Then I said, I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the LORD…
These words bring before us a feeling that belongs to the human heart in all places and times — the complaint of man for frustrated aims. It is not easy to say in what distinct form it is present to the mind of the original speaker here. Sometimes he appears to express the feeling as his own personal experience — a man among his fellow-men — and sometimes he seems to personify the nation to which he belongs. Probably both are struggling together in his heart. The people of his race were selected by God for a great purpose — to hold up His name and knowledge pure and unsullied in the midst of the world's defections. But the purpose is, for the while, an apparent failure. The world has corrupted those who should have purified it, and God's judgment has fallen on their unfaithfulness till they are scattered among the heathen and ready to perish. It seems as if Israel's history were labour in vain. For himself, the prophet thought that he had been chosen to bring back his people to the way of truth and righteousness. But the people have erred, the prophet has failed, and he speaks both for himself and for the best part of the nation, the true Israel of the Covenant.
(J. Ker, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the LORD, and my work with my God.