|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
29:17-24 The wonderful change here foretold, may refer to the affairs of Judah, though it looks further. When a great harvest of souls was gathered to Christ from among the Gentiles, then the wilderness was turned into a fruitful field; and the Jewish church, that had long been a fruitful field, became as a deserted forest. Those who, when in trouble, can truly rejoice in God, shall soon have cause greatly to rejoice in him. The grace of meekness contributes to the increase of our holy joy. The enemies who were powerful shall become mean and weak. To complete the repose of God's people, the scorners at home shall be cut off by judgements. All are apt to speak unadvisedly, and to mistake what they hear, but it is very unfair to make a man an offender for a word. They did all they could to bring those into trouble who told them of their faults. But He that redeemed Abraham out of his snares and troubles, will redeem those who are, by faith, his true seed, out of theirs. It will be the greatest comfort to godly parents to see their children renewed creatures, the work of God's grace. May those who now err in spirit, and murmur against the truth, come to understanding, and learn true doctrine. The Spirit of truth shall set right their mistakes, and lead them into all truth. This should encourage us to pray for those that have erred, and are deceived. All who murmured at the truths of God, as hard sayings, shall learn and be aware what God designed in all. See the change religion produces in the hearts of men, and the peace and pleasure of a humble and devout spirit.
Verse 21. - That make a man an offender for a word. The meaning of this clause is very doubtful. Kay translates, "That lead men into sin by words;" Mr. Cheyne, "That make out people to be sinners by their words," i.e. by bearing false witness against them; while Delitzsch upholds the rendering of the Authorized Version. Mr. Vance Smith has other suggestions ('Prophecies,' p, 171). There seems to be, on the whole, no sufficient reason for setting aside the authorized rendering, which con-demus one form of oppression - the severe punishment of mere words. And lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate. "The gate" was the place where judgment was given and public assemblies held. If any one boldly stood up and reproved the oppressors "in the gate," they instantly set to work to lay a trap for him and bring him to ruin. And turn aside the just for a thing of naught; rather, and deprive the just [of their right] by empty charges. "Turning aside the just" means turning them from their right (Amos 5:12; Exodus 23:6); and bat tohu is not "for nothing" but "by nothing," i.e. by some vain empty pretence.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
That make a man an offender for a word,.... Inadvertently spoken, unwarily dropped, without any bad design or ill meaning; or for a word misplaced or misconstrued; or for preaching and professing the word of God, the Gospel of salvation, and adhering to it; which is the true character of the persecutors of good men in all ages: some render the words, "who make a man sin by a word" (e); by their words and doctrines; and so apply it to the false prophets, as Jarchi does; and very well agrees with the Pharisees in Christ's time, who made men to sin, to transgress the word of God, by their traditions. The Targum is,
"who condemn the sons of men by their words;''
or for them; particularly for their words of reproof, for which they make them offenders, or pronounce them guilty, as follows:
and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate; either for just judges, who sat in the gate of the city, and faithfully reproved and punished men for their sins; or for such that had boldness and courage enough to reprove wicked men openly, and before all, for their wickedness, the gate being a public place, where people pass and repass; and such that sin openly should be reproved openly; and particularly the true prophets of the Lord may be referred to, who sometimes were sent to publish their messages, which were frequently reproofs of the people, in the gates of the city; but, above all, Christ seems to be respected, who in the most public manner inveighed against the Scribes and Pharisees for their wickedness, on account of which they sought to entangle him in his talk, and to lay snares for his life; see Matthew 22:15,
and turn aside the just for a thing of nought; the Targum is,
"that falsely pervert the judgment of the innocent;''
that turn away their judgment, decline doing them justice, but condemn them on frivolous pretences, for just nothing at all, what is mere emptiness and vanity: Christ is eminently the "just" One, righteous in himself, and the author of righteousness to others; yet, on account of things for which there were no foundation, and contrary to all justice, he was proceeded against as a criminal.
(e) "qui verbie faciunt ut peccent homines", Castalio; "peccare facientes hominem in verbo", Pagninus, Montanus. And to the same sense the Septuagint, V. L. Syr. and Arab.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
21. Rather, "Who make a man guilty in his cause" [Gesenius], that is, unjustly condemn him. "A man" is in the Hebrew a poor man, upon whom such unjust condemnations might be practiced with more impunity than on the rich; compare Isa 29:19, "the meek … the poor."
him that reproveth—rather, "pleadeth"; one who has a suit at issue.
gate—the place of concourse in a city, where courts of justice were held (Ru 4:11; Pr 31:23; Am 5:10, 12).
just—one who has a just cause; or, Jesus Christ, "the Just One" [Horsley].
for a thing of naught—rather, "through falsehood," "by a decision that is null in justice" [Barnes]. Compare as to Christ, Pr 28:21; Mt 26:15; Ac 3:13, 14; 8:33.
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