Jeremiah 13:16
Give glory to the LORD your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble on the dark mountains, and, while you look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness.
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(16) Give glory to the Lord your God.—Probably in the same sense as in Joshua 7:19 and John 9:24, perhaps also in Malachi 2:2, “give glory by confessing the truth, even though that truth be a sin that involves punishment.” “Confess your guilt ere it be too late for pardon.” This fits in better with the context than the more general sense of “ascribing praise to God.”

Before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains.—Literally, the mountains of twilight, the word used being employed exclusively first of the coolness and then of the gathering gloom of evening twilight, and never of the dawn. (Compare its use in Job 3:9; Job 24:15; Proverbs 7:9.) The fact that the shadows are deepening is obviously one of the vivid touches of the figurative language used. The “gloaming” of the dusk is to pass on into the midnight darkness of the “shadow of death.” The same thought is found in Isaiah 59:10, and (probably with some reference to this very passage) in our Lord’s words, “If a man walk in the night he stumbleth” (John 11:10; John 12:35).

13:12-17 As the bottle was fitted to hold the wine, so the sins of the people made them vessels of wrath, fitted for the judgments of God; with which they should be filled till they caused each other's destruction. The prophet exhorts them to give glory to God, by confessing their sins, humbling themselves in repentance, and returning to his service. Otherwise they would be carried into other countries in all the darkness of idolatry and wickedness. All misery, witnessed or foreseen, will affect a feeling mind, but the pious heart must mourn most over the afflictions of the Lord's flock.The dark mountains - Rather, "the mountains of twilight." Judah is not walking upon the safe highway, but upon dangerous mountains: and the dusk is closing round her. While then the light still serves let her return unto her God.

And, while ye look ... - Translate, "and ye wait for light, and He turn it (the light) into the shadow of death, yea change it into clouded darkness."

16. Give glory, &c.—Show by repentance and obedience to God, that you revere His majesty. So Joshua exhorted Achan to "give glory to God" by confessing his crime, thereby showing he revered the All-knowing God.

stumble—image from travellers stumbling into a fatal abyss when overtaken by nightfall (Isa 5:30; 59:9, 10; Am 8:9).

dark mountains—literally, "mountains of twilight" or "gloom," which cast such a gloomy shadow that the traveller stumbles against an opposing rock before he sees it (Joh 11:10; 12:35).

shadow of death—the densest gloom; death shade (Ps 44:19). Light and darkness are images of prosperity and adversity.

Glorify God, by a humble confession of your sins, Joshua 7:19,20, by submitting yourselves to God, Jam 4:7, humbling yourselves under his word, Jam 4:10, and under his mighty hand, 1 Peter 5:6, before God brings upon you his great and heavy judgments before threatened. As a state of prosperity is set out often in Scripture by the notion of

light, which is a pleasant and cheering thing; so a state of affliction is often set out to us in Scripture under the notion of

darkness, Isaiah 8:22 Joel 2:2 Amos 5:18, &c.: and as in the want of light, which is directly to our feet, men are prone to stumble at any thing that lies in their way so as they know not how to direct their feet or take their steps; so in times of affliction, especially great afflictions, men are ordinarily perplexed, and know not what course to take. In the latter part of the verse he seemeth to threaten God’s disappointment of their expectations. The Jews to the last appeared highly confident, looking for light, but they met with great disappointment, even gross darkness. Give glory to the Lord your God,.... By confessing sin unto him; by humiliation for it before him; by believing what he says, hearkening to his word, and obeying his commands, and living to his honour and glory; see Joshua 7:19, especially by believing in Christ, the true God, and true Messiah, embracing his Gospel, and his ordinances:

before he cause darkness; before the Lord brings on the dark dispensation threatened, the calamity before spoken of; repent while space is given, before it is too late; so the Targum,

"before tribulation comes upon you, and ye be like to those that walk in darkness.''

The Babylonish captivity may be meant, which was a dark day with the Jews, as is their present case, and which may be included; and it is applicable to any dark state of the church of God, such as may be now apprehended as near, through the spread of Popery, the growth of errors and heresies, the persecution of the saints, the slaying of the witnesses, the cessation of the Gospel ministry and ordinances for a while; which is that day of darkness and gloominess, that hour of temptation that shall come upon all the earth, to try its inhabitants; happy those that give glory to God by their faith in him, and by keeping the word of his patience:

and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains; or, "of twilight"; or, "of the evening"; or rather, "upon the mountains in the evening" (y); at eventide; at which time it is troublesome and dangerous travelling on mountains. These may design either the mountains to which they would flee for shelter, Matthew 24:16, or those which lay in the way to Babylon, over which they should travel when carried captive; or rather the kingdoms of Babylon and Media, whither they should be carried, and where they should endure much affliction and hardship; it being usual to signify kingdoms by mountains; so Babylon itself is, Jeremiah 51:25, perhaps there may be some allusion, as Sanctus thinks, to Babylon itself, which being situated in a marshy place, might be generally covered with a cloud or mist, and, together with the smoke of the city, might look like a dark mountain; and especially the hanging gardens in it looked at a distance like (z) mountains with forests on them. It may be applied to the eventide of the latter day, when many shall stumble and fall through mountains of difficulties and discouragements in the way of religion; of professing the pure Gospel and ordinances of it, through the prevailing darkness of the age, and the persecution of men; and to the evening of life, and the dark mountains of death and eternity, on which men may be said to stumble and fall when they die; and when their everlasting state will appear to be fixed as immovable as mountains; and there will be no more means of grace, of faith, repentance, and conversion, but blackness of darkness for evermore, outer darkness, weeping and gnashing of teeth; wherefore, before this time comes, it behooves persons to be concerned for the glory of God, and the everlasting welfare of their souls:

and while ye look for light; prosperity and happiness, as the false prophets gave out they should have; or for help and assistance from the Egyptians, to whom they sent:

he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness; that is, the Lord, who would disappoint them, and, instead of having that relief and comfort they were promised, would bring upon them such shocking calamities, which would be as terrible as death itself, or at least as the shadow of death, and be like gross darkness, even such as was in Egypt, which might be felt; see Isaiah 49:9.

(y) "in montibus crepusculi", Montanus, Piscator; "montibus caecioribus intempesta nocte", Junius & Tremellius. (z) See Berosus apud Joseph. Antiqu. l. 10. c. 11. sect. 1. &; Contr. Apion. l. 1. c. 19. & Curtius, Hist. l. 5. c. 1.

Give glory to the LORD your God, before he shall cause {d} darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for {e} light, he shall turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness.

(d) That is, affliction and misery by the Babylonians, Isa 8:22.

(e) Meaning, for help and support of the Egyptians.

16. The figure is that of mountain travellers overtaken by darkness. Unable to advance without danger of falling, they at first await hopefully the dawn, but instead of light there supervenes only deeper gloom.

Give glory] by confession of sin and obedience. Cp. for the expression Joshua 7:19; 1 Samuel 6:5; John 9:24.

he cause darkness] better, as mg. it grow dark.

dark mountains] Heb. mountains of twilight is at once more literal and poetical.

the shadow of death] better, as mg. deep darkness. See on Jeremiah 2:6.Verse 16. - Give glory, etc. Let your tribute to your King be that of humble submission to his will. The precise application of the phrase must be derived from the context (comp. Joshua 7:19; Malachi 2:2). Upon the dark mountains; rather, upon mountains of twilight. A "mountain" is an image of a great obstacle (Zechariah 4:7; Matthew 21:21). As Judah is walking along, the hitherto even tenor of his way gives place to huge mountains wrapped in an impenetrable dusk, over which he will stumble and fall if he does not repent in time. After the course of many days - these are the seventy years of the captivity - the prophet is to fetch the girdle again. He went, digged (חפר, whence we see that the hiding in the cleft of the rock was a burying in the rocky soil of the Euphrates bank), and found the girdle marred, fit for nothing. These words correspond to the effect which the exile was designed to have, which it has had, on the wicked, idolatrous race. The ungodly should as Moses' law, Leviticus 26:36, Leviticus 26:39, declared, perish in the land of their enemies; the land of their enemies will devour them, and they that remain shall pine or moulder away in their iniquities and in the iniquities of their fathers. This mouldering (ימּקּוּ) is well reproduced in the marring (נשׁחת) of the girdle. It is no contradiction to this, that a part of the people will be rescued from the captivity and brought back to the land of their fathers. For although the girdle which the prophet had put on his loins symbolized the people at large, yet the decay of the same at the Euphrates sets forth only the physical decay of the ungodly part of the people, as Jeremiah 13:10 intimates in clear words: "This evil people that refuses to hear the word of the Lord, etc., shall be as this girdle." The Lord will mar the גּאון of Judah and Jerusalem. The word means highness in both a good and in an evil sense, glory and self-glory. Here it is used with the latter force. This is shown both by the context, and by a comparison of the passage Leviticus 26:19, that God will break the נּאון of the people by sore judgments, which is the foundation of the present Jeremiah 13:9. - In Jeremiah 13:11 the meaning of the girdle is given, in order to explain the threatening in Jeremiah 13:9 and Jeremiah 13:10. As the girdle lies on the loins of a man, so the Lord hath laid Israel on Himself, that it may be to Him for a people and for a praise, for a glory and an adornment, inasmuch as He designed to set it above all other nations and to make it very glorious; cf. Deuteronomy 26:19, whither these words point back.
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