9. Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not: yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not.
9. Comederunt extranei robur ejus, et ipse non intelligit: etiam canities sparsa est in eo, et ipse non intelligit.
The Prophet follows the same subject, that is, that Israel had not repented, though the Lord had in various ways invited them to repentance; yea, and constrained them by his scourges. It is indeed a proof of desperate and incurable wickedness, when God prevails nothing with us either by his word or by his stripes. When we are deaf to his teaching and admonitions, it is quite evident that we are wholly perverse: but when the Lord also raises up his hand and inflicts punishment, if then we bend not, what can be said, but that our sins have taken such deep roots, that they cannot be torn away from us? Hence God in these words shows that the Israelites were now past all remedy; for after having been so often and in so many ways warned, they did not return to the right way; nay, they did not think of their sins, but remained insensible. And Paul says of such that they are aphlghkotav, ("past feeling," Ephesians 4:19,) that is void of feeling. When men are touched by no grief in their distresses, it is certain that they are smitten by the spirit of giddiness. Notwithstanding, the Israelites no doubt felt their evils; but the Prophet means, that they were so stupefied, that they did not consider the cause and source of them. And what can it avail, when one knows himself to be ill, and yet looks not to God, nor thinks that he is justly visited? Hence when any one cries only on account of the strokes, and regards not the hand of the striker, as another Prophet says, (Isaiah 9:13,) there is certainly in him complete stupidity. We hence see what the Prophet had in view when he said, that Israel did not understand while he was devoured by strangers, while hoariness was spreading over him; for he attended not to the cause of evils, but remained stupid; nor did he raise up his mind to God, so as to impute to his sins all the evils which he suffered.
He says, that his strength was eaten by strangers. God had promised that the people would be under his protection; and when they were exposed to the plunder of strangers, why did they not perceive that they were deprived of God's protection? And this could not have happened, except their own sin had deprived them of this privilege. Hence the Israelites must have been extremely blind and alienated in mind, when they did not perceive that they were thus spoiled by strangers, because God did not now defend them, nor was their patron, as he was wont to be formerly.
He adds, that hoariness was upon him. Some understand by this, that the Israelites were not improved by long succession of years. Age, as we know, through long experience, brings to men some prudence. Young people, even when the Lord invites them to himself, are carried away by some impulse or another; but in the aged there is greater prudence and moderation. Many hence think that the Israelites are here condemned because they had profited nothing -- no, not even by the advance of age. But the Prophet, I doubt not, expresses the greatness of their calamities by this mode of speaking, when he says that hoariness was sprinkled over him; for we know, that when any one is grievously pained and afflicted, he becomes hoary through the very pressure of evils; inasmuch as hoariness proceeds not only from years, but also from troubles and heavy cares, which not only waste men, but consume them. We indeed know that men grow old through the suffering of evils. And here, in my judgment, the Prophet means, that "hoariness had come upon Israel," -- that is, that he had been visited with so many evils, that he was worn out, as it were, with old age; and that, after all, he had derived no benefit. We now perceive the truth of what I have said before, that it was the constant teaching of the Prophet, that the diseases which prevailed among the people of Israel were incurable, for they could by no remedies be brought to repentance. It follows --