You have made us as the offscouring and refuse in the middle of the people.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)In the midst of the people.—Literally, peoples: i.e., the heathen nations of the world. A like phrase meets us in 1Corinthians 4:13.
Pe.1 Corinthians 4:13. Thou hast made us as the offscouring and refuse in the midst of the people.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)45. For the thought cp. Nahum 3:6; 1 Corinthians 4:13. It was exemplified in the Middle Ages in England and elsewhere (see Ivanhoe) and is still to be seen in Eastern Europe in the Judenhetze.Lamentations 3:37 brings the answer to this question in a lively manner, and likewise in an interrogative form: "Who hath spoken, and it came to pass, which the Lord hath not commanded?" The thought here presented reminds us of the word of the Creator in Genesis 1:3. The form of the expression is an imitation of Psalm 33:9. Rosenmller gives the incorrect rendering, Quis est qui dixit: factum est (i.e., quis audeat dicere fieri quicquam), non praecipiente Deo; although the similar but more free translation of Luther, "Who dares to say that such a thing happens without the command of the Lord?" gives the sense in a general way. The meaning is as follows: Nothing takes place on the earth which the Lord has not appointed; no man can give and execute a command against the will of God. From this it further follows (Lamentations 3:38), that evil and good will proceed from the mouth of the Lord, i.e., be wrought by Him; on this point, cf. Isaiah 45:7; Amos 3:6. לא תצא gives no adequate meaning unless it be taken interrogatively, and as indicating what is usual - wont to be. And then there is established from this, in Lamentations 3:39, the application of the general principle to the particular case in question, viz., the grievous suffering of individuals at the downfall of the kingdom of Judah. "Why does a man sigh as long as he lives? Let every one [sigh] for his sins." Man is not to sigh over suffering and sorrow, but only over his sin. התאונן occurs only here and in Numbers 11:1, and signifies to sigh, with the accessory notion of murmuring, complaining. חי appended to אדם is more of a predicate than a simple attributive: man, as long as he lives, i.e., while he is in this life. The verse is viewed in a different light by Pareau, Ewald, Neumann, and Gerlach, who combine both members into one sentence, and render it thus: "Why doth a man complain, so long as he lives, - a man over the punishment of his sins?" [Similar is the rendering of our "Authorized" Version.] Neumann translates: "A man in the face of [Ger. bei] his sins." But this latter rendering is lexically inadmissible, because על esua in this connection cannot mean "in view of." The other meaning assigned is improbable, though there is nothing against it, lexically considered. For though חטא, sin, may also signify the punishment of sin, the latter meaning does not suit the present context, because in what precedes it is not said that the people suffer for their sins, but merely that their suffering has been appointed by God. If, then, in what follows, there is an exhortation to return to the Lord (Lamentations 3:40.), and in Lamentations 3:42 a confession of sins made; if, moreover, Lamentations 3:39 forms the transition from Lamentations 3:33-38 to the exhortation that succeeds (Lamentations 3:40.); then it is not abstinence from murmuring or sighing over the punishment of sins that forms the true connecting link of the two lines of thought, but merely the refraining from complaint over sufferings, coupled with the exhortation to sigh over their won sins. Tarnov also has viewed the verse in this way, when he deduces from it the advice to every soul labouring under a weight of sorrows: est igitur optimus ex malis emergendi modus Deum excusare et se ipsum accusare.
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