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Lamentations 3:39

39. Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?

39. Cur molestia se afficit homo vivens? Vir super peccato suo?

 

Some explain the verb יתאונן, itaunen, by giving it the sense of lying, “Why should man lie?” others, “Why should man murmur?” But I see not what sense there can be in rendering it lying or murmuring. Others translate thus, “Why should man harden himself?” but it is a mere conjecture. Now, this verb sometimes means to weary one’s self, in Hithpael. So in the eleventh chapter of Numbers, “The people murmured,” as some render the words; but I think differently; nor is there a doubt but that Moses meant that the people were wearied, so that they in a manner pined away; and this meaning is the most suitable here. For the Prophet had before rebuked those who imagined that God, having relinquished the care of the world, led an inactive and easy life in heaven; but now, in order to rouse the minds of all, he points out the remedy for this madness, even that men should not willingly weary themselves in their sins, but acknowledge that their wickedness is shewn to them whenever any adversity comes upon them. And surely men would not be so infatuated as to exclude God from the government of the world, were they to know themselves and seriously to call to mind their own deeds and words; for God would soon exhibit to them sure and notorious examples of his judgment. Whence then comes it, that we are so dull and stupid in considering the works of God? nay, that we think that God is like a spectre or an idol? even because we rot in our sins and contract a voluntary dullness; for we champ the bit, according to the old proverb.

We now, then, perceive why the Prophet joins this sentence, Why does a living man weary himself? 193193     “Murmur” is the Sept. and the Vulg. The word only occurs here and in Numbers 11:1; and “complain” is the most suitable rendering in both places, —
    

   39. Why complain should man,
Any man alive, for his sin?

   That is, on account of suffering for his sin. Thus God is justified in ordaining or commanding evil as well as good, that is, the evil of punishment. — Ed.
and a man in his sins? for as long as men thus remain in their own dregs, they will never acknowledge God as the judge of the world, and thus they always go astray through their own perverse imaginations. If, then, we wish to dissipate all the mists which prevent us from seeing God’s providence, (that is, by the eyes of faith,) let every one be his own witness and the judge of his own life, and carefully examine himself; it will then immediately occur to us, that God is not without reason angry with us, and that we are afflicted with so many adversities, because our sins will come forth before us. We here see the cause of that madness which makes men to exclude God’s providence from human affairs, even because they look not on themselves, but torment themselves without any benefit and become wearied in their sins, and do not raise up their eyes to God. The rest, connected with our subject, I must defer till to-morrow.


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