They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.
There is here an illustration of the false dealing referred to in the previous verse - an illustration from the prophets in particular, and, as might be expected, the specimen given shows how seriously this false dealing affected the prospects of the nation. There is, it will be observed, a plain statement of the matter wherein the prophets were deceivers; and there is also a figure setting forth the practical result of the deception.
I. CONSIDER THE PLAIN STATEMENT OF THAT WHEREIN THE PROPHETS ARE FOUND LIARS. They say, "Peace, peace; when there is no peace." The plain statement comes later than the figure, but it is needful to consider it first. War, invasion, humiliating conquest, - these had been threatened by the true prophet, but the false prophets come in and declare that there shall be peace. The word "peace' was probably one of the ordinary mutual salutations of the people; and these prophets, going out into the public places when war had been threatened, may have thrown into the salutation a special emphasis, as much as to say, "This Jeremiah speaks a lie when he prophesies war." And this word of the prophets showed that they did not comprehend where the hostility really lay. The hostile relations between the invading human hosts and Israel amounted to the merest trifle compared with the hostility between Jehovah and those who had been named as his people. The essence of the struggle lay, not in its being a struggle between invader and invaded, but between rightful Master and rebellious servants. The invader indeed may not have been conscious of any particular enmity against Israel. The chief passion in his heart may have been nothing more than savage lust for the exercise of force and the acquirement of spoil. But between God and his people there was a deep breach in all right relations. God wars against them, and therefore they were not to suppose that peace was secured, even if they kept on amicable terms with foreign nations. But, in truth, no amount of finessing, parading, and boasting could keep them permanently right with foreign nations. To suppose this was to suppose that they could pluck the weapons of God's chastening anger from his firm grasp. When God takes the wicked to become his sword, his sword they are, to be wielded with no uncertain efficacy. Men make the blunder of thinking there is peace, when they have only conciliated what enemies they can see and hear into invisibility and silence.
II. CONSIDER THE FIGURE WHICH ADDS TO THE FORCE OF THE PLAIN STATEMENT. It is a figure, which does much to bring to the individual Israelite the serious consequences of this false dealing on the part of the prophets. War, while always a national disaster and anxiety, may leave individuals unscathed; nay, there are always a few who manage to build up some sort of prosperity and renown by successful war. But here is a figure, which speaks of healing and of hurt, and of these who have to heal the hurt. The prophet is set forth as the surgeon, whose business it is to enter the home and put fight again the malady that may be afflicting some member of it. This figure, too, it will be observed, tells us something of the feeling of the people, and thereby goes beyond the plain statement as to the false dealing of the prophets.
1. There is a consciousness that all is not right. There is a hurt. There is something to be healed. There is a sense of uneasiness, a sense which somehow must be taken away. The words of Jeremiah inflict superficial wounds and bruises at the least. There is a pain in the inward consciousness which is like the slashing of a whip upon the tender skin. Such messages as those which God put into the prophet's mouth were sure to hurt the pride of a nation, and rouse its patriotism into egotistic fury. Then we may be sure that some of the people would feel that the prophet might be speaking the truth. Some things he said were undeniable. The idol-worship was plain; so were the trickery and oppression which abounded in the common life of the people. And all this sense of uneasiness, which is really the sign that conscience is not utterly dead, only needs to be treated rightly in order to be roused into a vigorous life.
2. The nature of the hurt is misunderstood. This is the least that can be said. It may have been understood by some of the prophets, and yet, for their own base purposes, misrepresented. Jeremiah describes the hurt by its true name. The word in the Hebrew is a very strong word, meaning something very serious, something which demands great skill and effort, if it is to be put right. Who can exaggerate the seriousness of the crisis, when some malady going to the very heart of a man seems to awaken no corresponding alarm, either in his own mind or in the mind of his physician? And what a serious charge to bring against a physician if he seeks to lull alarm by making out the trouble to be a mere trifle! Yet this is just what many do. When the sense of unrest gets into the life, it is counted but as a physical illness. Change of air and scene are prescribed for symptoms which can only be permanently removed by change of heart. The more worldly and unspiritual a man is, the more dogmatism, recklessness, and overbearing arrogance he will show in lecturing those who have become disturbed in their consciences.
3. There is thus declared to be healing, when there is not the slightest possibility of it. Assurances are given which have no real foundation in anything the assurer knows or has done. He has been giving great attention to the visible cuts and bruises, and the deep, internal, organic injury is more firmly fixed than ever. Men will thus play the physician, try to get credit for their skill, and do untold harm, when they ought rather, in all humility and modesty, to confess their ignorance. - Y.
Parallel VersesKJV: They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.