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12Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.”

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God then caused his servant to see the staff of a watcher. For what purpose? The answer is given: Thou hast rightly seen the staff of a watcher, because I watch over my word to execute (or, fulfill) it Interpreters seem to have unwisely confined this to the punishments afterwards mentioned: they think that what is intimated is, that the threatenings which the Prophet announced would not be without effect, because God was prepared to inflict whatever he would denounce. But this, as I think, is too restricted a view; for God, I have no doubt, extols here his own word, and speaks of its accomplishment; as though he had said, that he spoke not by his servants, that what they said might vanish into air, or fall to the ground, but that power would accompany it, according to what is said in Isaiah,

“Not return shall my word to me empty, but shall prosper in all things,” (Isaiah 55:11)

that is, “I will cause the prophetic doctrine to take effect, that the whole world may know that I have not spoken in vain, and that my word is not an empty sound, but that it has real power, which in due time will appear.”

Hence I have said that these verses ought to be connected with the last, in which God said, that he sent his Prophet to root up and to plant, to demolish and to build. He then gives a proof of this in other words, and says that he would watch over his word, that he might execute whatever he had announced by his servants; as though he had said, “I indeed allot their parts (so to speak) to the prophets; but as they speak from my mouth, I am present with them to fulfill whatever I command them.” In short, God intimates that the might and the power of his hand would be connected with the word, of which the prophets were ministers among men. Thus it is a general declaration which refers not only to punishments, but also to promises. Rightly, then, hast thou seen, he says; for I am watching.

God does not here resign his own office to Jeremiah, though he employs him as his teacher; for he shews that the power to accomplish what the Prophet would declare remained with him. God indeed does not here ascribe to Jeremiah anything as his own, or apart from himself, but sets forth only the power of his word; as though he had said, “Provided thou be my faithful minister, I will not frustrate thy hope, nor the hope of those who shall obey thee; for I will fulfill whatever thou and they may justly hope for: nor shall they escape unpunished who shall resist thee; for I will in due time bring on them the punishment they deserve.”

He therefore uses the word to watch, or to hasten, in order to shew that he stood ready to give effect to his word at the appointed time. The effect does not indeed always appear to us: it is on this account said by Habakkuk, that if prophecy delays, we are to wait;

“for it will not be,” he says,
“beyond its time; but coming it will come.” (Habakkuk. 2:3)

God then bids us with quiet minds to wait for the accomplishment of his word; but he afterwards adds, in order to modify what he had said, “coming it will come;” that is, “I will accomplish and really perform whatever my prophets have spoken by my command.” So there shall be no delay, for the suitable time depends on God’s will, and not on the judgment of men. It then follows, — but as the clock strikes, I cannot proceed farther today.