|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
6:18-30 God rejects their outward services, as worthless to atone for their sins. Sacrifice and incense were to direct them to a Mediator; but when offered to purchase a license to go on in sin, they provoke God. The sins of God's professing people make them an easy prey to their enemies. They dare not show themselves. Saints may rejoice in hope of God's mercies, though they see them only in the promise: sinners must mourn for fear of God's judgments, though they see them only in the threatenings. They are the worst of revolters, and are all corrupters. Sinners soon become tempters. They are compared to ore supposed to have good metal in it, but which proves all dross. Nothing will prevail to part between them and their sins. Reprobate silver shall they be called, useless and worthless. When warnings, corrections, rebukes, and all means of grace, leave men unrenewed, they will be left, as rejected of God, to everlasting misery. Let us pray, then, that we may be refined by the Lord, as silver is refined.
Verse 20. - To what purpose... incense from Sheba? This is the answer to an implied objection on the part of the Jews, that they have faithfully fulfilled their core-menial obligations. "To obey is better than sacrifice" (1 Samuel 15:22); "And what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" (Micah 6:8; comp. Isaiah 1:11; Amos 5:21-24; Hosea 6:6; Micah 6:6-8). All these passages must be read in the light of the prophets' circumstances. A purely formal, petrified religion compelled them to attack the existing priesthood, and a holy indignation cannot stop to measure its language. Incense from Sheba; frankincense from south-west Arabia. This was required for the holy incense (Exodus 30:34), and as an addition to the minkhah, or "meal offering." Sweet cane. The "sweet calamus" of Exodus 30:23, which was imported from India. It was an ingredient in the holy anointing oil (Exodus, loc. cit.). Not to be confounded with the sugar-cane.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
To what purpose cometh there to me incense from Sheba,.... In Persia or Arabia, from whence incense was brought, and perhaps the best; see Isaiah 60:6, and yet the offering of this was of no esteem with God, when the words of the prophet, and the law of his mouth, were despised; see Isaiah 1:13,
and the sweet cane from a far country? either from the same place, Sheba, which was a country afar off, Joel 3:8, or from India, as Jerom interprets it; this was one of the spices in the anointing oil, Exodus 30:23 and though this was of divine appointment, and an omission of it is complained of, Isaiah 43:24 yet when this was brought with a hypocritical heart, and to atone for neglects of the moral law, and sins committed against that, it was rejected by the Lord:
your burnt, offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet unto me: being offered up with a wicked mind, and without faith in Christ, and in order to expiate the guilt of black crimes unrepented of, and continued in; they were not grateful to God, nor could he smell a sweet savour in them, but loathed and abhorred them; see Isaiah 1:11.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
20. Literally, "To what purpose is this to Me, that incense cometh to Me?"
incense … cane—(Isa 43:24; 60:6). No external services are accepted by God without obedience of the heart and life (Jer 7:21; Ps 50:7-9; Isa 1:11; Mic 6:6, &c.).
sweet … sweet—antithesis. Your sweet cane is not sweet to Me. The calamus.
Jeremiah 6:20 Parallel Commentaries
Jeremiah 6:20 NIV
Jeremiah 6:20 NLT
Jeremiah 6:20 ESV
Jeremiah 6:20 NASB
Jeremiah 6:20 KJV
Bible Hub: Online Parallel Bible