Jeremiah 12:3
But thou, O LORD, knowest me: thou hast seen me, and tried mine heart toward thee: pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter.
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(3) Thou, O Lord, knowest me.—Like all faithful sufferers from evil-doers before and after him, the prophet appeals to the righteous Judge, who knows how falsely he has been accused. In words in which the natural impatience of suffering shows itself as clearly as in the complaints of Psalms 69, 109, he asks that the judgment may be immediate, open, terrible. As if recalling the very phrase which he had himself but lately used (Jeremiah 11:19), he prays that they too may be as “sheep for the slaughter,” dragged or torn away from their security to the righteous penalty of their wrong.

Prepare.—Better, devote. The Hebrew word, as in Jeremiah 6:4, involves the idea of consecration.

12:1-6 When we are most in the dark concerning God's dispensations, we must keep up right thoughts of God, believing that he never did the least wrong to any of his creatures. When we find it hard to understand any of his dealings with us, or others, we must look to general truths as our first principles, and abide by them: the Lord is righteous. The God with whom we have to do, knows how our hearts are toward him. He knows both the guile of the hypocrite and the sincerity of the upright. Divine judgments would pull the wicked out of their pasture as sheep for the slaughter. This fruitful land was turned into barrenness for the wickedness of those that dwelt therein. The Lord reproved the prophet. The opposition of the men of Anathoth was not so formidable as what he must expect from the rulers of Judah. Our grief that there should be so much evil is often mixed with peevishness on account of the trials it occasions us. And in this our favoured day, and under our trifling difficulties, let us consider how we should behave, if called to sufferings like those of saints in former ages.Thou hast seen me ... - Rather, "Thou seest me and triest mine heart" at all times, and knowest the sincerity of its devotion" toward Thee."

Pull them out - The original is used Jeremiah 10:20 of the rending asunder of the cords of the tent, and Ezekiel 17:9 of the tearing up of roots. Jeremiah does not doubt God's justice, or the ultimate punishment of the wicked, but he wants it administered in a summary way.

Prepare - literally, "sanctify," i. e., devote.

3. knowest me—(Ps 139:1).

tried … heart—(Jer 11:20).

toward thee—rather, "with Thee," that is, entirely devoted to Thee; contrasted with the hypocrites (Jer 12:2), "near in … mouth, and far from … reins." This being so, how is it that I fare so ill, they so well?

pull … out—containing the metaphor, from a "rooted tree" (Jer 12:2).

prepare—literally, "separate," or "set apart as devoted."

day of slaughter—(Jas 5:5).

But thou, O Lord, knowest me: thou hast seen me, and tried my heart toward thee: here seemeth to be something understood, viz. But, Lord, it is otherwise with me, I am maligned, and my life is hunted after; yet, Lord, thou knowest the sincerity of my heart before and towards thee, thou hast had experience of me in the discharge of my prophetical office, and knowest that I have been faithful in revealing to the people what thou didst reveal to me, yet for this it is they seek my life and would have my blood.

Prepare them for the day of slaughter: Lord, avenge me on this wicked generation, confirm the words against them which I have from thee denounced. Concerning the meaning of expressions of this nature, and the lawfulness of putting up such petitions against those who are not only our enemies, but God’s also, See Poole "Jeremiah 11:20".

But thou, O Lord, knowest me,.... The Lord knew him before he was born, Jeremiah 1:5, he knew what he designed him for, and what use he would make of him; and he knew him now, and loved him, and cared for him, as his prophet; he knew his sincerity and faithfulness, and took notice of it, with what integrity he performed his office, and discharged his duty; and he knew that all his enemies said of him were scandal and reproach, lies and calumnies.

Thou hast seen me; his inside, his heart, and all in it; for all things are naked and open to the eyes of an omniscient God:

and tried mine heart towards thee; he had tried him by various afflictive providences, and his heart was found towards God; the affections and desires of his soul were towards him, and he remained faithful and upright before him, and not like the wicked before mentioned.

Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter; either out of the fold, or from a fat pasture; so fat sheep are plucked from the rest, in order to be killed: this shows that their riches, affluence, and plenty, served but to ripen them for ruin and destruction, and were like the fattening of sheep for slaughter; which the prophet, by this imprecation, suggests and foretells would be their case, as a righteous judgment upon them; see James 5:5.

Prepare them for the day of slaughter; or, "sanctify them" (w); set them apart for it: this, doubtless, refers to the time of Jerusalem's destruction by the Chaldeans.

(w) "et sanctifica eos", V. L. Montanus; "segrega", Piscator; "destina", Schmidt; "consecra", Cocceius.

But thou, O LORD, knowest me: thou hast seen me, and tried my heart toward thee: pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and {d} prepare them for the day of slaughter.

(d) The Hebrew word is sanctify them, meaning that God would be sanctified in the destruction of the wicked to whom God for a while gives prosperity, that afterward they would the more feel his heavy judgment when they lack their riches which were a sign of his mercy.

3. The second half of the v. presents some difficulty. Jeremiah’s personal enemies have not yet been definitely mentioned, nor, if we take Co.’s view and place this passage (see on Jeremiah 11:18-23) earlier, have they been even hinted at. If, on the other hand, it refers to the wicked generally, we may question whether Jeremiah drew a distinction between their coming fortunes and those of the nation as a whole. Co. accordingly agrees so far with Du. as to omit this part of the v.

pull them out] a strong expression in the Hebrew. The verb is that rendered “are broken” in Jeremiah 10:20.

prepare] For mg. Heb. sanctify see on Jeremiah 6:4.

Verse 3. - Hast seen me, and tried; rather, seest me, and triest. Pull them out. Perhaps this is correct, and there is an allusion to the figure of the plant in Ver. 2. But the verb need mean no more than "separate" (comp. Jeremiah 6:29). Prepare them; literally, consecrate them, as victims for the sacrifice. Jeremiah 12:3To show that he has cause for his question, Jeremiah appeals to the omniscience of the Searcher of hearts. God knows him, tries his heart, and therefore knows how it is disposed towards Himself (אתּך belongs to לבּי, and את indicating the relation - here, viz., fidelity - in which the heart stands to God; cf. 2 Samuel 16:17). Thus God knows that in his heart there is no unfaithfulness, and that he maintains to God an attitude altogether other than that of those hypocrites who have God on their lips only; and knows too the enmity which, without having provoked it, he experiences. How then comes it about that with the prophet it goes ill, while with those faithless ones it goes well? God, as the righteous God, must remove this contradiction. And so his request concludes: Tear them out (נתק of the tearing out of roots, Ezekiel 17:9); here Hiph. with the same force (pointing back to the metaphor of their being rooted, Jeremiah 12:2), implying total destruction. Hence also the illustration: as sheep, that are dragged away out of the flock to be slaughtered. Devote them for the day of slaughter, like animals devoted to sacrifice.
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