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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Lamentations 3:37

 

 

Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass, Unless the Lord has commanded it?

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass?.... Or, "who that says this shall be, and it cometh to pass?" or, "who is he that saith this shall come to pass?"F9So some in Gataker. this, or that, or the other thing, he wills and desires, and his heart is set upon:

when the Lord commandeth it not? has not willed and decreed it, but determined the contrary; for nothing escapes his knowledge and foreknowledge; or can resist his will; or control his power; or frustrate his councils, and counterwork his designs; whatever schemes men form to get riches, obtain honour, do mischief to others, prolong life to themselves, and perpetuate their names to posterity, being contrary to the purpose of God, never succeed; whenever they do succeed in any of the above instances, it is because God has commanded, or he has determined, it should be so; as in the instances of Joseph's brethren, in their usage of him; and of the Jews, in the crucifixion of Christ, Proverbs 16:9. The Targum is,

"who is the man that saith, and evil is done in the world; but because they have done what was not commanded from the mouth of the Lord?'


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Lamentations 3:37". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/lamentations-3.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Who [is] he [that] saith, and it cometh to pass, [when] the Lord r commandeth [it] not?

(r) He shows that nothing is done without God's providence.

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Lamentations 3:37". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/lamentations-3.html. 1599-1645.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not?

Who — Nothing comes to pass in the world, but by the disposal of divine providence. This seems to be spoken in the name of the people of God, arguing themselves into a quiet submission, to their afflictions, from the consideration of the hand of God in them.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Lamentations 3:37". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/lamentations-3.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

The Prophet, after having mentioned the blasphemy which prevailed everywhere at that time, strongly condemns so gross a stupidity. Who is this? he says. He checks such madness by a sharp rebuke — for the question implies an astonishment, as though the Prophet had said, that it was like a prodigy to find men who imagined that God was content with his own leisure, and exercised no care over the world; for this was to annihilate him altogether. God is not a dead being, he is not a spectre; what then? God is the judge of the world. We hence see that it was a monstrous thing, when men entertained the notion that God is idle or forgetful, that he gives up the world to chance. This is the reason why the Prophet asks as of a thing absurd and extremely disgraceful. Who is this? he says; Could it be that men should give themselves up to such a degree of madness? for when they said, that anything could happen without God’s command, it was the same as if they denied his power; for what is God without his judgment?

The other verse may be explained in two ways; but as to the meaning, there is but little difference. It may, then, be read as a question, “Cannot good and evil proceed from the mouth of the most High?” or it may be rendered thus, “As though good and evil should not proceed from the mouth of God.” As to the substance of what is said, we see that there is no need of disputing, for the Prophet confirms what he had said, that men are to be abhorred who imagine God to be as it were dead, and thus rob him of his power and of his office as a judge. And, doubtless, except we hold this truth, no true religion can exist in us; for except all the sayings and doings of men come to an account before the tribunal of God, and also their motives and thoughts, there will be first. no faith and, secondly, there will be no integrity, and all prayer to God will be extinguished. For if we believe that God does not regard what is done in the world, who will trust in him? and who will seek help from him? besides, who will hesitate to abandon himself to cruelty, or frauds, or plunder? Extinguished, then, is every sense of religion by this impious opinion, that God spends his time leisurely in heaven, and attends not to human affairs. This is the reason why the Prophet is so indignant against those who said, that anything could be done without the command of God.

Let us now see how God commands what is wrongly and foolishly done by men. Surely he does not command the ungodly to do what is wicked, for he would thus render them excusable; for where God’s authority interposes, there no blame can be. But God is said to command whatever he has decreed, according to his hidden counsel. There are, then, two kinds of commands; one belongs to doctrine, and the other to the hidden judgments of God. The command of doctrine, so to speak, is an evident approbation which acquits men; for when one obeys God, it is enough that he has God as his authority, though he were condemned by a hundred worlds. Let us, then, learn to be attentive to the commands of doctrine, by which we ought to regulate our life, for they make up the only true rule, from which it is not right to depart. But God is said to command according to his secret decrees what he does not approve, as far as men are concerned. So Shimei had a command to curse, and yet he was not exempt from blame; for it was not his purpose to obey God; nay, he thought that he had offended God no less than David. (2 Samuel 16:5.) Then this distinction ought to be understood, that some things are commanded by God, not that men may have it as a rule of action, but when God executes his secret judgments by ways unknown to us. Thus, then, ought this passage to be understood, even that nothing is carried on without God’s command, that is, without his decree, and, as they say, without his ordination.

It hence appears, that those things which seem contingent, are yet ruled by the certain providence of God, so that nothing is done at random. And what philosophers call accident, or contingent, ( ἐνδεχόμενον) is necessary as to God; for God decreed before the world was made whatever he was to do; so that there is nothing now done in the world which is not directed by his counsel. And true is that saying in the Psalms, that our God is in heaven, and doeth whatsoever he pleaseth, (Psalms 116:3;) but this would not be true, were not all things dependent on God’s counsel. We hence see that nothing is contingent, for everything that takes place flows from the eternal and immutable counsel of God. It. is indeed true, that those things which take place in this or that manner, are properly and naturally called contingencies, but what is naturally contingent, is necessary, as far as it is directed by God; nay, what is carried on by the counsel and will of men is necessary. Philosophers think that all things are contingent ( ἐνδεχόμενα) and why? because the will of man may turn either way. They then, conclude, that whatever men do is contingent, because he who wills may change his will. These things are true, when we consider the will of man in itself, and the exercise of it; but when we raise our eyes to the secret providence of God, who turns and directs the counsels of men according to his own will, it is certain that how much soever men may change in their purposes, yet God never changes.

Let us then hold this doctrine, that nothing is done except by God’s command and ordination, and, with the Holy Spirit, regard with abhorrence those profane men who imagine that God sits idly as it were on his watch-tower and takes no notice of what is done in the world, and that human affairs change at random, and that men turn and change independently on any higher power. Nothing is more diabolical than this delirious impiety; for as I have said, it extinguishes all the acts and duties of religion; for there will be no faith, no prayer, no patience, in short;, no religion, except we believe and know that God exercises such care over the world, of which he is the Creator, that nothing happens except through his certain and unchangeable decree.

Now they who object, and say that God is thus made the author of evils, may be easily refuted; for nothing is more preposterous than to measure the incomprehensible judgment of God by our contracted minds. The Scripture cries aloud that the judgments of God are a great deep; it exhorts us to reverence and sobriety, and Paul does not in vain exclaim that the ways of God are unsearchable. (Romans 11:33.) As, then, God’s judgments in their height far surpass all our thoughts, we ought to beware of audacious presumption and curiosity; for the more audacious a man becomes, the farther God withdraws from him. This, then, is our wisdom, to embrace only what the Scripture teaches. Now, when it teaches us that nothing is done except through the will of God, it does not speak indiscriminately, as though God approved of murders, and thefts, and sorceries, and adulteries; what then? even that God by his just and righteous counsel so orders all things, that he still wills not iniquity and abhors all injustice. When, therefore, adulteries, and murders, and plunders are committed, God applies, as it were, a bridle to all those things, and how much soever the most; wicked may indulge themselves in their vices, he still rules them; this they themselves acknowledge; but for what end does he rule them? even that he may punish sins with sins, as Paul teaches us, for he says that; God gives up to a reprobate mind those who deserve such a punishment, that he gives them up to disgraceful lusts, that he blinds more and more the despisers of his word. (Romans 1:28; 2 Thessalonians 2:10.) And then God has various ways, and those innumerable and unknown to us.

Let us then learn not to subject; God to our judgment, but adore his judgments, though they surpass our comprehension; and since the cause of them is hid from us, our highest wisdom is modesty and sobriety.

Thus we see that God is not the author of evils, though nothing happens but by his nod and through his will, — for far different is his design from that of wicked men. Then absurd would it be to implicate him as all associate ill the same crime, when a murderer, or a thief, or an adulterer is condemned, — and why? because God has no participation in thefts and adulteries; but the vices of men are in a way wonderful and incomprehensible as his judgments. In a word, as far as the heavens are from the earth, so great is the difference between the works of God and the deeds of men, for the ends, as I have said, are altogether different. (192)

Who-he-saying (i.e., Who is he who says,) That thou art Lord, ordering not, (i.e., who dost not order, or command.)

Then the following verse contains a continuation of what the objector said, —

From the mouth of the Highest
Cometh not the evil and the good.

The answer of the Prophet is in Lamentations 3:39, in which he intimates that God orders evil as a punishment for sin.

The objector’s declaration, that God as a Lord or Sovereign does not command or order events, and for this reason, because both evil and good cannot come from him, is a proof that not to see in Lamentations 3:36, is not to regard or notice the affairs of men. — Ed.


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These files are public domain.

Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Lamentations 3:37". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/lamentations-3.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Lamentations 3:37 Who [is] he [that] saith, and it cometh to pass, [when] the Lord commandeth [it] not?

Ver. 37. Who is he?] Tam imprudens et imperitus? Can any one be so simple as to think that the enemy could do aught against us but by the divine permission and appointment? God, as he made all by his power, so he manageth all by his providence. This the Egyptians hieroglyphically set forth by painting God, (1.) As blowing an egg out of his mouth - that is, as making the round world by his word; (2.) To compassing about that orb with a girdle - that is, keeping all together, and governing all by his providence.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Lamentations 3:37". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/lamentations-3.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Lamentations 3:37. Who is he that saith "The king of Babylon, and such haughty tyrants, may boast of their power, as if it were equal to that of Omnipotence itself. But still it is God's prerogative to bring to pass whatever he pleases, only by speaking or declaring his purpose."


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Lamentations 3:37". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/lamentations-3.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

The sense of these words is doubted by none, that nothing cometh to pass in the world but by the disposal of Divine Providence, either effecting it by an immediate influence, or permitting it; but to what end these words are brought in in this place is not so generally agreed. Some think they are brought in to check the blasphemy of some that spake of what had befallen the Jews as a thing which God had no hand in. Others think they are brought in as expounding that term that went before, The Lord seeth not. Though God doth not approve of sinful actions, nor incline any man’s heart or will to them, yet God hath a hand in the permission of the most cruel and unjust actions, which he could easily hinder. I should rather incline to interpret them as an argument brought by the prophet in the name of the people of God, arguing themselves into a quiet submission to the afflictive providences under which they laboured from the consideration of the superior hand of God in them; as Christ told Pilate, Thou couldst not have had any power against me, if it had not been given thee from above. Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it? Amos 3:6.


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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Lamentations 3:37". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/lamentations-3.html. 1685.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Commanded. Hebrew, "said: It cometh to pass," as if by chance. There have always been Epicureans, Ezechiel viii. 12., and Psalm xciii. 7. (Calmet) --- Those who deny Providence speak, ver. 30. (Worthington)


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Lamentations 3:37". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/lamentations-3.html. 1859.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not?
saith
Psalms 33:9-11; Proverbs 16:9; 19:21; 21:30; Isaiah 46:10; Daniel 4:35; Romans 9:15; Ephesians 1:11; James 4:13-15

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Lamentations 3:37". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/lamentations-3.html.

The People's Bible by Joseph Parker

"Handfuls of Purpose"

For All Gleaners

"Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not?"— Lamentations 3:37.

Here is an appeal to history, an appeal which Christianity never ceases to employ. We are not dealing with speculative matters, but with facts as they stand in all their naked simplicity on the field of history. The prophet is maintaining the sovereignty of God, and his contention is that, whatever may have been spoken that is not in harmony with the divine will, it is impossible that any man can secure its fulfilment. So we are face to face with a living challenge. Christian history is full of such challenges: the Bible challenges the production of false gods, of idols, of all manner of images, so that they may be compared with the living God, the Sovereign and Redeemer of Israel; the Bible constantly challenges the production of any other Bible that shall be wiser, grander in its spiritual conceptions, loftier in its moral discipline, tenderer in its human sympathy; prophets are called for that they may tell their visions and their dreams, and have them tested by the lapse of time, and by the necessities of life. So here we are called upon to produce instances in which man"s word has prevailed against the word of God. Has any man commanded the sun to go backwards, and the sun has obeyed the instruction? Has any man commanded the seasons to change the order of their procession, and have they changed accordingly? Has any man been able to reverse moral duties, moral actions, and moral consequences, so that evil shall end in joy, and iniquity shall conduct to rest and heaven? The Lord asks for the production of evidence by which people may be able to judge as to moral duty and moral consequence. The interrogation assumes a gracious and initial fact, namely, that the word of the Lord alone can stand fast, and ultimately and completely prevail in the direction and settlement of human affairs. Has this assumption the justification of history? If Song of Solomon , see what wondrous inferences may be drawn from that justification! Let us at once inquire for the word of the Lord, and study it, and exclude from our ears all other voices, because in the word of the Lord alone is complete Wisdom of Solomon , and in the testimony of the Lord is an assured protection. How foolish are men who follow their own devices, inventions, theories, and speculations, when the Lord has sent down a light for the illumination of the path of life. If it could be proved that the Lord"s word has been turned aside and a better word has taken its place, the whole argument would be changed. The Bible never allows this; our own observation cannot permit such a declaration to pass unchallenged; our own consciousness is against the wanton theory: we have seen in our own life that only the true, the wise, the pure can bear reflection, and come to a fruition which brings with it contentment and joy. It stands to reason that if we could discover the word of the Lord it would be the only word worthy of our acceptance. Granted that we can surely find the word of the living God, then we need go no further, for we have all Wisdom of Solomon , all light, all truth. But this is not to be discovered by mere argument: it is not the clever man that discovers the word of the Lord; nothing is revealed to mere cleverness or ingenuity of mind: the word of the Lord is discovered by conduct, suffering, self-sacrifice, the acceptance of certain principles for the guidance of life, and then the issue is to determine which is true and which is untrue. We thus fall back upon Christian consciousness and Christian history, and we declare that not because of our intellectual sharpness, but because of our moral docility, have we been able to find out the word of the Lord, and to identify it amid all the voices and claims which have asserted themselves on behalf of rivals.


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Bibliography
Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on Lamentations 3:37". The People's Bible by Joseph Parker. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jpb/lamentations-3.html. 1885-95.

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