|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:1-10 Jeremiah's early call to the work and office of a prophet is stated. He was to be a prophet, not to the Jews only, but to the neighbouring nations. He is still a prophet to the whole world, and it would be well if they would attend to these warnings. The Lord who formed us, knows for what particular services and purposes he intended us. But unless he sanctify us by his new-creating Spirit, we shall neither be fit for his holy service on earth, nor his holy happiness in heaven. It becomes us to have low thoughts of ourselves. Those who are young, should consider that they are so, and not venture beyond their powers. But though a sense of our own weakness and insufficiency should make us go humbly about our work, it should not make us draw back when God calls us. Those who have messages to deliver from God, must not fear the face of man. The Lord, by a sign, gave Jeremiah such a gift as was necessary. God's message should be delivered in his own words. Whatever wordly wise men or politicians may think, the safety of kingdoms is decided according to the purpose and word of God.
Verse 9. - Touched my mouth; literally, caused (his hand) to touch my mouth. Jeremiah had said that he was unskilled in oratory; the Divine answer is that the words which he has to speak are not his own, but those of Jehovah. Two things are obvious:
1. The touching of the lips is not purely metaphorical, as in Psalm 51:15 (comp. Psalm 40:6); it represents a real experience.
2. This experience, however, can only have been a visionary one, analogous to that vouchsafed to Isaiah at the opening of his prophetic ministry. In the grand account given by Isaiah of his inaugural vision (which has evidently influenced the form of the vision of Jeremiah), we read of the same significant act on the part of one of the seraphim. It is the same act, certainly, but it symbolizes, not as here the communication of a prophetic message (comp. Matthew 10:19), but the purification of the lips. Does it not seem as if Isaiah had attained a deeper insight into the spiritual regeneration needed by the prophet than had been granted to Jeremiah? Another point in which Jeremiah's account seems inferior to that of Isaiah is plastic power. Notice how Jeremiah dwells upon the meaning of the words; this is a reflective element which diminishes the poetic power of the narrative. A word may Be added to explain that "visionary" is not here used in opposition to "based on fact." That the two epithets are susceptible of combination is well shown in the vision described by Pere Gratry, in his 'Souvenirs do ma Jeunesse' (pp. 102-105), the reality of which is not in the least impaired in the writer's mind by its thoroughly inward character: "Dens teutes ces seines interieures, je n'imaginais rien... c'etaient de saisissantes et tres-energiques realites auxquelles je ne m'attendais nullement."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Then the Lord put forth his hand,.... Who, according to Kimchi, was the Angel that appeared to the prophet, and spoke in the name of the Lord to him, and is called by his name; but rather it was the Son of God, the true Jehovah, who appeared in a human form he assumed for the present, and put forth his hand:
and touched my mouth; just as one of the seraphim touched the mouth and lips of the Prophet Isaiah with a live coal from the altar, Isaiah 6:6, by this symbol the prophet was inducted into his office; and it was suggested to him that his mouth was now sanctified to the Lord's use and service; and that what he should speak should not be his own words, but the words of the Lord; and so the Targum paraphrases it,
"and the Lord sent the words of his prophecy, and ordered them in my mouth;''
to which agrees what follows:
and the Lord said unto me, behold, I have put my words in thy mouth; which was signified by the preceding symbol; wherefore he might with great freedom and boldness deliver them out to others.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
9. touched my mouth—a symbolical act in supernatural vision, implying that God would give him utterance, notwithstanding his inability to speak (Jer 1:6). So Isaiah's lips were touched with a living coal (Isa 6:7; compare Eze 2:8, 9, 10; Da 10:16).
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