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God’s Steadfast Love Endures


I am one who has seen affliction

under the rod of God’s wrath;


he has driven and brought me

into darkness without any light;


against me alone he turns his hand,

again and again, all day long.



He has made my flesh and my skin waste away,

and broken my bones;


he has besieged and enveloped me

with bitterness and tribulation;


he has made me sit in darkness

like the dead of long ago.



He has walled me about so that I cannot escape;

he has put heavy chains on me;


though I call and cry for help,

he shuts out my prayer;


he has blocked my ways with hewn stones,

he has made my paths crooked.



He is a bear lying in wait for me,

a lion in hiding;


he led me off my way and tore me to pieces;

he has made me desolate;


he bent his bow and set me

as a mark for his arrow.



He shot into my vitals

the arrows of his quiver;


I have become the laughingstock of all my people,

the object of their taunt-songs all day long.


He has filled me with bitterness,

he has sated me with wormwood.



He has made my teeth grind on gravel,

and made me cower in ashes;


my soul is bereft of peace;

I have forgotten what happiness is;


so I say, “Gone is my glory,

and all that I had hoped for from the L ord.”



The thought of my affliction and my homelessness

is wormwood and gall!


My soul continually thinks of it

and is bowed down within me.


But this I call to mind,

and therefore I have hope:



The steadfast love of the L ord never ceases,

his mercies never come to an end;


they are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.


“The L ord is my portion,” says my soul,

“therefore I will hope in him.”



The L ord is good to those who wait for him,

to the soul that seeks him.


It is good that one should wait quietly

for the salvation of the L ord.


It is good for one to bear

the yoke in youth,


to sit alone in silence

when the Lord has imposed it,


to put one’s mouth to the dust

(there may yet be hope),


to give one’s cheek to the smiter,

and be filled with insults.



For the Lord will not

reject forever.


Although he causes grief, he will have compassion

according to the abundance of his steadfast love;


for he does not willingly afflict

or grieve anyone.



When all the prisoners of the land

are crushed under foot,


when human rights are perverted

in the presence of the Most High,


when one’s case is subverted

—does the Lord not see it?



Who can command and have it done,

if the Lord has not ordained it?


Is it not from the mouth of the Most High

that good and bad come?


Why should any who draw breath complain

about the punishment of their sins?



Let us test and examine our ways,

and return to the L ord.


Let us lift up our hearts as well as our hands

to God in heaven.


We have transgressed and rebelled,

and you have not forgiven.



You have wrapped yourself with anger and pursued us,

killing without pity;


you have wrapped yourself with a cloud

so that no prayer can pass through.


You have made us filth and rubbish

among the peoples.



All our enemies

have opened their mouths against us;


panic and pitfall have come upon us,

devastation and destruction.


My eyes flow with rivers of tears

because of the destruction of my people.



My eyes will flow without ceasing,

without respite,


until the L ord from heaven

looks down and sees.


My eyes cause me grief

at the fate of all the young women in my city.



Those who were my enemies without cause

have hunted me like a bird;


they flung me alive into a pit

and hurled stones on me;


water closed over my head;

I said, “I am lost.”



I called on your name, O L ord,

from the depths of the pit;


you heard my plea, “Do not close your ear

to my cry for help, but give me relief!”


You came near when I called on you;

you said, “Do not fear!”



You have taken up my cause, O Lord,

you have redeemed my life.


You have seen the wrong done to me, O L ord;

judge my cause.


You have seen all their malice,

all their plots against me.



You have heard their taunts, O L ord,

all their plots against me.


The whispers and murmurs of my assailants

are against me all day long.


Whether they sit or rise—see,

I am the object of their taunt-songs.



Pay them back for their deeds, O L ord,

according to the work of their hands!


Give them anguish of heart;

your curse be on them!


Pursue them in anger and destroy them

from under the L ord’s heavens.


Many interpreters think that these three verses are connected with the previous doctrine, and show the connection thus, — that God does not see, that is, does not know what it is to pervert the good cause of a man, and to oppress the innocent; and, doubtless, God is said not to know what iniquity is, because he abhors all evil; for what is the nature of God but the perfection of justice? It may then be truly said, that. God knows not what it is to turn man aside in judgment. Others take not to see, as meaning, not to approve.

If we subscribe to the opinion of those who say that injustice is contrary to the nature of God, there is here an exhortation to patience; as though the Prophet had said that afflictions ought to be borne with resignation, because the Jews had fully deserved them. For the liberty taken to complain arises from this, that men imagine that they are without fault; but he who is convicted dares not thus to rise up against God; for the chief thing in humility is the acknowledgment of sin. This, then, is one meaning. But they who give this explanation, that God does not approve of those who pervert judgment, think that there is here a ground of consolation, because God would at length succor the miserable who were unjustly oppressed. And doubtless it avails not a little to encourage patience when we are persuaded that God will be an avenger, so that he will at length help us, after having for a time suffered us to be severely treated.

But these expositions seem to me to be too remote; we may give a correcter explanation by supposing a concession to be made, as though the Prophet had said, “It is indeed true that the wicked take much license, for they imagine that God is blind to all evil deeds.” For this madness is often ascribed to the ungodly, that they think that they can sin with impunity, because God, as they suppose, cares not for the affairs of men. They then imagine that God is asleep, and in a manner dead, and hence they break out into all kinds of wickedness. And for this reason it was that David so vehemently rebuked them:

“He who has formed the ear, will he not hear? He who has created the heaven, will he not see?” (Psalm 94:9.)

This explanation also I cannot approve of, it being forced and not obvious.

I therefore think that the reference is to the impious words of those who complain that God is not moved by any compassion. For this thought almost lays hold on us wheel pressed down by adversities, — that God has forgotten us, that he is either asleep or lies down inactive. In short, there is nothing more difficult to be assured of than this truth, that God governs the world by his counsel, and that nothing happens without a design. This is indeed what almost all confess; but when a trial comes, this doctrine vanishes, and every one is carried away by some perverted and erroneous thoughts, even that all things roll round fortuitously through blind fate, that men are not the objects of God’s care. Nor is there a doubt but that in Jeremiah’s time words of this kind were flying about; and it appears evident from the context that those Jews were reproved who thought that their miseries were disregarded by God, and hence they clamored; for men are necessarily carried away into a furious state of mind, when they do not believe that they have to do with God. The Prophet, then, refers to such impious words, or if they dared not to express in language what they thought, he refers to what was believed almost by all, — that the wicked perverted the judgment of man, that they turned aside a man in his cause, that they tore under their feet all the bound of the earth; 190190     The order is here reverted. It is a common thing in Scripture to state first the chief thing, the chief good or evil. Here the greatest evil is mentioned first, the tearing under foot of such as were already bound, or imprisoned; then the sparing of the guilty; and thirdly, the withholding of justice to the righteous. To turn aside or divert judgment, is not to punish the guilty; and to wrong a person in his cause, is to deny his right. By “the bound,” or “prisoners of the earth,” or land, Blayney understands persons imprisoned for debt, who were obliged to work as slaves until they satisfied their creditors. See Matthew 18:30-34. Cruelty to such is referred to in Isaiah 58:3. — Ed. that is, that all those things were done by the connivance of God. The plain meaning, then, is, that judgment is perverted before the face of the Most High, — that the bound of the earth such as are helpless, are despised, trodden under foot by the wicked, — that a man in his cause is unjustly dealt with, and that all this is done because God does not see 191191     The Targ. and the versions differ as to the import of this clause. The verb to see, has been taken to mean three things, — to know, to approve, and to regard or to notice. The Vulgate takes the first, our version the second, and Calvin the third. The context seems to favor the last meaning especially the following verses.
   There is a difficulty as to the antecedent to the pronoun “his, before “feet.” It seems to refer to “man” in the last verse; for the words are, “the sons (or children) of man,” not of “men.” The verb ראה, when followed by ל, means to look on, at, or simply to see. Psalm 64:5. Then the literal rendering of the passage would be as follows, —

   On the tearing under his feet
Of all the bound of the land,
On the diverting of a man’s judgment,
In the presence of the most High,
On the wronging of a person in his cause
The Lord doth not look.

   Or if the “on” be dropped, the last line may be,

   The Lord doth not see.

   This is manifestly the saying of unbelieving men, or of those weak in faith, as proved by the next verse, when rightly rendered. — Ed.
We now, then, perceive what the Prophet means.

But whence came such madness? even because the Jews, as I have said, would not humble themselves under the mighty hand of God; for hypocrisy had so blinded them, that they proudly clamored against God, thinking that they were chastised with unjust severity,. As then, they thus flattered themselves in their sins, this expostulation arose which the Prophet mentions, that man’s judgment was perverted, that the innocent failed in a good cause, that the miserable were trodden under foot; and whence all this? because God did not see, or did not regard these things. Now follows the reproof of this delirious impiety, —

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