4:1 If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the LORD, a return to
me: and if thou wilt put away thy abominations out of my
sight, then shalt thou not be removed.
(a) That is, wholly and without hypocrisy, not dissembling
to turn and serve God as they do who serve him by
halves, (Ho 7:16).
4:2 And thou shalt b swear, The LORD liveth, in truth, in
judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless
themselves in him, and in him shall they glory.
(b) You will detest the name of idols, (Ps 16:4) and
will with reverence swear by the living God, when your
oath may advance God's glory, and profit others: and
here by swearing he means the true religion of God.
4:3 For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem,
Break up c your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.
(c) He wills them to pluck up the impiety and wicked
affection and worldly respects out of their heart, that
the true seed of God's word may be sown in it,
(Ho 10:12) and this is the true circumcision of the
heart, (De 10:16, Ro 2:29, Col 2:11).
4:5d Declare ye in Judah, and proclaim in Jerusalem; and say,
Blow ye the trumpet in the land: cry, confirm, and say,
Assemble yourselves, and let us go into the fortified
(d) He warns them of the great dangers that will come on
them by the Chaldeans, unless they repent and turn to
4:6 Set up the standard toward Zion: e retire, stay not: for I
will bring evil from the north, and a great destruction.
(e) He speaks this to admonish them of the great danger when
every man will prepare to save himself, but it will be
too late, (2Ki 25:4).
4:7 The f lion is come up from his thicket, and the destroyer
of the Gentiles is on his way; he is gone forth from his
place to make thy land desolate; thy cities shall be laid
waste, without an inhabitant.
(f) Meaning Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, (2Ki 24:1).
4:9 And it shall come to pass at that day, saith the LORD,
[that] the heart of the king shall perish, and the heart of
the princes; and the priests shall be astonished, and the
g prophets shall wonder.
(g) That is, the false prophets who still prophesied peace
4:10 Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! surely thou hast greatly h
deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, Ye shall have
peace; though the sword reacheth to the soul.
(h) By the false prophets who promised peace and
tranquillity: and thus you have punished their
rebellious stubbornness by causing them to hearken to
lies who would not believe your truth,
(1Ki 22:23, Eze 14:9, 2Th 2:11).
4:11 At that time shall it be said to this people and to
Jerusalem, A dry i wind of the high places in the
wilderness toward the daughter of my people, not k to
fan, nor to cleanse,
(i) The north wind by which he means Nebuchadnezzar.
(k) But to carry away both corn and chaff.
4:13 Behold, he shall come up as l clouds, and his chariots
[shall be] as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than
eagles. m Woe to us! for we are laid waste.
(l) Meaning that Nebuchadnezzar would come as suddenly as a
cloud that is carried with the wind.
(m) This is spoken in the person of all the people, who in
their affliction would cry thus.
4:15 For a voice declareth from n Dan, and proclaimeth
affliction from mount o Ephraim.
(n) Which was a city in the utmost border of Israel north
(o) Which was in the middle between Dan and Jerusalem.
4:17 As keepers of a p field, they are against her on all
sides; because she hath been rebellious against me, saith
(p) Who keep the fruits so straitly, that nothing can come
in or out so would the Babylonians compass Judah.,
4:19 My distress, my q distress! I am pained at my very
heart; my heart maketh a noise in me; I cannot hold my
peace, because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the
trumpet, the alarm of war.
(q) He shows that the true ministers are lively touched
with the calamities of the Church, so that all the
parts of their body feel the grief of their heart, even
though with zeal to God's glory they pronounce his
judgments against the people.
4:20 Destruction upon destruction is cried; for the whole land
is laid waste: suddenly are my r tents ruined, [and] my
curtains in a moment.
(r) Meaning, the cities which were as easily cast down as a
4:22 For my people [are] foolish, they have not known me; they
[are] silly children, and they have no understanding: s
they [are] wise to do evil, but to do good they have no
(s) Their wisdom and policy tend to their own destruction
and pulls them from God.
4:23 I beheld the earth, and, lo, [it was] without form, and t
void; and the heavens, and they [had] no light.
(t) By this manner of speech he shows the horrible
destruction that would come on the land and also
condemns the obstinacy of the people who do not repent
at the fear of these terrible kings, seeing that the
insensible creatures are moved therewith, as if the
order of nature would be changed,
(Isa 13:10,24:23, Eze 32:7, Joel 2:31,3:15).
4:27 For thus hath the LORD said, The whole land shall be
desolate; yet will I u not make a full end.
(u) But for his mercies sake, he will reserve himself a
residue to be his Church, and to praise him in earth,
4:30 And [when] thou [art] laid waste, what wilt thou do? Though
thou x clothest thyself with crimson, though thou deckest
thee with ornaments of gold, though thou enlarge thy eyes
with painting, in vain shalt thou make thyself fair; [thy]
lovers will despise thee, they will seek thy life.
(x) Neither your ceremonies nor rich gifts will deliver
4:31 For I have heard a voice as of a woman in travail, [and]
the anguish as of her that bringeth forth her first child,
the voice of the daughter of Zion, [that] bewaileth
herself, [that] spreadeth her hands, [saying], y Woe [is]
me now! for my soul is wearied because of murderers.
(y) As the prophets were moved to pity the destruction of
their people, so they declared it to the people to move
them to repentance, (Isa 22:4, Jer 9:1).