Jeremiah 1:17
You therefore gird up your loins, and arise, and speak to them all that I command you: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound you before them.
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(17) Gird up thy loins.—Be as the messenger who prepares to be swift on his errand, and to go whithersoever he is sent (1Kings 18:46; 2Kings 4:29; 2Kings 9:1). The vivid image of intense activity re-appears in the New Testament (Luke 12:35; 1Peter 1:13), and has become proverbial in the speech of Christendom.

Be not dismayed.—The repeated calls to courage appear to indicate—like St. Paul’s exhortations to Timothy (1Timothy 4:12; 1Timothy 6:13; 2Timothy 2:3)—a constitutional timidity. We must remember, as some excuse for this, that the reign of Manasseh had shown that the work of the prophet might easily lead to the fate of the martyr (2Kings 21:16). Even Ezekiel, among the remnant of exiles on the banks of Chebar, needed a like encouragement (Ezekiel 2:6).

Lest I confound thee.—The Hebrew emphasises the command by repeating the same words: Be not dismayed, lest I dismay thee.

Jeremiah 1:17. Thou therefore gird up thy loins — Prepare to do the work to which I call and appoint thee. For, it being the custom of the eastern people to wear long garments, which they girded about their loins when any business required great activity or expedition; by thus speaking the Lord enjoins his prophet to use all possible vigour and intention of mind as well as of body, that he might execute, with diligence and despatch, the office which God had assigned him. And arise — Another expression of the same meaning. And speak all that I command thee — Hebrew, shall command thee. Be not dismayed at their faces — Discover no fear, and conceal no message; lest I confound thee — The Hebrew verb is the same in both parts of the sentence, which may be literally rendered thus: Be not confounded at their faces, (namely, when thou appearest in their presence,)

lest I confound thee before them. God exhorts him not to be dismayed at the scoffs and ill treatment he should meet with from hardened sinners, especially from those who thought their power and authority set them above reproof, and would bear them out in whatsoever they did: see Ezekiel 11:6. He tells him it is better to bear the reproaches of men than the reproofs of God, who would call him to a strict account how he discharged his duty.1:11-19 God gave Jeremiah a view of the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem by the Chaldeans. The almond-tree, which is more forward in the spring than any other, represented the speedy approach of judgments. God also showed whence the intended ruin should arise. Jeremiah saw a seething-pot boiling, representing Jerusalem and Judah in great commotion. The mouth or face of the furnace or hearth, was toward the north; from whence the fire and fuel were to come. The northern powers shall unite. The cause of these judgments was the sin of Judah. The whole counsel of God must be declared. The fear of God is the best remedy against the fear of man. Better to have all men our enemies than God our enemy; those who are sure they have God with them, need not, ought not to fear, whoever is against them. Let us pray that we may be willing to give up personal interests, and that nothing may move us from our duty.Gird up thy loins - A symbol of preparation for earnest exertion, and implying also firm purpose, and some degree of alacrit

Be not dismayed ... - literally, "be not dismayed at their faces, lest I dismay thee before their faces." Naturally despondent and self-distrustful, there was yet no feebleness in Jeremiah's character. There was in him a moral superiority of the will, which made him, at any cost to himself, faithfully discharge whatever his conscience told him was his duty.

17. gird … loins—resolutely prepare for thy appointed task. Metaphor from the flowing robes worn in the East, which have to be girt up with a girdle, so as not to incommode one, when undertaking any active work (Job 38:3; Lu 12:35; 1Pe 1:13).

dismayed … confound—the same Hebrew word; literally, "to break." Be not dismayed at their faces (before them), lest I make thee dismayed before their faces (before them), that is, "lest I should permit thee to be overcome by them" (compare Jer 49:37).

Gird up thy loins: by this expression God quickens and hastens him upon his work, not to stand hesitating, but to be doing; prepare thyself: for it is a speech taken from the custom of the countries where they did wear long garments; and therefore they did gird them up about them, that they might not hinder them in any work that required expedition. See the phrase and practice Exodus 12:11 2 Kings 4:29, and in many other texts. It implies two things:

1. Speed and despatch.

2. Courage and resolution, Job 38.

Arise; another expression to the same purpose, to speed him about his work; the like Jeremiah 13.

Command thee, Heb. shall command thee. Be not dismayed at their faces; discover no fear, and conceal no message. See Jeremiah 1:8.

Confound thee, Heb. break thee in pieces; either lest thou prove confused and shattered in thy notions, and unable to deliver thy message, lest I leave thee and forsake thee; or lest I terrify thee worse than they are able to do, even to ruin thee. See Matthew 10:28.

Before them: it seems to be spoken by way of aggravation; God would shame him, or destroy him, even in their sight, to become their reproach. Or, Think not to escape any more than Urijah, Jeremiah 26:23. Thou therefore gird up thy loins,.... The loins both of his mind and body. The allusion is to the custom of the eastern countries in wearing long garments, who, when they went about business, girt them about them for quicker dispatch; and here it designs haste and expedition in doing the Lord's work, as well as courage and resolution of mind:

and arise; and go from Anathoth to Jerusalem:

and speak unto them all that I command thee; See Gill on Jeremiah 1:7,

be not dismayed at their faces; See Gill on Jeremiah 1:8,

lest I confound thee before them; show resentment at him in some way or another, which would make him ashamed before them. The Septuagint and Arabic versions add, "for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord", as in Jeremiah 1:8.

Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak to them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I {q} confound thee before them.

(q) Which declares that God's vengeance is prepared against them who do not execute their duty faithfully, either for fear of man, or for any other reason, 1Co 9:16.

17–19. Words of encouragement

17. Thou therefore gird up thy loins] obviously metaphorical. Prepare for energetic action or strenuous conflict. The lower part of the flowing Eastern robe was gathered up in preparation for (i) a journey (Exodus 12:11; 2 Kings 4:29; 2 Kings 9:1), (ii) a race (1 Kings 18:46), (iii) a conflict (Job 38:3; Job 40:7).

be not dismayed, etc.] be not dismayed (lit. broken down, shattered) before them, lest I dismay thee before them. Be not a coward, lest I leave thee to the consequences of thy cowardice. Quail not, lest I let thee quail. Cp. Jeremiah 17:17.Verse 17. - Gird up thy loins, as an Oriental does before making any kind of physical exertion, whether walking (Exodus 12:11; 2 Kings 4:29), running (1 Kings 18:46), or fighting (Job 12:21). Be not dismayed. A want of confidence on Jeremiah's part will issue in his utter discomfiture by his enemies. "Dismay" in Hebrew has a twofold reference, subjective ("dismay") and objective ("ruin," "discomfiture"). Both references can be illustrated from this verse. (Comp. the command and - ver. 18 - premise to Jeremiah with the command and promise to Ezekiel - 3:8, 9.) The Confirmatory Tokens. - The first is given in Jeremiah 1:11 and Jeremiah 1:12 : "And there came to me the word of Jahveh, saying, What seest thou, Jeremiah? And I said, I see an almond rod. Then Jahveh said to me, Thou hast seen aright: for I will keep watch over my word to fulfil it." With the consecration of the prophet to his office are associated two visions, to give him a surety of the divine promise regarding the discharge of the duties imposed on him. First, Jeremiah sees in spirit a rod or twig of an almond tree. God calls his attention to this vision, and interprets it to him as a symbol of the swift fulfilment of His word. The choice of this symbol for the purpose given is suggested by the Hebrew name for the almond tree, שׁקד, the wakeful, the vigilant; because this tree begins to blossom and expand its leaves in January, when the other trees are still in their winter's sleep (florat omnium prima mense Januario, Martio vero poma maturat. Plin. h. n. xvi. 42, and Von Schubert, Reise iii. S. 14), and so of all trees awakes earliest to new life. Without any sufficient reason Graf has combated this meaning for שׁקד, proposing to change שׁקד into שׁקד, and, with Aquil., Sym., and Jerome, to translate מקּל שׁקד watchful twig, virga vigilans, i.e., a twig whose eyes are open, whose buds have opened, burst; but he has not even attempted to give any authority for the use of the verb שׁקד for the bursting of buds, much less justified it. In the explanation of this symbol between the words, thou hast seen aright, and the grounding clause, for I will keep watch, there is omitted the intermediate thought: it is indeed a שׁקד. The twig thou hast seen is an emblem of what I shall do; for I will keep watch over my word, will be watchful to fulfil it. This interpretation of the symbol shows besides that מקּל is not here to be taken, as by Kimchi, Vatabl., Seb. Schmidt, Ngelsb., and others, for a stick to beat with, or as a threatening rod of correction. The reasons alleged by Ngelsb. for this view are utterly inconclusive. For his assertion, that מקּל always means a stick, and never a fresh, leafy branch, is proved to be false by Genesis 30:37; and the supposed climax found by ancient expositors in the two symbols: rod-boiling caldron, put thus by Jerome: qui noluerint percutiente virga emendari, mittentur in ollam aeneam atque succensam, is forced into the text by a false interpretation of the figure of the seething pot. The figure of the almond rod was meant only to afford to the prophet surety for the speedy and certain fulfilment of the word of God proclaimed by him. It is the second emblem alone that has anything to do with the contents of his preaching.
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