Lamentations 3:33
For he does not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.
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(33) Not . . . willingly.—Literally, not from the heart, as being the centre of volition as well as emotion

3:21-36 Having stated his distress and temptation, the prophet shows how he was raised above it. Bad as things are, it is owing to the mercy of God that they are not worse. We should observe what makes for us, as well as what is against us. God's compassions fail not; of this we have fresh instances every morning. Portions on earth are perishing things, but God is a portion for ever. It is our duty, and will be our comfort and satisfaction, to hope and quietly to wait for the salvation of the Lord. Afflictions do and will work very much for good: many have found it good to bear this yoke in their youth; it has made many humble and serious, and has weaned them from the world, who otherwise would have been proud and unruly. If tribulation work patience, that patience will work experience, and that experience a hope that makes not ashamed. Due thoughts of the evil of sin, and of our own sinfulness, will convince us that it is of the Lord's mercies we are not consumed. If we cannot say with unwavering voice, The Lord is my portion; may we not say, I desire to have Him for my portion and salvation, and in his word do I hope? Happy shall we be, if we learn to receive affliction as laid upon us by the hand of God.Reasons for the resignation urged in the previous triplet. 33. He does not afflict any willingly (literally, "from His heart," that is, as if He had any pleasure in it, Eze 33:11), much less the godly (Heb 12:10).


In the Hebrew it is, he doth not afflict from his heart, that is, with pleasure and delight; or (which seemeth the best sense to me) not from his own mere motion without a cause given him from the persons afflicted. Hence judgment is called God’s strange work. Showing mercy is his proper natural work, which floweth from himself without any cause in the creature. Judgment is his strange work, to which he never proceedeth but when provoked, and as it were forced from the creature, whence it followeth that he cannot delight in it. For he doth not afflict willingly,.... Or, "from his heart" (e); he does afflict; for all afflictions are from God, but they do not come from the mere motion of his heart, or are the effects of his sovereign will and pleasure, as the good things he bestows upon his people do, without any respect to any cause or occasion in them; but sin is the cause and occasion of these, as Jarchi well observes: it is with reluctance the Lord afflicts his people; he is as it were forced to it, speaking after the manner of men; see Hosea 11:8; he does not do it with delight and pleasure; he delights in mercy, but judgment is his strange act; nor does he do it with all his heart and soul, with all his might and strength; he does not stir up all his wrath: for then the spirit would fail before him, and the souls that he has made; and especially he does not do it out of ill will, but in love, and for their good:

nor grieve the children of men: that is, he does not from his heart, or willingly, grieve the children of men, by, afflicting them; which must be understood of those sons of men whom he has loved, and made his sons and heirs; those sons of men that wisdom's delights were with from everlasting, Proverbs 8:31.

(e) "ex corde suo", Pagninus, Montanus, Calvin.

For he doth not {p} afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.

(p) He takes no pleasure in it, but does it of necessity for our amendment, when he permits the wicked to oppress the poor.

33. willingly] lit. as mg. from his heart.Verse 33. - Willingly; literally, from his heart. "My portion is Jahveh:" this is a reminiscence from Psalm 16:5; Psalm 73:26; Psalm 142:6; cf. Psalm 119:57, where the expression found here is repeated almost verbatim. The expression is based on Numbers 18:20, where the Lord says to Aaron, "I am thy portion and thine inheritance;" i.e., Jahveh will be to the tribe of Levi what the other tribes receive in their territorial possessions in Canaan; Levi shall have his possession and enjoyment in Jahveh. The last clause, "therefore will I hope," etc., is a repetition of what is in Lamentations 3:21, as if by way of refrain.

This hope cannot be frustrated, Lamentations 3:25. The fundamental idea of the section contained in Lamentations 3:25-33 is thus stated by Ngelsbach: "The Lord is well disposed towards the children of men under all circumstances; for even when He smites them, He seeks their highest interest: they ought so to conduct themselves in adversity, that it is possible for Him to carry out His designs." On Lamentations 3:25, cf. Psalm 34:9; Psalm 86:5; and on the general meaning, also Psalm 25:3; Psalm 69:7. If the Lord is kind to those who hope in Him, then it is good for man to wait patiently for His help in suffering. Such is the mode in which Lamentations 3:26 is attached to Lamentations 3:25. טוב, Lamentations 3:26 and Lamentations 3:27, followed by ל dat., means to be good for one, i.e., beneficial. Some expositors (Gesenius, Rosenmller, Maurer, Ngelsbach) take יחיל as a noun-form, substantive or adjective; דּוּמם is then also taken in the same way, and ו - ו as correlative: "it is good both to wait and be silent." But although there are analogous cases to support the view that יחיל is a noun-form, the constant employment of דּוּמם as an adverb quite prevents us from taking it as an adjective. Moreover, "to be silent for the help of the Lord," would be a strange expression, and we would rather expect "to be silent and wait for;" and finally, waiting and silence are so closely allied, that the disjunctive ו - ו et - et appears remarkable. We prefer, then, with Ewald (Gram. ֗235, a) and others, to take יחיל as a verbal form, and that, too, in spite of the i in the jussive form of the Hiphil for יחל, from חוּל, in the meaning of יחל, to wait, tarry. "It is good that he (man) should wait, and in silence too (i.e., without complaining), for the help of the Lord." On the thought presented here, cf. Psalm 38:7 and Isaiah 30:15. Hence it is also good for man to bear a yoke in youth (Lamentations 3:27), that he may exercise himself in calm waiting on the help of the Lord. In the present context the yoke is that of sufferings, and the time of youth is mentioned as the time of freshness and vigour, which render the bearing of burdens more easy. He who has learned in youth to bear sufferings, will not sink into despair should they come on him in old age. Instead of בּנעוּריו, Theodotion has ἐκ νεότητος αὐτοῦ, which is also the reading of the Aldine edition of the lxx; and some codices have מנּעוּריו. But this reading is evidently a correction, prompted by the thought that Jeremiah, who composed the Lamentations in his old age, had much suffering to endure from the time of his call to the prophetic office, in the earlier portion of his old age; nor is it much better than the inference of J. D. Michaelis, that Jeremiah composed this poem when a youth, on the occasion of King Josiah's death. - In Lamentations 3:28-30, the effect of experience by suffering is set forth, yet not in such a way that the verses are to be taken as still dependent on כּי in Lamentations 3:27 (Luther, Pareau, De Wette, Maurer, and Thenius): "that he should sit alone and be silent," etc. Such a combination is opposed to the independent character of each separate alphabetic strophe. Rather, the result of early experience in suffering and patience is developed in a cohortative form. The connection of thought is simply as follows: Since it is good for man that he should learn to endure suffering, let him sit still and bear it patiently, when God puts such a burden on him. Let him sit solitary, as becomes those in sorrow (see on Lamentations 1:1), and be silent, without murmuring (cf. Lamentations 3:26), when He lays a burden on him. There is no object to נטל expressly mentioned, but it is easily understood from the notion of the verb (if He lays anything on him), or from על in Lamentations 3:27 (if He lays a yoke on him). We are forbidden to consider the verbs as indicatives ("he sits alone and is silent;" Gerlach, Ngelsbach) by the apocopated form יתּן in Lamentations 3:29, Lamentations 3:30, which shows that ישׁב and ידּם are also cohortatives.

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