Jeremiah 11:20
But, O LORD of hosts, that judgest righteously, that triest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I revealed my cause.
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(20) Let me see thy vengeance on them.—The prayer, like that of the so-called vindictive Psalms (69, 109), belongs to the earlier stage of the religious life when righteous indignation against evil is not yet tempered by the higher law of forgiveness. As such it is not to be imitated by Christians, but neither is it to be hastily condemned. The appeal to a higher judge, the desire to leave vengeance in His hands, is in itself a victory over the impulse to take vengeance into our own hands. Through it, in most cases, the sufferer from wrong must pass before he can attain to the higher and more Christ-like temper which utters itself in the prayer, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Unto thee have I revealed my cause.—i.e., laid it bare before thee. The thought and the phrase were characteristic of Jeremiah, and meet us again in Jeremiah 20:12.

Jeremiah 11:20. But, O Lord, thou judgest righteously — It is matter of comfort to us, when men deal unjustly with us, that we have a God to go to, who doth and will plead the cause of injured innocence, and appear against the injurious. God’s justice, which is a terror to the wicked, is a comfort to the godly. That triest the reins and the heart — That perfectly knowest what is in man, that discernest his most secret thoughts, desires, and designs. Let me see thy vengeance on them — That is, do justice between me and them in such a way as thou pleasest. “When men continue implacable in their malice,” says Lowth, “we may lawfully expect and desire that God will plead our cause, and judge us according to our righteousness. For the bringing wicked men to condign punishment tends both to the manifestation of God’s glory and the good government of the world. And to pray against our enemies in this sense, namely, not for the satisfying our private resentments, but the setting forth of God’s justice, is not contrary to the spirit of Christianity. So St. Paul prayed against Alexander the copper-smith, 2 Timothy 4:14.” It must be observed, however, that, according to the Hebrew text here, the words are merely a prediction; מהם אראה נקמתן, being literally, I shall see thy vengeance on them; that is, I foresee it, and predict it, though I lament they should have given occasion for it.

11:18-23 The prophet Jeremiah tells much concerning himself, the times he lived in being very troublesome. Those of his own city plotted how they might cause his death. They thought to end his days, but he outlived most of his enemies; they thought to blast his memory, but it lives to this day, and will be blessed while time lasts. God knows all the secret designs of his and his people's enemies, and can, when he pleases, make them known. God's justice is a terror to the wicked, but a comfort to the godly. When we are wronged, we have a God to commit our cause to, and it is our duty to commit it to him. We should also look well to our own spirits, that we are not overcome with evil, but that by patient continuance in praying for our enemies, and in kindness to them, we may overcome evil with good.Like a lamb or an ox - Rather, "like a tame lamb." Jeremiah had lived at Anathoth as one of the family, never suspecting that, like a tame lamb, the time would come for him to be killed.

The tree with the fruit thereof - The words are those of a proverb or dark saying. All the Churches agree in understanding that under the person of Jeremiah these things are said by Christ.

20. triest … heart—(Re 2:23).

revealed—committed my cause. Jeremiah's wish for vengeance was not personal but ministerial, and accorded with God's purpose revealed to him against the enemies alike of God and of His servant (Ps 37:34; 54:7; 112:8; 118:7).

The prophet appealeth to God, and appealeth to him as one that knew both the innocency of his heart toward them, and the malice of their hearts toward him, and used to deal out justice impartially, and committeth his cause unto God, (as we are commanded, 1 Peter 2:23) and desires that God would avenge him, and that he might see the

vengeance; which words some learned interpreters think spoken not without some passion and mixture of human frailty. Others, not as a prayer so much as a prophecy. Others, not out of a desire of private revenge, but out of a pure zeal for the glory of God, whose prophet he was, and servant, in the delivery of those prophecies that were so ungrateful to them.

But, O Lord of hosts, that judgest righteously,.... This is the prophet's appeal to God, as the Judge of the whole earth, who will do right; he found there was no justice to be done him among men; he therefore has recourse to a righteous God, who he knew judged righteous judgment:

that triest the reins and the heart; of all men; as of his own, so of his enemies; and which he mentions, not so much on his own account as theirs:

let me see thy vengeance on them; which imprecation arose from a pure zeal for God, for his glory, and the honour of his justice; and not from private revenge; and so no ways inconsistent with the character of a good man; though some consider the words as a prediction of what would befall them, and he should live to see accomplished; and render them, "I shall see &c." (q); and so the Targum,

"I shall see the vengeance of thy judgment on them:''

for unto thee have I revealed my cause; as a client to his patron; told his whole case, and left it with him, believing he would manage it for him, and do him justice. The Apostle Peter seems to have this passage in view, when speaking of Christ, 1 Peter 2:23.

(q) "videbo", Munster, Schmidt; "visurus sum", Junius & Tremellius.

But, O LORD of hosts, that judgest righteously, that triest the reins and the heart, let me see thy {p} vengeance on them: for to thee have I revealed my cause.

(p) Thus he spoke not out of hatred, but being moved with the Spirit of God, he desires the advancement of God's glory, and the verifying of his word, which is by the destruction of his enemies.

20. that triest the reins and the heart] The reins (kidneys) were held to be the seat of the feelings, the heart that of the understanding. Cp. Jeremiah 5:21. Du. points out that here first in the Bible it is clearly set forth that Jehovah is cognisant of men’s thoughts. Cp. chs. Jeremiah 17:10 and Jeremiah 20:12.

unto thee have I revealed] upon thee have I rolled is the rendering proposed by some. That of the E.VV. however keeps closer to the original.

Verse 20. - (Parallel passage, Jeremiah 20:12.) Unto thee have I revealed my cause. This is the literal rendering, but a comparison of Psalm 22:8 and Proverbs 16:3, suggests that the In meaning is Upon thee have I rolled my cause." This expression is certainly not only more forcible, but more appropriate than the other. Jeremiah's cause was not a secret which needed to be "revealed" to Jehovah, but a burden too heavy for so finely strung a nature to bear alone. Grammatically, the preferred meaning is quite justifiable, though less obvious, as there are other instances of an interchange of meanings between two classes of verbs (see on Jeremiah 33:6). Jeremiah 11:20Therefore Jeremiah calls upon the Lord, as the righteous judge and omniscient searcher of hearts, to punish his enemies. This verse is repeated almost verbally in Jeremiah 20:12, and in substance in Jeremiah 17:10. Who trieth reins and heart, and therefore knows that Jeremiah has done no evil. אראה is future as expressing certainty that God will interfere to punish; for to Him he has wholly committed his cause. גּלּיתי, Pi. of גּלה, is taken by Hitz., Ew., etc. in the sense of גּלל: on Thee have I rolled over my cause; in support of this they adduce Psalm 22:9; Psalm 37:5; Proverbs 16:3, as parallel passages. It is true that this interpretation can be vindicated grammatically, for גלל might have assumed the form of גלה (Ew. 121, a). But the passages quoted are not at all decisive, since Jeremiah very frequently gives a new sense to quotations by making slight alterations on them; and in the passage cited we read גּלל את ריב. We therefore adhere, with Grot. and Ros., to the usual meaning of גּלה; understanding that in making known there is included the idea of entrusting, a force suggested by the construction with אל instead of ל. ריב, controversy, cause. - The prophet declares God's vengeance to the instigators of the plots against his life, Jeremiah 11:21-23. The introductory formula in Jeremiah 11:21 is repeated in Jeremiah 11:22, on account of the long intervening parenthesis. "That thou diest not" is introduced by the ו of consecution. The punishment is to fall upon the entire population of Anathoth; on the young men of military age (בּחוּרים), a violent death in war; on the children, death by famine consequent on the siege. Even though all had not had a share in the complot, yet were they at heart just as much alienated from God and ill-disposed towards His word. "Year of their visitation" is still dependent on "bring." This construction is simpler than taking שׁנת for accus. adverb., both here and in Jeremiah 23:12.
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