Bible Commentary

Jeremiah 23

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

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(Read all of Jeremiah 23)

Verse 2

[2] Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD.

That feed — They are said to have fed this people, because it was their duty so to do.

Verse 5

[5] Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.

Behold — Even the Jewish doctors, as well as the Christian interpreters, understand this as a prophecy of the Messiah who is called the branch, Isaiah 4:2; 53:2. And here, he is called the righteous branch, not only because himself was righteous, but because he maketh his people righteous.

Shall execute — Protecting the innocent, and defending his people throughout the world, judging the prince of the world, and by his spirit governing his people.

Verse 6

[6] In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

Judah — During the reign and kingdom of the Messiah the people of God typified by Judah and Israel shall be saved with a spiritual salvation, and God will be a special protection to them.

And this — The name wherewith this branch shall be called, shall be, The Lord our righteousness. This place is an eminent proof of the Godhead of Christ, he is here called Jehovah, and what is proper to God alone, namely to justify, is here applied to Christ. He who knew no sin, was made sin, (that is, a sacrifice for sin) for us, that we might be made, the righteousness of God in him.

Verse 8

[8] But, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.

They shall dwell — Possibly part of this prophecy remains yet to be accomplished for the Jews are not yet come to dwell in their own land.

Verse 9

[9] Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the LORD, and because of the words of his holiness.

Like a man — And he was even astonished and stupefied, and like a drunken man, at the apprehensions of the wrath of the Lord ready to be revealed against them, and considering also what words the holy God had put into his mouth, to speak against them.

Verse 10

[10] For the land is full of adulterers; for because of swearing the land mourneth; the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course is evil, and their force is not right.

Adulterers — Under this term all species of uncleanness are comprehended.

Swearing — By false-swearing, or by idle and profane swearing.

The pleasant places — The wrath of God was extended to all places whether more or less inhabited.

Their courses — The prophets did not only err in single acts, but the whole course of their actions was evil, and particularly their power, rule and government, was not right.

Verse 13

[13] And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err.

They prophesied — Pretending they had their instructions from Baal, and so caused the ten tribes to err, which then were called Israel in contradistinction to Judah.

Verse 16

[16] Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD.

Hearken not — People are under no religious obligation to hear any thing but the revealed will of God, and are not to obey those that call to them for what that doth not call to them.

Verse 18

[18] For who hath stood in the counsel of the LORD, and hath perceived and heard his word? who hath marked his word, and heard it?

For who — Which of those prophets, that prophesy such terrible things against this city is a privy-counsellor to God? The words seem to be the words of the false prophets.

Verse 20

[20] The anger of the LORD shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly.

The anger — The prophet speaks of the judgment as of a messenger, which should not return till it had done its errand, and executed what God had resolved it should effect.

Ye shall consider — And though you will not now believe it, yet hereafter when it shall be too late, you shall consider it perfectly.

Verse 28

[28] The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD.

What is the wheat — There is as much difference between my will and their dreams, as there is betwixt the chaff and the wheat.

Verse 30

[30] Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour.

That steal — That conspire together what to say to deceive the people, and so steal what they say one from another.

Verse 31

[31] Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith.

He — That is, the Lord saith.

Verse 33

[33] And when this people, or the prophet, or a priest, shall ask thee, saying, What is the burden of the LORD? thou shalt then say unto them, What burden? I will even forsake you, saith the LORD.

What is — The false prophets, and corrupt priests, would ordinarily mock the true prophets; and ask them what was the burden of the Lord.

Verse 34

[34] And as for the prophet, and the priest, and the people, that shall say, The burden of the LORD, I will even punish that man and his house.

That shall say — That is, that shall in derision say thus, mocking at my threatenings.

And his house — I will not only punish him, but his whole family.

Verse 35

[35] Thus shall ye say every one to his neighbour, and every one to his brother, What hath the LORD answered? and, What hath the LORD spoken?

Thus shall ye say — I will have you speak more reverently of me and my prophets.

Verse 36

[36] And the burden of the LORD shall ye mention no more: for every man's word shall be his burden; for ye have perverted the words of the living God, of the LORD of hosts our God.

Mention no more — Not in scorn and derision.

For — These false and irreverent speeches which are in every man's mouth, shall be burdensome to them, shall bring down vengeance upon them.

Perverted — Because you have derided, the words of God, the living God.

Verse 37

[37] Thus shalt thou say to the prophet, What hath the LORD answered thee? and, What hath the LORD spoken?

Thus shalt thou say — To my true prophet. You shall speak to them reverently.

Verse 38

[38] But since ye say, The burden of the LORD; therefore thus saith the LORD; Because ye say this word, The burden of the LORD, and I have sent unto you, saying, Ye shall not say, The burden of the LORD;

Because — Because you go on in your scoffing.

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