Lamentations 3:37
Who is he that said, and it comes to pass, when the Lord commands it not?
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(37-39) New grounds of patient faith are given: (1) In an echo from Psalm 33:9, affirming the sovereignty of God. The evil which He permits is under the control of this loving purpose; and (2) as far as it is not absolute evil, may be said to come from Him.

Lamentations 3:37-38. Who is he that saith — That commands an event to take place, or predicts that it shall take place, and it cometh to pass accordingly, when the Lord commandeth not? — Or who designs a thing, and brings his designs to effect, when the Lord is against him? “Haughty tyrants may boast of their power as if they were equal to Omnipotence itself; but still it is God’s prerogative to bring to pass whatever he pleases, without any let or impediment, only by speaking, or declaring his purpose, that the thing should be done, as he did at the beginning of the creation: see Psalm 33:7. And as he makes men the instruments of his vengeance when he sees fit, so he can restrain their cruelty whenever he pleases.” — Lowth. Out of the mouth of the Most High proceedeth not evil and good? — Do not calamities, as well as prosperous events, happen by God’s will and pleasure? The sum is: Nothing comes to pass in the world but by the disposal of the divine providence, which is directed by infinite wisdom, justice, and goodness. The inspired writer seems to be arguing himself and the people of God into a quiet submission to the divine will in their afflictions, from the consideration of the hand of God in them.3:37-41 While there is life there is hope; and instead of complaining that things are bad, we should encourage ourselves with the hope they will be better. We are sinful men, and what we complain of, is far less than our sins deserve. We should complain to God, and not of him. We are apt, in times of calamity, to reflect on other people's ways, and blame them; but our duty is to search and try our own ways, that we may turn from evil to God. Our hearts must go with our prayers. If inward impressions do not answer to outward expressions, we mock God, and deceive ourselves.Why then does a loving God, who disapproves of suffering when inflicted by man upon man, Himself send sorrow and misery? "Because of sins."

Lamentations 3:37

Literally, "Who is this that spake and it was done, though אדני 'ădonāy commanded it not?"

37-39. Who is it that can (as God, Ps 33:9) effect by a word anything, without the will of God? The sense of these words is doubted by none, that nothing cometh to pass in the world but by the disposal of Divine Providence, either effecting it by an immediate influence, or permitting it; but to what end these words are brought in in this place is not so generally agreed. Some think they are brought in to check the blasphemy of some that spake of what had befallen the Jews as a thing which God had no hand in. Others think they are brought in as expounding that term that went before, The Lord seeth not. Though God doth not approve of sinful actions, nor incline any man’s heart or will to them, yet God hath a hand in the permission of the most cruel and unjust actions, which he could easily hinder. I should rather incline to interpret them as an argument brought by the prophet in the name of the people of God, arguing themselves into a quiet submission to the afflictive providences under which they laboured from the consideration of the superior hand of God in them; as Christ told Pilate, Thou couldst not have had any power against me, if it had not been given thee from above. Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it? Amos 3:6. Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass?.... Or, "who that says this shall be, and it cometh to pass?" or, "who is he that saith this shall come to pass?" (i) this, or that, or the other thing, he wills and desires, and his heart is set upon:

when the Lord commandeth it not? has not willed and decreed it, but determined the contrary; for nothing escapes his knowledge and foreknowledge; or can resist his will; or control his power; or frustrate his councils, and counterwork his designs; whatever schemes men form to get riches, obtain honour, do mischief to others, prolong life to themselves, and perpetuate their names to posterity, being contrary to the purpose of God, never succeed; whenever they do succeed in any of the above instances, it is because God has commanded, or he has determined, it should be so; as in the instances of Joseph's brethren, in their usage of him; and of the Jews, in the crucifixion of Christ, Proverbs 16:9. The Targum is,

"who is the man that saith, and evil is done in the world; but because they have done what was not commanded from the mouth of the Lord?''

(i) So some in Gataker.

Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord {r} commandeth it not?

(r) He shows that nothing is done without God's providence.

37. Cp. Psalm 33:9.

37–39. The order of thought in this group is, All events are absolutely in the hands of God. Thus calamity and prosperity come in response to His command. But it is man’s sin that procures for him the former; he therefore may not complain.Verses 37-54. - EXHORTATION TO REPENTANCE; RENDERED, LAMENTATION. Verses 37, 38. - True, God does not desire our misfortunes. But equally true is it that they do not happen without his express permission (comp. Isaiah 45:7; Amos 3:6). Verse 37. - That saith, and it cometh to pass (comp. Psalm 33:9; Genesis 1:3, etc.). Let him also learn patiently to bear abuse and reviling from men. Let him present his cheek to him who smites him, as was done by Job (Job 16:10) and the servant of Jahveh (Isaiah 50:6); cf. Matthew 5:39. On Lamentations 3:30, cf. Psalm 88:4; Psalm 123:3, etc. There is a certain gradation in the three verses that it quite unmistakeable. The sitting alone and in silence is comparatively the easiest; it is harder to place the mouth in the dust, and yet cling to hope; it is most difficult of all to give the cheek to the smiter, and to satiate oneself with dishonour (Ngelsbach). In Lamentations 3:31-33 follow the grounds of comfort. The first is in Lamentations 3:31 : the sorrow will come to an end; the Lord does not cast off for ever; cf. Jeremiah 3:5, Jeremiah 3:12. The second is in Lamentations 3:32 : when He has caused sorrow, He shows pity once more, according to the fulness of His grace. Compassion outweighs sorrow. On this subject, cf. Psalm 30:6; Job 5:18; Isaiah 54:8. The third ground of comfort is in Lamentations 3:33 : God does not send affliction willingly, as if it brought Him joy (cf. Jeremiah 32:41), but merely because chastisement is necessary to sinful man for the increase of his spiritual prosperity; cf. Acts 14:22; 2 Corinthians 4:17. ויּגּה is for וייגּה: cf. Ewald, 232, f; Gesenius, 69, 3, Rem. 6.

That he may bring home to the hearts of God's people the exhortation to bear suffering with patience and resignation, and that he may lead them to see that the weight of sorrow under which they are sighing has been sent from the Lord as a chastisement for their sins, the prophet carries out the thought, in Lamentations 3:34-39, that every wrong committed upon earth is under the divine control (Lamentations 3:34-36), and generally that nothing happens without God's permission; hence man ought not to mourn over the suffering that befalls him, but rather over his sins (Lamentations 3:37-39).

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