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Israel’s Futile Idolatry


The righteous perish,

and no one takes it to heart;

the devout are taken away,

while no one understands.

For the righteous are taken away from calamity,


and they enter into peace;

those who walk uprightly

will rest on their couches.


But as for you, come here,

you children of a sorceress,

you offspring of an adulterer and a whore.


Whom are you mocking?

Against whom do you open your mouth wide

and stick out your tongue?

Are you not children of transgression,

the offspring of deceit—


you that burn with lust among the oaks,

under every green tree;

you that slaughter your children in the valleys,

under the clefts of the rocks?


Among the smooth stones of the valley is your portion;

they, they, are your lot;

to them you have poured out a drink offering,

you have brought a grain offering.

Shall I be appeased for these things?


Upon a high and lofty mountain

you have set your bed,

and there you went up to offer sacrifice.


Behind the door and the doorpost

you have set up your symbol;

for, in deserting me, you have uncovered your bed,

you have gone up to it,

you have made it wide;

and you have made a bargain for yourself with them,

you have loved their bed,

you have gazed on their nakedness.


You journeyed to Molech with oil,

and multiplied your perfumes;

you sent your envoys far away,

and sent down even to Sheol.


You grew weary from your many wanderings,

but you did not say, “It is useless.”

You found your desire rekindled,

and so you did not weaken.



Whom did you dread and fear

so that you lied,

and did not remember me

or give me a thought?

Have I not kept silent and closed my eyes,

and so you do not fear me?


I will concede your righteousness and your works,

but they will not help you.


When you cry out, let your collection of idols deliver you!

The wind will carry them off,

a breath will take them away.

But whoever takes refuge in me shall possess the land

and inherit my holy mountain.


A Promise of Help and Healing


It shall be said,

“Build up, build up, prepare the way,

remove every obstruction from my people’s way.”


For thus says the high and lofty one

who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:

I dwell in the high and holy place,

and also with those who are contrite and humble in spirit,

to revive the spirit of the humble,

and to revive the heart of the contrite.


For I will not continually accuse,

nor will I always be angry;

for then the spirits would grow faint before me,

even the souls that I have made.


Because of their wicked covetousness I was angry;

I struck them, I hid and was angry;

but they kept turning back to their own ways.


I have seen their ways, but I will heal them;

I will lead them and repay them with comfort,

creating for their mourners the fruit of the lips.


Peace, peace, to the far and the near, says the L ord;

and I will heal them.


But the wicked are like the tossing sea

that cannot keep still;

its waters toss up mire and mud.


There is no peace, says my God, for the wicked.


13. When thou shalt cry, let thy troops deliver thee. He states more fully what he had slightly touched in the former verse, that, when they shall come to close quarters, they shall be ashamed; for the potential mood, “Let them deliver,” amounts to saying, “They will not do it.” He alludes to what he had formerly said, (verse 9) “Thou wentest to the king with ointments.” And accordingly he gives the name of “troops” to all the means of defense by which the Jews thought that they would be safe; for, by trusting to them, they abandoned themselves to every kind of vices, as if they should be certain of escaping punishment, because they were guarded and fortified on every side. But the Lord shows how unavailing are all the troops which are assembled without his authority.

“Cry” denotes here that calamity by which they were to be afflicted; for, relying on their treaties and on the aid of allies, they thought that they would enjoy profound peace, as if they had never at any former period been deceived. But he declares that all the military defenses which they have collected for themselves shall be of no advantage to them whatever. Detestable and accursed is that confidence which men, having forsaken God, place in things of this world or in human defenses. (Jeremiah 17:5) Formerly he brought it as a reproach against the people, that they were not satisfied with the gentle waters of Shiloah, and desired to have the rapid and impetuous rivers which would at length overflow them. (Isaiah 8:6) This actually happened; for the Assyrians and Egyptians, and lastly the Babylonians, were not only unprofitable, but even ruinous, to the Jews whose allies they were.

But he who hopeth in me. Next follows a contrast, in which he invites them to confidence in God, which is the remedy that ought to be employed against all evils; as, on the other hand, all evils arise from unbelief and distrust. As to the promise of an inheritance to those who hope in God, it amounts to this, — “What else do you seek than to remain safe and sound, and to have your inheritance uninjured? It is I who can do this. For who brought you into this country? Who gave you possession of it? And yet you run after Egypt, and seek from men assistance which will be of little avail, and disregard my help.”

Shall have the land by inheritance. I have no doubt that by the word “inheritance” he means Judea, in which the Jews were desirous to remain in safety; for he afterwards mentions the “mountain of his holiness,” that is, the mountain on which the temple was built. So, then, the Jews did not ascribe to the Lord that which belonged to him, when they fled, not to him, but to the Assyrians or Egyptians, for help. Hence we ought to draw a universal doctrine, namely, that our affairs will succeed admirably, if we hope in the Lord; and if we throw away confidence in him, we certainly need not wonder if we waver and are tossed about in various ways.

When he calls the mountain to which the Jews were to be brought back “the mountain of holiness,” he means that life and all its comforts are not in themselves desirable, except that we may worship God; for the end of human life is this, that God may have a people who shall render to him purity of worship. Let our eyes, therefore, be always fixed on the worship and service of God, if we desire life, or deliverance, or any of the comforts of life.

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