Jeremiah 31:18

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.

I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus,.... Not Ephraim in person; though, as he was a very affectionate and tenderhearted man, as appears from 1 Chronicles 7:22; he is with like propriety introduced, as Rachel before; but Ephraim intends Israel, or the ten tribes, and even all the people of the Jews; and the prophecy seems to respect the conversion of them in the latter day, when they shall be in soul trouble, and bemoan their sins, and their sinful and wretched estate, and especially their rejection of the Messiah; when they shall look on him whom they have pierced, and mourn, and be in bitterness, as one that mourns for his firstborn, and which the Lord will take notice of and observe, Zechariah 12:10; and it may be applied to the case of every sensible sinner bemoaning their sinful nature; want of righteousness; impotence to all that is spiritually good; their violations of the righteous law of God; and the curse they are liable to on account of it; their many sins against a God of love, grace, and mercy; and their ruined and undone state and condition by sin; all which the Lord takes notice of: "hearing I have heard" {s}; which denotes the certainty of it, and with what attention he hears, yea, with what pleasure; it is the moan of his doves, of those who are like doves of the valley, everyone mourning for his iniquity; he hears, so as he answers; and sympathizing with them, he sends comfort to them, and delivers them out of their troubles:

Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised; this is the case bemoaned; not so much the chastising hand of God, as unaffectedness with it, and not being the better for it; the Lord has indeed, as if Ephraim should say, chastised me, and I have been chastised by him, and that is all; it has made no manner of impression upon me; I have not received correction, nor has it been of any use to me; and this he bemoaned: and this will be the case of the Jews when they are converted; they will then reflect upon all the corrections and chastisements of God under which they have been ever since the rejection of the Messiah, and still are; and yet are now stupid under them, and take no notice of them, and are never the better for them; and this they will lament when their eyes are opened: and so it is with particular persons at conversion; in their state of unregeneracy they have been chastened and corrected by the Lord, by one providence or another, by one disease and disorder or another, and they have not observed it; it has not wrought upon them, nor awakened them to a sense of danger; God has spoken once, and twice, in this rough way, and they have not perceived; he has stricken them, and they have not grieved; beaten them, and they felt it not; but now being made sensible, they bemoan their former stupidity and inattention, and wonder at the forbearance and goodness of God:

as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke; or to draw the plough; as senseless and as stupid, yea, as thoughtless of danger, as that creature is when led to the slaughter; as "untaught", as the word {t} signifies; as ignorant of divine and spiritual things; knowing nothing of Christ, or God in Christ, or of the way of salvation by him, and of the operations of his Spirit and grace; as unruly as that to bear the yoke of the law, or the yoke of Christ; and as impatient under the yoke of affliction, kicking, tossing, and flinging, like a wild bull in a net; all which give concern to an awakened mind, that now sees its need of conversion, and prays for it, as follows:

turn thou me, and I shall be turned; which designs not a mere reformation of manners, or conversion to a doctrine or doctrines; nor a restoration after backslidings; nor a carrying on of the work of grace on the soul, and a daily renewing it; but the first work of conversion; which lies in a man's being turned from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God; is a turn of the heart, and not of the head and action only; of the will, affections, and bias of the mind; it is a turning of persons to the Lord Jesus Christ, to look to him for righteousness, life, and salvation; and in such sense will the Jews be turned in the latter day, 2 Corinthians 3:16; and this being prayed for, not only shows a sense of need of it, but of inability to work it; that it is not in the power of man to do it; that he is not active, but passive in it; that it is the Lord's work, and his only; and that when he does it, it is done effectually:

for thou art the LORD my God: the "Lord", the mighty Jehovah, and therefore able to do it; "my God", covenant God, who has promised to do it; and by virtue of covenant grace will be the conversion of the Jews; and to which the conversion of everyone is owing, Romans 11:25; or, "for thou shalt be the Lord my God"; I will own, acknowledge, fear, serve, and glorify thee as such, being converted to thee; see

Genesis 28:20.

{s} ytemv ewmv "audiendo audivi", Vatablus, Pagninus, Montanus, Schmidt.
{t} dml al "non instructus", Munster; "non doctus", Montanus.