Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the LORD has rejected them.
Two important things are to be remembered with regard to the meaning of the words in this verse.
1. That Jeremiah uses the same Hebrew verb where we have the two different words, "reprobate" and "rejected." What Jeremiah really says is that the silver hears the name "rejected silver," because Jehovah has rejected it.
2. The verb employed is commonly used to signify the action which is opposed to choosing; e.g. in Isaiah 7:15 the time is spoken of when a child becomes able to reject the evil and to choose the good, and in Isaiah 41:8, 9 there is a still more striking instance, because of its bearing on the words now under consideration. These are the words: "Thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend. Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not rejected thee." Thus it will be seen that we are not simply to think of rejection over against approval. Silver ore, being put through the most searching test possible, may respond to the test by coming out approved silver. But he who is thus able to approve is not necessarily in the position which requires him to choose. He may only have the duty of an assay agent, which stops with reporting the result of his test; he who has employed is the man to make the choice. Now, God tries in order that he may decide for himself whether to choose or reject; e.g. he rejected Saul from reigning over Israel, which of course means that, from the hour of rejection, Saul's throne was considered vacant. We can now proceed to point out the truths implied in this verse.
1. There can be no adequate discernment of the merit or demerit of any man unless by God himself. Only when God rejects can the stamp "rejected" be put on any one. Men may set up their canons of approval; they may apply their tests, philosophical, or political, or literary, or even theological. They may reject and excommunicate, pursuing with fiercest hatred all who are not approved according to their tests. Thus there will be a partial and temporary rejection, but since it comes from no adequate inquiry, the rejection itself will be rejected by a higher authority. Of this we have a conspicuous, we may even say the supreme, instance in Psalm 118:22, "The stone which the builders rejected [the same Hebrew word as Jeremiah uses, be it observed] is become the head of the corner." It may be, indeed, that he whom some men reject may in the end be rejected by God also, but it will be for very different reasons.
2. The reasons for rejection we must try to discover. The Lord rejects those who claim to be accepted. He will reject the claim when it is that of mere national descent, as when Jesus said to the proud Jews who opposed him, that out of the stones he could make children to Abraham. God rejects all mere formal acknowledgment of him; it is not enough to say, "Lord, Lord." He rejects all that is the mere exercise and effort of intellectual faculties. In short, he rejects all that does not begin with a complete acceptance of Christ, and hence go on in the spirit of entire submission to him. Illustrations of what prompts to rejection are furnished both before and after this verse, e.g. in ver. 20, where the incense, etc., is rejected, i.e. of course, the men who offer the incense, and in Jeremiah 7:14, where the admired temple is threatened with overthrow. A mere building is shown to be nothing in God's sight unless it is frequented by such as are themselves acceptable to him. Observe also, in ascertaining the reason for rejection, how the word "silver" is kept. The thing tested is rejected, not because it is counterfeit, but because it is persistently impure. It will not yield up those baser elements which are so intimately blended with it, and effectually destroy the value and hide the luster of the pure silver. And yet remember how high rejected man rises above rejected silver. Man in his freedom may relent from his stubbornness and submit to those renewing and purifying processes which will result in the silver being approved and chosen.
3. There is no chance of establishing and commending what the Lord rejects. Saul did his best to struggle against the Divine decision, but there is no more pitiable sight in all the records of kingship than that which he presents in the struggle. We also must reject those whom God rejects; and there can be no mistake about it that we must reject those who reject God - such as are spoken of in 2 Kings 17:15, those who rejected the statutes of God and the covenant that he had made with their fathers, and the testimonies which he testified against them. - Y.
Parallel VersesKJV: Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the LORD hath rejected them.