Jeremiah 17:16
As for me, I have not hastened from being a pastor to follow you: neither have I desired the woeful day; you know: that which came out of my lips was right before you.
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(16) I have not hastened . . .—The words of the English Version are somewhat obscure, and a better rendering would perhaps be, I have not been quick to withdraw from my work in following thee, as a shepherd and guide of the people. A possible meaning, adopted by some commentators, would be, “I have not hastened from my work as a shepherd (in the literal sense) to follow thee,” as presenting a parallel to the words of Amos (Amos 7:14-15); and, though we cannot get beyond conjecture, it is quite possible that Jeremiah, in his youth, before the call of Jeremiah 1:4, may have been employed in the pasture grounds that belonged to Anathoth as a city of the priests (Numbers 35:4; Joshua 21:4; Joshua 21:18; 1Chronicles 6:60). It is to some extent in favour of this view, that throughout the book the work of the shepherd, when used figuratively, answers to the work of the ruler, and not to that of the prophet. What he means, if we keep the version given above, is that he had not been too slack in his obedience, but neither had he been over eager. He had no desire to see the woful day that would fulfil his predictions. What had come from his lips was just what he had been bidden to say and no more (Jeremiah 15:16-19), and thus he had spoken as in the sight of God. The interpolated word “right” mars rather than mends the meaning,

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.I have not hastened from - i. e., I have not sought to escape from.

A pastor to follow thee - Rather, "a shepherd after Thee." "Shepherd" means "ruler, magistrate" (Jeremiah 2:8 note), and belongs to the prophet not as a teacher, but as one invested with authority by God to guide and direct the political course of the nation. So Yahweh guides His people Psalm 23:1-2, and the prophet does so "after Him," following obediently His instructions.

The woeful day - literally, "the day of mortal sickness:" the day on which Jerusalem was to be destroyed, and the temple burned.

Right - Omit the word. What Jeremiah asserts is that he spake as in God's presence. They were no words of his own, but had the authority of Him before whom he stood. Compare Jeremiah 15:19.

16. I have not refused Thy call of me to be a prophet (Jon 1:3), however painful to me it was to utter what would be sure to irritate the hearers (Jer 1:4, &c.).; therefore Thou shouldest not forsake me (Jer 15:15, &c.).

to follow thee—literally, "after thee"; as an under-pastor following Thee, the Chief Shepherd (Ec 12:11; 1Pe 5:4).

neither … desired—I have not wished for the day of calamity, though I foretell it as about to come on my countrymen; therefore they have no reason for persecuting me.

thou knowest—I appeal to Thee for the truth of what I assert.

that which came out of my lips—my words (De 23:23).

right before thee—rather, "was before Thee"; was known to Thee—(Pr 5:21).

I have not hastened from being a pastor to follow thee: that the words contain the prophet’s appeal to God upon some reproaches cast upon him by this wicked people, as if he had thrust himself into the prophetical office, is evident, and reasonably well agreed by interpreters; but they are divided about the sense of the word wxua which yet always in Scripture signifies to make haste, or to urge, or press; the sense seemeth to be this: Lord! as I did not seek the office of a prophet, so when thou wert pleased to call me to it, I did not decline to be a pastor after thee.

Neither have I desired the woeful day; thou knowest; neither (saith he) have I desired to be a prophet of these sad tidings, those woeful miseries which thou hast made me thy messenger to foretell.

That which came out of my lips was right before thee; I have spoken nothing but what was right in thy sight, being what thou commandedst me to deliver as from thee, and so I know was right in thy sight. As for me, I have not hastened from being a pastor to follow thee,.... Though he had met with so much ill usage, and was hated by the people for bringing such messages to them, and was jeered and scoffed at because his prophecies were not accomplished; yet he had not been hasty, and solicitous, and importunate with the Lord to dismiss him from his service; but was willing to continue in his office as a pastor or prophet, and to follow the Lord fully, and faithfully perform the work he had called him to, whatever difficulties and discouragements attended him, or reproaches were cast upon him. Some render the words, "I hastened not", or "I have not urged", or "pressed to be a pastor after thee" (z); to which the sense of Kimchi agrees,

"I did not press myself, or was anxious about the matter, that I should be a shepherd after thee, or a prophet;''

he did not run before he was sent; he did not thrust himself into this office; he was not forward, but backward to it, as appears from Jeremiah 1:6; a pastor of the Lord is an under shepherd; one that has his mission and commission from the Lord; who obeys him in all things; follows his directions; goes where and with what he sends him; and such an one was Jeremiah; though it was not what he sought after, and was pressing for; and this he says to take off the edge of the people's resentment against him; to which agree the following words:

neither have I desired the woeful day, thou knowest; he foresaw that reproaches and calumnies would be cast upon him, and that bonds and afflictions would abide him wherever he went with his messages and prophecies; he knew it would be a woeful and miserable day to him, whenever he was sent as a prophet to this people; and that he should meet with nothing but sorrow, and trouble, and vexation of spirit; and therefore it could not be desirable to him, as a man, to be in such an office, or to be sent on such an errand; to be a messenger of such terrible things, and to denounce such woeful judgments; and much less did he desire the execution of them, even though he had prophesied of them; having not so much regard to his own honour and credit, as an affection to the people, and a compassionate concern for their welfare; and for all this he could appeal to the heart searching and rein trying God. The Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Syriac and Arabic versions, render it, "man's day"; see 1 Corinthians 4:3; but the Targum paraphrases it agreeably to the sense given,

"and the evil day which thou shall bring upon them, I have not desired:''

that which came out of my lips was right before thee; as he could appeal to the omniscient God for the truth of the above, so for this, that he delivered nothing by way of prophecy but what he had from the Lord; and that he delivered out truly and faithfully whatever he had from him; and it was all done openly and publicly, and in his sight, with all sincerity and truth; see 2 Corinthians 2:17.

(z) "ego autem non festinavi ut essem pastor post te", Calvin; "et me (quod attinet) non ursi esse pastor post te", Noldius, p. 567.

As for me, {p} I have not hastened from being a shepherd to follow thee: neither have I desired the woeful day; thou knowest: that which was uttered by my lips was right before thee.

(p) I am assured of my calling, and therefore know that the thing which you speak by me will come to pass, and that I speak not of any worldly affection.

16. I have not hastened from being a shepherd after thee] The word “shepherd” is not used elsewhere of prophets. Moreover the whole expression is an awkward one. LXX, who seem to have read the Hebrew as it is vocalised in MT., render somewhat vaguely, as though puzzled. On the other hand Aquila and Syr., with much improvement to the parallelism, read (with different vowels) the (one) Hebrew word, rendered here “from being a shepherd,” because of evil, i.e. I have not pursued thee with persistent supplication to bring calamity on my foes (see ch. Jeremiah 2:8, with note).

the woeful day] LXX, as mg. the (judgement) day of man.

thou knowest] He appeals to God to confirm his protest and support his cause.

was before thy face] was plainly to be seen by Thee.Verse 16. - I have not hastened from being a pastor to follow thee; i.e. I have not eagerly withdrawn from following thee as a shepherd (or prophet). The prophet does not follow his own vague inclinations; he is but an under-shepherd, and waits on the will of his superior. He is, as Hosea calls him (Hosea 9:7, Hebrew), "the man of the Spirit." If God leads any one, whether people or individuals, it is through the agency of the Spirit (Isaiah 63:11, 12); and it is the characteristic of the typical prophet that his ear is "wakened morning by morning" to receive his daily lesson. Only by thus "following" the Divine Leader, can a prophet act as pastor to his people. [The construction is, however, rather simplified by the rendering - a perfectly legitimate one... from following thee as a companion.] The woeful day. The word for "woeful" is the same rendered "desperately wicked" (ver. 9); the "day" of Judah's calamity is metaphorically "sick," like the heart of man. So, other words being used, Isaiah 17:11 (end). Was right before thee; rather (since some adjective must be supplied), was manifest before thee. He appeals to the all-seeing Eye as a witness to his fidelity to his mission. Only God searches the heart and tries the reins, the seat of the most hidden emotions and feelings, cf. Jeremiah 11:20; Jeremiah 12:3, and deals accordingly, requiting each according to his life and his doings. The ו before לתת, which is wanting in many MSS and is not expressed by the old translators, is not to be objected to. It serves to separate the aim in view from the rest, and to give it the prominence due to an independent thought; cf. Ew. 340, b. As to the truth itself, cf. Jeremiah 32:19. With this is joined the common saying as to the partridge, Jeremiah 17:11. The aim is not to specify greed as another root of the corruption of the heart, or to give another case of false confidence in the earthly (Ng., Graf); but to corroborate by a common saying, whose truth should be obvious to the people, the greater truth, that God, as Searcher of hearts, requites each according to his works. The proverb ran: He that gains riches, and that by wrong, i.e., in an unjust, dishonourable manner, is like a partridge which hatches eggs it has not laid. In the Proverbs we often find comparisons, as here, without the כּ similit.: a gainer of riches is a partridge (Rephuhn, properly Rphuhn from rpen equals rufen, to call or cry); a bird yet found in plenty in the tribe of Judah; cf. Robinson, Palestine. All other interpretations are arbitrary. It is true that natural history has not proved the fact of this peculiarity of the partridge, on which the proverb was founded; testimonies as to this habit of the creature are found only in certain Church fathers, and these were probably deduced from this passage (cf. Winer, bibl. R. W., art. Rebhuhn). But the proverb assumes only the fact that such was the widespread popular belief amongst the Israelites, without saying anything as to the correctness of it. "HatCheth and layeth not" are to be taken relatively. דּגר, the Targum word in Job 39:14 for חמּם, fovere, sig. hatch, lit., to hold eggs close together, cover eggs; see on Isaiah 34:15. ילד, to bring forth, here of laying eggs. As to the Kametz in both words, see Ew. 100, c. The point of the comparison, that the young hatched out of another bird's eggs forsake the mother, is brought out in the application of the proverb. Hence is to be explained "forsake him:" the riches forsake him, instead of: are lost to him, vanish, in the half of his days, i.e., in the midst of life; and at the end of his life he shall be a fool, i.e., the folly of his conduct shall fully appear.
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