Jeremiah 8:6
I listened and heard, but they spoke not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? every one turned to his course, as the horse rushes into the battle.
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8:4-13 What brought this ruin? 1. The people would not attend to reason; they would not act in the affairs of their souls with common prudence. Sin is backsliding; it is going back from the way that leads to life, to that which leads to destruction. 2. They would not attend to the warning of conscience. They did not take the first step towards repentance: true repentance begins in serious inquiry as to what we have done, from conviction that we have done amiss. 3. They would not attend to the ways of providence, nor understand the voice of God in them, ver. 7. They know not how to improve the seasons of grace, which God affords. Many boast of their religious knowledge, yet, unless taught by the Spirit of God, the instinct of brutes is a more sure guide than their supposed wisdom. 4. They would not attend to the written word. Many enjoy abundance of the means of grace, have Bibles and ministers, but they have them in vain. They will soon be ashamed of their devices. The pretenders to wisdom were the priests and the false prophets. They flattered people in sin, and so flattered them into destruction, silencing their fears and complaints with, All is well. Selfish teachers may promise peace when there is no peace; and thus men encourage each other in committing evil; but in the day of visitation they will have no refuge to flee unto.I hearkened and heard - God, before passing sentence, carefully listens to the words of the people. Compare Genesis 11:5, where the divine judgment is preceded by the Almighty going down to see the tower.

Not aright - Or, "not-right;" which in the Hebrew idiom means that which is utterly wrong.

No man repented - The original phrase is very striking: No "man had pity upon his own wickedness." If men understood the true nature of sin, the sinner would repent out of very pity upon himself.

As the horse rusheth - literally, "overfloweth." It is a double metaphor; first, the persistence of the people in sin is compared to the fury which at the sound of the trumpet seizes upon the war-horse; and then its rush into the battle is likened to the overflowing of a torrent, which nothing can stop in its destructive course.

6. spake not aright—that is, not so as penitently to confess that they acted wrong. Compare what follows.

every one … his course—The Keri reads "course," but the Chetib, "courses." "They persevere in the courses whatever they have once entered on." Their wicked ways were diversified.

horse rusheth—literally, "pours himself forth," as water that has burst its embankment. The mad rapidity of the war horse is the point of comparison (Job 39:19-25).

And heard, i.e. that I might hear; the words rather of God than of the prophet, which the continuance of the speech seems to show in the next verse, in the close whereof it is plain that God speaks, expressing himself after the manner of men, who are wont to listen diligently after the things they are very desirous of. See 1 Kings 20:33 Malachi 3:16.

Not aright; or, not so, as the LXX., and the word is thus used, Exodus 10:11 Psalm 1:4; not so as I would have had them; so far from repentance, that I do not perceive a word from them tending that way.

What have I done? I see no tendency to repentance, I see none of them so much as calling themselves to an account, not recoiling upon themselves, where repentance usually begins, 2 Chronicles 6:37, as men use upon an inconsiderate act to smite upon their breast, or thigh, and say, What have I done? as 2 Samuel 3:24.

Every one turned to his course; to their accustomed way, committing all wickedness without restraint. See on Isaiah 59:7. The fury and unbridledness of their lusts, being spurred on by their wills, it described in the next expression, showing how, like a headstrong horse, he runs away with his rider; or compared to the delight that a horse seems to take in running violently and headstrongly into the battle, as it is described, Job 39:21, &c.; and this word rushing, signifying properly an inundation of waters, helps to show their uncontrollableness in another metaphor: see this verified of them Jeremiah 2:23,24. It is said every one by an hyperbole, at, Psalm 14:3, and frequently elsewhere. I hearkened and heard,.... These are either, the words of the prophet, as Kimchi and Abarbinel think; who listened and attended to, and made his observations upon, the words and actions, conduct and behaviour, of this people, of which he gives an account: or of the Lord himself, as the Targum; who hearkened to the language of their hearts and actions, and heard the words of their mouth; all that they spoke against him, against his prophets, and those that feared his name; all their lying words, their false swearing; all their oaths and curses, and every idle expression that dropped from them; all which he takes notice of, and men are accountable to him for them:

but they spake not aright: what is so in the sight of God and good men; what is agreeable to right reason, and the word of God; they spoke what was contrary to all this. Wicked men neither think aright, nor act aright, nor speak aright.

No man repented him of his wickedness: of his heart, of his lips, and of his life; no man can repent of himself; no man truly does, without the grace of God:

saying, what have I done? which question an impenitent man does not put; but when it is made, the true answer to be returned to it is, that which is contrary to the nature of God; which is a breach of his law; which a man has reason to be ashamed of; at which he may be astonished, it being so exceeding sinful; that which cast the angels out of heaven, Adam out of paradise, and wicked men down to hell; which is deserving of the wrath of God, and eternal death; for which a man can never make atonement himself; and by which he is undone, to all intents and purposes, without an interest in Christ, and salvation by him.

Every one turneth to his course: which is not a good, but a bad one; sin is a way, a road, a path, in which men walk; a course, a series of sinning, a progress and persisting in it; such as the course of this world, and this course is evil, Ephesians 2:2,

as the horse rusheth into the battle, which denotes their swiftness to commit sin, the pleasure they take in it, and their inattention to danger, and death by it; see Job 39:21, or overflows (c); the impetuosity of the horse is expressed by the overflowing of a river.

(c) "quasi equus ferox", Heb. "inundans", Piscator; "sisut equus effundens se", Schmidt. So Kimchi and Ben Melech interpret it.

I hearkened and heard, but they spoke not aright: no man repented of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? every {d} one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth to the battle.

(d) They are full of hypocrisy, and everyone follows his own fantasy without any consideration.

6. I] Jeremiah or Jehovah through him.

hearkened and heard] implying an anxiety to give every chance of amendment.

turneth to] better, as mg., turneth away in.

rusheth headlong] lit. overfloweth, used figuratively of an invading army in Jeremiah 47:2.Verse 6. - I hearkened and heard. The Divine Judge condescends to speak after the manner of men. He will be his own witness; for it is his own people, Jeshurun, which is on its trial. Not aright. It is a compound expression, equivalent to "insincerely," "untruly" (comp. Isaiah 16:6). Repented... turned; rather, repenteth... turneth (or, returneth). To his course. The Hebrew text, sometimes represented as having a different reading ("courses," in the plural) from the margin, really gives the same reading with one letter misplaced. The singular stands in the parallel passage, Jeremiah 23:19, and offers no difficulty. As the horse rusheth; literally, over-floweth. Both the Authorized Version and the Vulgate (impetu vadens) efface the second metaphor. The uncontrollable passion of both people and war-horse is compared to the all-subduing course of a winter stream or torrent. Thus the Lord will put an end to all joyfulness in life throughout the land: cf. Hosea 2:13; Ezekiel 26:13. The voice of the bridegroom and the bride is a circumlocution for the mirth of marriage festivities; cf. 1 Macc. 9:39. All joy will be dumb, for the land shall become a waste; as the people had been warned, in Leviticus 26:31, Leviticus 26:33, would be the case if they forsook the Lord.
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