Jeremiah 17:16
(16) I have not hastened . . .--The words of the English Version are somewhat obscure, and a better rendering would perhaps be, I have not been quick to withdraw from my work in following thee, as a shepherd and guide of the people. A possible meaning, adopted by some commentators, would be, "I have not hastened from my work as a shepherd (in the literal sense) to follow thee," as presenting a parallel to the words of Amos (Amos 7:14-15); and, though we cannot get beyond conjecture, it is quite possible that Jeremiah, in his youth, before the call of Jeremiah 1:4, may have been employed in the pasture grounds that belonged to Anathoth as a city of the priests (Numbers 35:4; Joshua 21:4; Joshua 21:18; 1Chronicles 6:60). It is to some extent in favour of this view, that throughout the book the work of the shepherd, when used figuratively, answers to the work of the ruler, and not to that of the prophet. What he means, if we keep the version given above, is that he had not been too slack in his obedience, but neither had he been over eager. He had no desire to see the woful day that would fulfil his predictions. What had come from his lips was just what he had been bidden to say and no more (Jeremiah 15:16-19), and thus he had spoken as in the sight of God. The interpolated word "right" mars rather than mends the meaning,

Verse 16. - I have not hastened from being a pastor to follow thee; i.e. I have not eagerly withdrawn from following thee as a shepherd (or prophet). The prophet does not follow his own vague inclinations; he is but an under-shepherd, and waits on the will of his superior. He is, as Hosea calls him (Hosea 9:7, Hebrew), "the man of the Spirit." If God leads any one, whether people or individuals, it is through the agency of the Spirit (Isaiah 63:11, 12); and it is the characteristic of the typical prophet that his ear is "wakened morning by morning" to receive his daily lesson. Only by thus "following" the Divine Leader, can a prophet act as pastor to his people. [The construction is, however, rather simplified by the rendering - a perfectly legitimate one... from following thee as a companion.] The woeful day. The word for "woeful" is the same rendered "desperately wicked" (ver. 9); the "day" of Judah's calamity is metaphorically "sick," like the heart of man. So, other words being used, Isaiah 17:11 (end). Was right before thee; rather (since some adjective must be supplied), was manifest before thee. He appeals to the all-seeing Eye as a witness to his fidelity to his mission.

17:12-18 The prophet acknowledges the favour of God in setting up religion. There is fulness of comfort in God, overflowing, ever-flowing fulness, like a fountain. It is always fresh and clear, like spring-water, while the pleasures of sin are puddle-waters. He prays to God for healing, saving mercy. He appeals to God concerning his faithful discharge of the office to which he was called. He humbly begs that God would own and protect him in the work to which he had plainly called him. Whatever wounds or diseases we find to be in our hearts and consciences, let us apply to the Lord to heal us, to save us, that our souls may praise his name. His hands can bind up the troubled conscience, and heal the broken heart; he can cure the worst diseases of our nature.As for me, I have not hastened from being a pastor to follow thee,.... Though he had met with so much ill usage, and was hated by the people for bringing such messages to them, and was jeered and scoffed at because his prophecies were not accomplished; yet he had not been hasty, and solicitous, and importunate with the Lord to dismiss him from his service; but was willing to continue in his office as a pastor or prophet, and to follow the Lord fully, and faithfully perform the work he had called him to, whatever difficulties and discouragements attended him, or reproaches were cast upon him. Some render the words, "I hastened not", or "I have not urged", or "pressed to be a pastor after thee" (z); to which the sense of Kimchi agrees,

"I did not press myself, or was anxious about the matter, that I should be a shepherd after thee, or a prophet;''

he did not run before he was sent; he did not thrust himself into this office; he was not forward, but backward to it, as appears from Jeremiah 1:6; a pastor of the Lord is an under shepherd; one that has his mission and commission from the Lord; who obeys him in all things; follows his directions; goes where and with what he sends him; and such an one was Jeremiah; though it was not what he sought after, and was pressing for; and this he says to take off the edge of the people's resentment against him; to which agree the following words:

neither have I desired the woeful day, thou knowest; he foresaw that reproaches and calumnies would be cast upon him, and that bonds and afflictions would abide him wherever he went with his messages and prophecies; he knew it would be a woeful and miserable day to him, whenever he was sent as a prophet to this people; and that he should meet with nothing but sorrow, and trouble, and vexation of spirit; and therefore it could not be desirable to him, as a man, to be in such an office, or to be sent on such an errand; to be a messenger of such terrible things, and to denounce such woeful judgments; and much less did he desire the execution of them, even though he had prophesied of them; having not so much regard to his own honour and credit, as an affection to the people, and a compassionate concern for their welfare; and for all this he could appeal to the heart searching and rein trying God. The Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Syriac and Arabic versions, render it, "man's day"; see 1 Corinthians 4:3; but the Targum paraphrases it agreeably to the sense given,

"and the evil day which thou shall bring upon them, I have not desired:''

that which came out of my lips was right before thee; as he could appeal to the omniscient God for the truth of the above, so for this, that he delivered nothing by way of prophecy but what he had from the Lord; and that he delivered out truly and faithfully whatever he had from him; and it was all done openly and publicly, and in his sight, with all sincerity and truth; see 2 Corinthians 2:17.

(z) "ego autem non festinavi ut essem pastor post te", Calvin; "et me (quod attinet) non ursi esse pastor post te", Noldius, p. 567.

Jeremiah 17:15
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