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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 20

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-18

Jeremiah 20:3 . The Lord hath not called thy name Pashur, which signifies security or increase; but Magormissabib, a terror on every side, or terrors of a captivity. Pashur believed the prophet, yet put him in the stocks for preaching! His new name is compound, and very expressive. Gor in Hebrew designates migration to another country. Some men obtain new names for illustrious virtues, and some new names for deplorable crimes.

Jeremiah 20:9 . Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. He assigns reasons. I was daily in derision. I was exposed to a cloud of obloquy, and evil reports. Futile reasons! What, Jeremiah, wilt thou retire and leave the gods of Syria masters of the field. What, retire, and let the false prophets shout for joy. What, retire, and bring reproach on thy Lord, as if he had deceived thee by promising to make thee a pillar of iron and steel. What, retire, when the whole army of Assyria are coming up to thy support. What, retire like the old prophet of Bethel, whose lamp was gone out. What, retire, and leave the remnant in Jerusalem without a pastor. What, retire, when the Messiah’s voice is sounding in thine ears, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and my God shall be my strength. Oh it is a sweet voice to disconsolate ministers, when the Redeemer shall say, Thou hast laboured, and hast not fainted.

Jeremiah 20:14 . Cursed be the day wherein I was born. Jeremiah quotes here the words of Job, chap. 3., which the ancient critics understand as a hyperbole of the heart; for when David said in his elegy on Saul and Jonathan, Let there be no rain, nor dew, on the mountains of Gilboa, he certainly did not mean literally so. Why should Job literally curse the man who brought his father the news of his birth, to be as the cities of Sodom, which the Lord overthrew. Chrysostom, in his fourth homily on the patience of Job, magnifies the superior grace of the gospel, which enabled the christian martyrs to bear tortures, and to die rejoicing and praying for their enemies.


What a chequered chapter is this a chapter of courage, of conflict, of song, of anguish and depression. Jeremiah had courage, as an ambassador of the Lord, to deliver the terrors of Jehovah. He even delivered them at the king’s gate, and softened not the message of his God.

The effects of this sermon on Pashur the priest, Pashur the captain of the temple, and Pashur the flattering prophet, were terrible. To hear the true prophet give the lie to all his soft words, and in the face of the temple, roused the demon that slumbered in his heart. He was transported with fury; he struck Jeremiah on the mouth, he dragged him to the stocks, and would have stained the sanctuary with his blood, as had been done to Zachariah, only he feared the consequences.

The punishment instantly followed. Pashur and his priestly house were made the first examples of the truth of prophecy, to pine away in Babylon, with the doleful name of Magormissabib hanging over their heads.

Jeremiah, it would seem, like Paul and Silas in the stocks, sung praises to God, who gave him the victory in the fight. But alas, his spirits sunk again into the sentiments of Job, when he saw himself surrounded with misery and woe. Seeing the bitterness of the past, and nothing but bitterness for years to come, he cursed the day of his birth. This was the extreme of anguish, and blame-worthy; for he had a God who could make darkness light before him.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Jeremiah 20". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/jeremiah-20.html. 1835.
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