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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.

19. I create the fruit of the lips. This is an explanation of the former statement, or of the manner in which the Lord will give consolation to this people. It is, because he will promise and offer peace to them; for by “the fruit of the lips” he means that he will cause them to hear the glad tidings of peace, by which they shall be filled with joy.

Peace, peace. I think that he speaks of the publication of “peace,” the ministry of which was committed to the prophets, and was afterwards enjoined on the apostles and the other ministers of the Gospel; as Paul teaches that they “are ambassadors for Christ, to reconcile men to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20) The repetition of the word “Peace” is intended to express not only certainty, but also uninterrupted continuance. As if he had said, “You now hear nothing but dreadful threatenings. The doctrine of grace and salvation is silent, because you are incapable of it. Such is your obstinacy that I must deal with you by threatenings and terrors. But I will one day restore the doctrine of ‘peace,’ and open the lips of the prophets, that they may proclaim it to you.”

To them that are far off. This is added, because the people who had been carried into captivity did not think that these things belonged to them, (because they were “far off,”) but perhaps to those who were at home; for captivity was a sort of casting off. But the Prophet foretells that, though they are at a great distance, yet they shall be partakers of this grace.

And I heal him. At length he adds the end or effect, that the Lord determines to heal the people; that is, to make them safe and sound. Hence we infer what I remarked a little before, that all that relates to the full and perfect happiness of the Church is absolutely the gift of God.

Paul appears to have glanced at this passage, when he says that Christ

“brought peace to them that are near, and to them that are far off.” (Ephesians 2:17)

He speaks of Gentiles and Jews; for the Jews were “near,” because God had entered into a covenant with them; but the Gentiles were “far off,” because they were strangers to that covenant. But the Prophet appears to speak of Jews only.

I reply, Paul adheres to the true meaning of the Prophet, if the whole be but carefully examined; for the Jews are said, in this passage, to be “far off,” because the Lord appeared to have driven them out of his house; and in that respect they resembled the Gentiles. Since, therefore, at the time of that casting off, there was no difference between them and the Gentiles, Paul, by putting both, as it were, in the same rank, justly placed them on a level with the Jews, and thus applied to them what the Prophet had spoken about the Jews; as, in a manner not unlike, he elsewhere applies to the Gentiles a passage in Hosea. (Romans 9:25; Hosea 1:10)


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