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57. God's Accusation Against Wicked

The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. 2He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.

3But draw near hither, ye sons of the sorceress, the seed of the adulterer and the whore. 4Against whom do ye sport yourselves? against whom make ye a wide mouth, and draw out the tongue? are ye not children of transgression, a seed of falsehood, 5Enflaming yourselves with idols under every green tree, slaying the children in the valleys under the clifts of the rocks? 6Among the smooth stones of the stream is thy portion; they, they are thy lot: even to them hast thou poured a drink offering, thou hast offered a meat offering. Should I receive comfort in these? 7Upon a lofty and high mountain hast thou set thy bed: even thither wentest thou up to offer sacrifice. 8Behind the doors also and the posts hast thou set up thy remembrance: for thou hast discovered thyself to another than me, and art gone up; thou hast enlarged thy bed, and made thee a covenant with them; thou lovedst their bed where thou sawest it. 9And thou wentest to the king with ointment, and didst increase thy perfumes, and didst send thy messengers far off, and didst debase thyself even unto hell. 10Thou art wearied in the greatness of thy way; yet saidst thou not, There is no hope: thou hast found the life of thine hand; therefore thou wast not grieved. 11And of whom hast thou been afraid or feared, that thou hast lied, and hast not remembered me, nor laid it to thy heart? have not I held my peace even of old, and thou fearest me not? 12I will declare thy righteousness, and thy works; for they shall not profit thee.

13When thou criest, let thy companies deliver thee; but the wind shall carry them all away; vanity shall take them: but he that putteth his trust in me shall possess the land, and shall inherit my holy mountain; 14And shall say, Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumblingblock out of the way of my people. 15For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. 16For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made. 17For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart. 18I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners. 19I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord; and I will heal him. 20But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. 21 There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.

17. For the iniquity of his lust. Here he complains of the obstinate wickedness of the people, and shows that the Lord had very good reason for punishing him in this manner; so that there can be no complaint of his immoderate cruelty. בצעו (betzagno) is translated by some “lust,” and by others “covetousness.” If it be “covetousness,” it will then be a figurative mode of expression, in which a part is taken for the whole; for this is the source from which all evils arise. (1 Timothy 6:10) But we may take it generally for every kind of sinful desire; for it was on account of the various and numerous vices by which the Jews were polluted, that the Lord was angry, and inflicted on them severe punishments. But he expressly mentions “lust,” in order to intimate that they were punished, not because they were openly wicked, but because they were sinful in the sight of God; for it is enough to condemn them, that God is Judge of the hearts, and punishes not only for outward crimes, but likewise for wicked dispositions and “lusts.” At the same time he reminds them that their punishment is just, in order that, being conscious of guilt, they may humbly pray for pardon.

I struck him, I hid myself. He means that his favor was, in some respects, withdrawn and “hidden” for a time. Now, he speaks according to the opinion of men, because, as we have already said, we imagine that God is an enemy, and is angry with us, when he punishes for our transgressions. And it is necessary that we should have those views and conceptions of him, that we may arrive at a true acknowledgment of our sins; for we should never acknowledge them sincerely, or be distressed on account of them, if we did not reflect with ourselves, and know that we had provoked God’s wrath. But, while it is desirable that we should be led to repentance in this manner, we must beware, on the other hand, lest in consequence of imagining that God is hostile and unwilling to be reconciled to us, we should be swallowed up by sorrow. The Prophet therefore restrains these immoderate terrors, and forbids us to judge of God according to our natural disposition; for although he chastises us, he does not cease to cherish a father’s love and affection towards those whom he has once embraced.

But he went away. This is the rebelliousness which the Prophet blames and rebukes, that the people were in no degree made better, but persevered in their wickedness. He shows that they were desperate, because the violent remedies which the Lord had tried could not bring them back into the right way.


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