Lecture One Hundred and Fourth
11. But the nations that bring their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him, those will I let remain still in their own land, saith the LORD; and they shall till it, and dwell therein.
11. Gens autem quae adduxerit cervicem suam sub jugum regis Babyonis, et servierit ei, relinquam eam in terra sua, dicit Jehova, et colet eam et habitabit in ea.
He seems indeed to speak here indiscriminately of all nations; but the admonition belongs to the Jews alone, as we have said, and as it appears from the context. He seems however to mention the nations, that he might more sharply touch the Jews, as though he had said, "Though God's promises are not to be extended to heathen nations, yet God will spare the Tyrians and the Moabites, if they submit quietly to the king of Babylon, and take upon them his yoke. If God will spare heathen nations, when yet he has promised them nothing, what may his chosen people expect? But if he will punish nations who err in darkness, what will become of a people who knowingly and wilfully resist God and his judgments?" For obstinacy in the Jews was mad impiety, as though they avowedly designed to carry on war with God; for they knew that Nebuchadnezzar was the executioner of God's vengeance. When therefore they ferociously attempted to exempt themselves from his power, it was to fight with God, as though they would not submit to his scourges.
We now then perceive why Jeremiah spoke what we here read, not only of the Jews, but also generally of all nations, The nation that brings its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serves him, I will leave it in its own land We must yet bear in mind what I have before said, that the Jews were the people especially regarded. If, then, they had given place to God's kindness, he would have graciously spared them, and they would have perpetually enjoyed their own inheritance; but it was their obstinacy that drove them far into exile. And hence he adds, I will leave it in its land; and it shall cultivate it and dwell in it
There is a striking allusion in the word vd, obed, for it means to serve, and also to cultivate; but there is to be understood a contrast between cultivating the land and that subjection, to which he exhorted the Jews, as though he had said, — "Serve the king of Babylon, that the land may serve you; it will be the reward of your obedience, if you will submit yourselves to the power of the king of Babylon, that the land will submit, to you, and you will compel it to serve you, so that it will bring forth food for you." We hence see that God promised that the land would serve the people, if they refused not to serve the king of Babylon.
And hence also we may gather useful instruction, — that all the elements would be serviceable to us, were we willingly to obey God, but that on the contrary, the heaven, and the earth, and all the elements will be opposed to us, if we pertinaciously resist God. But Jeremiah speaks here more expressly of the submission which men render to God, when they calmly receive his correction, and acknowledge, while he inflicts punishment, that they justly deserve it, and do not refuse to be chastised by his hand. When, therefore, men thus submit to God's judgment, they obtain his favor, so that the earth, and heaven, and all the elements will serve them. But the more perversely men exalt themselves and raise their horns against God, the more bondage shall they feel; for their own chains bind them stronger than anything else, when they thus struggle with God and do not humble themselves under his mighty hand. The same thing the Prophet still more clearly confirms when he says, —