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A Plea for Mercy


Remember, O L ord, what has befallen us;

look, and see our disgrace!


Our inheritance has been turned over to strangers,

our homes to aliens.


We have become orphans, fatherless;

our mothers are like widows.


We must pay for the water we drink;

the wood we get must be bought.


With a yoke on our necks we are hard driven;

we are weary, we are given no rest.


We have made a pact with Egypt and Assyria,

to get enough bread.


Our ancestors sinned; they are no more,

and we bear their iniquities.


Slaves rule over us;

there is no one to deliver us from their hand.


We get our bread at the peril of our lives,

because of the sword in the wilderness.


Our skin is black as an oven

from the scorching heat of famine.


Women are raped in Zion,

virgins in the towns of Judah.


Princes are hung up by their hands;

no respect is shown to the elders.


Young men are compelled to grind,

and boys stagger under loads of wood.


The old men have left the city gate,

the young men their music.


The joy of our hearts has ceased;

our dancing has been turned to mourning.


The crown has fallen from our head;

woe to us, for we have sinned!


Because of this our hearts are sick,

because of these things our eyes have grown dim:


because of Mount Zion, which lies desolate;

jackals prowl over it.



But you, O L ord, reign forever;

your throne endures to all generations.


Why have you forgotten us completely?

Why have you forsaken us these many days?


Restore us to yourself, O L ord, that we may be restored;

renew our days as of old—


unless you have utterly rejected us,

and are angry with us beyond measure.

The Prophet here raises up his eyes to God, and, by his example, he encourages all the godly, that they might not cease, notwithstanding their extreme calamities, to look to God, as we find in the hundred and second Psalm, where the Psalmist speaks of the destruction of the city of Jerusalem. Indeed the subject of that psalm is similar to that of this chapter; nor is there a doubt but that it was composed when the people, as it clearly appears, were in exile in Babylon. There the Psalmist, after having spoken of the ruin of the city, and calamities of the people, says, that the heavens were growing old and wasting as it were with rottenness, together with the whole world; but he afterwards adds,

“But thou, O Lord, remainest perpetually.”
(Psalm 102:26-28.)

At the same time he speaks more clearly than Jeremiah, for he applies his doctrine to the consolation of the Church, “Children’s children,” he says, “shall inhabit it.” Hence, from the perpetuity and immutability of God, he infers the perpetuity of the Church. This is not done by Jeremiah, though it is implied; and for this reason, no doubt, he exclaims, that God dwells for ever, and that his throne remains fixed in all ages, or through all ages.

For when we fix our eyes on present things, we must necessarily vacillate, as there is nothing permanent hi the world; and when adversities bring a cloud over our eyes, then faith in a manner vanishes, at least we are troubled and stand amazed. Now the remedy is, to raise up our eyes to God, for however confounded things may be in the world, yet he remains always the same. His truth may indeed be hidden from us, yet it remains in him. In short, were the world to change and perish a hundred times, nothing could ever affect the immutability of God. There is, then, no doubt but that the Prophet wished to take courage and to raise himself up to a firm hope, when he exclaimed, “Thou, O God, remainest for ever.” By the word sitting or remaining, he doubtless meant that the world is governed by God. We know that God has no body, but the word sitting is to be taken metaphorically, for He is no God except he be the judge of the world.

This, also, he expresses more clearly, when he says, that God’s throne remains through all ages. The throne of God designates the government of the world. But if God be the judge of the world, then he doeth nothing,, or suffereth nothing to be done, but according to his supreme wisdom and justice. 237237     The words literally are, —
   Thou Jehovah for ever sittest,
Thy throne is from generation to generation.

   Sitting is the posture of a judge, and the reference here is to Jehovah, not as to his essence or existence, but as to his judicial office. — Ed.
We hence see, that inasmuch as the state of present things, as thick darkness, took away all distinction, the Prophet raises up his eyes to God and acknowledges him as remaining the same perpetually, though things in the world continually change. Then the throne of God is set in opposition to chance or uncertain changes which ungodly men dream of; for when they see things in great confusion in the world, they say that it is the wheel of fortune, they say that all things happen through blind fate. Then the Prophet, that he might not be cast down with the unbelieving, refers to the throne of God, and strengthens himself in this doctrine of true religion, — that God nevertheless sits on this throne, though things are thus confounded, though all things fluctuate; yea, even though storms and tempests mingle as it were heaven and earth together, yet God sits on his throne amidst all such disturbances. However turbulent, then, all the elements may be, this derogates nothing from the righteous and perpetual judgment of God. This is the meaning of the words; and hence fruit and benefit may be easily gathered. It. follows, —

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