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Lamentations 1:9

9. Her filthiness is in her skirts; she remembereth not her last end; therefore she came down wonderfully: she had no comforter. O LORD, behold my affliction: for the enemy hath magnified himself

9. Ignominia ejus in fimbriis ejus, non est recordata finis sui; et descendit mirabiliter, nemo consolator ei; vide, Jehova, afflic tionem meam, quia magnifice se effert hostis (ad verbum, magnificatus est hostis.)

 

He continues here, as I think, the same subject; he had said at the end of the last verse that turpitude or baseness had been seen at Jerusalem; and now he says that it was on the very fringes or skirts. The Prophet seems to allude to menstruous women who hide their uncleanness as much as they can; but. such a thing is of no avail, as nature must have its course. In short, the Prophet intimates that the Jews had become filthy in no common degree, being so afflicted that their uncleanness appeared on their skirts. This seems to be the Prophet’s meaning. Interpreters think that Jeremiah speaks of the sins of the people, but they are mistaken; for I doubt not but that the reference is to their punishment. They say that filthiness was on the skirts, because the people had shamelessly prostituted themselves to all kinds of wickedness, and that they remembered not their end, because they had become altogether foolish, according to what is said in the song of Moses,

“O that they were wise, and would foresee their end?
(Deuteronomy 32 29.)

But let any one duly consider the design of the Prophet, and he will readily agree with me that he speaks not of guilt, but on the contrary of punishment. 135135     “She carries the marks of her sins in the greatness of her punishment,” is Lowth’s remark, which seems to favor this view. — Ed.

The Prophet then says that the reproach of the Jews was on their skirts, because they could not hide their disgrace, For shame often makes men to hide their evils and silently to bear them, because they are unwilling to expose themselves to the mockery of their enemies. But the Prophet says that the miseries of the people could not be kept hidden, but that they appeared to all, as the case is with women subject to an overflow — it issues forth to the extremities of their garments.

And when he says that she remembered not her end, I understand this to mean, that the Jews were so overwhelmed with despair, that they did not raise up their thoughts to God’s promises; for it is no ordinary source of comfort, and what even common sense dictates to us, to take breath in extreme evils, and to extend our thoughts farther, for misery will not always oppress us — some change for the better will happen. As then men are wont thus to sustain themselves in adversities, he says that the Jews remembered not their end; that is, they were so demented by their sorrow, that they became stupified, and entertained no hope as to the future. In short, by these words, he denotes extreme despair; for the Jews were so stupified that they could not raise up their minds to any hope.

And the reason is expressed, because they had come down wonderfully, that is, because they had been cast down in an extraordinary manner. A noun is here put instead of an adverb, and in the masculine gender, צפלאים pelaim; sometimes we have פלאות, pelaut, but in the same sense. He then says that the Jews had sunk as it were miraculously; but by a miracle he means a prodigy, the word being taken in a bad sense; then miraculously has Jerusalem come down. It hence followed that it succumbed under its miseries, so that it could not turn its thoughts to any hope, nor think of another end; but. became stupid in its miseries, as men usually become desperate, when they think that there is no deliverance for them. He repeats what he had said before, that there was no comforter

These things ought to be carefully observed, for Satan at this day uses various means to lead us to despair. In order to avert us from all confidence in the grace of God, he sets before us extreme calamities. And when sorrow lays such hold on our minds, that the hope of grace does not shine forth, from that immoderate sorrow arises impatience, which may drive us to madness. Hence it comes that we murmur, and then clamor against God. As, then, at this day Satan supplies materials to harass our minds, that we may succumb under our griefs, let us bear in mind what the Prophet says, that Jerusalem, which was then the only true Church of God in the world, was overwhelmed with so many and so great evils, that she remembered not her end. This, indeed, ought to be understood of external circumstances, for God no doubt sustained the minds of the godly, and always so mitigated their grief that they had regard to their end. But the reference is to the people in general, and also to the outward appearance of things, when the Prophet says that the Jews remembered not their end.

He now encourages them to pray, and suggests words to them, for he speaks as in the person of all: See, Jehovah, my affliction, for the enemy hath highly exalted himself. Though the Prophet here represents the Church, yet he exhorts them no doubt, according to the obligations of his office, to entertain good hope, and encourages them to pray, for true and earnest prayer cannot be offered without faith; for when the taste of God’s grace is lost, it cannot be that we can pray from the heart; and through the promises alone it is that we can have a taste of God’s paternal goodness. There is, then, no doubt but that the Prophet here promises a sure deliverance to the Jews, provided they turned to God, and believed and were fully persuaded that he would be their deliverer.

We now, then, see what is the right way of teaching, even that men are to be humbled, and that their just condemnation is to be set before them, and that they are also to be encouraged to entertain hope, and a hand is to be stretched out to them, that they may pray to God, and not hesitate in extreme evils not only to hope for but even to request aid from him. This is the order observed by the Prophet; we must learn in adversities ever to come down to ourselves, and to acknowledge our guilt; and then when we are sunk deep, we must learn to elevate our minds by faith that thence prayer may arise by which our salvation is to be attained.

One thing has escaped me; the Prophet, in order to obtain favor, says, that enemies had greatly exalted themselves. And this deserves a special notice; for what seems to occasion despair to us, ought, on the contrary, to encourage us to entertain good hope, that is, when enemies are insolent and carry themselves with great arrogance and insult us. The greater, then, is their pride and the less tolerable, with more confidence may we call on God, for the Holy Spirit has not in vain taught us this truth, that God will be propitious to us when enemies thus greatly exalt themselves, that is, when they become beyond measure proud, and immoderately indulge themselves in every kind of contempt. It follows —


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