|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
29:9-16 The security of sinners in sinful ways, is cause for lamentation and wonder. The learned men, through prejudice, said that the Divine prophecies were obscure; and the poor urged their want of learning. The Bible is a sealed book to every man, learned or unlearned, till he begins to study it with a simple heart and a teachable spirit, that he may thence learn the truth and the will of God. To worship God, is to approach him. And if the heart be full of his love and fear, out of the abundance of it the mouth will speak; but there are many whose religion is lip-labour only. When they pretend to be speaking to God, they are thinking of a thousand foolish things. They worship the God of Israel according to their own devices. Numbers are only formal in worship. And their religion is only to comply with custom, and to serve their own interest. But the wanderings of mind, and defects in devotion, which are the believer's burden, are very different from the withdrawing of the heart from God, so severely blamed. And those who make religion no more than a pretence, to serve a turn, deceive themselves. And as those that quarrel with God, so those that think to conceal themselves from him, in effect charge him with folly. But all their perverse conduct shall be entirely done away.
Verse 16. - Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter's clay; rather, O for your perverseness! Shall the potter be reckoned as clay? They were so perverse and wrong-headed that they inverted the relation in which they stood to God and God to them. God was to be passive, or merely give opportunities of action, and they were to mould their own plans and carve out their own destinies. For shall the work say, etc.? rather, for the work saith. Taking their destinies into their own hands was equivalent to saying that they were their own masters, which they could not be if God made them. Shall the thing framed say, etc.? rather, yea, the thing formed hath said. To refuse to take counsel of God, and direct the national policy by the light of their own reason, was to tax God with having no understanding.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Surely your turning of things upside down,.... Revolving things in their minds, throwing them into different shapes, forming various schemes, and inverting the order of things by their deep counsels, and seeking to hide things from the Lord: or, "O the perverseness of you" (z); in imagining and saying that no eye saw, nor anyone knew, what they did, not the Lord himself. So the Vulgate Latin version, "this is your perverse thought"; namely, what is before related. The Targum is,
"do you seek to pervert your works?''
Our version joins it with what follows; though a stop should be made here, because of the accent:
shall be esteemed as the potter's clay: their perverse counsels and designs shall be made of no more account with God, and be as easily turned about and brought to nought, as the clay can be formed, and shaped, and marred by the potter, at his pleasure: "if" or "surely as the potter's clay shall it be esteemed", as the words may be rendered; or it may refer to their persons, as well as their counsels. So the Septuagint version, "shall ye not be reckoned as the potter's clay?" ye shall. To which agrees the Targum,
"behold, as the clay in the hand of the potter, so are ye accounted before me;''
who could do with them just as seemed good in his sight. De Dieu renders them, "shall the potter be reckoned as the clay?" Such was the stupidity and perverseness of the Jews, in endeavouring to hide their counsels from the Lord, and in fancying that he did not see and know them, that they thought God was like themselves; which is all one as if the potter was reckoned as the clay, for they were the clay, and God the potter. The Vulgate Latin version is, "as if the clay could think against the potter"; contrive schemes to counterwork him; which, to imagine, was not more stupid, than to think they could do anything against the Lord:
for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? to say that God does not know what is done by his creatures, is in effect to say that he did not make them; for he that made them must needs know their actions, and even the very thoughts of their hearts; as he that makes a watch knows all that is in it, and the motions of it:
or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding? or judgment, did not know how to make it as it should be. So the Septuagint version, "thou hast not made me wisely"; or he did not understand the work itself, the make and fashion of it. So the Targum,
"thou does not understand me.''
This might as well be said, as for a creature to pretend that God does not know what and where he is, or what he is doing.
(z) So some in Gataker; "subversio vestra", Pagninus, Montanus.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
16. Rather, "Ah! your perverseness! just as if the potter should be esteemed as the clay!" [Maurer]. Or, "Ye invert (turn upside down) the order of things, putting yourselves instead of God," and vice versa, just as if the potter should be esteemed as the clay [Horsley], (Isa 45:9; 64:8).
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