Jeremiah 6:16
Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) Stand ye in the ways.—In the prophet’s mind the people were as a traveller who has taken a self-chosen path, and finds that it leads him to a place of peril. Is it not well that they should stop and ask where the old paths (literally, the eternal paths; the words going, as in Jeremiah 18:15, beyond the mere antiquity of the nation’s life) were, on which their fathers had travelled safely. Of these old paths they were to choose that which was most distinctly “the good way,” the way of righteousness, and therefore of peace and health also. The call, however, was in vain. The people chose to travel still in the broad way that led them to destruction.

Jeremiah 6:16-17. Stand ye in the ways, &c. — He now turns his speech to the people, and gives them counsel; by a metaphor taken from travellers, who, being in doubt of their way, stand still, and consider, whether the direction, which they have received from some false guide, be right or not. Ask for the old paths — Inquire in what way the patriarchs, the judges, the kings, and prophets of former times walked, and imitate their practices. And ye shall find rest for your souls — You will find peace with God, will be safe under his protection, and in consequence thereof will have comfort and satisfaction in your own minds. See Matthew 11:28-29. But they said, We will not walk therein — If they did not say so in express words, yet such was the language of their actions: though the prophets had directed them into the right way, and though they knew others had experienced it to be so, yet they would not be persuaded to walk in it, but deliberately refused the blessings offered them. Also I set watchmen over you — I gave you prophets, as so many watchmen, to warn you of the evils that threatened you. And they faithfully discharged their duty, admonishing you of your sins, and giving you faithful warning of the judgments they would bring upon you; saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet — That is, to the warning given you of approaching danger. It was customary, in those days and countries, to have continually watchmen placed on high towers, or on hills, who observed the country all round, to prevent any sudden hostile invasion, by giving early notice of any appearance thereof by sound of trumpet. “So the prophets, who were the observators of the manners of the people, and who had early notice from God what evils were coming, unless prevented by repentance and amendment of life, are called watchmen.”

6:9-17 When the Lord arises to take vengeance, no sinners of any age or rank, or of either sex escape. They were set upon the world, and wholly carried away by the love of it. If we judge of this sin by God's word, we find multitudes in every station and rank given up to it. Those are to be reckoned our worst and most dangerous enemies, who flatter us in a sinful way. Oh that men would be wise for their souls! Ask for the old paths; the way of godliness and righteousness has always been the way God has owned and blessed. Ask for the old paths set forth by the written word of God. When you have found the good way, go on in it, you will find abundant recompence at your journey's end. But if men will not obey the voice of God and flee to his appointed Refuge, it will plainly appear at the day of judgment, that they are ruined because they reject God's word.The sense is: God's prophet has declared that a great national calamity is at hand. "Make inquiries; stand in the ways; ask the passers by. Your country was once prosperous and blessed. Try to learn what were the paths trodden in those days which led your ancestors to happiness. Choose them, and walk earnestly therein, and find thereby rest for your souls." The Christian fathers often contrast Christ the one goodway with the old tracks, many in number and narrow to walk in, which are the Law and the prophets. 16. Image from travellers who have lost their road, stopping and inquiring which is the right way on which they once had been, but from which they have wandered.

old paths—Idolatry and apostasy are the modern way; the worship of God the old way. Evil is not coeval with good, but a modern degeneracy from good. The forsaking of God is not, in a true sense, a "way cast up" at all (Jer 18:15; Ps 139:24; Mal 4:4).

rest—(Isa 28:12; Mt 11:29).

Having told the false prophets their doom, he now turns his speech to the people, and gives them counsel; for he rather propounds than commands, by a metaphor taken from travellers, that being in doubt of their way, do stand still, pause, and consider, whether the direction they have received from some ignorant person or false guide be right or not.

The old paths, Heb. paths of antiquity, such as their godly forefathers of old were wont to walk in, the ancient paths, Jeremiah 18:15. Or, the oracles of God, what directions his word gives, Isaiah 8:20. Or, the providence of God. Observe what hath been God’s ways and method in times past, with reference to sin and punishment, Deu 4:3,4 Jud 5:6,8 Jer 22:15,16, and what have been want to be the best courses, called here the

good way, or the best way to continue mercies and prevent judgments, Deu 32:7, he.: see 1 Thessalonians 5:21.

Walk therein; when you have found what was best and most prosperous, keep it, stick to it.

Ye shall find rest; you will find God to stand by you, and be a sanctuary to you, Deu 33:12,29. See Matthew 11:29. You will find things mend with you; it will be well with you, as it hath been with others; you will be satisfied and quiet; you will not doubt any longer which way to follow: see 1 Kings 18:21.

We will not walk therein; it notes their great wilfulness and obstinacy, that though the prophets had directed them in the right way, and though they knew others had experimented it to be so, yet they would not be persuaded to walk in it, but deliberately refused those favours offered, Isaiah 8:11-13 Jeremiah 18:11,12.

Thus saith the Lord, stand ye in the ways, and see,.... These are the words of the Lord to the people, whom he would have judge for themselves, and not be blindly led by the false prophets and priests; directing them to do what men should, when they are in a place where two or more ways meet, and know not which way to take; they should make a short stop, and look to the way mark or way post, which points whither each path leads, and so accordingly proceed. Now, in religious things, the Scriptures are the way mark to direct us which way we should take: if the inquiry is about the way of salvation, look up to these, which are able to make a man wise unto salvation; these show unto men that the way of salvation is not works of righteousness done by them, but Christ only: if the question is about any doctrine whatever, search the Scriptures, examine them, they are profitable for doctrine; they tell us what is truth, and what is error: if the doubt is about the matter or form of worship, and the ordinances of it, look into the Scriptures, they are the best directory to us what we should observe and do:

and ask for the old paths; of righteousness and holiness, which Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and others, walked in, and follow them; and the way of salvation by Christ, which, though called a new way, Hebrews 10:20, yet is not newly found out, for it was contrived in eternity; nor newly revealed, for it was made known to Adam and Eve immediately after the fall; nor newly made use of, for all the Old Testament saints were saved by the same grace of Christ, and justified by his righteousness, and their sins pardoned through his blood, and expiated by his sacrifice, as New Testament saints; only of late, or in these last days, it has been more clearly made known; otherwise there is but one way of salvation; there never was any other, nor never will be; inquire therefore for this old path, which all true believers have trodden in:

where is the good way, and walk therein; or, "the better or best way" (x), and more excellent way, which is Christ, John 14:6, he is the way of access to God, and acceptance with him, and the way of conveyance of all the blessings of grace; he is the way to the Father, and to eternal happiness; he is the living way which always continues, and is ever the same; and is a plain, pleasant, and safe way, and therefore a good one; there is no one better, nor any so good; and therefore this must be the right way to walk in, and to which there is great encouragement, as follows:

and ye shall find rest for your souls; there is rest and peace enjoyed in the ways of God, and in the ordinances of the Gospel; wisdom's ways are ways of peace, which are the lesser paths; and in the doctrines of the Gospel, when the heart is established with them, the mind is tranquil and serene, and at rest, which before was fluctuating and wavering, and tossed to and fro with every wind; but the principal rest is in Christ himself, in whom the true believer, that walks by faith in him, has rest from the guilt and dominion of sin, from the curse and bondage of the law, and from the wrath of God in his conscience; and enjoys a spiritual peace, arising from the blood, sacrifice, and righteousness of Christ, Matthew 11:28,

but they said, we will not walk therein; in the old paths, and in the good way but in their own evil ways, which they chose and delighted in; and therefore, as their destruction was inevitable, it was just and righteous.

(x) "quae sit via melior", Vatablus; "via optima", Schmidt.

Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the {o} old paths, where is the good way, and walk in it, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk in it.

(o) In which the patriarchs and prophets walked, directed by the word of God: signifying that there is no true way, but that which God prescribes.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. saith] rather, said, in His frequent remonstrances.

Of the branching paths the old established one will prove that which alone ye may follow with divine sanction.

the good way] lit. the way of that which is good. Cp. Jeremiah 18:15; Deuteronomy 32:7.

rest for your souls] The words have not the significance which the similar expression bears in Matthew 11:29. It is “not the inward peace which the soul has in fellowship with God, but the peace and safety which they will secure by adherence to God’s commands.” Pe.

16–21. The third division. See introd. note to the ch.

Verses 16-21. - Without hearty repentance, there is no hope of escape. But hitherto Judah has rejected all admonitions. What availeth mere ceremonial punctuality? Verse 16. - Stand ye in the ways; literally, station yourselves on (or, by) roads, i.e. at the meeting-point of different roads. There (as the following words state) the Jews are to make inquiry as to the old paths. Antiquity gives a presumption of rightness; the ancients were nearer to the days when God spoke with man; they had the guidance of God's two mighty "shepherds" (Isaiah 63:11); they knew, far better than we, who "are but of yesterday, and know nothing" (Job 8:9), the way of happiness. For though there are many pretended "ways," there is but "one way" (Jeremiah 32:39) which has Jehovah's blessing (Psalm 25:8, 9). Jeremiah 6:16The judgment cannot be turned aside by mere sacrifice without a change of heart. - Jeremiah 6:16. "Thus hath Jahveh said: Stand on the ways, and look, and ask after the everlasting paths, which (one) is the way of good, and walk therein; so shall ye find rest for your souls. But they say, We will not go. Jeremiah 6:17. And I have set over you watchmen, (saying): Hearken to the sound of the trumpet; but they say, We will not hearken. Jeremiah 6:18. Therefore hear, ye peoples, and know, thou congregation, what happens to them. Jeremiah 6:19. Hear, O earth! Behold, I bring evil on this people, the fruit of their thoughts; for to my words they have not hearkened, and at my law they have spurned. Jeremiah 6:20. To what end, then, is their incense coming to me from Sheba, and the good spice-cane from a far land? Your burnt-offerings are not a pleasure, and your slain-offerings are not grateful to me. Jeremiah 6:21. Therefore thus hath Jahveh said: Behold, I lay stumbling-blocks for this people, that thereon fathers and sons may stumble, at once the neighbour and his friend shall perish."

Jeremiah 6:16

The Lord has not left any lack of instruction and warning. He has marked out for them the way of salvation in the history of the ancient times. It is to this reference is made when they, in ignorance of the way to walk in, are called to ask after the everlasting paths. This thought is clothed thus: they are to step forth upon the ways, to place themselves where several ways diverge from one another, and inquire as to the everlasting paths, so as to discover which is the right way, and then on this they are to walk. נתיבות עולם are paths that have been trod in the hoary time of old, but not all sorts of ways, good and bad, which they are to walk on indiscriminately, so that it may be discovered which of them is the right one (Hitz.). This meaning is not to be inferred from the fact, that in Jeremiah 18:15 everlasting paths are opposed to untrodden ways; indeed this very passage teaches that the everlasting ways are the right ones, from which through idolatry the people have wandered into unbeaten paths. Thus the paths of the old time are here the ways in which Israel's godly ancestors have trod; meaning substantially, the patriarchs' manner of thinking and acting. For the following question, "which is the way," etc., does not mean, amongst the paths of old time to seek out that which, as the right one, leads to salvation, but says simply thus much: ask after the paths of the old time, so as thus to recognise the right way, and then, when ye have found it, to walk therein. דּרך הטּוב, not, the good way; for הטּוב cannot be an objective appended to דּרך, since immediately after, the latter word is construed in בּהּ as faem. "The good" is the genitive dependent on "way:" way of the good, that leads to the good, to salvation. This way Israel might learn to know from the history of antiquity recorded in the Torah. Graf has brought the sense well out in this shape: "Look inquiringly backwards to ancient history (Deuteronomy 32:7), and see how success and enduring prosperity forsook your fathers when they left the way prescribed to them by God, to walk in the ways of the heathen (Jeremiah 18:15); learn that there is but one way, the way of the fear of Jahveh, on which blessing and salvation are to be found (Jeremiah 32:39-40)." Find (with ו consec.), and find thus equals so shall ye find; cf. Ew. 347, b; Ges. 130, 2. To "we will not go," we may supply from the context: on the way of good.

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