Jeremiah 4:19 MEANING

Jeremiah 4:19
(19) My bowels, my bowels!--As with Jeremiah 4:13, the words may be Jeremiah's own cry of anguish, or that of the despairing people with whom he identifies himself. The latter gives more dramatic vividness, as we thus have the utterances of three of the great actors in the tragedy: here of the people, in Jeremiah 4:22 of Jehovah, in Jeremiah 4:23 of the prophet. The "bowels" were with the Hebrews thought of as the seat of all the strongest emotions, whether of sorrow, fear, or sympathy (Job 30:27; Isaiah 16:11).

At my very heart.--Literally (reproducing the physical fact of palpitation), I writhe in pain; the walls of my heart! my heart moans for me. The verb for "I am pained" is often used for the "travail" or agony of childbirth (Isaiah 23:4; Isaiah 26:18).

Thou hast heard, O my soul . . .--Silence at such a time was impossible. The prophet, as in the language of strong emotion, addresses his own soul, his very self (Comp. Psalm 16:2; Psalm 42:5; Psalm 42:11).

Verse 19. - My bowels. It is doubted whether the speaker in vers. 19-21 is the prophet or the whole nation. Ver. 19 reminds us of Isaiah 15:5; Isaiah 16:11 and Isaiah 21:3, 4, and would be quite in harmony with the elegiac tone of our prophet elsewhere; the Targum too already regards the passage as an exclamation of the prophet. On the other hand, the phrase "my tents" (ver. 20) certainly implies that the people, or the pious section of the people, is the speaker. Both views may perhaps be united. The prophet may be the speaker in ver. 19, but simply (as is the case with so many of the psalmists) as the representative of his fellow-believers, whom in ver. 20 he brings on the stage more directly. Ver. 19 is best rendered as a series of exclamations -

"My bowels! my bowels! I must writhe in pain!
The walls of my heart! My heart moaneth unto me!
I cannot hold my peace!
For thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet,
The alarm of war!"
Observe, the "soul" hears; the "heart" is pained. So generally the one is more active, the other more passive. The Hebrew margin gives, for "I must writhe," "I must wait" (comp. Micah 7:7); but this rendering does not suit the context. The walls of my heart. A poetical way of saying, "My heart beats."

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.My bowels, my bowels,.... These are either the words of the people, unto whose heart the calamity reached, as in the preceding verse; or rather of the prophet, who either, from a sympathizing heart, expresses himself in this manner; or puts on an appearance of mourning and distress, in order to awaken his people to a sense of their condition. The repetition of the word is after the manner of persons in pain and uneasiness, as, "my head, my head", 2 Kings 4:19,

I am pained at my very heart; as a woman in labour. In the Hebrew text it is, "as the walls of my heart" (e); meaning either his bowels, as before; or the "praecordia", the parts about the heart, which are as walls unto it; his grief had reached these walls, and was penetrating through them to his heart, and there was danger of breaking that:

my heart makes a noise in me; palpitates, beats and throbs, being filled with fears and dread, with sorrow and concern, at what was coming on; it represents an aching heart, all in disorder and confusion:

I cannot hold my peace; or be silent; must speak, and vent grief:

because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war; Kimchi observes, he does not say "my ears", but "my soul"; for as yet he had not heard with his ears the sound of the trumpet; for the enemy was not yet come, but his soul heard by prophecy: here is a Keri and a Cetib, a reading and a writing; it is written "I have heard"; it is read "thou hast heard", which is followed by the Targum: the sense is the same, it is the hearing of the soul. The prophet, by these expressions, represents the destruction as very near, very certain, and very distressing. The trumpet was sounded on different accounts, as Isidore (f) observes; sometimes to begin a battle; sometimes to pursue those that fled; and sometimes for a retreat.

(e) "parietes cordis mei", Pagninus, Montanus, Cocceius. (f) Orignum l. 18. c. 4.

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