You have seen all their vengeance and all their imaginations against me.…
I. THE PROCEEDINGS OF THESE ENEMIES. The spirit of vengeance is in their hearts. Jeremiah has spoken steadily against them what Jehovah had laid on him to say. They know the language in which they have been described. It was, of course, just the thing to be expected that bad men should cherish vengeful purposes. And Jeremiah had to bear the consciousness of this - the very painful consciousness that he was the cause, however innocent, of showing up the worst passions in the hearts of others. This spirit of vengeance manifested itself in two ways.
1. Reproach. He was called all sorts of names, held up to derision and execration. He indeed had to reproach, but then there was a measure and dignity in the words he employed. His reproaches were meant to call the reproached ones to repentance. But the reproaches from his enemies meant immediate danger to him - danger from the populace on the one hand, and the authorities on the other.
2. Plotting. Society was just in the state when plots could be carried out with success. Jeremiah did not make one enemy or a few enemies, but many. They were wicked men, and doubtless had subordinates ready to hand for any knavery that was going on.
II. JEREMIAH'S BELIEF THAT GOD'S EYE WAS UPON THESE ENEMIES. "Thou hast seen? It is a great matter to feel that God has his eye upon all human wickedness. We may suffer greatly from it, and yet see only a very small part of what he sees. We are forever running into extremes, exaggerating or palliating, magnifying the reality or else diminishing it. We look at things too much in reference to our individual selves, and as they concern us. But God sees things as they truly are, in all their relations and possibilities. Some things are worse than we think them, others better. And so we are enabled to feel that all wickedness is kept within comparatively innocuous limits, The mischief only reaches the outside of what is attacked, for the same God who watches the wicked watches the good at the same time.
III. THE PRAYER OF JEREMIAH. (Vers. 64-66.) The vehemence, the almost savageness of these words staggers us. But then, we are not to expect the gentleness of a Christian from an old Jewish prophet. We are not required to justify every petition of God's servants. We have to distinguish between the prophet taken out of himself by inspiration and the man of like passions with ourselves, who has to pass through a long discipline before he can pray as he ought to pray. We may feel here that a silent waiting upon God would have been better than any imprecations of vengeance, and yet, at the same time, we must acquit Jeremiah of anything like personal malice. He wished that the wicked might be recompensed according to the work of their hands. The wicked wished Jeremiah to be treated according to the ferocity of their own hearts. - Y.
Parallel VersesKJV: Thou hast seen all their vengeance and all their imaginations against me.