Jeremiah 20:7
(7) O Lord, thou hast deceived me.--There is an obvious break between Jeremiah 20:6-7. The narrative ends, and a psalm of passionate complaint begins. Its position probably indicates that the compiler of the prophecies in their present form looked on the complaints as belonging to this period of the prophet's work, representing the thoughts of that night of shame which was, as it were, the extremest point of apparent failure. This then was the end of his prophetic calling, this the fulfilment of the promise which told him that he was set over the nations, and that his enemies should not prevail against him (Jeremiah 1:8-10). Some touches of this feeling we have heard already in Jeremiah 15:18. Now it is more dominant and continuous.

Thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed.--Better, thou hast laid hold on me. Jehovah now appears to the prophet as a hard taskmaster who had forced him, against his will (Jeremiah 17:16), to enter on a work from which he shrank, and who gave him scorn and derision as his only wage. He felt, in St. Paul's language, that "a necessity was laid upon" him (1Corinthians 9:16); or in Isaiah's, that the "strong hand" of the Lord was on him (Isaiah 8:11).

Daily.--Literally, all the day.

Verses 7-13. - A lyric passage, expressing the conflict in the prophet's mind owing to the mockery and the slander which his preaching has brought upon him, and at the same time his confidence of victory through the protection of Jehovah; a suitable sequel to the narrative which goes before, even if not originally written to occupy this position (see general Introduction). Verse 7. - Thou hast deceived me, etc.; rather, thou didst entice me, and I let myself be enticed. Jeremiah refers to the hesitation he originally felt to accepting the prophetic office (Jeremiah 1.). The verb does not mean "to deceive," but "to entice" (so rendered in ver. 10, Authorized Version), or "allure." The same word is used in that remarkable narrative of "the spirit" who offered to "entice" (Authorized Version, to "persuade") Ahab to "go up and fall at Ramoth-Gilead" (1 Kings 22:21). In Ezekiel, too, the same case is supposed as possible of Jehovah's "enticing" a prophet (Ezekiel 15:9). The expression implies that all events are, in some sense, caused by God, even those which are, or appear to be, injurious to the individual. Was Goethe thinking of this passage when he wrote the words, "Wen Gott betrugt, ist wohl be-trogon?" Applying the words in a Christian sense, we may say (with F. W. Robertson) that God teaches us by our illusions. Thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed; rather, thou didst take hold on me, and didst prevail. The expression is like "Jehovah spake thus to me with a grasp of the hand" (Isaiah 8:11).

20:7-13 The prophet complains of the insult and injury he experienced. But ver. 7 may be read, Thou hast persuaded me, and I was persuaded. Thou wast stronger than I; and didst overpower me by the influence of thy Spirit upon me. So long as we see ourselves in the way of God, and of duty, it is weakness and folly, when we meet with difficulties and discouragements, to wish we had never set out in it. The prophet found the grace of God mighty in him to keep him to his business, notwithstanding the temptation he was in to throw it up. Whatever injuries are done to us, we must leave them to that God to whom vengeance belongs, and who has said, I will repay. So full was he of the comfort of God's presence, the Divine protection he was under, and the Divine promise he had to depend upon, that he stirred up himself and others to give God the glory. Let the people of God open their cause before Him, and he will enable them to see deliverance.O Lord, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived,.... What follows from hence to the end of the chapter is thought to have been said by the prophet, when in the stocks, or in prison, and shows mixture of grace and corruption in him; a struggle between flesh and spirit, and the force of a temptation under which he laboured, arising from difficulties and discouragements in his work; and he not only complains to God, but of him; that he had deceived him, when he first called him to be a prophet, by telling him that he should be set over nations and kingdoms, to pull them down, Jeremiah 1:10; which he understood of foreign nations, but now found his own people were meant, so Jerom; or in not immediately executing the threatenings he sent him with; as was the case of Jonah; or by giving him reason to expect honour and ease, whereas he met with nothing but disrespect and trouble; and that he should have divine protection and success against his opposers, Jeremiah 1:18; whereas he was now delivered into their hands, and used in the most reproachful manner; but be it so, this was all a mistake of the prophet, and no deception of God. Calvin takes it to be ironically spoken, expressing the sense of his enemies, who charging him with a deception, tacitly charged God with being the author of it. Others, to soften the expression, render the words, "if thou hast deceived me, I am deceived"; or, "thou hast deceived me if I am deceived" (y). But it seems best of all to translate them, as they will hear it, "O Lord, thou hast persuaded me, and I was persuaded" (z); so the word is used of God in Genesis 9:27; "God shall enlarge" or "persuade Japheth"; see also Hosea 2:14, where it is rendered allure; and then the sense is, thou hast persuaded me to take upon me the prophetical office against my will, and against remonstrances made by me; and I was persuaded by thy words and promises, and by thy spirit and grace, to enter upon it; to which sense the following words incline:

thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed; so strong were the arguments, motives, and inducements the Lord made use of; so pressing his injunctions and commands; so forcible the constraints of his spirit; that the prophet was obliged to yield unto them, and was made willing in the day of his power to comply, though first it was sore against his will; but he could not withstand the divine call, and therefore might have hoped, since it was so manifest that he was sent of God, and did not run of himself, that he should have met with a better reception, and more success; but so it was not:

I am in derision daily, everyone mocketh me; he was the laughing stock of everyone of the people of Israel, from the highest to the lowest; princes, priests, and people, all derided him and his prophecies, and that continually, every day, and all the day long, and especially when he was in the stocks; though it was not only his person they mocked, but the word of the Lord by him, as appears from Jeremiah 20:8.

(y) "Domine si ego sim seductus, tu es qui me seduxit", Genevenses; "pellexisti me, quando pellectus sum", Junius & Tremellius; sic Syr. "tu decepisti me, si deceptus sim; quidam" in Gataker. (z) "Persuasisti mihi, O Jehovah, et persuasus sum", Luther, Piscator, Schmidt.

Jeremiah 20:6
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