Cursed be the day wherein I was born: let not the day wherein my mother bore me be blessed.…
It is very perplexing to find these words following so closely upon the confidences expressed in vers. 11-13. And yet the perplexity is to some extent removed when we recollect how largely man is the creature of his moods. That he is bright and confident today may not hinder him from being in the depths of despair tomorrow. It is well for us to see how low a real and faithful prophet of God can sink. One is reminded at once of the similar words put into the mouth of Job. We have advantages, however, in considering this expression of Jeremiah which we lack in considering the similar expression of Job. Of Job we know nothing except as the subject of one of the sublimest poems in the world. What substance of fact may have suggested the poem it is beyond our powers to determine. But Jeremiah stands before us unquestionably a real man, a prominent character in the highway of history.
I. THE FEELING THAT UNDERLIES THIS TERRIBLE IMPRECATION. The form of the imprecation is not to be too much regarded. The same feeling will be very differently expressed in different languages and among different races. What Jeremiah means is made clear in ver. 18. Just at this particular time it seems to him that life has been nothing but one huge failure. He has no heart to accept suggestions such as might mitigate his gloom. He will not even allow that life has had any other possibilities than those of failure and shame, and therefore the congratulations attending his birth were misplaced. The more we look into his language here, the more we see that it was very wild and foolish. The important matter is that, in approaching the consideration of these words, we should have a distinct impression of how recklessly even a good man may talk. A recollection of Jeremiah's utterance here will keep us from wondering that there should be so much of foolish and impious talk in the world.
II. THE FACT WAS AS FAR AS POSSIBLE FROM CORRESPONDING TO THE FEELING. We look at Jeremiah's career as a whole, and at the permanent value of his prophesies, and then we see how little moods and feelings count for just by themselves. We gain nothing by saying of any man that it might have been better for him if he had never been born. It is true that Jesus spoke thus of Judas, but we are not at liberty to say what he says; and besides, he was speaking in the language of necessary hyperbole, in order to emphasize the dreadful wickedness of the traitor. The safe ground for us to take is that entrance upon human life in this world is a good thing. Even with all the trials of life, the position of a human being in this world is a noble one, and his possibilities for the future are beyond imagination. While it is right that we should have the deepest compassion for the deformed, the defective, the infirm, we must also recollect that it is better to be the most deformed of human beings than the shapeliest and healthiest of brutes. In face of all the present afflictions of human nature, one thought should be sufficient to brighten them all, namely, the thought of how perfectly comprehensive is the renewing power of God. Within its grasp it comprehends the most imperfect and distorted of human organizations. Jeremiah was making the huge blunder of looking at things entirely from the point of view of his own feelings, and his present feelings. His actions were better than his words. Speaking out of his own feelings, he talked great folly and falsehood; speaking as the prophet of God, his utterances were those of wisdom and truth. The fact was that of no one belonging to his generation could it be more truly said than of him that his birth was a good thing; good for the nation, good for himself, good for the glory and service of Jehovah. We must not bemoan existence because there is suffering in it. Suffering may be very protracted and intense, and yet life be full of blessing. Jesus had to suffer more than any man. He shrank from the approach of death with a sensitiveness which we cannot conceive, who have in us the mortal taint by reason of indwelling sin. Nothing reconciled him to the thought of all he had thus to endure save that it was the clear will of God. What was Jeremiah's mental suffering compared with that of Jesus? Anal yet, though the life of Jesus was to be one of peculiar and unparalleled sufferings, his birth had angels to announce and celebrate it. - Y.
Parallel VersesKJV: Cursed be the day wherein I was born: let not the day wherein my mother bare me be blessed.