Jeremiah 1:9
Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said to me, Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.
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(9) The Lord put forth his hand . . .—The symbolic act seems to imply something like a waking vision, like that of Isaiah (Isaiah 6:6), and the act itself reminds us of the “live coal” laid upon the prophet’s mouth, as there recorded. The “hand of the Lord,” as in Ezekiel 3:14; Ezekiel 8:1., and elsewhere, was the received symbol of the special influence of the Spirit of the Lord; and here, as in the case of Isaiah, the act implied the gift of new powers of thought and utterance. The words which a prophet speaks, like those which were to be spoken by the Apostles of Christ (Matthew 10:20), are not his own words, but those put into his heart by the Spirit of the Father. So “the finger of God” in Luke 11:20 answers to “the Spirit of God” in Matthew 12:28.

Jeremiah 1:9-10. Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth — This appeared to the prophet to be done in his vision; whereby he was taught that the divine help should go along with him, that the gift of utterance should be bestowed upon him, and that he should be able to declare the divine commands in a proper spirit and manner: compare Isaiah 6:7; and Isaiah 51:16. Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth — By the seeing of this symbolical action in his vision, and the hearing of these words, Jeremiah could not but be assured that he should be able to speak in the proper language of a prophet, or with words becoming his office, and that he should have that firmness and boldness given him which were necessary for the purpose. Jeremiah does not indeed equal Isaiah in eloquence of speech, but he seems to have been no way inferior to him in firmness of mind. See, I have this day set thee over the nations — Namely, to speak to them in my name, for this is all that is meant here by being set over them. To root out and to pull down, &c. — In the style of Scripture the prophets are said to do what they declare shall be done; and therefore Jeremiah is here said to root out, &c., because he was authorized to make known the purposes of God, and because the events here mentioned would follow in consequence of his prophecies. See Isaiah 6:9; and Bishop Newton on the Prophecies, vol. 1.1:1-10 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.Touched - "Made it touch." This was the symbol of the bestowal of divine grace and help, by which that want of eloquence, which the prophet had pleaded as a disqualification, was removed. 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). Then the Lord put forth his hand: God having before excited the prophet to his work by command and promise, doth now in a vision establish and confirm him, either by the hand of an angel, Isaiah 6:6,7, or rather, by himself in some visible shape.

Touched, Heb. came upon, as the word is used, Judges 20:41, hereby enabling him to speak; or, Thou shalt be my mouth to deliver my words; partly, to let Jeremiah understand that they were God’s words; and partly, to intimate that they should be effectual; and partly, that he should never be without them, but continually supplied. See the like kind of phrase Jeremiah 5:14. And he adds,

Behold; q.d. Attend to what I am about to say; or, Look upon this outward sign, and let it assure thee of the thing signified. 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.

Then the LORD put forth his hand, and {k} touched my mouth. And the LORD said to me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.

(k) Which declares that God makes them meet and assures them, whom he calls to set forth his glory, giving them all means necessary for the same, Ex 4:12, Isa 6:7.

9. touched] caused it to touch. An outward symbol of the gift of eloquence, which was being then and there bestowed. The same part of the verb (with a causative force) is used in the corresponding passage of Isaiah (Isaiah 6:7). On the other hand, in Daniel (Daniel 10:16), where the object was merely to restore the power of articulate speech, the verb is “touched,” not “caused to touch.” The nature of God’s dealing with Ezekiel was distinct from either of these (Ezekiel 2:8).

I have put, etc.] Cp. Deuteronomy 18:18.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." Jeremiah 1:1-3 contain the heading to the whole book of the prophecies of Jeremiah. The heading runs thus: "Sayings of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests at Anathoth, in the land of Benjamin, to whom befell the word of Jahveh in the days of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign, and in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah king of Judah, until the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month." The period mentioned in these verses includes the time of Jeremiah's principal labours, while no reference is here made to the work he at a later time wrought amidst the ruins of Judah and in Egypt; this being held to be of but subordinate importance for the theocracy. Similarly, when the names of the kings under whom he laboured are given, the brief reigns of Jehoahaz and of Jehoiachin are omitted, neither reign having lasted over three months. His prophecies are called דברים, words or speeches, as in Jeremiah 36:10; so with the prophecies of Amos, Amos 1:1. More complete information as to the person of the prophet is given by the mention made of his father and of his extraction. The name ירמיהוּ, "Jahveh throws," was in very common use, and is found as the name of many persons; cf. 1 Chronicles 5:24; 1 Chronicles 12:4, 1 Chronicles 12:10, 1 Chronicles 12:13; 2 Kings 23:31; Jeremiah 35:3; Nehemiah 10:3; Nehemiah 12:1. Hence we are hardly entitled to explain the name with Hengstb. by Exodus 15:1, to the effect that whoever bore it was consecrated to the God who with almighty hand dashes to the ground all His foes, so that in his name the nature of our prophet's mission would be held to be set forth. His father Hilkiah is taken by Clem. Alex., Jerome, and some Rabbins, for the high priest of that name who is mentioned in 2 Chronicles 22:4; but without sufficient grounds. For Hilkiah, too, is a name that often occurs; and the high priest is sure to have had his home not in Anathoth, but in Jerusalem. But Jeremiah and his father belonged to the priests who lived in Anathoth, now called Anta, a town of the priests, lying 1 1/4 hours north of Jerusalem (see on Joshua 21:18), in the land, i.e., the tribal territory, of Benjamin. In Jeremiah 1:2 אליו belongs to אשׁר: "to whom befell (to whom came) the word of Jahveh in the days of Josiah, the thirteenth year of his reign." This same year is named by Jeremiah in Jeremiah 25:3 as the beginning of his prophetic labours. ויהי in Jeremiah 1:3 is the continuation of היה in Jeremiah 1:2, and its subject is דבר יהוה: and then (further) it came (to him) in the days of Jehoiakim, the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah, etc. In the fifth month of the year named, the eleventh of the reign of Zedekiah, Jerusalem was reduced to ashes by Nebuzar-adan, and its inhabitants carried away to Babylon; cf. Jeremiah 52:12., 2 Kings 25:8. Shortly before, King Zedekiah, captured when in flight from the Chaldeans during the siege of Jerusalem, had been deprived of eyesight at Riblah and carried to Babylon in chains. And thus his kingship was at an end, thought the eleventh year of his reign might not be yet quite completed.
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