Jeremiah 18:12
And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart.
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(12) And they said.—Better, But they say, as of continued action. This was the ever-recurring answer (see Note on Jeremiah 2:25) which they made to the prophet’s pleas. It was the answer of defiance rather than of despair. “There is no hope, you need not hope, that we will do as you bid us. We will go on our way, and walk after our own devices.”

Imagination.—Better, as elsewhere, stubbornness.

18:11-17 Sinners call it liberty to live at large; whereas for a man to be a slave to his lusts, is the very worst slavery. They forsook God for idols. When men are parched with heat, and meet with cooling, refreshing streams, they use them. In these things men will not leave a certainty for an uncertainty; but Israel left the ancient paths appointed by the Divine law. They walked not in the highway, in which they might travel safely, but in a way in which they must stumble: such was the way of idolatry, and such is the way of iniquity. This made their land desolate, and themselves miserable. Calamities may be borne, if God smile upon us when under them; but if he is displeased, and refuses his help, we are undone. Multitudes forget the Lord and his Christ, and wander from the ancient paths, to walk in ways of their own devising. But what will they do in the day of judgment!And they said - Better, But they say.

Imagination - Or, stubbornness, see Jeremiah 3:17.

12. no hope—Thy threats and exhortations are all thrown away (Jer 2:25). Our case is desperate; we are hopelessly abandoned to our sins and their penalty. In this and the following clauses, "We will walk after our own devices," Jeremiah makes them express the real state of the case, rather than the hypocritical subterfuges which they would have been inclined to put forth. So Isa 30:10, 11. There is no hope of us, thou dost but labour in vain in talking to us; for we are resolved to run on in our former race. It cannot be imagined that they should call the imaginations of their own hearts evil, unless it were in derision. The sum of what they said was this: Jeremiah, thou hadst as good say or do nothing as talk to us, we are resolved upon our course, and if thou callest our hearts

evil, we cannot help that; according to the purposes, counsels, and thoughts of those our evil hearts are resolved to steer our courses, we will not be guided by thee. And they said, there is no hope,.... Or, "but they said" (w); not that there was no hope of the grace and mercy of God, upon their repentance and reformation, for that is before declared; but that they were so hardened in their sins, so fixed in their wicked courses, and so determined to go on in them, that there was no room for the prophet to hope of ever reclaiming them; signifying, that it was to little purpose to talk to them, or exhort them; his labour would be in vain; for they were at a point, and resolved to continue in their evil practices, let the consequences be what they would. Jarchi's note is,

"but I know that they will say to thee concerning thy words, that we do not care for them;''

no, not a rush; you may as well hold your peace and say nothing; we are in no pain about future judgments, these give us no uneasiness. The Targum is,

"we are turned from thy worship;''

and we are resolved to continue as we are, and not to return to say what you will:

but we will walk after our own devices; God may take his way, and we will take ours; he has devised evil against us, you say, and he may bring it if he pleases; we have devised sin, and we shall go on in it:

and we will do everyone the imagination of his evil heart; whatsoever our hearts suggest to us as pleasant and agreeable, that we shall do, let the issue be what it will: it is not to be thought that these people expressed themselves in so many words; but this was the language of their hearts, and of their actions, known unto the Lord, and are put into this form by him, or by the prophet, expressing the real sentiments of their minds.

(w) "sed dixerunt", Schmidt; "sed dicunt", Piscator.

And they said, {c} There is no hope: but we will walk after our own plots, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart.

(c) As men who had no remorse but were altogether bent to rebellion and to their own selfwill.

12. no hope] It is too late to turn back now. See on Jeremiah 2:25.

stubbornness] Cp. ch. Jeremiah 3:17.Verse 12. - And they said; rather, But they go on saying (comp. Ezekiel 33:17, 20). There is no hope. The rendering may be easily misunderstood. The speakers are not, as we might suppose, despondent about their state and prospects, but they seek to check the troublesome preacher by the warning that he has no chance of success (so Jeremiah 2:25). Imagination; rather, stubbornness (as constantly). In Jeremiah 18:6-10 the Lord discloses to the prophet the truth lying in the potter's treatment of the clay. The power the potter has over the clay to remould, according to his pleasure, the vessel he had formed from it if it went wrong; the same power God possesses over the people of Israel. This unlimited power of God over mankind is exercised according to man's conduct, not according to a decretum absolutum or unchangeable determination. If he pronounces a people's overthrow or ruin, and if that people turn from its wickedness, He repeals His decree (Jeremiah 18:7.); and conversely, if He promises a people welfare and prosperity, and if that people turn away from Him to wickedness, then too He changes His resolve to do good to it (Jeremiah 18:9.). Inasmuch as He is even now making His decree known by the mouth of the prophet, it follows that the accomplishment of Jeremiah's last utterances is conditioned by the impression God's word makes on men. רגע, adv., in the moment, forthwith, and when repeated equals, now...again. Ng. maintains that the arrangement here is paratactic, so that the רגע does not belong to the nearest verb, but to the main idea, i.e., to the apodosis in this case. The remark is just; but the word does not mean suddenly, but immediately, and the sense is: when I have spoken against a people, and this people repents, then immediately I let it repent me. נחם על as in Joel 2:13, etc. With "to pluck up," etc., "to build," etc., cf. Jeremiah 1:10. "Against which I spake," Jeremiah 18:8, belongs to "that people," and seems as if it might be dispensed with; but is not therefore spurious because the lxx have omitted it. For הרעה the Keri has הרע, the most usual form, Jeremiah 7:30, Numbers 32:13; Judges 2:11, etc.; but the Chet. is called for by the following הטּובה and מרעתו. להיטיב הטּובה, to show kindness, cf. Numbers 10:32.

The emblematical interpretation of the potter with the clay lays a foundation for the prophecy that follows, Jeremiah 18:11-17, in which the people are told that it is only by reason of their stiffnecked persistency in wickedness that they render threatened judgment certain, whereas by return to their God they might prevent the ruin of the kingdom.

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