12:1 a Righteous [art] thou, O LORD, when I plead with thee: yet let me speak with thee of [thy] judgments: Why doth the way of the wicked b prosper? [why] are they all happy that deal very treacherously?
(a) The prophet confesses God to be just in all his doings, although man is not able to give a reason for all his actions.
12:2 Thou hast planted them, yea, they have taken root: they grow, yea, they bring forth fruit: thou [art] near in their mouth, and far from their c reins.
(b) This question has been always a great temptation to the godly, to see the wicked enemies of God in prosperity, and his dear children in adversity, as in (Job 21:7; Psalms 37:1,73:3; Habakkuk 1:3).
12:3 But thou, O LORD, knowest me: thou hast seen me, and tried my heart toward thee: pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and d prepare them for the day of slaughter.
(c) They profess God in mouth, but deny him in heart, which is here meant by the reins, (Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:8).
(d) The Hebrew word is "sanctify them", meaning that God would be sanctified in the destruction of the wicked to whom God for a while gives prosperity, that afterward they would the more feel his heavy judgment when they lack their riches which were a sign of his mercy.
12:4 How long shall the land mourn, and the herbs of every field wither, for the wickedness of them that dwell in it? the beasts are consumed, and the birds; because they said, e He shall not see our last end.
(e) Abusing Godís leniency and his promises, they flattered themselves as though God would ever be merciful and not utterly destroy them therefore they hardened themselves in sin, till at length the beasts and insensible creatures felt the punishment of their stubborn rebellion against God.
12:5 If thou hast run with the f footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and [if] in the land of peace, [in which] thou didst trust, [they wearied thee], then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?
(f) Some think that God reproves Jeremiah, in that he would reason with him, saying that if he was not able to march with men, then he was far unable to dispute with God. Others, by the footmen mean them of Anathoth: and by the horsemen, them of Jerusalem who would trouble the prophet worse than his own countrymen did.
12:7 I have forsaken g my house, I have left my heritage; I have given the dearly beloved of my soul into the hand of her enemies.
(g) God wills the prophet to denounce his judgments against Jerusalem, even though they will both by threatenings and flatteries labour to silence him.
12:8 My heritage is to me as a h lion in the forest; it crieth out against me: therefore have I hated it.
(h) Ever ranting and raging against me and my prophets.
12:9 My heritage [is] to me [as] a i speckled bird, the birds around [are] against her; come ye, assemble all the beasts of the field, come to devour.
(i) Instead of bearing my livery and wearing only my colours, they have change and diversity of colours of their idols and superstitions therefore their enemies as thick as the fowls of the air will come about them to destroy them.
12:10 Many shepherds have destroyed my k vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.
(k) He prophecies of the destruction of Jerusalem, by the captain of Nebuchadnezzar, whom he calls pastors.
12:11 They have made it desolate, [and being] desolate it mourneth to me; the whole land is made desolate, because no man layeth l [it] to heart.
(l) Because no man regards my word, or the plagues that I have sent on the land.
12:13 m They have sown wheat, but shall reap thorns: they n have put themselves to pain, [but] shall not profit: and they shall be ashamed of o your revenues because of the fierce anger of the LORD.
(m) That is, the prophets.
12:14 Thus saith the LORD against all my evil p neighbours, that touch the inheritance which I have caused my people Israel to inherit; Behold, I will pluck them out of their land, and pluck out the house of Judah from among them.
(n) They lamented the sins of the people.
(o) For instead of amendment, you grew worse and worse, as Godís plagues testified.
(p) Meaning the wicked enemies of his Church who blasphemed his Name, and whom he would punish after he had delivered his people.
12:15 And it shall come to pass, after I have plucked them out I q will return, and have compassion on them, and will bring them again, every man to his heritage, and every man to his land.
(q) After I have punished the Gentiles I will have mercy on them.
12:16 And it shall come to pass, if they will diligently learn the r ways of my people, to swear by my name, The s LORD liveth; as they taught my people to swear by Baal; then shall they be built t in the midst of my people.
(r) The true doctrine and manner to serve God.
(s) Read (Jeremiah 4:2).
(t) They will be of the number of the faithful, and have a place in my Church.