Is there no balm in [b]Gilead?
Is there no physician there?
Why then has not the [spiritual] health of the daughter of my people been restored? – Jeremiah 8:22
So Jeremiah’s question is, “How can a people who traded in balm be so sick?” Of course its even worse than that – this is the physical illustration of a spiritual point. The real question behind the illustration is, “How can the people of God, with the Law in their midst, be so sinful?!”
When God appears against us, every thing that is against us appears formidable. As salvation only can be found in the Lord, so the present moment should be seized. Is there no medicine proper for a sick and dying kingdom? Is there no skilful, faithful hand to apply the medicine? Yes, God is able to help and to heal them. If sinners die of their wounds, their blood is upon their own heads. The blood of Christ is balm in Gilead, his Spirit is the Physician there, all-sufficient; so that the people may be healed, but will not. Thus men die unpardoned and unchanged, for they will not come to Christ to be saved. – Matthew Henry
The balm of Gilead will heal those who buy and use it. The heavenly physician grants spiritual healing to those who ask. But people don’t ask.
Yes, the most excellent in the world. “Is there no physician there?” Yes, persons well skilled to apply it. “Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?” Because ye have not applied to the physician, nor used the balm. Ye die because ye will not use the remedy. But to apply this metaphor: – The Israelites are represented as a man dying through disease; and a disease for the cure of which the balm of Gilead was well known to be a specific, when judiciously applied by a physician. But though there be balm and a physician, the people are not cured; neither their spiritual nor political evils are removed. But what may all this spiritually mean? The people are morally diseased; they have sinned against God, and provoked him to destroy them. They are warned by the prophet to repent and turn to God: they refuse, and sin on. Destruction is come upon them. Might they not have avoided it? Yes. Was it the fault of God? No. Did he not send his prophets with the richest offers of mercy? Did he not give them time, the best instructions, and the most effectual means of returning to him? Has not mercy, the heavenly balm, been ever at hand? And has not God, the great Physician, been ever ready to apply it? Yes. Why then are they not converted and healed? Because they would not apply to the Divine Physician, nor receive the only remedy by which they could be spiritually healed. They, then, that sin against the only remedy must perish, because they might have had it, but would not. It is not because there is a deficiency of grace, nor of the means of grace, that men are not saved; but because they either make no use, or a bad use, of them. Jesus Christ, by the grace of God, has tasted death for every man; but few are saved, because they Will Not come unto him that they may have life. – Adam Clarke