Chapter 12

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1 Righteous art thou, O Lord, when I pleade with thee: yet let mee talke with thee of thy iudgements: Wherefore doeth the way of the wicked prosper? Wherefore are all they happie that deale very treacherously?

2 Thou hast planted them, yea they haue taken root: they grow, yea they bring foorth fruit, thou art neere in their mouth, and farre from their reines.

3 But thou, O Lord, knowest me; thou hast seene me, and tried mine heart towards thee: pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter.

4 How long shall the land mourne, and the herbes of euery field wither, for the wickednesse of them that dwell therein? the beasts are consumed, and the birds, because they said; He shall not see our last end.

5 If thou hast runne with the footmen, and they haue wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? And if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou doe in the swelling of Iordan?

6 For euen thy brethren and the house of thy father, euen they haue dealt treacherously with thee, yea they haue called a multitude after thee; beleeue them not, though they speake faire words vnto thee.

7 I haue forsaken mine house: I haue left mine heritage: I haue giuen the dearely beloued of my soule into the hand of her enemies.

8 Mine heritage is vnto me as a lyon in the forrest: it cryeth out against me, therefore haue I hated it.

9 Mine heritage is vnto mee as a speckled bird, the birdes round about are against her; come yee, assemble all the beasts of the field, come to deuoure.

10 Many pastors haue destroyed my vineyard; they haue troden my portion vnder foote: they haue made my pleasant portion a desolate wildernesse.

11 They haue made it desolate, and being desolate it mourneth vnto me; the whole land is made desolate, because no man layeth it to heart.

12 The spoilers are come vpon all high places through the wildernesse: for the sword of the Lord shall deuoure from the one end of the land euen to the other end of the land: no flesh shall haue peace.

13 They haue sowen wheate, but shall reape thornes: they haue put themselues to paine, but shall not profit: and they shall be ashamed of your reuenues, because of the fierce anger of the Lord.

14 Thus saith the Lord against all mine euill neighbours, that touch the inheritance, which I haue caused my people Israel to inherit; Behold, I will plucke them out of their land, and plucke out the house of Iudah from among them.

15 And it shall come to passe after that I haue plucked them out, I will returne, and haue compassion on them, and will bring againe euery man to his heritage, and euery man to his land.

16 And it shall come to passe, if they will diligently learne the wayes of my people to sweare by my name (The Lord liueth, as they taught my people to sweare by Baal:) then shall they be built in the middest of my people.

17 But if they will not obey, I will vtterly plucke vp, and destroy that nation, saith the Lord.

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Commentary for Jeremiah 12

Jeremiah complains of the prosperity of the wicked. (1-6) The heavy judgments to come upon the nation. (7-13) Divine mercy to them, and even to the nations around. (14-17)1-6 When we are most in the dark concerning God's dispensations, we must keep up right thoughts of God, believing that he never did the least wrong to any of his creatures. When we find it hard to understand any of his dealings with us, or others, we must look to general truths as our first principles, and abide by them: the Lord is righteous. The God with whom we have to do, knows how our hearts are toward him. He knows both the guile of the hypocrite and the sincerity of the upright. Divine judgments would pull the wicked out of their pasture as sheep for the slaughter. This fruitful land was turned into barrenness for the wickedness of those that dwelt therein. The Lord reproved the prophet. The opposition of the men of Anathoth was not so formidable as what he must expect from the rulers of Judah. Our grief that there should be so much evil is often mixed with peevishness on account of the trials it occasions us. And in this our favoured day, and under our trifling difficulties, let us consider how we should behave, if called to sufferings like those of saints in former ages.

7-13 God's people had been the dearly-beloved of his soul, precious in his sight, but they acted so, that he gave them up to their enemies. Many professing churches become like speckled birds, presenting a mixture of religion and the world, with its vain fashions, pursuits, and pollutions. God's people are as men wondered at, as a speckled bird; but this people had by their own folly made themselves so; and the beasts and birds are called to prey upon them. The whole land would be made desolate. But until the judgments were actually inflicted, none of the people would lay the warning to heart. When God's hand is lifted up, and men will not see, they shall be made to feel. Silver and gold shall not profit in the day of the Lord's anger. And the efforts of sinners to escape misery, without repentance and works answerable thereto, will end in confusion.

14-17 The Lord would plead the cause of his people against their evil neighbours. Yet he would afterwards show mercy to those nations, when they should learn true religion. This seems to look forward to the times when the fulness of the Gentiles shall come in. Those who would have their lot with God's people, and a last end like theirs, must learn their ways, and walk in them.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

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