18 But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: “Their sound has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”
19 But I say, did Israel not know? First Moses says: “I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are not a nation, I will move you to anger by afoolish nation.”
Paul just said faith comes by hearing. He now anticipates the argument that some Jews haven’t heard. He counters with a quote from Psalm 19:4 about the evidence of God in creation that foreshadows God’s message, just as the Psalm itself begins with creation and ends with God’s Word.
Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun (Psalm 19:4).
Verse 19 quote from Deuteronomy 32:21 — They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.
It is a mistake to teach, as many do, that the Apostle refers here to the sending of the gospel to the Gentiles to provoke Israel to jealousy, as in Romans 11:11, for before sending the gospel to the Gentiles, God had provoked Israel to jealousy by the little flock of His Jewish followers …
The “nation” to which he referred is clearly mentioned in Luke 12:32, where He says to the little flock of His followers:Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
In this connection it must not be forgotten that our Lord had already appointed the twelve apostles as the chief rulers in this kingdom, next to Himself (Matthew 19:28).
Similarly here, in Romans 10:19, the Apostle refers not to the Gentiles, but to a nation, considered “a foolish nation,” “no people” by the recognized rulers. How the members of the Sanhedrin must have stormed as the “little flock” preached Christ and the resurrection right in their midst and led thousands to faith in Him! — Stam, page 256.