Jeremiah 16:19
O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come to you from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(19) O Lord, my strength, and my fortress.—The words speak of a returning confidence in the prophet’s mind, and find utterance in what is practically (though the Hebrew words are not the same) an echo of Psalm 18:2, or more closely of Psalm 28:1; Psalm 28:8; Psalm 59:17; 2Samuel 22:3.

The Gentiles shall come unto thee.—The sin and folly of Israel are painted in contrast with the prophet’s vision of the future. Then, in that far-off time of which other prophets had spoken (Micah 4:1; Isaiah 2:2), the Gentiles should come to Jerusalem, turning from the “vanities” they had inherited; and yet Israel, who had inherited a truer faith, was now abasing herself even to their level or below it. Israel had answered in the affirmative the question which seemed to admit only of an answer in the negative: “Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods?”

Jeremiah 16:19-20. O Lord, my strength — To support and comfort me; my fortress — To protect and shelter me; and my refuge in the day of affliction — To whom I may flee for deliverance and consolation; the Gentiles, the nations, shall come to thee from the ends of the earth — The prophet, shocked at the apostacy of Israel, and concerned for God’s honour, here comforts himself by looking forward to the time when even the Gentiles themselves should become sensible of the absurdity of their hereditary idolatry, and be converted to the acknowledgment of the one living and true God: and this remarkable and desirable event he predicts, the more emphatically to demonstrate the unreasonableness and folly of forsaking him for idols. And shall say — That is, the Gentiles shall say, Surely our fathers, our ancestors, have inherited lies, vanity, &c. — And did not receive the satisfaction they promised themselves and their children; we are now sensible of the folly and deception of their idolatrous worship, by which they were cheated to their ruin, and therefore we will entirely and for ever renounce it, and in all our wants address ourselves to the true God as our only refuge and protection. Shall a man make gods unto himself? — Thus the prophet represents the Gentiles, when enlightened by the truth, as reasoning with themselves. Shall a man be so ignorant and foolish; so perfectly void of reason and discernment, as to make gods to himself, the creatures of his own fancy, the work of his own hands, which are really no gods? Can a man be so infatuated, so entirely lost to human understanding, as to expect any divine blessing or favour from that which pretends to no divinity but what it first received from him? Observe, reader, that reformation is likely to be sincere and durable which results from a rational conviction of the gross absurdity which there is in sin, and the service of Satan.16:14-21 The restoration from the Babylonish captivity would be remembered in place of the deliverance from Egypt; it also typified spiritual redemption, and the future deliverance of the church from antichristian oppression. But none of the sins of sinners can be hidden from God, or shall be overlooked by him. He will find out and raise up instruments of his wrath, that shall destroy the Jews, by fraud like fishers, by force like hunters. The prophet, rejoicing at the hope of mercy to come, addressed the Lord as his strength and refuge. The deliverance out of captivity shall be a figure of the great salvation to be wrought by the Messiah. The nations have often known the power of Jehovah in his wrath; but they shall know him as the strength of his people, and their refuge in time of trouble.First - Before the return from exile.

I will recompense their iniquity ... double - The ordinary rule of the Law (Isaiah 40:2 note). Sin is twofold; there is the leaving of God's will undone, and the actual wrongdoing. And every punishment is twofold: first, there is the loss of the blessing which would have followed upon obedience, and secondly, the presence of actual misery.

Because they have defiled ... - Rather, "because they have profaned My land with the carcases of their detestable things" (their lifeless and hateful idols, the very touch of which pollutes like that of a corpse, Numbers 19:11); "and hare filled My inheritance with their abominations."

19, 20. The result of God's judgments on the Jews will be that both the Jews when restored, and the Gentiles who have witnessed those judgments, shall renounce idolatry for the worship of Jehovah. Fulfilled partly at the return from Babylon, after which the Jews entirely renounced idols, and many proselytes were gathered in from the Gentiles, but not to be realized in its fulness till the final restoration of Israel (Isa 2:1-17). The prophet hearing God’s resolution, before he showed this people any mercy, to be avenged on them for their sins, leaves off speaking to him upon that argument; but applieth himself to God for mercy for himself, and, to confirm his faith in him, gives him names suited to his hopes in him, and which might declare his faith in him for the obtaining favour from him in an evil day; and comforteth himself with the thoughts of those good days that were coming, when not only the Jews should be again restored to their country, but the

Gentiles also from all parts of the world (whom also many of the Jews should accompany) should apply themselves to God, confessing that both they and their fathers, in their worshipping dumb idols, had but inherited lies and vanity, and things that were unprofitable. O Lord, my strength and my fortress,.... These are the words of the prophet, rising out of the temptation which beset him; casting off his impatience, diffidence, and unbelief; calling upon God, and exercising faith in him; having received the promise of the restoration of his people to their land, and a view of the future conversion of the Gentiles; which were a means of recovering his spiritual strength, of invigorating grace in him, and of encouraging him to exercise it in a lively manner; to go on in his duty constantly, and to bear affliction cheerfully and patiently; "strength" to do which he had from the Lord; and to whom he ascribes it; and whom he calls his "fortress", or strong hold; and such the Lord is to his people, a strong hold to prisoners of hope, and a strong tower or place of defence to all his saints:

and my refuge in the day of affliction; in which he now was, or saw was coming upon him, when he should be carried captive into Babylon; but God was his refuge, shelter, and protection, and to him he betook himself, where he was safe; and which was infinitely better to him than the mountains, hills, and holes of rocks, others would fly unto, Jeremiah 16:16.

The Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth; not the Jews, who were like to the Gentiles for their idolatries, and other wicked practices, and therefore so called, who should return from the several distant countries where they had been scattered, to their own land, and to the worship of God in it; but such who were really Gentiles, that should be converted, either at the time of the Babylonish captivity, and should come along with the Jews when they returned, and worship the Lord with them; or rather in Gospel times. And so Kimchi says this belongs to the times of the Messiah; when the Gospel was to be, and was preached among them, even to the ends of the earth; and many savingly came to Christ for righteousness and strength, for peace, pardon, salvation, and eternal life; and turned to him as to a strong hold, and fled to him for refuge, and laid hold on him, the hope set before them.

And shall say, surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanities, and things wherein there is no profit; meaning their idols, which did not give what their priests, and the abettors of them, promised; and so deceived their votaries, and disappointed them of their expectations, which became vain, and so were of no profit and advantage to them; a poor inheritance this, which they had possessed and enjoyed for many generations, which their children, now being convinced of, relinquish; for a false religion is not to be retained on this score, because the religion of ancestors, and of long possession with them.

O LORD, my {i} strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come to thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited {k} lies, vanity, and things in which there is no profit.

(i) He wonders at the great mercy of God in this deliverance which will not only extend to the Jews but also to the Gentiles.

(k) Our fathers were most vile idolaters therefore it comes only of God's mercy that he performs his promise and has not utterly cast us off.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
19. my strength, and my strong hold] The two Hebrew substantives are derivatives of the same root.

vanity … no profit] See on Jeremiah 2:5; Jeremiah 2:8.

19–21. See introd. summary to section. For the thought in Jeremiah 16:19 cp. Jeremiah 12:15 f. and for the interest felt by Jeremiah in the religious life of the heathen, Jeremiah 2:11 a. Hence Co. with Gi. accepts the v. as genuine.Verse 19. - O Lord, my strength, and my fortress, etc. Jeremiah falls into the tone of the psalmists (Psalm 18:2; Psalm 28:8; Psalm 59:17). All that is choicest and most permanent in Old Testament religion finds its adequate lyric expression in the Book of Psalms. The Gentiles shall some unto thee. The article, however, is not expressed. "Nations." i.e. a crowd of peoples, hitherto ignorant of the true God, shall hasten to the scene of Jehovah's great interposition; they have been convinced by Israel's unlooked-for restoration of the unique divinity of Jehovah. "And when thou showest this people all these things, and they say unto thee, Wherefore hath Jahveh pronounced all this great evil against us, and what is our transgression, and what our sin that we have committed against Jahveh our God? Jeremiah 16:11. Then say thou to them, Because your fathers have forsaken me, saith Jahveh, and have walked after other gods, and served them, and worshipped them, and have forsaken me, and not kept my law; Jeremiah 16:12. And ye did yet worse than your fathers; and behold, ye walk each after the stubbornness of his evil heart, hearkening not unto me. Jeremiah 16:13. Therefore I cast you out of this land into the land which he know not, neither ye nor your fathers, and there may ye serve other gods day and night, because I will show you no favour. Jeremiah 16:14. Therefore, behold, the days come, saith Jahveh, that it shall no more be said, By the life of Jahveh, that brought up the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt, Jeremiah 16:15. But, By the life of Jahveh, that brought the sons of Israel out of the land of the north, and out of all the lands whither I had driven them, and I bring them again into their land that I gave to their fathers."

The turn of the discourse in Jeremiah 16:10 and Jeremiah 16:11 is like that in Jeremiah 5:19. With Jeremiah 16:11 cf. Jeremiah 11:8, Jeremiah 11:10; Jeremiah 7:24; with "ye did yet worse," etc., cf. 1 Kings 14:9; and on "after the stubbornness," cf. on 1 Kings 3:17. The apodosis begins with "therefore I cast you out." On this head cf. Jeremiah 7:15; Jeremiah 9:15, and Jeremiah 22:26. The article in על־הארץ, Graf quite unnecessarily insists on having cancelled, as out of place. It is explained sufficiently by the fact, that the land, of which mention has so often been made, is looked on as a specific one, and is characterized by the following relative clause, as one unknown to the people. Besides, the "ye know not" is not meant of geographical ignorance, but, as is often the case with ידע, the knowledge is that obtained by direct experience. They know not the land, because they have never been there. "There ye may serve them," Ros. justly characterizes as concessio cum ironia: there ye may serve, as long as ye will, the gods whom ye have so longed after. The irony is especially marked in the "day and night." Here Jeremiah has in mind Deuteronomy 4:28; Deuteronomy 28:36, Deuteronomy 28:63. אשׁר is causal, giving the grounds of the threat, "I cast you out." The form חנינה is hap leg . - In Jeremiah 16:14 and Jeremiah 16:15 the prophet opens to the people a view of ultimate redemption from the affliction amidst the heathen, into which, for their sin, they will be cast. By and by men will swear no more by Jahveh who redeemed them out of Egypt, but by Jahveh who has brought them again from the land of the north and the other lands into which they have been thrust forth. In this is implied that this second deliverance will be a blessing which shall outshine the former blessing of redemption from Egypt. But just as this deliverance will excel the earlier one, so much the greater will the affliction of Israel in the northern land be than the Egyptian bondage had been. On this point Ros. throws especial weight, remarking that the aim of these verses is not so much to give promise of coming salvation, as to announce instare illis atrocius malum, quam illud Aegyptiacum, eamque quam mox sint subituri servitutem multo fore duriorem, quam olim Aegyptiaca fuerit. But though this idea does lie implicite in the words, yet we must not fail to be sure that the prospect held out of a future deliverance of Israel from the lands into which it is soon to be scattered, and of its restoration again to the land of its fathers, has, in the first and foremost place, a comforting import, and that it is intended to preserve the godly from despair under the catastrophe which is now awaiting them.

(Note: Calvin has excellently brought out both moments, and has thus expounded the thought of the passage: "Scitis unde patres vestri exierint, nempe e fornace aenea, quemadmodum alibi loquitur (xi. 4) et quasi ex profunda morte; itaque redemptio illa debuit esse memorabilis usque ad finem mundi. Sed jam Deus conjiciet vos in abyssum, quae longe profundior erit illa Aegypti tyrannide, e qua erepti sunt patres vestri; nam si inde vos redimat, erit miraculum longe excellentius ad posteros, ut fere exstinguat vel saltem obscuret memoriam prioris illius redemptionis.")

לכן is not nevertheless, but, as universally, therefore; and the train of thought is as follows: Because the Lord will, for their idolatry, cast forth His people into the lands of the heathen, just for that very reason will their redemption from exile not fail to follow, and this deliverance surpass in gloriousness the greatest of all former deeds of blessing, the rescue of Israel from Egypt. The prospect of future redemption given amidst announcements of judgment cannot be surprising in Jeremiah, who elsewhere also interweaves the like happy forecastings with his most solemn threatenings; cf. Jeremiah 4:27; Jeremiah 5:10, Jeremiah 5:18, with Jeremiah 3:14., Jeremiah 23:3., etc. "This ray of light, falling suddenly into the darkness, does not take us more by surprise than 'I will not make a full end,' Jeremiah 4:27. There is therefore no reason for regarding these two verses as interpolations from Jeremiah 23:7-8" (Graf).

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