I have surely heard Ephraim
bemoaning himself thus;
Thou hast chastised me,
and I was chastised,
as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke:
turn thou me, and I shall be turned;
for thou art the LORD my God.
New King James Version
I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself: ‘You have chastised me, and I was chastised, Like an untrained bull; Restore me, and I will return, For You are the LORD my God.
New American Standard Bible
“I have certainly heard Ephraim grieving, ‘You have disciplined me, and I was corrected, Like an untrained calf; Bring me back that I may be restored, For You are the LORD my God.
I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself.
The prophet’s thoughts still dwell upon the exiles of the northern kingdom.
They have been longer under the sharp discipline of suffering.
By this time, he thinks, they must have learnt repentance.
He hears the moaning of remorse; and in that work, thought of as already accomplished, he finds a new ground for his hope for Judah.
Ephraim at last owned that he had deserved the chastisement of the yoke that had been laid on him.
As a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke.
The comparison is the nearest approach in the Old Testament to the Greek proverb about “kicking against the pricks” (Acts 9:5; Acts 26:14).
In Hosea 10:11 (“Ephraim is as an heifer that is taught “), which may well have been in Jeremiah’s thoughts, we have a like comparison under a somewhat different aspect.
The cry which is heard from the lips of the penitent, “Turn thou me . . . ,” is, as it were, echoed from Jeremiah 3:7; Jeremiah 3:12; Jeremiah 3:14, and is reproduced in Lamentations 5:21.
We learn from this:
- That which is hard and yoke-like, is appointed for us all.
- The reason of this appointment is that thereby we may render service which otherwise we could not.
- That to refuse or resist this yoke will bring down the chastisements of God.
- That until we are really turned to God by his grace we shall so resist.
- That we do not cease from such folly without great pain. “I have.., heard Ephraim bemoaning himself.”
- That in that pain is our hope.
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