Jeremiah 31:19
Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote on my thigh: I was ashamed, yes, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth.
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(19) After that I was turned.—The words have been referred by some commentators (Hitzig) to the previous turning away from God—the apostasy of Ephraim; but the repetition of the word that had been used in the previous verse makes it far more natural to connect it with the first movement of repentance. The “smiting upon the thigh” is, like the Publican’s “smiting on his breast” (Luke 18:13), an Eastern expression of extremest grief. So in Ezekiel 21:17 we have the “smiting of the hands together” as a symbol of anger, which is also sorrow. In Homer (Odyss. xiii. 193) we have the very gesture here depicted—

“And then he groaned, and smote on both his thighs

With headlong hands, and so in sorrow spoke.”

The reproach of my youthi.e., the shame which the sins of his youth had brought upon him.

Jeremiah 31:19. Surely after that I was turned, I repented — After I was enlightened and impressed with a due sense of my duty, and of the many deviations from it of which I had been guilty, and after my will was subjected to the will of God, I straightway became a true penitent, and expressed my repentance by all the outward and inward signs of an unfeigned sorrow for, and hatred to, my past conduct. And after that I was instructed — Respecting my sin and folly, in forsaking the fountain of living waters for the broken cisterns that could hold no water; I smote upon my thigh — Through the most poignant grief and concern, and with indignation against myself. I was ashamed, yea, even confounded — At my own stupidity and frowardness, and could neither with any confidence look up to God, nor with any comfort reflect upon myself; because I did bear the reproach of my youth — The burden of my former sins lay heavy upon my mind, and I became sensible that all the calamities and reproaches I had undergone were the due deserts of my offences. Ephraim smote upon his thigh, as the publican upon his breast. We find, both in the Holy Scriptures, and other ancient records, smiting on the thigh mentioned as an expression of great surprise and concern. Thus God commands Ezekiel to cry and howl, on account of the sword that should be upon his people, and to smite upon his thigh. We find the same custom noticed by Homer, Iliad 16. 50:124.

— — — — — — αυταρ Αχιλλευς Μηρω πληξαμενος Πατροληα πρωσεειπεν,

Divine Achilles view’d the rising flames, And smote his thigh, and thus aloud exclaims, Arm, arm, Patroclus! POPE.

It is also noticed by Xenophon, Cicero, and others. The meaning is, when Ephraim was made sensible of his sinfulness he showed marks of real contrition.31:18-20 Ephraim (the ten tribes) is weeping for sin. He is angry at himself for his sin, and folly, and frowardness. He finds he cannot, by his own power, keep himself close with God, much less bring himself back when he is revolted. Therefore he prays, Turn thou me, and I shall be turned. His will was bowed to the will of God. When the teaching of God's Spirit went with the corrections of his providence, then the work was done. This is our comfort in affliction, that the Lord thinks upon us. God has mercy in store, rich mercy, sure mercy, suitable mercy, for all who seek him in sincerity.After that I was turned - i. e., after I had turned away from Thee. In Jeremiah 31:18 it has the sense of turning to God.

Instructed - Brought to my senses by suffering. The smiting upon the thigh is a sign of sorrow. Compare Ezekiel 21:17.

The reproach of my youth - i. e., the shame brought upon me by sins of my youth.

19. after that I was turned, I repented—Repentance in the full sense follows, not precedes, our being turned to God by God (Zec 12:10). The Jews' "looking to Him whom they pierced" shall result in their "mourning for Him." Repentance is the tear that flows from the eye of faith turned to Jesus. He Himself gives it: we give it not of ourselves, but must come to Him for it (Ac 5:31).

instructed—made to learn by chastisement. God's Spirit often works through the corrections of His providence.

smote upon … thigh—(Eze 21:12). A token of indignant remorse, shame, and grief, because of his past sin.

bear … reproach of … youth—"because the calamities which I bore were the just punishment of my scandalous wantonness against God in my youth"; alluding to the idols set up at Dan and Beth-el immediately after the ten tribes revolted from Judah. His sense of shame shows that he no longer delights in his sin.

We must consider that we are not in a history or a narration of things done, but in a prophecy foretelling what should come to pass. The prophet foretelleth that before this promised deliverance should come, the Israelites should be in another temper, that their uncircumcised hearts should be humbled, they should accept of the punishment of their sins, confess God’s justice and righteousness, and their own wantonness and unruliness, pray unto God to change their hearts, which would never else be changed, and change their conditions, which would depend upon that change of their hearts, laying claim to God as their God, who had promised, Deu 30:1,2, that when the blessings and the curses spoken of Deu 28 Deu 29 should come upon them, and they should call them to mind among all the nations whither the Lord had driven them, if they returned unto the Lord their God, and obeyed his voice, according to all that he commanded them, they and their children, with all their heart, and all their soul; that then the Lord their God would turn their captivity, and have compassion on them, &c. Now, saith Ephraim,

after I was turned, after God had changed our hearts, we

repented and changed our practices; after that God had instructed us, either by his prophets, or by briers and thorns, by our afflictions, or by his Holy Spirit, we smote upon our thighs in testimony of our sorrow and affliction, Ezekiel 21:12. Then I was ashamed and confounded for my sins, understanding that I did but bear the just punishment of the sins which I had long ago committed, in the time of my wantonness, rebellion, and disobedience to God. This is expressed by the term youth, because ordinarily men and women’s youth is their time of wantonness; persons ordinarily growing more considerate and sober as years increase upon them. Thus the prophet foretelleth that God would prepare this people for mercy. In the next verses he showeth how ready God’s ear would be to hear. Surely after that I was turned I repented,.... Ephraim's prayer was answered; as he prayed he might be turned, he was; and when he was turned, then he repented, not only of sin in general, but of such sins as he had been particularly guilty of; not only of the grosser actions of life, but of inward sins, secret lusts and corruptions; even of sins of holy things, having now different sentiments, affections, and conduct: and this is what is called evangelical repentance, and is from the grace of God; springs from love; flows from a sight of God and a view of Christ; is increased by the discoveries of God's love, and is unto life and salvation; and this sort of repentance follows upon conversion; there must be first a true and real conversion before this evangelical repentance can take place:

and after that I was instructed I smote upon my thigh: as expressive of sorrow for sin after a godly sort; of indignation at it; and shame and confusion for it; and also of astonishment, at the mercy, forbearance, and long suffering of God, Ezekiel 21:12; and this humiliation follows upon spiritual instruction, which is previously necessary to it; "after it was made known to me" (u); as the words may be rendered; what a sinful, guilty, impure, and impotent, and unrighteous creature he was; after that he became acquainted with himself, and his wretched state and condition; when instructed either by the rod, or by the word, and by the Spirit of God, in the use of both, or either; when led into the knowledge of divine things; of the love and grace of God through Christ; of the person, offices, and glory of Christ; of the way of life and salvation by him; and of the doctrines of pardon, and righteousness, and acceptance through him:

I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth; in his conscience; the sins and follies of his youth being presented and set before him, and he convinced of them, was filled with shame and confusion at the remembrance of them; which is a common thing when a man is thoroughly awakened and converted, and is brought to true repentance and humiliation. So the Targum,

"because we have received the reproach of our sins, which were of old?''

(u) "et postquam ostensum est mihi", Pagninus, Vatablus; "ostensum fuerit", Junius & Tremellius; "et post notum est mihi", Montanus.

Surely after I was turned, I repented; and after I was instructed, I smote upon my {z} thigh: I was ashamed, and even confounded, because I bore the reproach of my youth.

(z) In sign of repentance and detestation of my sin.

19. after that I was turned] rather (see preceding note), after I turned. Ephraim turns, and his repentance is the completion of his conversion. The Heb. text which seems to underlie the LXX rendering, viz. “after my captivity,” is hardly to be accepted.

instructed] by punishment. Cp. the use of the word “taught” (the same verb in the Hebrew), Jdg 8:16.

I smote upon my thigh] in token of contrition. Cp. Ezekiel 21:12.

the reproach of my youth] the disgrace brought upon me by the sins of my earlier life as a nation.Verse 19. - After that I was turned, I repented; rather, after my turning away (as Jeremiah 8:4), I have repented. It is a different kind of "turning" which is here meant, a turning away from God. I was instructed; literally, I was made to know; i.e. brought to my senses by punishment. I smote upon my thigh; rather, I have smitten, etc. Ephraim describes his present state of mind, and the symbols by which he translates it into act. Smiting upon the thigh was a sign of mourning (comp. Ezekiel 21:17). I did bear, etc.; rather, I have borne, etc. The "reproach of Ephraim's youth" is that which he brought upon himself in early times by his unfaithfulness to Jehovah. Then shall young men and old live in unclouded joy, and forget all their former sorrow. "In the dance" refers merely to the virgins: to "young men and old together," only the notion of joy is to be repeated from the context.
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