Jeremiah 4:9
And it shall come to pass at that day, said the LORD, that the heart of the king shall perish, and the heart of the princes; and the priests shall be astonished, and the prophets shall wonder.
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(9) The heart of the king shall perish.—The heart, as representing the mind generally. Judgment and wisdom were to give way to panic and fear.

Jeremiah 4:9. At that day the heart of the king shall perish — Both his wisdom and his courage: despairing of success, he shall have no spirit to do any thing, and if he had, he would be at a loss what to do; and the heart of the princes — His privy counsellors, who ought to animate and advise him, shall be as much at a loss, and as much in despair as he. And the priests shall be astonished — Shall be in such a consternation that they shall have no heart to execute their office, and therefore not likely to put spirit into the people. The prophets shall wonder — The false prophets, that had nothing but visions of peace for them, shall be thrown into the greatest amazement imaginable, seeing their own guilty blood ready to be shed by that sword, of which they had frequently told the people there was no danger.4:5-18 The fierce conqueror of the neighbouring nations was to make Judah desolate. The prophet was afflicted to see the people lulled into security by false prophets. The approach of the enemy is described. Some attention was paid in Jerusalem to outward reformation; but it was necessary that their hearts should be washed, in the exercise of true repentance and faith, from the love and pollution of sin. When lesser calamities do not rouse sinners and reform nations, sentence will be given against them. The Lord's voice declares that misery is approaching, especially against wicked professors of the gospel; when it overtakes them, it will be plainly seen that the fruit of wickedness is bitter, and the end is fatal.Is not turned ... - As long as their sins are unrepented of, so long must their punishment continue. 9. heart—The wisdom of the most leading men will be utterly at a loss to devise means of relief. The heart of the king shall perish; the king, viz. of Judah, and the great men, that should have encouraged the people in such a calamitous day, and been their great support, shall not only be afraid, but their own hearts shall melt within them, they shall be even at their wits’ end; see Joshua 5:1; they shall have no heart at all to do any thing; they shall not be able to help their people, either by their counsel or arms; their courage will utterly fail, and their counsel perish. See Psalm 73:26. This was fulfilled in Zedekiah, Jeremiah 39 Jer 42, whose flight would not advantage him.

Shall be astonished; shall be in such a consternation, that they shall not know what course to take.

The prophets, viz. false prophets, that had nothing but visions of peace for them, Ezekiel 13:16 Zechariah 13:3,4 Jer 8:11. See Jeremiah 4:10.

Shall wonder, not so much at the disappointment of their prophecies, for they knew well enough they were false, Jeremiah 23:26,27, as that they should be possessed with the same horror and frights with the rest, not knowing where to show, or rather to hide, their heads for the shame that would fall upon them; when their lies should be discovered, they would be put to shame, and perish with the rest, and whither shall they cause their shame to go. And it shall come to pass at that day, saith the Lord,.... When Nebuchadnezzar should be come up from Babylon into the land of Judea, and lay waste the cities thereof, and besiege Jerusalem:

that the heart of the king shall perish; meaning Zedekiah king of Judah, who should be in the utmost fright and consternation, not knowing what to do, being devoid both of wisdom and courage; see Jeremiah 39:4,

and the heart of the princes; who being seized with the same panic, and at their wits' end, would not be able to give any advice and counsel to the king; so that the people would have no help from the king and his nobles, in whom they put their confidence:

and the priests shall be astonished; which Kimchi interprets of the priests of the high places, the idolatrous priests, whose service would now cease, and whose idols would not save them:

and the prophets shall wonder; which he also interprets of the false prophets; as does the Targum; who prophesied peace, and now they shall see it was a lie they prophesied, since sudden destruction now comes upon them.

And it shall come to pass at that day, saith the LORD, that the heart of the king shall perish, and the heart of the princes; and the priests shall be astonished, and the {g} prophets shall wonder.

(g) That is, the false prophets who still prophesied peace and security.

9. the priests shall be astonished] because of the punishment which has followed upon their idolatries.

the prophets shall wonder] because of the non-fulfilment of their prophecies.Verse 9. - The heart... shall perish; i.e. they shall lose their reason. The same verb in Ethiopic means "to be mad." The "heart" in Old Testament language is the center of the intellectual as well as of the moral life (comp. Hosea 4:11; Job 12:24; Proverbs 15:28). So St. Ephrem the Syrian says ('Works,' in Syriac, 2:316, quoted by Delitzsch), "The reason expatiates in the heart as in a palace." Threatening of Judgment upon Jerusalem and Judah. - If Judah and Jerusalem do not reform, the wrath of God will be inevitably kindled against them (Jeremiah 4:3, Jeremiah 4:4). Already the prophet sees in spirit the judgment bursting in upon Judah from the north, to the dismay of all who were accounting themselves secure (Jeremiah 4:5-10). Like a hot tempest-blast it rushes on, because of the wickedness of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 4:11-18), bringing desolation and ruin on the besotted people, devastating the whole land, and not to be turned aside by any meretricious devices (Jeremiah 4:19-31).

Jeremiah 4:3-4

"For thus hath Jahveh spoken to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem: Break up for yourselves new ground, and sow not among thorns. Jeremiah 4:4. Circumcise yourselves to Jahveh, and take away the foreskins of your heart, men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, lest my fury break forth like fire and burn unquenchably, because of the evil of your doings." The exhortation to a reformation of life is attached by כּי, as being the ground of it, to the preceding exhortation to return. The אם תּשׁוּב, Jeremiah 4:1, contained the indirect call to repent. In Jeremiah 4:1 this was addressed to Israel. In Jeremiah 4:3 the call comes to Judah, which the prophet had already in his eye in Jeremiah 3; cf. Jeremiah 3:7-8, Jeremiah 3:10-11. The transition from Israel to Judah in the phrase: for thus saith Jahveh, is explained by the introduction of a connecting thought, which can without difficulty be supplied from the last clause of Jeremiah 4:2; the promise that the nations bless themselves in Jahveh will come to be fulfilled. The thought to be supplied is: this conversion is indispensable for Judah also, for Judah too must begin a new life. Without conversion there is no salvation. The evil of their doings brings nought but heavy judgments with it. אישׁ, as often, in collective sense, since the plural of this word was little in use, see in Joshua 9:6. ניר לו ניר, as in Hosea 10:12, plough up new land, to bring new untilled soil under cultivation - a figure for the reformation of life; as much as to say, to prepare new ground for living on, to begin a new life. Sow not among thorns. The seed-corns are the good resolutions which, when they have sunk into the soil of the mind, should spring up into deeds (Hitz.). The thorns which choke the good seed as it grows (Matthew 13:7) are not mala vestra studia (Ros.), but the evil inclinations of the unrenewed heart, which thrive luxuriantly like thorns. "Circumcise you to the Lord" is explained by the next clause: remove the foreskins of your heart. The stress lies in ליהוה; in this is implied that the circumcision should not be in the flesh merely. In the flesh all Jews were circumcised. If they then are called to circumcise themselves to the Lord, this must be meant spiritually, of the putting away of the spiritual impurity of the heart, i.e., of all that hinders the sanctifying of the heart; see in Deuteronomy 10:16. The plur. ערלות is explained by the figurative use of the word, and the reading ערלת, presented by some codd., is a correction from Deuteronomy 10:16. The foreskins are the evil lusts and longings of the heart. Lest my fury break forth like fire; cf. Jeremiah 7:20; Amos 5:6; Psalm 89:47. 'מפּני רע מ as in Deuteronomy 28:20. This judgment of wrath the prophet already in spirit sees breaking on Judah.

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