Jeremiah 1:6
(6) Ah, Lord God!--Better, Alas, O Lord Jehovah! as answering to the Hebrew Adonai Jehovah.

I cannot speak.--In the same sense as the "I am not eloquent" of Moses (Exodus 4:10), literally, "a man of words," i.e., have no gifts of utterance.

I am a child.--Later Jewish writers fix the age of fourteen as that up to which the term rendered "child" might be used. With Jeremiah it was probably more indefinite, and in the intense consciousness of his own weakness he would naturally use a word below the actual standard of his age; and there is accordingly nothing against assuming any age within the third hebdomad of life. In Genesis 34:19 it is used of a young man old enough for marriage. The words are memorable as striking a note common to the lives of many prophets; common, also, we may add, to most men as they feel themselves called to any great work. So Moses draws back: "I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue" (Exodus 4:10). So Isaiah cries, "Woe is me! for . . . I am a man of unclean lips" (Isaiah 6:5); and Peter, "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord" (Luke 5:8). Something of the same shrinking is implied in St. Paul's command to Timothy (1Timothy 4:12). In tracing the whole course of Jeremiah's work, we must never forget the divine constraint by which he entered on them. A necessity was laid upon him, as afterwards on St. Paul (1Corinthians 9:16).

Verse 6. - Ah, Lord God! rather, Alas, O Lord Jehovah! It is a cry of alarm and pain, and recurs in Jeremiah 4:10; Jeremiah 14:13; Jeremiah 32:17. I am a child. I am too young to support such an office. The word rendered "child" is used elsewhere of youths nearly grown up (comp. Genesis 34:19; Genesis 41:12; 1 Kings 3:7).

1:1-10 Jeremiah's early call to the work and office of a prophet is stated. He was to be a prophet, not to the Jews only, but to the neighbouring nations. He is still a prophet to the whole world, and it would be well if they would attend to these warnings. The Lord who formed us, knows for what particular services and purposes he intended us. But unless he sanctify us by his new-creating Spirit, we shall neither be fit for his holy service on earth, nor his holy happiness in heaven. It becomes us to have low thoughts of ourselves. Those who are young, should consider that they are so, and not venture beyond their powers. But though a sense of our own weakness and insufficiency should make us go humbly about our work, it should not make us draw back when God calls us. Those who have messages to deliver from God, must not fear the face of man. The Lord, by a sign, gave Jeremiah such a gift as was necessary. God's message should be delivered in his own words. Whatever wordly wise men or politicians may think, the safety of kingdoms is decided according to the purpose and word of God.Then said I, Ah, Lord God!.... The word "Ah", or "Ahah", is used in distress and grief, as Kimchi observes; and is expressive of mourning and complaint, as Jarchi notes; and shows that the prophet was troubled and uneasy at his call, and would gladly have been excused on the following account:

behold, I cannot speak; or, "I know not how to speak" (r); properly and pertinently, politely and eloquently, especially before great personages, kings and princes, and the citizens of Jerusalem, being brought up in a rustic manner in the country. A like excuse Moses made, Exodus 4:10. The Targum is, "I know not to prophesy: for I am a child"; meaning either in knowledge and understanding, or in years; not a mere child, but a "junior", as the Septuagint version renders the word; or a "young man", as the Arabic version; so Samuel and Zechariah were young men, when they first ministered in their office, 1 Samuel 3:1. Abarbinel supposes that Jeremiah was now twelve or fifteen years of age; but it should seem rather that he was more, perhaps twenty years of age; since he seems to have prophesied to the men of Anathoth before he was sent to Jerusalem, Jeremiah 11:21.

(r) "uescio loqui", V. L. Munster, Vatablus, Junius & Tremellius; "non novi loqui", Pagninus, Montanus.

Jeremiah 1:5
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