|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
20:14-18 When grace has the victory, it is good to be ashamed of our folly, to admire the goodness of God, and be warned to guard our spirits another time. See how strong the temptation was, over which the prophet got the victory by Divine assistance! He is angry that his first breath was not his last. While we remember that these wishes are not recorded for us to utter the like, we may learn good lessons from them. See how much those who think they stand, ought to take heed lest they fall, and to pray daily, Lead us not into temptation. How frail, changeable, and sinful is man! How foolish and unnatural are the thoughts and wishes of our hearts, when we yield to discontent! Let us consider Him who endured the contradiction of sinners against himself, lest we should be at any time weary and faint in our minds under our lesser trials.
Verses 14-18. - Jeremiah curses the day of his birth. The passage is a further development of the complaint in Jeremiah 15:10, and stands in no connection with the consolatory close of the preceding passage. There is a very striking parallel in Job 3:3-12, and the question cannot be evaded, Which is the original? It is difficult to believe that Jeremiah copied from an earlier poem. Deep emotion expresses itself in language suggested by the moment; and, even after retouching his discourses, Jeremiah would leave much of the original expression. But impressions of this sort cannot be unreservedly trusted. The argument from parallel passages is only a subsidiary one in the determination of the date of books.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Cursed be the day wherein I was born,.... If this was said immediately upon the foregoing, it was a most strange and sudden change of frame indeed that the prophet came into, from praising God, to cursing the day of his birth; wherefore some have thought it was delivered at another time, when in great anguish of spirit; very likely when so ill used by Pashur, as before related; but here repeated, to show in what distress he had been, and what reason there was for praise and thanksgiving; for the words may be connected with the preceding, thus, "for he hath delivered from the hand of evil doers the soul of the poor, who said" (l), in the time of his distress, "cursed be the day", &c; but, whenever it was spoke, it showed the impatience of the prophet, the weakness of his faith, and the greatness of his folly, to curse a day, and his birth day too, as Job did, when under affliction, Job 3:1;
let not the day wherein my mother bare me be blessed; to myself or others; let it be reckoned among the unhappy and unfortunate days; let it not be blessed with the light of the sun, or with the light of joy and prosperity; see Job 3:4; let it not be said on this occasion, as commonly is, we wish you joy on your birth day, and may you see many happy days of this kind. Abendana observes, that some of their Rabbins say, that Jeremiah cursed the day of his birth, because it was the ninth of Ab, the day on which the temple was burnt.
(l) So it is supplied by Grotius and Schmidt.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
14-18. The contrast between the spirit of this passage and the preceding thanksgiving is to be explained thus: to show how great was the deliverance (Jer 20:13), he subjoins a picture of what his wounded spirit had been previous to his deliverance; I had said in the time of my imprisonment, "Cursed be the day"; my feeling was that of Job (Job 3:3, 10, 11, whose words Jeremiah therefore copies). Though Jeremiah's zeal had been stirred up, not so much for self as for God's honor trampled on by the rejection of the prophet's words, yet it was intemperate when he made his birth a subject for cursing, which was really a ground for thanksgiving.
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