Jeremiah 3:4
Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My father, thou art the guide of my youth?
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(4) Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me . . .?—Better, Hast thou not from this time cried unto me . . .? The prophet paints with a stern irony the parade of the surface repentance of Josiah’s reign. There had been a pathetic appeal to God as the forgiving husband of the faithless wife, but not the less had the wife returned to her wickedness.

Guide.—The same word as in Proverbs 2:17; the “chief friend,” as applied to the husband.

Jeremiah 3:4-5. Wilt thou not from this time — Namely, that I have withholden showers, this time of conviction and correction; now that thou hast been made to see thy sins, and to smart for them, wilt thou not forsake them and return to me, saying, I will go and return to my first husband, for then it was better with me than now? Or from this time that thou hast had so kind an invitation to return, and an assurance that thou shalt be well received. Wilt thou not cry unto me, My father? — Wilt thou not, as a child, humble thyself, and call upon me, whom thou hast greatly provoked, and own me as a father, for such I have been to thee? Psalm 103:13; Malachi 1:6; Malachi 3:17. Wilt thou not beg pardon for thy undutiful carriage toward me, and hope to find in me the tender compassion of a father toward a returning prodigal? Wilt thou not come and make thy complaints to me as to a father, and confide in me for relief and succour? Thou art the guide of my youth — The husband who didst espouse me, and become my guide in the days of my youth: alluding to the time when their manners had not been corrupted by idolatry. Though thou hast gone after many lovers, wilt thou not at length remember the love of thine espousals, and return to the husband of thy youth? Or the relation of a father may rather be referred to; as if he had said, Wilt thou not remember and lay to heart under whose eye and care thou wast brought up, and who was the guide of thy inexperienced years? In our return to God, we ought thankfully to remember that he was our guide when we were young in years, in the way of comfort; and we must faithfully covenant that he shall be our guide from henceforward in the way of duty, and that we will follow his guidance, and give ourselves up to his government. Will he reserve anger for ever? — Surely he will not, for he hath proclaimed his name, gracious and merciful. They seem to be the words of the people reasoning thus with themselves, for their encouragement to return to God. Repenting sinners may encourage themselves with this, that though God chide, he will not always chide; though he be angry, he will not keep his anger to the end; but though he cause grief he will have compassion. Behold, thou hast spoken, &c. — Or, as Blaney translates the clause, “Behold, thou hast spoken and done; thou hast wrought wickedness, and hast prevailed.” These are the words of God, or of the prophet speaking in God’s name, reminding them of, and reproving them for, their long and obstinate continuance in idolatry and other sins. The prophets had endeavoured to dissuade them from persevering in their evil courses, but their arguments had no weight with them; “they continued to do as they had said, or resolved; they carried their wicked thoughts into execution, in spite of all that was urged to the contrary.”

3:1-5 In repentance, it is good to think upon the sins of which we have been guilty, and the places and companies where they have been committed. How gently the Lord had corrected them! In receiving penitents, he is God, and not man. Whatever thou hast said or done hitherto, wilt thou not from this time apply to me? Will not this grace of God overcome thee? Now pardon is proclaimed, wilt thou not take the benefit? They will hope to find in him the tender compassions of a Father towards a returning prodigal. They will come to him as the Guide of their youth: youth needs a guide. Repenting sinners may encourage themselves that God will not keep his anger to the end. All God's mercies, in every age, suggest encouragement; and what can be so desirable for the young, as to have the Lord for their Father, and the Guide of their youth? Let parents daily direct their children earnestly to seek this blessing.Or, Hast thou Not from this time called "me, My Father, thou art the" husband "of my youth?" i. e., from the time of Josiah's reforms in his eighteenth year, in opposition to "of old time" Jeremiah 2:20. 4. from this time—not referring, as Michaelis thinks, to the reformation begun the year before, that is, the twelfth of Josiah; it means—now at once, now at last.

me—contrasted with the "stock" whom they had heretofore called on as "father" (Jer 2:27; Lu 15:18).

thou art—rather, "thou wast."

guide of … youth—that is, husband (Jer 2:2; Pr 2:17; Ho 2:7, 15). Husband and father are the two most endearing of ties.

Wilt thou not from this time, viz. that I have withholden showers? Some refer this,

1. To the time to come; Wilt thou not yet be wise, and for the future seek to me, having found all thy other ways successless? Isaiah 9:13 Jeremiah 8:14.

2. To the time present; How canst thou challenge me for my present severity, and continuing it towards thee, when thou still retainest thy filthiness, thy whore’s forehead, Jeremiah 3:3. Thou still continuest worshipping idols, and yet fanciest thyself faithful to me.

3. To the time past, i.e. Hast thou not all along pretended kindness to me, and as if thou hadst walked close with me? 2 Kings 17:32,33 Eze 23:39.

Cry unto me, My father; wilt thou not as a child call upon, me, whom thou hast thus greatly provoked, and own me as a father? Jeremiah 3:19; for such have I been to thee, Psalm 103:13 Malachi 1:6 3:17.

The guide of my youth; either on whom I have depended, as being brought up by thee; or the submissive expression of a wife seeking to be reconciled to her husband, that God would be to her as he had been in the days of her youth; such a case as is expressed 1 Corinthians 7:11; words of flattery usual with hypocrites: or rather, being married to thee in thy youth; a periphrasis for husband, Proverbs 2:17; which argues great tenderness towards her, Jeremiah 3:2. Thus the tenderness of this relation is expressed Malachi 2:14, and so God is said to espouse them to himself Ezekiel 16:8.

Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me,.... These words are either a confirmation and proof of that impudence with which these people are charged; for had they not been impudent, or had not a forehead like a whorish woman; or were they truly ashamed, they would have cried to the Lord henceforward; called upon him; claimed their relation to him; and owned his favours in time past: or, if they had not been impudent, they would not have dared from this time to have called God their Father and their guide, when they had so wickedly sinned against him; so that this is a charge of hypocrisy and deceit, calling God their Father and guide, when they were at the same time worshipping idols: or rather they are expressive of the wondrous grace and goodness of God towards this people, that had so highly offended him, yet he expostulates with them, puts words into their mouths to return unto him with, saying:

my father; I have sinned against thee, and am not worthy of the relation, yet receive me as a returning prodigal:

thou art the guide of my youth; or, "hast been": I acknowledge the favours I have received in time past, which is an aggravation of my sin; reject me not, but receive me graciously into thy favour; see Hosea 14:2, so the Targum interprets the words as a prayer,

"wilt thou not from this time pray before me, saying, thou art my Lord, my Redeemer, which art of old?''

or else they point to them their duty, what they ought to do from henceforward; that seeing the Lord had withheld from them the former and latter rain for their idolatry, it became them to return to him by repentance; and to call upon him, who had been their Father and their guide in time past, to have mercy on them, and avert his judgments from them.

Wilt thou not from this time cry {h} to me, My father, thou art the guide of my youth?

(h) He shows that the wicked in their miseries will cry to God and use outward prayer as the godly do, but because they do not turn from their evil, they are not heard, Isa 58:3,4.

4. Wilt thou not from this time cry] Hast thou not but now cried. Judah, at the very time that she is deserting Jehovah, is using to Him the language of wheedling affection.

guide] mg. companion. The same word is used of a husband in Proverbs 2:17.

Verse 4. Wilt thou not, etc.? rather, Truly from this time thou callest unto me (literally, Dost thou not, etc.? a common way of giving an energetic assurance). The prophet admits the apparent revival of faith in Jehovah which attended the compulsory reformation under Josiah, but denies that it was more than apparent (comp, ver. 10). The guide of my youth; rather, the companion (the familiar associate); so in Proverbs 2:17. Comp. Jeremiah 2:2, and especially Isaiah 54:6, "and a wife of youth" (i.e. married in youth), "that she should be rejected [how incredible a thing!]" Jeremiah 3:4Henceforward, forsooth, it calls upon its God, and expects that His wrath will abate; but this calling on Him is but lip-service, for it goes on in its sins, amends not its life. הלוא, nonne, has usually the force of a confident assurance, introducing in the form of a question that which is held not to be in the least doubtful. מעתּה, henceforward, the antithesis to מעולם, Jeremiah 2:20, Jeremiah 2:27, is rightly referred by Chr. B. Mich. to the time of the reformation in public worship, begun by Josiah in the twelfth year of his reign, and finally completed in the eighteenth year, 2 Chronicles 34:3-33. Clearly we cannot suppose a reference to distress and anxiety excited by the drought; since, in Jeremiah 3:3, it is expressly said that this had made no impression on the people. On אבי, cf. Jeremiah 2:27. אלּוּף נערי (cf. Proverbs 2:17), the familiar friend of my youth, is the dear beloved God, i.e., Jahveh, who has espoused Israel when it was a young nation (Jeremiah 2:2). Of Him it expects that He will not bear a grudge for ever. נטר, guard, then like τηρεῖν, cherish ill-will, keep up, used of anger; see on Leviticus 19:18; Psalm 103:9, etc. A like meaning has ישׁמר, to which אף, iram, is to be supplied from the context; cf. Amos 1:11. - Thus the people speaks, but it does evil. דּבּרתּי, like קראתי in Jeremiah 3:4, is 2nd pers. fem.; see in Jeremiah 2:20. Hitz. connects דּבּרתּי so closely with ותּעשׂי as to make הרעות the object to the former verb also: thou hast spoken and done the evil; but this is plainly contrary to the context. "Thou speakest" refers to the people's saying quoted in the first half of the verse: Will God be angry for ever? What they do is the contradiction of what they thus say. If the people wishes that God be angry no more, it must give over its evil life. הרעות, not calamity, but misdeeds, as in Jeremiah 2:33. תּוּכל, thou hast managed it, properly mastered, i.e., carried it through; cf. 1 Samuel 26:25; 1 Kings 22:22. The form is 2nd pers. fem., with the fem. ending dropped on account of the Vav consec. at the end of the discourse, cf. Ew. 191, b. So long as this is the behaviour of the people, God cannot withdraw His anger.
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