Jeremiah 4:21
How long shall I see the standard, and hear the sound of the trumpet?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) How long shall I see . . .—The “standard,” as in Jeremiah 4:6, is the alarm signal given to the fugitives. The “trumpet” sounds to give the alarm, and quicken their flight to the defenced city. The prophet sees no end to the miseries of the coming war.

Jeremiah 4:21-22. How long shall I see the standard, &c. — This dreadful war continued a great while, not in the borders, but in the bowels of the country; for the people were very obstinate, and would not submit to, but took all opportunities of rebelling against, the king of Babylon, which did but lengthen out and aggravate the calamity, as Jeremiah did not fail to warn them it would do. Had they taken his advice, and yielded sooner, their country would have escaped the utter destruction which came upon it. But God, as a punishment for their sins, suffered them to be infatuated. For my people is foolish — Some commentators have considered these words, as well as those preceding, as being spoken by God, in answer to the prophet’s complaints of his grievous vision, to show that such sad images were presented to him, because, on account of the people’s obstinacy and wickedness, it was necessary that they should feel the effects of his just anger, even until Jerusalem should be levelled with the ground. But the passage seems to suit the prophet much better, speaking here as one commissioned by the divine authority to preach to this people. They have not known me — Namely, they have not known the Lord, in whose name the prophet speaks. Those are foolish indeed, who, calling themselves God’s people, and having the advantage of becoming acquainted with him, yet have not known him. They are sottish children — Stupid and senseless; and have no understanding — They cannot distinguish between truth and falsehood, good and evil; cannot discern the mind of God, either in his word or in his providence; they do not understand what their true interest is, nor on which side it lies. They are wise to do evil — To plot mischief against the quiet of the land; wise to contrive the gratification of their lusts, and then to conceal or palliate their conduct; but to do good they have no knowledge — No contrivance, no application of mind; they know not how to make a good use either of the ordinances or providences of God, nor how to bring about any design for the good of their country. They are perfect strangers to the obligations of religion and virtue, and never show any quickness of thought but when they are contriving to bring about some mischief.

4:19-31 The prophet had no pleasure in delivering messages of wrath. He is shown in a vision the whole land in confusion. Compared with what it was, every thing is out of order; but the ruin of the Jewish nation would not be final. Every end of our comforts is not a full end. Though the Lord may correct his people very severely, yet he will not cast them off. Ornaments and false colouring would be of no avail. No outward privileges or profession, no contrivances would prevent destruction. How wretched the state of those who are like foolish children in the concerns of their souls! Whatever we are ignorant of, may the Lord make of good understanding in the ways of godliness. As sin will find out the sinner, so sorrow will, sooner or later, find out the secure.The standard - See Jeremiah 4:6. The alarm caused by the invasion is graphically described. The people are dispersed over the land following their usual pursuits, when tidings come of the enemy's approach. The only chance of escape is a hasty flight. Flags stream from the hills to mark the safest route, while the blasts of the trumpet quicken the steps of the wavering. 21. Judah in perplexity asks, How long is this state of things to continue? He seems to have these concomitants of war, both of Judea preparing for defence, and especially these of the enemy preparing for ruin and destruction. always in his eye and ear, Jeremiah 4:19, and bewailing the continuance of it in taking city after city, with the several sackings of Jerusalem under her three last kings. The LXX. read, How long shall I see them flying? reading nas, a refuge, for nes, a banner, differing only in the points.

How long shall I see the standard,.... "Ensign" or "banner" displayed; either by the watchmen placed on high hills or towers, who, when they see the enemy approaching, lift up their ensign or banner, and blow with their trumpets, to give the people warning and notice of it, and to call them to battle, and that they might prepare for the same, as Kimchi observes; or else by the Chaldean army, which came with colours flying, trumpets blowing, and set in array for battle, which was very terrible, as an army with banners is, Sol 6:4,

and hear the sound of the trumpet? either of the watchmen giving notice of danger, and summoning to battle, or of the enemy preparing to attack; see 1 Corinthians 14:8.

How long shall I see the standard, and hear the sound of the trumpet?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 21. - Shall I see the standard. (See on ver. 6.) Jeremiah 4:21One destruction after another is heralded (on שׁבר, see Jeremiah 4:6). Ew. translates loosely: wound upon wound meet one another. For the word does not mean wound, but the fracture of a limb; and it seems inadmissible to follow the Chald. and Syr. in taking נקרא here in the sense of נקרה , since the sig. "meet" does not suit שׁבר. The thought is this: tidings are brought of one catastrophe after another, for the devastation extends itself over the whole land and comes suddenly upon the tents, i.e., dwellings of those who are lamenting. Covers, curtains of the tent, is used as synonymous with tents; cf. Jeremiah 10:20; Isaiah 54:2. How long shall I see the standard, etc.! is the cry of despair, seeing no prospect of the end to the horrors of the war. The standard and the sound of the trumpet are, as in Jeremiah 4:5, the alarm-signals on the approach of the enemy.

There is no prospect of an end to the horrors, for (Jeremiah 4:22) the people is so foolish that it understands only how to do the evil, but not the good; cf. for this Jeremiah 5:21; Isaiah 1:3; Micah 7:3. Jeremiah 4:21 gives God's answer to the woful query, how long the ravaging of the land by war is to last. The answer is: as long as the people persists in the folly of its rebellion against God, so long will chastising judgments continue. To bring this answer of God home to the people's heart, the prophet, in Jeremiah 4:23-26, tells what he has seen in the spirit. He has seen (ראיתי, perf. proph.) bursting over Judah a visitation which convulses the whole world. The earth seemed waste and void as at the beginning of creation, Genesis 1:2, before the separation of the elements and before the creation of organic and living beings. In heaven no light was to be seen, earth and heaven seemed to have been thrown back into a condition of chaos. The mountains and hills, these firm foundations of the earth, quivered and swayed (התקלקל, be put into a light motion, cf. Nahum 1:5); men had fled and hidden themselves from the wrath of God (cf. Isaiah 2:19, Isaiah 2:21), and all the birds had flown out of sight in terror at the dreadful tokens of the beginning catastrophe (Genesis 9:9). The fruitful field was the wilderness - not a wilderness, but "changed into the wilderness with all its attributes" (Hitz.). הכּרמל is not appell. as in Jeremiah 2:7, but nom. prop. of the lower slopes of Carmel, famed for their fruitfulness; these being taken as representatives of all the fruitful districts of the land. The cities of the Carmel, or of the fruitful-field, are manifestly not to be identified with the store cities of 1 Kings 9:19, as Hitz. supposes, but the cities in the most fertile districts of the country, which, by reason of their situation, were in a prosperous condition, but now are destroyed. "Before the heat of His anger," which is kindled against the foolish and godless race; cf. Nahum 1:6; Isaiah 13:13.

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