Jeremiah 20:18
Why came I forth out of the womb to see labor and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame?
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(18) Wherefore came I forth . . .?—Like the preceding verse, this is in its tone, almost in its words, an echo of Job 3:11-12; Job 3:20.

20:14-18 When grace has the victory, it is good to be ashamed of our folly, to admire the goodness of God, and be warned to guard our spirits another time. See how strong the temptation was, over which the prophet got the victory by Divine assistance! He is angry that his first breath was not his last. While we remember that these wishes are not recorded for us to utter the like, we may learn good lessons from them. See how much those who think they stand, ought to take heed lest they fall, and to pray daily, Lead us not into temptation. How frail, changeable, and sinful is man! How foolish and unnatural are the thoughts and wishes of our hearts, when we yield to discontent! Let us consider Him who endured the contradiction of sinners against himself, lest we should be at any time weary and faint in our minds under our lesser trials.The cry - is the sound of the lamentation Jer 20:8; "the shouting" is the alarm of war. 17. he—"that man" (Jer 20:15, 16).

from the womb—that is, at that time while I was still in the womb.

These words let us know the prophet’s temptation to these extravagant eruptions of passion; it was the reproach, and shame, and affliction which he endured for the faithful discharge of his ministry; which both lets us see the goodness of God towards those whom he spareth as to these trials, and what need we have under them to keep a watch upon our own hearts. These records also of holy writ are useful to us, if at any time we be overtaken with such errors, to comfort us, in that they are not such spots but have been found in the faces of God’s fairest ones; and to make us charitable towards such as we may see sometimes overborne with the like temptations. Wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see labour and sorrow,.... "Labour" in performing his work and office as a prophet; and "sorrow" in suffering reproach, contempt, and persecution for it; which to avoid, he wishes he had never been born: a sign of a very fretful and impatient spirit, and of a carnal frame. Jarchi thinks this refers to the destruction of the temple;

that my days should be consumed with shame? through the bad usage of him, the reproach that was cast upon him, and the contempt he was had in for prophesying in the name of the Lord. All this shows that there is sin in the best of men, and what they are when left to themselves; how weak, foolish, and sinful they appear. And Jeremiah recording these his sins and failings, is an argument of the uprightness and sincerity of the man, and of the truth of Scripture.

Wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see labour and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame?
Jeremiah 20:10 gives the reason for the resolution, adopted but not carried out, of speaking no more in the name of the Lord. This was found in the reports that reached his ears of schemes against his life. The first clause is a verbal quotation from Psalm 31:14, a lament of David in the time of Saul's persecutions. דּבּה, base, backbiting slander. The phrase: Fear round about, indicates, in the form of a brief popular saying, the dangerous case in which the prophet was,

(Note: Hupfeld on Psalm 31:14 holds מגור מסּביב to be a proverbial expression for a harassed condition, full of terrors, since the phrase is frequently used by Jeremiah (besides the present Jeremiah 20:3, Jeremiah 20:4, and Jeremiah 20:15, it is at Jeremiah 6:25; Jeremiah 46:5; Jeremiah 49:29; Lamentations 2:22). The use made of it in v. 3 would in that case be easily understood. For we cannot infer, as Ng. would do, that Jeremiah must have formed the phrase himself, from the fact that, except in Psalm 31:14, it is nowhere found but in Jeremiah.)

which his adversaries prepare for him by their repeating: Report him, we will report him.

Report: here, report to the authorities as a dangerous man. Even those who are on friendly terms with him lie in wait for his fall. This phrase too is formed of phrases from the Psalms. On "am of my peace," cf. Psalm 41:10; on צלעי, Psalm 35:15; Psalm 38:18; and on שׁמר, watch, lie in wait for, Psalm 56:7; Psalm 71:10. "Peradventure" - so they said - "he may let himself be enticed," sc. to say something on which a capital charge may be founded (Graf). With "that we may prevail against him," cf. Jeremiah 1:19; Jeremiah 15:20. - At Jeremiah 20:11 the lament rises into confidence in the Lord, springing from the promise given to him by God at his call. אותי (for אתּי) יהוה recalls Jeremiah 1:19; Jeremiah 15:20.The designation of God as גּבּור is formed after Jeremiah 15:21. Because the Lord has promised to deliver him out of the hand of the עריצים, violent, he now calls him a hero using violence, and on this founds his assurance that his persecutors will accomplish nothing, but will come to a downfall, to shame, and be covered with never-dying, never-to-be-forgotten disgrace. Because they have dealt not wisely, i.e., foolishly, see on Jeremiah 10:21; not: because they did not prosper, which would give a weak, superfluous idea, since their not prospering lies already in בּושׁ, spe frustrari. This disgrace will befall the persecutors, because the Lord of hosts will, as Searcher of hearts, take the part of the righteous, and will take vengeance on their foes. This is the force of Jeremiah 20:12, which, with a few changes, is repeated from Jeremiah 11:20. - In this trustfulness his soul rises to a firm hope of deliverance, so that in Jeremiah 20:13 he can call on himself and all the godly to praise God, the Saviour of the poor. Cf. Psalm 31:8; Psalm 35:9-10, Psalm 35:28, etc.

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