|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:1-7 The piercing eye of God saw secret liking and disposition to sin, the love the house of Israel had to their sins, and the dominion their sins had over them. Pride makes men obstinate in other sins. And as Judah was treading in the same steps, they would fall with Israel. By dealing treacherously with the Lord, men only deceive themselves. Those that go to seek the Lord with their flocks and their herds only, and not with their hearts and souls, cannot expect to find him; nor shall any speed who do not seek the Lord while he may be found. See how much it is our concern to seek God early, now, while it is the accepted time, and the day of salvation.
Verse 4. - In this verse their evil doings are traced to an evil spirit of whoredoms that is, of idolatries, which impels them blindly and resistlessly to evil, while at the same time it expels the knowledge of God. The first clause is differently rendered. The textual rendering of the Authorized Version, viz. they will not frame (literally, give, direct) their doings to turn unto their God, denotes their total and absolute refusal to repent or to bring forth fruits meet for repentance. The actions are an index of the state of the heart, but neither the thoughts of Israel at this time, nor their deeds which indicated these thoughts, were in the direction of repentance. In heart and life they were impenitent. This rendering is supported by most of the Hebrew commentators. Rashi says, "They forsake not their evil way;" Aben Ezra," They perform not works so as to turn." Kimchi also gives an alternative sense: "Or the sense of the words is thus: They cling so closely to their evil works, that even should they for once conceive in their heart the idea of turning, they immediately repent them of it." The marginal rendering also yields a good sense; it is, Their doings will not suffer (allow) [them] to turn unto their God. The pronominal suffix for "them" is wanting, yet it may be dispensed with, as the appending of it to "doings" and "God" makes the sense sufficiently explicit. It is favored by Ewald, Keil, the Targum, and Kimchi, who explains: "Their evil works do not allow them to return to their God, as if he said, To such extent have they multiplied transgression that there is no way left them to return, until they receive their punishment." Such and so great was the power of their evil habits that they could not break them off or break away from them by repentance; or so intimately connected is a change of heart with a change of life that, in the absence of the latter, the former is impossible. According to either rendering, the reason assigned is contained in the next clause: For the spirit of whoredoms is in the midst of them, and they have not known the Lord. So overmastered were they, as though by some fiendish spirit that held them in check and exercised despotic power over them, that they rushed headlong down the steep incline, like the Gadarene herd of swine, which, when the unclean spirits entered into them, ran violently down a steep place into the sea. Neither was there any counteracting force to turn them back or reverse their course. Such a force might have been found in the knowledge of God, of his covenant mercy, of his power, love, grace, and goodrich. But this was wanting, and the absence of this knowledge at once increased their impenitence and aggravated their guilt. It was Israel's privilege and Israel's duty to know the Lord; for he had revealed himself to them as to no other nation; he had given them his Law, he had made them depositaries of his truth and the conservators of his living oracles; their ignorance, therefore, was altogether inexcusable, while it evinced greatest ingratitude to Jehovah, who had taken them into covenant with himself, and declared himself to be their God.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
They will not frame their doings to turn unto their God,.... Either their evil doings; they will not leave, as the Targum and Jarchi (g); their evil ways and worship, their adultery and idolatry; which was necessary to repentance and true conversion to God, whom they yet professed to be their God, though they had so sadly departed from him: or their good works; they did not choose to do them, which were leading steps to repentance and conversion, or fruits and evidences of it: they had no mind to repent of their sins, and turn from them to the Lord; they had no thought, care, or concern, about these things, but obstinately persisted in their sins and in their impenitence: their wills were wretchedly depraved and corrupted; their hearts hard, perverse, and obstinate; they had no will to that which is good:
for the spirit of whoredom is in the midst of them; an unclean spirit, that prompts them to and pushes them on to commit corporeal and spiritual whoredom; the bias and inclination of their minds were this way which put them upon such evil practices; the spirit of error, which caused them to err, as the Targum and Kimchi; the lying spirit in the false prophets which encouraged them therein; and even himself, the spirit that works in the children of disobedience:
and they have not known the Lord; ignorance of God, his nature and perfections, his will, word, and worship, was the cause of their idolatry, and other sins; see Hosea 4:1; and this was wilful and affected ignorance; they knew not, nor would they understand: they rejected the knowledge of God, and the means of it; so the Targum,
"and they sought not instruction (or doctrine) from the Lord.''
(g) So R. Sol. Urbin. fol. 68. 2.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
4. They—Turning from a direct address to Ephraim, he uses the third person plural to characterize the people in general. The Hebrew is against the Margin, their doings will not suffer them" the omission of "them" in the Hebrew after the verb being unusual. The sense is, they are incurable, for they will not permit (as the Hebrew literally means) their doings to be framed so as to turn unto God. Implying that they resist the Spirit of God, not suffering Him to renew them; and give themselves up to "the spirit of whoredoms" (in antithesis to "the Spirit of God" implied in "suffer" or "permit") (Ho 4:12; Isa 63:10; Eze 16:43; Ac 7:51).
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