Jeremiah 3:15
And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.
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(15) Pastors.—As in Jeremiah 2:8, of kings and rulers, not of priests. Compare Jeremiah 23:1-5. The phrase “according to mine heart” brings David to our thoughts (1Samuel 13:14). There should be a return to the true pattern of the ideal ruler. In the “knowledge and understanding” we have an echo from Isaiah 11:1-4.

Jeremiah 3:15. I will give you pastors according to my heart — This is likewise an evangelical promise, (compare Jeremiah 23:4,) implying that under the happy times here foretold all governors, both civil and ecclesiastical, should faithfully discharge their trust, in duly governing and instructing the people committed to their charge; and that all in authority should answer the character which God gives of David, namely, that he was a man after his own heart, whereas, at the time when Jeremiah lived, the princes, the priests, and prophets were the ringleaders in seducing the people, and enticing them to idolatry: see Jeremiah 2:8, and Lowth. “Those are pastors after God’s own heart,” says Henry, “that make it their business to feed the flock; not to feed themselves and fleece the flock, but to do all they can for the good of those that are under their charge; that feed them with wisdom and understanding — That is, wisely and understandingly, as David fed them, in the integrity of his heart and by the skilfulness of his hands, Psalm 78:72. Those that are not only pastors, or rulers, but teachers, must feed them with the word of God, which is wisdom and understanding, and is able to make us wise unto salvation.”

3:12-20 See God's readiness to pardon sin, and the blessings reserved for gospel times. These words were proclaimed toward the north; to Israel, the ten tribes, captive in Assyria. They are directed how to return. If we confess our sins, the Lord is faithful and just to forgive them. These promises are fully to come to pass in the bringing back the Jews in after-ages. God will graciously receive those that return to him; and by his grace, he takes them out from among the rest. The ark of the covenant was not found after the captivity. The whole of that dispensation was to be done away, which took place after the multitude of believers had been greatly increased by the conversion of the Gentiles, and of the Israelites scattered among them. A happy state of the church is foretold. He can teach all to call him Father; but without thorough change of heart and life, no man can be a child of God, and we have no security for not departing from Him.Pastors - "Kings, rulers" (compare Jeremiah 2:8). Not military usurpers Hosea 8:4, but true servants of God, as David 1 Samuel 13:14. 15. pastors—not religious, but civil rulers, as Zerubbabel, Nehemiah (Jer 23:4; 2:8). Pastors; either civil magistrates, which are sometimes so called, Micah 5:5; or rather ecclesiastical, as appears both from the reason of God’s judgments upon Israel, viz. their pastors being generally either thieves or dumb dogs; and also from the nature of their office, in the close of the verse, and thus they are called Ephesians 4:11.

According to mine heart; such as I will both choose for you and approve of, and that shall faithfully and skilfully declare unto you my mind; which intimates not only a single act of deliverance, but his constant preservation of them.

Which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding: this notes either the nature of their food: see Nehemiah 8:8 Malachi 2:7. Or rather the manner of their feeding: see Psalm 78:72 1 Peter 5:2. See more of this promise Jeremiah 23:4.

And I will give you pastors according to mine heart,.... Which is to be understood not of political rulers and governors, but ministers of the word; who are "pastors" or "shepherds" under Christ the great Shepherd, and are "gifts" of his to the churches, and "according to his heart"; or "conformable to his mind", as the Arabic version; whom he calls, qualifies, puts into the ministry, and sends forth; whom he holds in his right hand, and keeps as the apple of his eye; who do his will, as the Targum, and feed men according to his heart: and as this prophecy belongs to Gospel times, as appears both by what goes before and by what follows, the apostles of Christ and first ministers of the Gospel are chiefly designed; though it might have some accomplishment in Nehemiah and Ezra, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, at and after the Jews return from Babylon; but a more complete one in the times mentioned: so Kimchi says, these are they that shall be with the King Messiah, according to Micah 5:5,

which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding; with things worthy to be known and understood; with the solid and substantial truths of the Gospel, and by faithfully administering the ordinances of it; and in all directing to Christ the bread of life: or, "shall rule you" (f) not in an arbitrary way, according to their own ills, but according to the laws of Christ: these words, with knowledge and understanding, may either intend the matter with which these pastors should feed the church; which is what tends to spiritual knowledge and understanding, and an increase thereof; and which is blessed of God to such a purpose, though they themselves cannot give it: or else the manner in which they should feed or rule; that is, wisely and "prudently", as the Arabic version renders it: they feed wisely and prudently when they rightly divide the word of truth, and give to every one their portion of meat in due season; and feed them in proportion to their age and capacity, give milk to babes, and meat to strong men: and they rule with wisdom and prudence when they govern according to the laws of Christ, and take care that they are put in execution; and do all things decently and in order; and, as David, feed the flock according to the integrity of their hearts, and guide them by the skilfulness of their hands, Psalm 78:72.

(f) "regent", Gataker.

And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.
15. shepherds] See on ch. Jeremiah 2:8.

Verse 15. - Pastors. In Jeremiah 23:4, the same word is rendered in the Authorized Version "shepherds," which would he less open to misunderstanding here than "pastors," civil and not spiritual authorities being intended (see on Jeremiah 2:8). The prophecy is, of course, not inconsistent with passages like Jeremiah 23:5, but as the national continuance of Israel was guaranteed, it was natural to refer to the subordinate civil authorities. According to mine heart; better, according to my mind; for here, as also in 1 Samuel 13:14, it is something very far from perfection which is ascribed to the chosen rulers. "Heart" is sometimes equivalent to "understanding." Jeremiah 3:15An indispensable element of the return is: Acknowledge thy guilt, thine offence, for grievously hast thou offended; thou art fallen away (פּשׁע), and תּפזּרי את־דּרכיך, lit., hast scattered thy ways for strangers; i.e., hither and thither, on many a track, hast thou run after the strange gods: cf. Jeremiah 2:23.

The repeated call שׁוּבוּ, Jeremiah 3:14, is, like that in Jeremiah 3:12, addressed to Israel in the narrower sense, not to the whole covenant people or to Judah. The "backsliding sons" are "the backsliding Israel" of Jeremiah 3:7, Jeremiah 3:8, Jeremiah 3:11., and of Jeremiah 3:22. In Jeremiah 3:18 also Judah is mentioned only as it is in connection with Israel. בּעלתּי בכם, here and in Jeremiah 31:32, is variously explained. There is no evidence for the meaning loathe, despise, which Ges. and Diet. in the Lex., following the example of Jos. Kimchi, Pococke, A Schultens, and others, attribute to the word בּעל; against this, cf. Hgstb. Christol. ii. p. 375; nor is the sig. "rule" certified (lxx διότι ἐγὼ κατακυριεύσω ὑμῶν); it cannot be proved from Isaiah 26:13. בּעל means only, own, possess; whence come the meanings, take to wife, have oneself married, which are to be maintained here and in Jeremiah 31:32. In this view Jerome translates, quia ego vir vester; Luther, denn ich will euch mir vertrauen; Hgstb., denn ich traue euch mir an;-the reception anew of the people being given under the figure of a new marriage. This acceptation is, however, not suitable to the perf. בּעלתּי, for this, even if taken prophetically, cannot refer to a renewal of marriage which is to take place in the future. The perf. can be referred only to the marriage of Israel at the conclusion of the covenant on Sinai, and must be translated accordingly: I am your husband, or: I have wedded you to me. This is demanded by the grounding כּי; for the summons to repent cannot give as its motive some future act of God, but must point to that covenant relationship founded in the past, which, though suspended for a time, was not wholly broken up.

(Note: Calvin gives it rightly: "Dixerat enim, se dedisse libellum repudii h. e. quasi publicis tabulis se testatum fuisse, nihil amplius sibi esse conjunctionis cum populo illo. Nam exilium erat instar divortii. Jam dicit: Ego sum maritus vester. Nam etiamsi ego tam graviter laesus a vobis fuerim, quia fefellistis fidem mihi datam, tamen maneo in proposito, ut sim bovis maritus; perinde ac si mihi semper fidem praestitissetis, iterum assuman vos, inqiut.")

The promise of what God will do if Israel repents is given only from ולקחתּי (with ו consec.) onwards. The words, I take you, one out of a city, two out of a race, are not with Kimchi to be so turned: if even a single Israelite dwelt in a heathen city; but thus: if from amongst the inhabitants of a city there returns to me but one, and if out of a whole race there return but two, I will gather even these few and bring them to Zion. Quite aside from the point is Hitz.'s remark, that in Micah 5:1, too, a city is called אלף, and is equivalent to משׁפּחה. The numbers one and two themselves show us that משׁפּחה is a larger community than the inhabitants of one town, i.e., that it indicates the great subdivisions into which the tribes of Israel were distributed. The thought, then, is this: Though but so small a number obey the call to repent, yet the Lord will save even these; He will exclude from salvation no one who is willing to return, but will increase the small number of the saved to a great nation. This promise is not only not contradictory of those which declare the restoration of Israel as a whole; but it is rather a pledge that God will forget no one who is willing to be saved, and shows the greatness of the divine compassion.

As to the historical reference, it is manifest that the promise cannot be limited, as it is by Theodrt. and Grot., to the return from the Assyrian and Babylonian exile; and although the majority of commentators take it so, it can as little be solely referred to the Messianic times or to the time of the consummation of the kingdom of God. The fulfilment is accomplished gradually. It begins with the end of the Babylonian exile, in so far as at that time individual members of the ten tribes may have returned into the land of their fathers; it is continued in Messianic times during the lives of the apostles, by the reception, on the part of the Israelites, of the salvation that had appeared in Christ; it is carried on throughout the whole history of the Church, and attains its completion in the final conversion of Israel. This Messianic reference of the words is here the ruling one. This we may see from "bring you to Zion," which is intelligible only when we look on Zion as the seat of the kingdom of God; and yet more clearly is it seen from the further promise, Jeremiah 3:15-17, I will give you shepherds according to my heart, etc. By shepherds we are not to understand prophets and priests, but the civil authorities, rulers, princes, kings (cf. Jeremiah 2:8, Jeremiah 2:26). This may not only be gathered from the parallel passage, Jeremiah 23:4, but is found in the כּלבּי, which is an unmistakeable allusion to 1 Samuel 13:14, where David is spoken of as a man whom Jahveh has sought out for Himself after His heart (כּלבבו), and has set to be prince over His people. They will feed you דּעה . Both these words are used adverbially. דּעה is a noun, and השׂכּיל an infin.: deal wisely, possess, and show wisdom; the latter is as noun generally השׂכּל , Daniel 1:17; Proverbs 1:3; Proverbs 21:16, but is found also as infin. absol. Jeremiah 9:23. A direct contrast to these shepherds is found in the earlier kings, whom Israel had itself appointed according to the desire of its heart, of whom the Lord said by Hosea, They have set up kings (to themselves), but not by me (Hosea 8:4); kings who seduced the people of God to apostasy, and encouraged them in it. "In the whole of the long series of Israelitish rulers we find no Jehoshaphat, no Hezekiah, no Josiah; and quite as might have been expected, for the foundation of the throne of Israel was insurrection" (Hgstb.). But if Israel will return to the Lord, He will give it rulers according to His heart, like David (cf. Ezekiel 34:23; Hosea 3:5), who did wisely (משׂכּיל ) in all his ways, and with whom Jahveh was (1 Samuel 18:14.; cf. 1 Kings 2:3). The knowledge and wisdom consists in the keeping and doing of the law of God, Deuteronomy 4:6; Deuteronomy 29:8. As regards form, the promise attaches itself to the circumstances of the earlier times, and is not to be understood of particular historical rulers in the period after the exile; it means simply that the Lord will give to Israel, when it is converted to Him, good and faithful governors who will rule over it in the spirit of David. But the Davidic dynasty culminates in the kingship of the Messiah, who is indeed named David by the prophets; cf. Jeremiah 22:4.

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