prison by Pashnr.

I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me.] This is the world’s wages. The cynic said of the Megarians long ago, Better be their horse, dog, or pander than their teacher, and better he should be regarded.


Verse 8

Jeremiah 20:8 For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil; because the word of the LORD was made a reproach unto me, and a derision, daily.

Ver. 8. For since I spake, I cried out,] i.e., Ever since I took upon me the office of a prophet, I executed it vigorously, I cried with full mouth. [Jeremiah 4:5 Isaiah 58:1]

I cried violence and spoil,] sc., Will surely befall you by the Chaldees. Or, I cried out of my misusages.

Because the word of the Lord was made a reproach unto me, and a derision daily.] This was all the recompense I reaped of my goodwill to this perverse people, and of my pains taken among them. Few sins are more dangerous than those of casting reproaches upon God’s Word, as here; of snuffing at it; [Malachi 1:13] of enviously swelling at it; [Acts 13:45] of chatting at it; [Romans 9:19-20] of stumbling at it; [1 Peter 2:8] of gathering odious consequences from it. [Romans 3:8]


Verse 9

Jeremiah 20:9 Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But [his word] was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not [stay].

Ver. 9. Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name,] (a) i.e., I will give over preaching. This, said Latimer in a like case, was a naughty, a very naughty, resolution.

But his word was in my heart as a burning fire.] (b) Ex sensu malae conscientiae propter illud propositum. And here was the work of the Spirit against that carnal resolution of his. God’s people cannot do the things that they would, saith the apostle. [Galatians 5:17] As they cannot do the good they would, because of the flesh, so neither the evil that they would, because of the Spirit. There is a continual conflict, and as it were the company of two opposite armies. [Song of Solomon 6:13] True grace will as little be hid as fire: quis enim celaverit ignem?

And I was weary with forbearing, and could not stay.] (c) Jeremiah’s service among the Jews was something like that of Mantius Torquatus among the Romans, who gave it over, saying, Neither can I bear their manners, nor they my government. He began to think, with that painful patriarch, that rest was good; [Genesis 49:15] and with the olive, vine, and fig tree in Jotham’s parable, that it was best to enjoy a beloved privacy. He was ready to say, Bene qui latuit bene vixit; and Bene qui tacuit bene dixit, &c. But this could not hold with him, he saw well; for as the motion of the heart and lungs is ever beating, and it is a pain to restrain it, to hold the breath, so here,

Strangulat inclusus dolor atque exaestuat intus:

Cogitur et vires multiplicare suas. ” - Ovid., Trist.


Verse 10

Jeremiah 20:10 For I heard the defaming of many, fear on every side. Report, [say they], and we will report it. All my familiars watched for my halting, [saying], Peradventure he will be enticed, and we shall prevail against him, and we shall take our revenge on him.

Ver. 10. For I heard the defaming of many, fear on every side.] This passage is borrowed from Psalms 31:13; {See Trapp on "Psalms 31:13"} Some render the text, I heard the defamation of many Magormissabibs, many of his accomplices and Coryphaei, spies set a-work by him to defame and smear me.

Report, say they, and we will report.] Calumniare audacter; broach a slander, and we will blazon it; set it afoot, and we will set it afloat give us but some small hint or inkling of aught spoken by Jeremiah, whereof to accuse him to the king and state, and we desire no more. Athanasius was about thirty times accused, and of no small crimes either, but falsely. The Papists make it their trade to belie the Protestants, their chieftains especially. They reported of Luther that he died despairing; of Calvin, that he was branded on the shoulder for a rogue; of Beza, that he ran away with another man’s wife, &c. And for their authors they allege Baldwin and Bolsecus, a couple of apostates, requested by themselves (and, as some say, hired) to write the lives of these worthies, their professed enemies. But anything of this kind serves their turn, and they cite the writings of these renegades as canonical.

All my familiars.] Heb., Every man of my peace; from such there is the greatest danger. Hence one prayed God to deliver him from his friends, for as for his enemies he could better beware of them. Many friends are like deep ponds, clear at the top, but all muddy at the bottom.


Verse 11

Jeremiah 20:11 But the LORD [is] with me as a mighty terrible one: therefore my persecutors shall stumble, and they shall not prevail: they shall be greatly ashamed; for they shall not prosper: [their] everlasting confusion shall never be forgotten.

Ver. 11. But the Lord is with me as a mighty terrible one.] Instar gigantis robusti, (a) as a strong giant, and mine only champion on whom I lean. Here the Spirit begins to get the better of the flesh, could Jeremiah but hold his own. But as the ferryman plies the oar, and eyes the shore homeward where he would be, yet there comes a gust of wind that carrieth him back again; so it fared with our prophet. See Jeremiah 20:14-15, &c.


Verse 12

Jeremiah 20:12 But, O LORD of hosts, that triest the righteous, [and] seest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I opened my cause.

Ver. 12. But, O Lord of hosts.] See Jeremiah 11:20; Jeremiah 17:10.

Let me see thy vengeance on them.] Some pert and pride themselves over the ministry as if it were a dead Alexander’s nose, which they might wring off, and not fear to be called to account therefor; but the visible vengeance of God will seize such one day, as it did Pharaoh, Ahab, Herod, Julian.

For unto thee have I opened my cause.] Prayer is an opening of the soul’s causes and cases to the Lord. The same word for opened here is in another conjugation used for uncovering, making bare and naked. [Genesis 9:21] God’s people in prayer do or should nakedly present their souls’ causes without all cover shames, or so much as a rag of self or flesh cleaving to them.


Verse 13

Jeremiah 20:13 Sing unto the LORD, praise ye the LORD: for he hath delivered the soul of the poor from the hand of evildoers.

Ver. 13. Sing unto the Lord, praise ye the Lord.] Nota hic alternantis animi motus aestusque. Here the Spirit triumpheth over the flesh; as in the next verses, the flesh again gets the wind and hill of the Spirit. Every good man is a divided man.

For he hath delivered the soul of the poor,] i.e., Of poor me. {as Psalms 34:4}


Verse 14

Jeremiah 20:14 Cursed [be] the day wherein I was born: let not the day wherein my mother bare me be blessed.

Ver. 14. Cursed be the day wherein I was born.] What a sudden change of his note is here! Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, saith James, these things ought not so to be. [James 3:10] But here human weakness prevailed; and this part of the chapter hath much of man in it. The best have their outbursts; and as there be white teeth in the blackest blackamore, and, again, a black bill in the whitest swan, so the worst have something in them to be commended, and the best to be condemned. See on Jeremiah 20:7. Some of the Fathers seek to excuse Jeremiah altogether; but that can hardly be, neither needeth it. Origen saith that the day of his birth was past, and therefore nothing now; so that cursing it, he cursed nothing. This is like those among us who say they may now without sin swear by the mass, because it is gone out of the country, &c. Isidor., that Jeremiah’s cursing is but conditional, if any, let that day be cursed, &c.


Verse 15

Jeremiah 20:15 Cursed [be] the man who brought tidings to my father, saying, A man child is born unto thee; making him very glad.

Ver. 15. Cursed be the man.] Let him have a curse for a reward of his so good news. Thus the prophet, in a fit of impatience, carrieth himself as one who, being cut by a surgeon and extremely pained, striketh at and biteth those that hold him; or, like him in the poet,

Quem non incusavi amens hominum que deumque?

Aeneid, lib. ii.

Surely as the bird in a cage, because pent up, beats herself, so doth the discontented person. Look to it, therefore. Satan thrusteth in upon us sometimes praying, with a cloud of strange passions, such as are ready to gallow us out of that little wit and faith we have. Resist him betimes. The wildfire of passion will be burning while the incense of prayer is in offering; this scum will be rising up in the boiling pot, together with the meat. See Jonah 4:1. {See Trapp on "Jonah 4:1"}


Verse 16

Jeremiah 20:16 And let that man be as the cities which the LORD overthrew, and repented not: and let him hear the cry in the morning, and the shouting at noontide;

Ver. 16. And let that man be.] A most bitter curse, but causeless. The devil of discontent, where it prevaileth, maketh the heart to be for the time a little hell, (a) as we see in Moses, Job, David, Jeremiah, men otherwise made up of excellences. These sinned, but not with full consent. A godly man hath a flea in his ear, somewhat within, which saith, "Dost thou well to be angry, Jonah?" [Jonah 4:4]


Verse 17

Jeremiah 20:17 Because he slew me not from the womb; or that my mother might have been my grave, and her womb [to be] always great [with me].

Ver. 17. Because he slew me not, &c.] Why, but is not life a mercy? A living dog better than a dead lion. See on Job 3:10; Job 10:18-19.


Verse 18

Jeremiah 20:18 Wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see labour and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame?

Ver. 18. Wherefore came I forth, &c.] Passions are a most dangerous and heady water when once they are out.

That my days should be consumed with shame?] Why, but a Christian soldier may have a very great arrear. [2 Timothy 4:7-8] Vincet aliquando pertinax bonitas He will conquer sometimes obstinate goodness. [Revelation 2:10]

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 20:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/jeremiah-20.html. 1865-1868.

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Thursday, December 12th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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