4. Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another: for thy people are as they that strive with the priest.
4. Caeterum, vir no objurget et non corripiat virum: quia populus tuus tanquam objurgatores sacerdotis. 1
The Prophet here deplores the extreme wickedness of the people, that they would bear no admonitions, like those who, being past hope, reject every advice, admit no physicians, and dislike all remedies: and it is a proof of irreclaimable wickedness, when men close their ears and harden their hearts against all salutary counsels. Hence the Prophet intimates, that, together with their great and many corruptions, there was such waywardness, that no one dared to reprove the public vices.
He adds this reason, For the people are as chiders of the priest, or, they really contend with the priest: for some take k, caph, in this place, not as expressive of likeness, but as explaining and affirming what is said, 'They altogether strive with the priest.' But I prefer the former sense, which is, that the Prophet calls all the people the censors of their pastors: and we see that froward men become thus insolent when they are reproved; for instantly such an objection as this is made by them, "Am I to be treated like a child? Have I not attained sufficient knowledge to understand how I ought to live?" We daily meet with many such men, who proudly boast of their knowledge, as though they were superior to all Prophets and teachers. And no doubt the ungodly make a show of wit and acuteness in opposing sound doctrine: and then it appears that they have learnt more than what one would have thought, -- for what end? only that they may contend with God.
Let us now return to the Prophet's words. But, he says: Ka, ak is not to be taken here as in many places for "verily:" but it denotes exception, "In the meantime". But, or, in the meantime, let no one chide and reprove another. In a word, the Prophet complains, that while all kinds of wickedness abounded among the people, there was no liberty to teach and to admonish, but that all were so refractory, that they would not bear to hear the word; and that as soon as any one touched their vices, there were great doctors, as they say, ready to reply.
And he enlarges on the subject by saying, that they were as chiders of the priest; for he declares, that they who, with impunity, conducted themselves so wantonly against God, were not yet content in being so wayward as to repel all reproofs, but also willfully rose up against their own teachers: and, as I have already said, common observation sufficiently proves, that all profane despisers of God are inflated with such confidence, that they dare to attack others. Some conjecture, in this instance, that the priest was so base, as to become liable to universal reprobation; but this conjecture is of no weight, and frigid: for the Prophet here did not draw his pen against a single individual, but, on the contrary, sharply reproved, as we have said, the perverseness of the people, that no one would hearken to a reprover. Let us then know that their diseases were then incurable, when the people became hardened against salutary counsels, and could not bear to be any more reproved. It follows --