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Jeremiah 10:23

23. O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.

23. Novi, Jehova, quod non sit penes hominem via ejus, non sit penes virum ambulantem, ut dirigat grassum suum.


The Jews confine this to Sennacherib, who had, according to his own will, at one time resolved to attack the Ammonites, at another the Moabites, and to reduce them under his own power; but had been induced by a sudden impulse to go to Judea. But this is frivolous. The Prophet, I doubt not, referred to the Jews, who had for a long time been accustomed to dismiss every fear, as though they were able by their own counsels to consult in the best way for the public good: for we know, that whenever any danger was apprehended from the Assyrians, they usually fled for aid to Egypt or to Chaldea. Thus, then, they provided for themselves, so tlmt they thought that they took good care of their affairs, while they had recourse to this or that expedient; and then, when the prophets denounced on them the vengeance of God, they usually regarded only their then present state, as though God could not; in one instant vibrate his lightnings from the rising to the setting sun.

Since then this security produced torpor and obstinacy, the Prophet in this passage justly exclaims, I know, Jehovah, that his way is not in man’s power; nor is it in the power of a person walking to direct his steps 2222     Literally rendered the verse is as follows: —
   I know, Jehovah, That not to a mortal is his way;
Nor is it for man to walk And to stablish his steps.

   Such substantially is the meaning of the Targum, and of all the versions, except the Syriac, which Blayney has followed thus:

   I know Jehovah, that his way is not like that of men,
Nor like a human being doth he proceed and order his going.

   This construction is wholly inadmissible. Had Jehovah been in the objective case, it would have את before it. See 1 Samuel 3:7. Then the rest of the verse is a paraphrase and not a version; and such a paraphrase as the original will not bear. To “walk” and to “stablish” are in the same predicament, both infinitives; and so they are rendered in all the versions and the Targum.

   The design of the passage seems to be more correctly intimated by Gataker than by Calvin: — “Lord, we know well, that this army cannot come in but by thy permission; but since thou art resolved to chastise us, we beseech thee, in wrath remember mercy.” So in the next verse the Prophet says, “O Lord, correct me, but with judgment.” — Ed.

We now perceive what the Prophet had in view; and this is ever to be remembered — that if we desire to read what has been written with profit, we must consider the meaning intended by the Holy Spirit, and then the purpose for which he has spoken. When we understand these things, then it is easy to make the application to other things: but he who does not weigh the end in view, ever wanders here and there, and though he may say many things, he yet does not reach the chief point. 2323     Or, as the French version has it, “does not reach the burden and knot of the subject.” But we must observe that the Prophet, as he had done before, spoke as though he had God alone as his witness, for he saw that his own people were so hardened, that he addressed his words to them in vain: he therefore turned to God, which was a proof that he despaired as to the disposition of the people, as though he had said, “I shall have nothing to do with this perverse people any more; for I have already found out by my experience that their perverseness is untameable. I am now therefore constrained, O Lord, to address thee as though I were alone in the world.” This is the reason why he spoke to God himself. We shall defer the rest fill to-morrow.

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