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3. Judah's Complaint

I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath. 2He hath led me, and brought me into darkness, but not into light. 3Surely against me is he turned; he turneth his hand against me all the day. 4My flesh and my skin hath he made old; he hath broken my bones. 5He hath builded against me, and compassed me with gall and travail. 6He hath set me in dark places, as they that be dead of old. 7He hath hedged me about, that I cannot get out: he hath made my chain heavy. 8Also when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my prayer. 9He hath inclosed my ways with hewn stone, he hath made my paths crooked. 10He was unto me as a bear lying in wait, and as a lion in secret places. 11He hath turned aside my ways, and pulled me in pieces: he hath made me desolate. 12He hath bent his bow, and set me as a mark for the arrow. 13He hath caused the arrows of his quiver to enter into my reins. 14I was a derision to all my people; and their song all the day. 15He hath filled me with bitterness, he hath made me drunken with wormwood. 16He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones, he hath covered me with ashes. 17And thou hast removed my soul far off from peace: I forgat prosperity. 18And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the Lord: 19Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. 20My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. 21This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.

22 It is of the Lord’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. 24The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. 25The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. 26 It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord. 27 It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. 28He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him. 29He putteth his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope. 30He giveth his cheek to him that smiteth him: he is filled full with reproach. 31For the Lord will not cast off for ever: 32But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. 33For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men. 34To crush under his feet all the prisoners of the earth, 35To turn aside the right of a man before the face of the most High, 36To subvert a man in his cause, the Lord approveth not. 37Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not? 38Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good? 39Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins? 40Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord. 41Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens. 42We have transgressed and have rebelled: thou hast not pardoned. 43Thou hast covered with anger, and persecuted us: thou hast slain, thou hast not pitied. 44Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud, that our prayer should not pass through. 45Thou hast made us as the offscouring and refuse in the midst of the people. 46All our enemies have opened their mouths against us. 47Fear and a snare is come upon us, desolation and destruction. 48Mine eye runneth down with rivers of water for the destruction of the daughter of my people. 49Mine eye trickleth down, and ceaseth not, without any intermission, 50Till the Lord look down, and behold from heaven. 51Mine eye affecteth mine heart because of all the daughters of my city. 52Mine enemies chased me sore, like a bird, without cause. 53They have cut off my life in the dungeon, and cast a stone upon me. 54Waters flowed over mine head; then I said, I am cut off. 55I called upon thy name, O Lord, out of the low dungeon. 56Thou hast heard my voice: hide not thine ear at my breathing, at my cry. 57Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon thee: thou saidst, Fear not. 58O Lord, thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul; thou hast redeemed my life. 59O Lord, thou hast seen my wrong: judge thou my cause. 60Thou hast seen all their vengeance and all their imaginations against me. 61Thou hast heard their reproach, O Lord, and all their imaginations against me; 62The lips of those that rose up against me, and their device against me all the day. 63Behold their sitting down, and their rising up; I am their musick.

64Render unto them a recompence, O Lord, according to the work of their hands. 65Give them sorrow of heart, thy curse unto them. 66Persecute and destroy them in anger from under the heavens of the Lord.

He continues the same subject; for he describes to us men so subdued to obedience that they are ready to bear whatever God may lay on them. He then says that the sitting and the silence of which he spoke, so far prevailed, that the children of God, though in extreme evils, did not yet cease to persevere in their obedience. For it sometimes happens that those who have made some progress in the fear of God, give proof of their obedience and patience in some small trial; but when they are greatly tried, then breaks forth the impatience which they had previously checked. Then the Prophet teaches us here, that the children of God do not sufficiently prove their patience, when they bear with a calm mind a moderate correction, except they proceed to a higher degree of perseverance, so as to remain quiet and resigned even when the state of things appears hopeless.

By saying that the faithful put their mouth in the dust, he means that they lie down humbly before God and confess themselves to be as dead. The import of what is said is this: In time of extreme affliction the wise will put his mouth in the dust, while seeing things in such confusion that all his thoughts vanish away on account of the atrocity of evils; and thus he intimates that the wise would have nothing to say. To put the mouth, then, in the dust is to become mute, as though he had said, that the faithful shut their mouth, when they do not murmur against God nor abandon themselves to complaints, when they do not expostulate that injury is done them, nor allege what the unbelieving usually do when God deals severely with them. In short, to put the mouth in the dust, means to bring no complaints, and so to check ourselves that no clamorous words proceed from our mouth. Thus another phrase is used to set forth the silence mentioned before.

And that the Prophet here speaks of extreme trials, may be easily gathered from the next clause, If so be that there is hope; not that the faithful doubt whether God would give them hope, for they have no doubt but that God, who shines in darkness itself by his word, would at length by, the effect prove that he is not unfaithful. But the particle אולי auli, as it is well known, expresses what is difficult; for when anything appears to be incredible, the Hebrews say, If it may be. But here, as I have said, it does not intimate a doubt; for when the mind of a godly man fluctuates or doubts, how is it that he puts his mouth in the dust? but the Prophet shews that those who are taught to obey God, persevere even in extreme trials, so that while nothing but despair appears, they yet lie down humbly before God, and patiently wait until some hope shines forth. And here hope is to be taken for the ground or occasion of hope. 187187     To lay the mouth in the dust, is a token of entire submission. Agreeably with this, the following words may be considered as spoken by the individual, —
   He will lay in the dust his mouth (and say) —
“It may be there is hope.”

   It is better to render the verbs here as they are, in the future tense, as all the versions do; for he describes what is usually the character of the godly under severe trials. — Ed.
It afterwards follows, —


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