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CHAPTER (ELEGY) 3
Jeremiah proposes his own experience under afflictions, as an example as to how the Jews should behave under theirs, so as to have hope of a restoration; hence the change from singular to plural (La 3:22, 40-47). The stanzas consist of three lines, each of which begins with the same Hebrew letter.
1-3. seen affliction--his own in the dungeon of Malchiah (Jer 38:6); that of his countrymen also in the siege. Both were types of that of Christ.
4-6. (Job 16:8).
5. builded--mounds, as against a besieged city, so as to allow none to escape (so La 3:7, 9).
6. set me--HENDERSON refers this to the custom of placing the dead in
a sitting posture.
9. hewn stone--which coheres so closely as not to admit of being broken
10-13. (Job 10:16; Ho 13:7, 8).
12. (Job 7:20).
16-18. gravel--referring to the grit that often mixes with bread baked in ashes, as is the custom of baking in the East (Pr 20:17). We fare as hardly as those who eat such bread. The same allusion is in "Covered me with ashes," namely, as bread.
17. Not only present, but all hope of future prosperity is removed; so much so, that I am as one who never was prosperous ("I forgat prosperity").
18. from the Lord--that is, my hope derived from Him (Ps 31:22).
20. As often as my soul calls them to remembrance, it is humbled or bowed down in me.
21. This--namely, what follows; the view of the divine character (La 3:22, 23). CALVIN makes "this" refer to Jeremiah's infirmity. His very weakness (La 3:19, 20) gives him hope of God interposing His strength for him (compare Ps 25:11, 17; 42:5, 8; 2Co 12:9, 10).
22-24. (Mal 3:6).
23. (Isa 33:2).
26. quietly wait--literally, "be in silence." Compare La 3:28 and Ps 39:2, 9, that is, to be patiently quiet under afflictions, resting in the will of God (Ps 37:7). So Aaron (Le 10:2, 3); and Job (Job 40:4, 5).
27. yoke--of the Lord's disciplinary teaching (Ps 90:12; 119:71). CALVIN interprets it, The Lord's doctrine (Mt 11:29, 30), which is to be received in a docile spirit. The earlier the better; for the old are full of prejudices (Pr 8:17; Ec 12:1). Jeremiah himself received the yoke, both of doctrine and chastisement in his youth (Jer 1:6, 7).
28-30. The fruit of true docility and patience. He does not fight
against the yoke
but accommodates himself to it.
The mouth in the dust is the attitude of suppliant and humble
submission to God's dealings as righteous and loving in design (compare
30. Messiah, the Antitype, fulfilled this; His practice agreeing with His precept (Isa 50:6; Mt 5:39). Many take patiently afflictions from God, but when man wrongs them, they take it impatiently. The godly bear resignedly the latter, like the former, as sent by God (Ps 17:13).
32. The punishments of the godly are but for a time.
34-36. This triplet has an infinitive in the beginning of each verse, the governing finite verb being in the end of La 3:36, "the Lord approveth not," which is to be repeated in each verse. Jeremiah here anticipates and answers the objections which the Jews might start, that it was by His connivance they were "crushed under the feet" of those who "turned aside the right of a man." God approves (literally, "seeth," Hab 1:13; so "behold," "look on," that is, look on with approval) not of such unrighteous acts; and so the Jews may look for deliverance and the punishment of their foes.
36. subvert--to wrong.
39. living--and so having a time yet given him by God for repentance.
If sin were punished as it deserves, life itself would be forfeited
by the sinner. "Complaining" (murmuring) ill becomes him who enjoys such
a favor as life
40-42. us--Jeremiah and his fellow countrymen in their calamity.
42. not pardoned--The Babylonian captivity had not yet ended.
43-45. covered--namely, thyself (so La 3:44), so as not to see and pity our calamities, for even the most cruel in seeing a sad spectacle are moved to pity. Compare as to God "hiding His face," Ps 10:11; 22:25.
47. Like animals fleeing in fear, we fall into the snare laid for us.
48. (Jer 4:19).
49-51. without . . . intermission--or else, "because there is no intermission" [PISCATOR], namely, of my miseries.
50. Till--His prayer is not without hope, wherein it differs from the
blind grief of unbelievers.
51. eye affecteth mine heart--that is, causeth me grief with continual
tears; or, "affecteth my life" (literally, "soul," Margin), that
is, my health [GROTIUS].
54. Waters--not literally, for there was "no water"
in the place of Jeremiah's confinement, but emblematical of overwhelming
(Ps 69:2; 124:4, 5).
55-57. I called out of dungeon--Thus the spirit resists the flesh, and faith spurns the temptation [CALVIN], (Ps 130:1; Jon 2:2).
56. Thou hast heard--namely formerly (so in
La 3:57, 58).
57. Thou drewest near--with Thy help (Jas 4:8).
59. God's past deliverances and His knowledge of Judah's wrongs are made the grounds of prayer for relief.
61-63. their reproach--their reproachful language against me.
63. sitting down . . . rising up--whether they sit or rise, that is, whether they be actively engaged or sedentary, and at rest "all the day" (La 3:62), I am the subject of their derisive songs (La 3:14).
64-66. (Jer 11:20; 2Ti 4:1