Jeremiah 17:15
Behold, they say unto me, Where is the word of the LORD? let it come now.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) Behold, they say unto me.—The speakers are not named or defined, but they are clearly the mockers who questioned Jeremiah’s prophetic character, on the ground (comp. Deuteronomy 18:22) that his threats had received no fulfilment. Presumably, therefore, the words were written before the death of Jehoiakim and the capture of Jerusalem.

Let it come now.—The last word is the usual formula of request, and implies a mocking tone in the speakers: “Let it come, if you please.

Jeremiah 17:15-18. Behold, they say unto me — Scoffing at me, as if I had denounced threatenings in thy name, without any order or direction from thee: Where is the word of the Lord? — Like the scoffers, mentioned by St. Peter, 2 Peter 3:4, saying, Where is the promise of his coming? This has been the practice of all wicked men, hardened in their sinful courses, and resolved to go on in them: they put the evil day far from them, and scoff at all denunciations of divine wrath. Let it come now — So said these scoffers, daring the vengeance of God, and challenging him to execute the judgments he had threatened. As for me, I have not hastened, &c. — Dr. Waterland translates this clause, “But as for me, I have not forced or intruded myself upon thee for a pastor.” To the same sense the Geneva translation interprets the words. According to which reading the prophet solemnly appeals to God that he had not intruded himself into the office of a prophet, nor had been desirous of an employment that foreboded so much evil to others, and brought a great deal of trouble upon himself. The words in the Hebrew, however, are literally as our translation expresses them, and may be paraphrased thus, “As I did not seek the office of a prophet, so when thou wast pleased to call me to it I did not decline it.” The LXX, render it, εγω δε ουκ εκοπιασα κατακολουθων οπισω σου, I have not been weary of following thee. Neither have I desired the woful day — Namely, the day of the accomplishment of his prophecies. Though, when it came, it would prove him to have been a true prophet, which they had questioned, and would be the avenging of him upon his persecutors, and therefore, on those accounts, he might have been tempted to desire it; yet, as it would be a woful day to Jerusalem, he deprecated it, and could appeal to God that he wished it might never come. That which came out of my lips was right before thee — That is, it exactly agreed with what I had received from thee. Be not a terror unto me — Amidst all the terrors, with which mine adversaries threaten me, let me still find comfort in thee; and let not any apprehension of being forsaken by thee be added to my other fears. Let them be confounded, &c. — See notes on Jeremiah 11:20; Jeremiah 16:18.

17:12-18 The prophet acknowledges the favour of God in setting up religion. There is fulness of comfort in God, overflowing, ever-flowing fulness, like a fountain. It is always fresh and clear, like spring-water, while the pleasures of sin are puddle-waters. He prays to God for healing, saving mercy. He appeals to God concerning his faithful discharge of the office to which he was called. He humbly begs that God would own and protect him in the work to which he had plainly called him. Whatever wounds or diseases we find to be in our hearts and consciences, let us apply to the Lord to heal us, to save us, that our souls may praise his name. His hands can bind up the troubled conscience, and heal the broken heart; he can cure the worst diseases of our nature.This taunt shows that this prophecy was written before any very signal fulfillment of Jeremiah's words had taken place, and prior therefore to the capture of Jerusalem at the close of Jehoiakim's life. "Now" means "I pray," and is ironical.15. Where is the word?—(Isa 5:19; Am 5:18). Where is the fulfilment of the threats which thou didst utter as from God? A characteristic of the last stage of apostasy (2Pe 3:4). They say unto me, Where is the word of the Lord? scoffing at me, as if I had threatened them in thy name without any order or direction from thee, as the scoffers mentioned by Peter, 2 Peter 3:4, said, Where is the promise of his coming? This hath been the practice of all wicked men hardened in their sinful courses, and resolved to go on, to put the evil day far from them, and to scoff at all denunciations of God’s judgments, Isaiah 5:19 Amos 5:18.

Let it come now; daring the vengeance of God, and challenging God to damn them, or to execute the vengeance with which he threateneth them.

Behold, they say unto me,.... Or, "they are saying unto me" (y), continually; these were their daily flouts and jeers:

Where is the word of the Lord? that thou hast so often talked of? thou hast for a long time threatened us with a siege, and famine, pestilence, and the sword, and captivity, but none of these come to pass; where is the accomplishment of them? thou hast pretended to have the word of the Lord for all this; but where is it, or the fulfilment of it? so the Targum,

"where is that which thou hast prophesied in the name of the Lord?''

the judgments, as punishments for sin, he prophesied of. This has been always usual in all ages, that when God's judgments threatened have not been immediately executed, scoffers and mockers have rose up, suggesting they would never come; see Malachi 2:17;

let it come now; immediately, or we shall not believe it ever will; a very impudent, daring, and wicked expression: this is like that in Isaiah 5:19. The Targum is,

"let it now be confirmed;''

or fulfilled; declaring as their impiety, so their infidelity; not believing it ever would be fulfilled.

(y) "ecce illi sunt dicentes ad me", Schmidt.

Behold, {o} they say to me, Where is the word of the LORD? let it come now.

(o) The wicked say that my prophecy will not come to pass, because you deferred the time of your vengeance.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
15. The scoffs of his enemies suggested to him thoughts of such faithlessness as would never otherwise have occurred to him. For their derision of his predictions cp. Isaiah 5:19. The v. shews that the time is, at any rate, before the capture of Jerusalem at the end of Jehoiakim’s reign. If that event had occurred, the people would not, as here, challenge the prophet to point out a fulfilment of his prophecies of woe.

now] not denoting time, but in the sense of we pray thee.

Verse 15. - The occasion of this prayer is the hostility of his neighbors, and their mocking question, Where is the word of the Lord? The prophecy seems to be floating as it were in mid-air, unable to alight (Isaiah 9:8) and fulfill itself, so that Jeremiah could be plausibly treated as a false prophet (Deuteronomy 18:22). Hence, as Keil remarks, the discourse of which this forms the conclusion must have been spoken before the first Babylonian invasion of Judah. Jeremiah 17:15The prophet's prayer for rescue from his enemies. - Jeremiah 17:14. "Heal me, Jahveh, that I may be healed; help me, that I may be holpen, for Thou art my praise. Jeremiah 17:15. Behold, they say to me, Where is the word of Jahveh? let it come, now. Jeremiah 17:16. I have not withdrawn myself from being a shepherd after Thee, neither wished for the day of trouble, Thou knowest; that which went forth of my lips was open before Thy face. Jeremiah 17:17. Be not to me a confusion, my refuge art Thou in the day of evil. Jeremiah 17:18. Let my persecutors be put to shame, but let not me be put to shame; let them be confounded, but let not me be confounded; bring upon them the day of evil, and break them with a double breach."

The experience Jeremiah had had in his calling seemed to contradict the truth, that trust in the Lord brings blessing (Jeremiah 17:7.); for his preaching of God's word had brought him nothing but persecution and suffering. Therefore he prays the Lord to remove this contradiction and to verify that truth in his case also. The prayer of Jeremiah 17:14, "heal me," reminds one of Psalm 6:3; Psalm 30:3. Thou art תּהלּתי, the object of my praises; cf. Psalm 71:6; Deuteronomy 10:21. - The occasion for this prayer is furnished by the attacks of his enemies, who ask in scorn what then has become of that which he proclaims as the word of the Lord, why it does not come to pass. Hence we see that the discourse, of which this complaint is the conclusion, was delivered before the first invasion of Judah by the Chaldeans. So long as his announcements were not fulfilled, the unbelieving were free to persecute him as a false prophet (cf. Deuteronomy 18:22), and to give out that his prophecies were inspired by his own spite against his people. He explains, on the contrary, that in his calling he has neither acted of his own accord, nor wished for misfortune to the people, but that he has spoken by the inspiration of God alone. 'לא אצתּי cannot mean: I have not pressed myself forward to follow Thee as shepherd, i.e., pressed myself forward into Thy service in vain and overweening self-conceit (Umbr.). For although this sense would fall very well in with the train of thought, yet it cannot be grammatically justified. אוּץ, press, press oneself on to anything, is construed with ל, cf.Josh. Jeremiah 10:13; with מן it can only mean: press oneself away from a thing. מרעה may stand for מהיות , cf. Jeremiah 48:2, 1 Samuel 15:23; 1 Kings 15:13 : from being a shepherd after Thee, i.e., I have not withdrawn myself from following after Thee as a shepherd. Against this rendering the fact seems to weigh, that usually it is not the prophets, but only the kings and princes, that are entitled the shepherds of the people; cf. Jeremiah 23:1. For this reason, it would appear, Hitz. and Graf have taken רעה in the sig. to seek after a person or thing, and have translated: I have not pressed myself away from keeping after Thee, or from being one that followed Thee faithfully. For this appeal is made to places like Proverbs 13:20; Proverbs 28:7; Psalm 37:3, where רעה does mean to seek after a thing, to take pleasure in it. But in this sig. רעה is always construed with the accus. of the thing or person, not with אחרי, as here. Nor does it by any means follow, from the fact of shepherds meaning usually kings or rulers, that the idea of "shepherd" is exhausted in ruling and governing people. According to Psalm 23:1, Jahveh is the shepherd of the godly, who feeds them in green pastures and leads them to the refreshing water, who revives their soul, etc. In this sense prophets, too, feed the people, if they, following the Lord as chief shepherd, declare God's word to the people. We cannot in any case abide by Ng.'s rendering, who, taking רעה in its literal sense, puts the meaning thus: I have not pressed myself away from being a shepherd, in order to go after Thee. For the assumption that Jeremiah had, before his call, been, like Amos, a herd of cattle, contradicts Jeremiah 1:1; nor from the fact, that the cities of the priests and of the Levites were provided with grazing fields (מגרשׁים), does it at all follow that the priests themselves tended their flocks. "The day of trouble," the ill, disastrous day, is made out by Ng. to be the day of his entering upon the office of prophet - a view that needs no refutation. It is the day of destruction for Jerusalem and Judah, which Jeremiah had foretold. When Ng. says: "He need not have gone out of his way to affirm that he did not desire the day of disaster for the whole people," he has neglected to notice that Jeremiah is here defending himself against the charges of his enemies, who inferred from his prophecies of evil that he found a pleasure in his people's calamity, and wished for it to come. For the truth of his defence, Jeremiah appeals to the omniscience of God: "Thou knowest it." That which goes from my lips, i.e., the word that came from my lips, was נך פּניך, before or over against thy face, i.e., manifest to Thee.

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