Jeremiah 20:7
O LORD, you have deceived me, and I was deceived; you are stronger than I, and have prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocks me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) O Lord, thou hast deceived me.—There is an obvious break between Jeremiah 20:6-7. The narrative ends, and a psalm of passionate complaint begins. Its position probably indicates that the compiler of the prophecies in their present form looked on the complaints as belonging to this period of the prophet’s work, representing the thoughts of that night of shame which was, as it were, the extremest point of apparent failure. This then was the end of his prophetic calling, this the fulfilment of the promise which told him that he was set over the nations, and that his enemies should not prevail against him (Jeremiah 1:8-10). Some touches of this feeling we have heard already in Jeremiah 15:18. Now it is more dominant and continuous.

Thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed.—Better, thou hast laid hold on me. Jehovah now appears to the prophet as a hard taskmaster who had forced him, against his will (Jeremiah 17:16), to enter on a work from which he shrank, and who gave him scorn and derision as his only wage. He felt, in St. Paul’s language, that “a necessity was laid upon” him (1Corinthians 9:16); or in Isaiah’s, that the “strong hand” of the Lord was on him (Isaiah 8:11).

Daily.—Literally, all the day.

Jeremiah 20:7. O Lord, thou hast deceived me, &c. — This is a very harsh and improper translation of the prophet’s words, פתיתני ואפת, which properly and literally signify, Thou hast persuaded me, and I was persuaded. Some, to make the sense more clear, supply a few words, and make the whole sentence stand thus; O Lord, thou hast persuaded me to carry thy commands to thy people, and I was persuaded: thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed — That is, “It was sore against my will, that I undertook the prophetic office, which I would gladly have declined, chap. Jeremiah 1:6. But thy commands and inspiration did, in a manner, constrain me to it.” The occasion of the words was this: “The prophet had met with a large share of ill usage, from an ungrateful people, in return for the faithful discharge of his prophetic office. Under these his calamitous circumstances he looks up to God, and appeals to him, the searcher of hearts, as his witness, that it was not through any ambition of his own that he had entered upon that invidious office; nor had he taken upon him, of his own accord, to reprove his countrymen: but he had done all in pure obedience to the divine command. He would gladly have declined the office, but God would not suffer him: wherefore, hereupon he says, speaking to the Almighty, Thou hast persuaded me, &c. The passage carries in it a lively idea of the prophet’s great modesty, and profound humility, in not affecting high things or shining offices; but submitting, however, to the burden of them, in obedience to the will of God.” See Waterland’s Script. Vind., part 3. page 84.20:7-13 The prophet complains of the insult and injury he experienced. But ver. 7 may be read, Thou hast persuaded me, and I was persuaded. Thou wast stronger than I; and didst overpower me by the influence of thy Spirit upon me. So long as we see ourselves in the way of God, and of duty, it is weakness and folly, when we meet with difficulties and discouragements, to wish we had never set out in it. The prophet found the grace of God mighty in him to keep him to his business, notwithstanding the temptation he was in to throw it up. Whatever injuries are done to us, we must leave them to that God to whom vengeance belongs, and who has said, I will repay. So full was he of the comfort of God's presence, the Divine protection he was under, and the Divine promise he had to depend upon, that he stirred up himself and others to give God the glory. Let the people of God open their cause before Him, and he will enable them to see deliverance.In the rest of the chapter we have an outbreak of deep emotion, of which the first part ends in a cry of hope Jeremiah 20:13, followed nevertheless by curses upon the day of his birth. Was this the result of feelings wounded by the indignities of a public scourging and a night spent in the stocks? Or was it not the mental agony of knowing that his ministry had (as it seemed) failed? He stands indeed before the multitudes with unbending strength, warning prince and people with unwavering constancy of the national ruin that would follow necessarily upon their sins. Before God he stood crushed by the thought that he had labored in vain, and spent his strength for nothing.

It is important to notice that with this outpouring of sorrow Jeremiah's ministry virtually closed. Though he appeared again at Jerusalem toward the end of Jehoiakim's reign, yet it was no longer to say that by repentance the national ruin might be averted. During the fourth year of Jehoiakim, the die was cast, and all the prophet henceforward could do, was to alleviate a punishment that was inevitable.

Jeremiah 20:7

Thou hast deceived me ... - What Jeremiah refers to is the joy with which he had accepted the prophetic office Jeremiah 15:16, occasioned perhaps by taking the promises in Jeremiah 1:18 too literally as a pledge that he would succeed.

Thou art stronger than I-- Rather, "Thou hast taken hold of me." God had taken Jeremiah in so firm a grasp that he could not escape from the necessity of prophesying. He would have resisted, but the hand of God prevailed.

I am in derision daily - literally, "I am become a laughing-stock all the day, i. e., peripetually.

7. Jeremiah's complaint, not unlike that of Job, breathing somewhat of human infirmity in consequence of his imprisonment. Thou didst promise never to give me up to the will of mine enemies, and yet Thou hast done so. But Jeremiah misunderstood God's promise, which was not that he should have nothing to suffer, but that God would deliver him out of sufferings (Jer 1:19).

deceived—Others translate as Margin, "Thou hast enticed" or "persuaded me," namely, to undertake the prophetic office, "and I was persuaded," that is, suffered myself to be persuaded to undertake what I find too hard for me. So the Hebrew word is used in a good sense (Ge 9:27, Margin; Pr 25:15; Ho 2:14).

stronger than I—Thou whose strength I could not resist hast laid this burden on me, and hast prevailed (hast made me prophesy, in spite of my reluctance) (Jer 1:5-7); yet, when I exercise my office, I am treated with derision (La 3:14).

The following part of the chapter to the end of it containeth a complaint or prayer of the prophet unto God, made (as some think) during his imprisonment by Pashur, but the certain time is not known. Our translators here might have translated the word yghyhm more favourably than

thou hast deceived me. It might have been, thou hast persuaded me, or, thou hast allured or enticed me, as it is translated, Judges 14:15 1 Kings 22:21,22 Exo 22:16 Proverbs 1:10 16:29 Psalm 78:36. The word signifies no more than by words to remove a man from his own opinion. That is, doubtless, the sense here: Lord, I was not fond of this employment as a prophet, by thy words I was removed from my own opinion of myself; which might be spoken by the prophet without any reflection upon God; it only signifieth his undertaking the office of a prophet at God’s command, not out of any ambition of his own.

Thou art stronger than I and hast prevailed; but thou prevailest against me. Jeremiah at first excused himself to God, as we read, Jeremiah 1:6; he said Ah, Lord God! behold, I am a child, and cannot speak; but the Lord prevailed upon him, replying, Jeremiah 1:7, Say not, I am a child; for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Jeremiah 1:9, The Lord put forth his hand, and touched his mouth, and said, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. This is all that is here meant by deceiving, viz. God’s overruling of him contrary to his own inclinations.

I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me; he complaineth that now he was in this office every one mocked him and derided him, and that for the faithful discharge of that office to which God had called him. O Lord, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived,.... What follows from hence to the end of the chapter is thought to have been said by the prophet, when in the stocks, or in prison, and shows mixture of grace and corruption in him; a struggle between flesh and spirit, and the force of a temptation under which he laboured, arising from difficulties and discouragements in his work; and he not only complains to God, but of him; that he had deceived him, when he first called him to be a prophet, by telling him that he should be set over nations and kingdoms, to pull them down, Jeremiah 1:10; which he understood of foreign nations, but now found his own people were meant, so Jerom; or in not immediately executing the threatenings he sent him with; as was the case of Jonah; or by giving him reason to expect honour and ease, whereas he met with nothing but disrespect and trouble; and that he should have divine protection and success against his opposers, Jeremiah 1:18; whereas he was now delivered into their hands, and used in the most reproachful manner; but be it so, this was all a mistake of the prophet, and no deception of God. Calvin takes it to be ironically spoken, expressing the sense of his enemies, who charging him with a deception, tacitly charged God with being the author of it. Others, to soften the expression, render the words, "if thou hast deceived me, I am deceived"; or, "thou hast deceived me if I am deceived" (y). But it seems best of all to translate them, as they will hear it, "O Lord, thou hast persuaded me, and I was persuaded" (z); so the word is used of God in Genesis 9:27; "God shall enlarge" or "persuade Japheth"; see also Hosea 2:14, where it is rendered allure; and then the sense is, thou hast persuaded me to take upon me the prophetical office against my will, and against remonstrances made by me; and I was persuaded by thy words and promises, and by thy spirit and grace, to enter upon it; to which sense the following words incline:

thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed; so strong were the arguments, motives, and inducements the Lord made use of; so pressing his injunctions and commands; so forcible the constraints of his spirit; that the prophet was obliged to yield unto them, and was made willing in the day of his power to comply, though first it was sore against his will; but he could not withstand the divine call, and therefore might have hoped, since it was so manifest that he was sent of God, and did not run of himself, that he should have met with a better reception, and more success; but so it was not:

I am in derision daily, everyone mocketh me; he was the laughing stock of everyone of the people of Israel, from the highest to the lowest; princes, priests, and people, all derided him and his prophecies, and that continually, every day, and all the day long, and especially when he was in the stocks; though it was not only his person they mocked, but the word of the Lord by him, as appears from Jeremiah 20:8.

(y) "Domine si ego sim seductus, tu es qui me seduxit", Genevenses; "pellexisti me, quando pellectus sum", Junius & Tremellius; sic Syr. "tu decepisti me, si deceptus sim; quidam" in Gataker. (z) "Persuasisti mihi, O Jehovah, et persuasus sum", Luther, Piscator, Schmidt.

O LORD, thou hast deceived me, and I was {c} deceived: thou art stronger than I, and hast {d} prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me.

(c) In this appears the impatiency which often overcomes the servants of God when they do not see their labours profit, and also feel their own weakness. See Geneva Jer 15:18

(d) You thrust me forth to this work against my will.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
7. deceived] mg. enticed; induced him to undertake duties, the gravity of which together with the resulting sufferings was hidden from him. Cp. use of the same Hebrew word in Proverbs 1:10; Proverbs 16:29.

7–9. These vv. shew us that the prophets did not speak of their own will. It was an influence which they could not resist that urged them forward, in spite of the certain ills that should follow to themselves. “Here there rings out clearly the prophet’s unfaltering certainty of the real inspiration which is the source of all his message.” Pe. Cp. Jeremiah 23:29; so Amos 3:8 and 1 Corinthians 9:16.

Ch. Jeremiah 20:7-18. The prophet bitterly complains to God of his lot

The passage opens to us the depths of the prophet’s soul, and we see him in intimate converse with God, and possessed now by the emotions of despair, and now by confident hope. We have here the thoughts, as Gi. and Co. observe, which may well have occupied his mind when in confinement, and Jeremiah 20:7-13 at any rate are thus closely connected both in time and subject-matter with Jeremiah 20:1-6. As derision was still the prophet’s fate (Jeremiah 20:7), they can hardly be later than the early part of Jehoiakim’s reign, when the hope that danger would be averted was still prevalent. On the other hand Jeremiah 20:14-18 most naturally belong to the latter days of Zedekiah, when the prophet stood alone, hated as the enemy of his people and a traitor to his country.

It may be summarized thus.

(i) Jeremiah 20:7-10. O Lord, Thou hast beguiled me. My human weakness cannot cope with the Divine strength. Perforce I utter Thy message, and therefore am become an object of perpetual scorn. Yet that message, whatever I may resolve to the contrary, insists on utterance. Denunciation, craft, revenge—even my intimates employ these weapons against me. (ii) Jeremiah 20:11-13. After all, I have Jehovah on my side. My foes shall be put to perpetual shame. May He, who searches my heart and theirs, grant me to see their discomfiture. Praise be to Him for deliverance. (iii) Jeremiah 20:14-18. Accursed be the day of my birth and he who announced it. May his doom be terrible as that of Sodom and Gomorrah. Why did he not cut me off from life ere I was born? Wherefore was I, wretched man that I am, given a share in human existence?Verses 7-13. - A lyric passage, expressing the conflict in the prophet's mind owing to the mockery and the slander which his preaching has brought upon him, and at the same time his confidence of victory through the protection of Jehovah; a suitable sequel to the narrative which goes before, even if not originally written to occupy this position (see general Introduction). Verse 7. - Thou hast deceived me, etc.; rather, thou didst entice me, and I let myself be enticed. Jeremiah refers to the hesitation he originally felt to accepting the prophetic office (Jeremiah 1.). The verb does not mean "to deceive," but "to entice" (so rendered in ver. 10, Authorized Version), or "allure." The same word is used in that remarkable narrative of "the spirit" who offered to "entice" (Authorized Version, to "persuade") Ahab to "go up and fall at Ramoth-Gilead" (1 Kings 22:21). In Ezekiel, too, the same case is supposed as possible of Jehovah's "enticing" a prophet (Ezekiel 15:9). The expression implies that all events are, in some sense, caused by God, even those which are, or appear to be, injurious to the individual. Was Goethe thinking of this passage when he wrote the words, "Wen Gott betrugt, ist wohl be-trogon?" Applying the words in a Christian sense, we may say (with F. W. Robertson) that God teaches us by our illusions. Thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed; rather, thou didst take hold on me, and didst prevail. The expression is like "Jehovah spake thus to me with a grasp of the hand" (Isaiah 8:11). When the chief overseer of the temple, Pashur, heard this prophecy, he had the prophet beaten, and put him over-night in the stocks at the upper gate of Benjamin in the temple. Pashur is by the appellation: son of Immer, distinguished from other priests of this name, e.g., Pashur, son of Malchijah, 1 Chronicles 9:12. It cannot be determined whether Immer is here the name of the 16th class of priests (1 Chronicles 24:14) or of one of the greater priestly clans (Ezra 2:37; Nehemiah 7:40). Pashur held the office of פּקיד נגיד, chief overseer in the house of God. נגיד is an official name attached to פּקיד to explain it. In the latter word lies the idea of overseeing, while the former denotes the official standing or rank of the overseer. The position of נגיד was a high one, as may be seen from the fact that the priest Zephaniah, who, according to Jeremiah 29:26, held this post, is quoted in Jeremiah 52:24 (2 Kings 25:18) as next to the high priest. The compound expression without article implies that there were several נגידים of the temple. In 2 Chronicles 35:8 there are three mentioned under Josiah; which is not contradicted by 2 Chronicles 31:13; 1 Chronicles 9:11; Nehemiah 11:11, where particular persons are called 'נגיד. As chief overseer of the temple, Pashur conceived it to be his duty to take summary magisterial steps against Jeremiah, for his public appearance in the temple. To put this procedure of the priest and temple-warden in its proper light, Jeremiah is designated by the name of his office, הנּביא.

(Note: As this official designation of Jeremiah is not found in Jeremiah 1-19, but occurs frequently in the succeeding chapters, recent critics have taken it to be an idle addition of the editor of the later prophecies, and have laid stress on the fact as a proof of the later composition, or at least later editing, of these pieces; cf. Graf, S. xxxix. Ng., etc. This assumption is totally erroneous. The designation of Jeremiah as הנּביא occurs only where the mention of the man's official character was of importance. It is used partly in contradistinction to the false prophets, Jeremiah 28:5-6, Jeremiah 28:10-12, Jeremiah 28:15, to the elders, priests, and false prophets, Jeremiah 29:1, Jeremiah 29:29; Jeremiah 37:3, Jeremiah 37:6,Jeremiah 37:13; Jeremiah 42:2, Jeremiah 42:4, to the king, Jeremiah 32:2; Jeremiah 34:6; Jeremiah 37:2, and partly to distinguish from persons of other conditions in life, Jeremiah 43:6; Jeremiah 45:1; Jeremiah 51:59. We never find the title in the headings of the prophecies save in Jeremiah 25:2, with reference to the fact that here, Jeremiah 20:4, he upbraids the people for not regarding the sayings of all the prophets of the Lord; and in the oracles against foreign peoples, Jeremiah 46:1, Jeremiah 46:13; Jeremiah 47:1; Jeremiah 49:34, and Jeremiah 50:1, where the name of his calling gave him credentials for these prophecies. - There is no further use of the name in the entire book.)

In virtue of the summary authority which belonged to him (cf. Jeremiah 29:26), Pashur smote the prophet, i.e., caused him to be beaten with stripes, perhaps according to the precept Deuteronomy 25:3, cf. 2 Corinthians 11:24, and then threw him into prison till the following day, and put him in the stocks. מהפּכת, twisting, was an instrument of torture by which the body was forced into a distorted, unnatural posture; the culprit's hands and feet were presumably bound, so as to keep the position so; see on 2 Chronicles 16:10, cf. with Acts 16:24. The upper gate of Benjamin in the house of Jahveh is the northern gate at the upper, i.e., inner court of the temple, the same with the upper gate or the gate of the inner court, looking northwards, Ezekiel 9:2 and Ezekiel 8:3. By the designation "which is in the house," etc., it is distinguished from the city gate of like name, Jeremiah 37:13; Jeremiah 38:7. - When on the next day Pashur released the prophet from imprisonment, the latter made known to him the divine punishment for his misdeed: "Not Pashur will Jahveh call thy name, but Magor-Missabib" (i.e., Fear round about). The name is expressive of the thing. And so: Jahveh will call the name, is, in other words, He will make the person to be that which the name expresses; in this case, make Pashur to be an object of fear round about. Under the presumption that the name Magor-Missabib conveyed a meaning the most directly opposed to that of Pashur, comm. have in various ways attempted to interpret פּשׁחוּר. It is supposed to be composed of פּוּשׁ, Chald. augeri, and חוּר, nobilitas, with the force: abundantia claritatis (Rashi); or after Arab. fs̀, gloriatus est de nobilitate (Simonis); or from Arab. hsh, amplus fuit locus, and the Chald. סחור, circumcirca: de securitate circumcirca; or finally, by Ew., from פּשׁ from פּוּשׁ, spring, leap, rejoice (Malachi 3:18), and חור equals חול, joy round about. All these interpretations are arbitrary. פּוּשׁ sig. leap and gallop about, Malachi 3:18 and Habakkuk 1:8, and in Niph. Nahum 3:18, to be scattered (see on Habakkuk 1:8); and x#ap@f sig. in Lamentations 3:11 to tear. But the syllable chowr חור can by no means have the sig. of מסּביב claimed for it. Nor are there, indeed, sufficient grounds for assuming that Jeremiah turned the original name upside down in an etymological or philological reference. The new name given by Jeremiah to Pashur is meant to intimate the man's destiny. On "Fear round about," see on Jeremiah 6:25. What the words of the new name signify is explained in Jeremiah 20:4-6.

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