IV. He charges them with a high contempt of his authority as their lawgiver and his grace and favour as their benefactor, v. 11. He had done much for them, and designed to do more; but all in vain: “My people would not hearken to my voice, but turned a deaf ear to all I said.” Two things he complains of:—1. Their disobedience to his commands. They did hear his voice, so as never any people did; but they would not hearken to it, they would not be ruled by it, neither by the law nor by the reason of it. 2. Their dislike of his covenant-relation to them: They would none of me. They acquiesced not in my word (so the Chaldee); God was willing to be to them a God, but they were not willing to be to him a people; they did not like his terms. “I would have gathered them, but they would not.” They had none of him; and why had they not? It was not because they might not; they were fairly invited into covenant with God. It was not because they could not; for the word was nigh them, even in their mouth and in their heart. But it was purely because they would not. God calls them hi people, for they were bought by him, bound to him, his by a thousand ties, and yet even they had not hearkened, had not obeyed. “Israel, the seed of Jacob my friend, set me at nought, and would have none of me.” Note, All the wickedness of the wicked world is owing to the wilfulness of the wicked will. The reason why people are not religious is because they will not be so.
V. He justifies himself with this in the spiritual judgments he had brought upon them (v. 12): So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lusts, which would be more dangerous enemies and more mischievous oppressors to them than any of the neighbouring nations ever were. God withdrew his Spirit from them, took off the bridle of restraining grace, left them to themselves, and justly; they will do as they will, and therefore let them do as they will. Ephraim is joined to idols; let him alone. It is a righteous thing with God to give those up to their own hearts’ lusts that indulge them, and give up themselves to be led by them; for why should his Spirit always strive? His grace is his own, and he is debtor to no man, and yet, as he never gave his grace to any that could say they deserved it, so he never took it away from any but such as had first forfeited it: They would none of me, so I gave them up; let them take their course. And see what follows: They walked in their own counsels, in the way of their heart and in the sight of their eye, both in their worships and in their conversations. “I left them to do as they would, and then they did all that was ill;” they walked in their own counsels, and not according to the counsels of God and his advice. God therefore was not the author of their sin; he left them to the lusts of their own hearts and the counsels of their own heads; if they do not well, the blame must lie upon their own hearts and the blood upon their own heads.
VI. He testifies his good-will to them in wishing they had done well for themselves. He saw how sad their case was, and how sure their ruin, when they were delivered up to their own lusts; that is worse than being given up to Satan, which may be in order to reformation (1 Tim. i. 20) and to salvation (1 Cor. v. 5); but to be delivered up to their own hearts’ lusts is to be sealed under condemnation. He that is filthy, let him be filthy still. What fatal precipices will not these hurry a man to! Now here God looks upon them with pity, and shows that it was with reluctance that he thus abandoned them to their folly and fate. How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? Hos. xi. 8, 9. So here, O that my people had hearkened! See Isa. xlviii. 18. Thus Christ lamented the obstinacy of Jerusalem. If thou hadst known, Luke xix. 42. The expressions here are very affecting (v. 13-16), designed to show how unwilling God is that any should perish and desirous that all should come to repentance (he delights not in the ruin of sinful persons or nations), and also what enemies sinners are to themselves and what an aggravation it will be of their misery that they might have been happy upon such easy terms. Observe here,