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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Jeremiah 3

 

 

Verse 1

Jeremiah 3:1 They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD.

Ver. 1. They say.] Vulgo dicitur, saith the Vulgate; Dicendo dicitur, say others. They say, and they say well, for they have good law for it. [Deuteronomy 24:4] But I am above law, saith God, and will deal with thee, not according to mine ordinary rule, but according to my prerogative. Thou shalt be a paradox to the Bible; for I will do that in favour of thee, which I have inhibited others in like case to do, and that scarce any man would do, though there were no law to inhibit it, as one here paraphraseth.

Shall not the land be greatly polluted?] Great sins do greatly pollute, that of adultery especially, for this is a heinous crime; yea, it is an iniquity to be punished by the judges. [Job 31:11]

But thou hast played the harlot; yet return to me.] Haec est Dei clementia insuperabilis; God’s mercy is matchless. No man, no god, would show mercy as he doth. [Micah 7:18 Malachi 3:7 Zechariah 1:3] He followeth after those that run from him, as the sunbeams do the passenger that goeth from them; and as it is sweetly set forth by our Saviour in those three parables of the lost coin, the lost sheep, and the lost son. [Luke 15:3-32] Paul alloweth of Mark, [2 Timothy 4:11] though before he had refused him, [Acts 15:38] and willeth others to entertain him. [Colossians 4:10-11] Let none despair that hath but a mind to return to God, from whom he hath deeply revolted. There is a natural Novatianism in the timorous conscience of convinced sinners, to doubt and question pardon for sins of apostasy and falling after repentance. But this need not be, we see here. Pernicious was Ahithophel’s counsel to Absalom, "Go in to thy father’s concubines"; this he judged such an injury as David would never put up; yet "return again to me, saith the Lord," and all shall be well between us.


Verse 2

Jeremiah 3:2 Lift up thine eyes unto the high places, and see where thou hast not been lien with. In the ways hast thou sat for them, as the Arabian in the wilderness; and thou hast polluted the land with thy whoredoms and with thy wickedness.

Ver. 2. And see where thou hast not been lien with.] Pouring out thy spiritual whoredoms, as Papists now do with their crosses, chapels, pictures, set up in all places.

In the ways thou hast sat for them.] For thy customers and copse mates, like a common strumpet. See Genesis 38:19, Ezekiel 16:24-25; Ezekiel 16:31.

As the Arabian in the wilderness.] As highway robbers wait for and waylay passengers, making it thy trade.


Verse 3

Jeremiah 3:3 Therefore the showers have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain; and thou hadst a whore’s forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed.

Ver. 3. Therefore the showers have been withholden.] Drought and dearth have ensued upon thy sin. By showers here understand the former rain, called also the seeds’ rain. [Isaiah 30:23]

And there hath been no latter rain.] That commonly came a little before harvest, and was much desired.

And thou hadst a whore’s forehead.] Quam pudet non esse impudentem; { a} that can blush no more than a sackbut. We have heard, saith a reverend writer, of virgins, which at first seemed modest, blushing at the motions of an honest love, who, being once corrupt and debauched, have grown flexible to easy entreaties to unchastity, and from thence boldly lascivious, so as to solicit others, so as to prostitute themselves to all comers, yea, as the casuists complain of some Spanish brothels, (b) to an unnatural filthiness. The modest beginnings of sin will make way for immodest proceedings. Let men take heed of that αδιατρεψια, i.e., inverecundia, shamelessness, that Caligula liked so well in himself, and that the heretics, called Effrontes, professed. It is a hard thing to have a brazen face and a broken heart.


Verse 4

Jeremiah 3:4 Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My father, thou [art] the guide of my youth?

Ver. 4. Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me?] And is not this extreme impudence? Hast thou a face thus to collogue? Hypocritis nihil impudentius; hypocrites are impudent flatterers; they would, if they could, cheat God of his heaven.

Thou art the guide of my youth,] i.e., My dear husband. [Proverbs 2:17] Fair words are light cheap, and may make fools fain; but God is not to be so courted and complimented.


Verse 5

Jeremiah 3:5 Will he reserve [his anger] for ever? will he keep [it] to the end? Behold, thou hast spoken and done evil things as thou couldest.

Ver. 5. Will he reserve his anyer for ever?] Will he not? [Nahum 1:2] and is there not good reason he should do so, so long as you speak and do evil things as you can, obstinately persisting in thy sinful practices? He that repenteth with a contradiction, saith Tertullian, God will pardon him with a contradiction. Thou repentest, and yet continuest in thy sins. God will pardon thee, and yet send thee to hell: there is a pardon with a contradiction.

As thou couldst,] i.e., To thine utmost. Nolunt solita peccare, saith Seneca of some; they strive to outsin themselves and others.


Verse 6

Jeremiah 3:6 The LORD said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen [that] which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot.

Ver. 6. The Lord also said unto me in the days of Josiah.] This is the beginning of a new sermon, as most hold. Josiah was a religious prince, and a zealous reformer; and hypocrisy reigned exceedingly in his days, as we see here: and as holy Bradford in his letters complaineth that it did likewise in King Edward VI’s days, who was our English Josiah, among the great ones especially, who were very corrupt.

She is gone up upon every high mountain,] sc., Ever since Solomon’s mind began to be corrupted, [1 Kings 11:4] and now she smarteth for it; yet is not Judah warned by her example.


Verse 7

Jeremiah 3:7 And I said after she had done all these [things], Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw [it].

Ver. 7. And I said after she had done.] Or, Yet I said; but I lost my sweet words upon her.


Verse 8

Jeremiah 3:8 And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.

Ver. 8. And I saw.] That which others could not so easily discern - viz., their hypocrisy and hollow heartedness, their incorrigibleness also, and refusing to be warned by what had befallen their brethren. God looked that Israel’s corrections should have been Jerusalem’s instructions, and that by their lashes she should have been lessoned, which because she was not he is highly displeased, and speaks of it here in a very angry dialect.

Yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not.] But slighted the kindness of such a caution, and despised the counsel that was written to her in her sister’s blood.

But went and played the harlot also.] Being therefore the worse, because she should have been the better of the two.


Verse 9

Jeremiah 3:9 And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks.

Ver. 9. And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom.] Or, better, Through the vocalness of it; the loudness of her lewdness. Heb., the voice or noise of her whoredom, the fame and bruit of it, for it is spoken of far and near.

And committed adultery with stones and with stocks.] Haec fere omnia in caecum, erroneum, meretriciumque Papatum apte hodie torqueri possunt. Do not idolatrous Papists even the same?


Verse 10

Jeremiah 3:10 And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the LORD.

Ver. 10. Hath not turned unto me with her whole heart.] Josiah did, but the people did not, as soon appeared, when in the next king’s reign they fell off as fast as leaves do in autumn. And so they did here, when Queen Mary set up Popery.


Verse 11

Jeremiah 3:11 And the LORD said unto me, The backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacherous Judah.

Ver. 11. The backsliding Israel hath justified herself.] That is, she is less guilty and faulty of the two; because Judah sinned against more means and mercies, and because she received not instruction by her sister’s destruction; therefore shall she feel what she feared not at a distance; therefore shall she taste of Israel’s rod because she would not hear it; she that would not tremble at her sister’s divorce, must herself be divorced, and be judged as "women that break wedlock," [Ezekiel 16:38] "bearing her own shame for her sins that she had committed, more abominable than theirs." [Ezekiel 16:52]


Verse 12

Jeremiah 3:12 Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the LORD [and] I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I [am] merciful, saith the LORD, [and] I will not keep [anger] for ever.

Ver. 12. Go and proclaim these words toward the north,] i.e., Toward Assyria and Media, into which countries the ten tribes had been carried captive. And although they cannot hear thee, yet in time this prophecy may be brought to their hearing; and the men of Judah, meanwhile, may be wrought upon thereby.

And I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you.] Heb., I will not make my face to fall: I will not further frown upon you, or deal hardly with you.

I will not keep anger for ever.] Heb., I will not keep for ever. There is nothing that a man is more ready to keep than his wrath. Therefore the Hebrews put keep, for keep wrath. [Psalms 103:9 Leviticus 19:18 Jeremiah 3:5]


Verse 13

Jeremiah 3:13 Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD.

Ver. 13. Only acknowledge thine iniquity.] Thus favour is promised to the ten captivated tribes, sed per modulum unius paenitentiae, but upon condition of their true repentance, one part whereof is confession of sin. [Proverbs 28:13 Psalms 32:4] When thy sins and God’s wrath meeting in thy conscience, saith one, make thee deadly sick, then pour forth thy soul in confession; and as it will ease thee, as vomiting useth to do, so also it will move God to pity, and to give thee cordials and comforts to restore thee again. (a)


Verse 14

Jeremiah 3:14 Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:

Ver. 14. Turn, O backsliding children.] See on Zechariah 1:3.

For I am married unto you.] And, as "I hate putting away," [Malachi 2:16] so I can receive to favour a wife that hath been disloyal, [Jeremiah 3:1] and after a divorce.

And I will take you one of a city,] i.e., Though but a few, [Isaiah 10:11-12; Isaiah 17:6; Isaiah 24:3] all the rest hardening their hearts by unbelief. This hath been principally fulfilled in the days of the gospel.


Verse 15

Jeremiah 3:15 And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.

Ver. 15. And I will give you pastors according to my heart.] God gives faithful pastors oft for the sake of but a few that are there to be converted: Et vilissimus pagus est palatium eburneum, in quo est pastor et credentes aliqui, saith Luther, (a) The poorest village is an ivory palace, if there be but in it a pastor and some few believers. Such pastors as God here promiseth (and more largely describeth, Jeremiah 23:1-40, Ezekiel 34:1-31), are special gifts of God: "I will give you pastors." David, after he had discomfited the Amalekites, sent gifts to his friends in Judah. [1 Samuel 30:26] Great Alexander, when he had prevailed at the river Granicus, and was now ascended into the upper parts of Asia, sent back many gifts to assure them of his love in Macedonia. The like doth God to his Church by sending them pastors, with such two adjuncts as are here - (1.) Adherent, his own approbation; (2.) Inherent, skill to teach the people. See Ephesians 4:8. {See Trapp on "Ephesians 4:8"}


Verse 16

Jeremiah 3:16 And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the LORD, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the LORD: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit [it]; neither shall [that] be done any more.

Ver. 16. They shall say no more, The ark, &c.] When the gospel shall be preached, the ancient ceremonies shall be abolished. (a) This was not so easily believed, and is therefore here again and again assured.


Verse 17

Jeremiah 3:17 At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart.

Ver. 17. They shall call Jerusalem,] i.e., The Church Christian.

The throne of the Lord.] The throne of glory; [Jeremiah 4:2] so Exodus 17:16, because the hand upon the throne of the Lord - that is, say some, Amalek’s hand upon the Church, which is elsewhere also called the temple of God.

Neither shall they walk any more, &c., ] i.e., Not at random, but by rule. [Ephesians 5:15] Heb., Not any more after the sight of their heart - i.e., as themselves thought good, but as God directeth them.


Verse 18

Jeremiah 3:18 In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers.

Ver. 18. In that day shall the house of Judah walk with the house of Israel.] All the elect shall be reunited in Christ; unless we shall understand it of the last reduction of the nation into one. [Isaiah 11:13 Ezekiel 37:16; Ezekiel 37:22 Hosea 1:11]

And they shall come together out of the land of the north,] i.e., Out of the place of their captivity, whereby was figured our spiritual captivity, &c.


Verse 19

Jeremiah 3:19 But I said, How shall I put thee among the children, and give thee a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the hosts of nations? and I said, Thou shalt call me, My father; and shalt not turn away from me.

Ver. 19. But I said, How shall I put thee among the children?] How, but by my free grace alone, since thou hast so little deserved it? For the causes of our adoption, see Ephesians 1:5-6.

And give thee a pleasant land.] The heavenly Canaan, which is here fitly called "a land of desire" or "delight," a heritage or possession of godliness, a land of the hosts or desires of the nations.

And I said, Thou shall call me, My Father.] And My Father, affectionately uttered, is an effectual prayer. Ah! Pater brevissima quidem vox est, sed omnia complectitur, saith Luther - i.e., Ah! Father is but a little word, but very comprehensive; it is such a piece of eloquence as far exceedeth the rollings of Demosthenes, Cicero, or whatsoever most excellent orator.


Verse 20

Jeremiah 3:20 Surely [as] a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the LORD.

Ver. 20. Surely as a treacherous wife, &c.] This ye have done, but that is your present grief, and now you look upon your former disloyalties with a lively hatred of them, holding that the time past of your life may suffice to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, &c. [1 Peter 4:3]


Verse 21

Jeremiah 3:21 A voice was heard upon the high places, weeping [and] supplications of the children of Israel: for they have perverted their way, [and] they have forgotten the LORD their God.

Ver. 21. A voice was heard upon the high places.] Where they were wont to worship idols, now they weep for their sins, and pray for pardon.

For they have perverted their ways.] This is it that now draweth from them prayers and tears. See Jeremiah 31:18, Lamentations 5:14. Oi nalanu, chi chattanu. Woe worth us that ever we thus sinned. Some understand those words, "A voice is heard," as showing God’s readiness to hear penitent sinners as soon as they begin to turn to him, even before they speak, as the father of the prodigal met him, &c.


Verse 22

Jeremiah 3:22 Return, ye backsliding children, [and] I will heal your backslidings. Behold, we come unto thee; for thou [art] the LORD our God.

Ver. 22. Return, ye backsliding children.] Give the whole turn, and not the half turn only. So Acts 2:38, Peter said to them that were already pricked at heart, "Repent ye," even to a transmentation; and Jeremiah 3:19, "Repent ye, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out." Repent not only for sin, but from sin too; be thorough in your repentance; let it be such as shall never be repented of. [2 Corinthians 7:10] It is not a slight sorrow that will serve apostates’ turn; it must be deep and downright.

And I will heal your backslidings.] Pardon your sins, and heal your natures. "I will love you freely," and cause your broken bones to rejoice. [Hosea 14:4 Isaiah 19:22] Oh sweetest promise! What wonder, then, that their hard hearts were forthwith melted by it into such a gracious compliance as followeth.

Behold, we come to thee.] See Zechariah 13:9. {See Trapp on "Zechariah 13:9"}


Verse 23

Jeremiah 3:23 Truly in vain [is salvation hoped for] from the hills, [and from] the multitude of mountains: truly in the LORD our God [is] the salvation of Israel.

Ver. 23. Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills.] Heb., Truly in vain from the hills, the multitude, the mountains: it is like to that in Hosea 14:3, "Asshur shall not save us; neither will we say any more to the works of our hands, Ye are our gods." {See Trapp on "Hosea 14:3"}

Truly in the Lord our God.] They trust not God at all that trust not God alone.


Verse 24

Jeremiah 3:24 For shame hath devoured the labour of our fathers from our youth; their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters.

Ver. 24. For shame hath devoured the labour of our fathers.] That shameful thing, Baal hath done it; [Jeremiah 11:13 Hosea 9:10] he hath even eaten up our cattle and our children, of whom, if any be left, yet there is nothing left for them. And this we now see, long and last, paenitentia ducti, et nostro male edocti, having bought our wit, and paid dear for our learning. And may not many ill husbands among us say as much of their drunkenness and wantonness? See Proverbs 5:9-12. {See Trapp on "Proverbs 5:9"} {See Trapp on "Proverbs 5:10"} {See Trapp on "Proverbs 5:11"} {See Trapp on "Proverbs 5:12"}


Verse 25

Jeremiah 3:25 We lie down in our shame, and our confusion covereth us: for we have sinned against the LORD our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even unto this day, and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God.

Ver. 25. We lie down in our shame.] We that once had a whore’s forehead, [Jeremiah 3:3] and seemed past grace, are now sore ashamed of former miscarriages, yea, our confusion covereth us, {as Psalms 44:15} because "we have sinned against the Lord our God, we and our fathers, from our youth unto this day, and have not obeyed the voice of our God." Lo, here a dainty form and pattern of penitent confession, such as is sure to find mercy. Haec sane omni tempore Christiana est satisfactio, non meritoria aliqua Papistica atque nugivendula. (a) Only we must not acknowledge sin with dry eyes, but point every sin with a tear, &c.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 3:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/jeremiah-3.html. 1865-1868.

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Tuesday, December 10th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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