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The following group of discourses includes four chapters. There is no reason for considering these as one discourse delivered on a particular occasion, but rather as a summary of the prophet’s teaching at a certain period which is characterized as the period of “the drought.” It commences with a description of the physical calamity, (Jeremiah 14:2-6,) which is followed by the prophet’s prayer in the people’s behalf, (Jeremiah 14:7-9; Jeremiah 14:19-22.) But this prayer, twice repeated, is twice refused, (Jeremiah 14:10-18; Jeremiah 15:1-9,) and threats of coming calamities are reiterated. Then the prophet complains of the persecution he suffers, and is corrected and comforted, (Jeremiah 15:10-21,) and instructed how, as the servant of Jehovah, he should conduct himself among the people thus sinning and suffering. (Jeremiah 16:1 to Jeremiah 17:4.) Finally, we have a general view of the sources of the evil, and a prayer of the prophet for safety and success among the people.
The date of these discourses we have no certain means of fixing; but it would seem that Jeremiah had become well known in his official character, (Jeremiah 15:16;) that he had become the object of scorn and opposition, (Jeremiah 15:10;) and that he was himself disappointed at his own ill-success. It seems, then, not unreasonable to assign them to the reign of Jehoiakim, but before that memorable fourth year of his reign in which the first deportation of captives to Babylon occurred, and from which the seventy years’ captivity is dated.
THE DROUGHT, Jeremiah 14:1-6.
1. The word of the Lord The title, not only of the section immediately following, but of the whole four chapters to chap. 18.
Dearth Better, drought. The original word is in the plural, either to express emphasis or to indicate a succession of droughts.
2. Judah mourneth The whole description is vigorous and graphic, and shows the unsurpassed power of Jeremiah in this respect. Country and city, the noble and the peasant, the husbandman and his parched fields, the burnt-up pastures, the waterless wells, and the starving flocks, all have a place in this vivid picture.
The gates By metonomy for cities. They are the places where the people meet, and so the places where any popular feeling manifests itself.
They are black That is, the people, who are in dark mourning attire, are seated on the ground in gloom and despair.
3. Little ones Not children, but the common people, in contrast with the nobles the great ones. The word is used besides only in chap. Jeremiah 48:4.
Covered their heads “Covering the head is a token of deep grief turned in upon itself. See 2Sa 15:30 ; 2 Samuel 19:5.” Keil.
4. Chapped Rather, dismayed, or confounded. The Hebrew, more frequently than western languages, speaks of inanimate things as animate.
The earth Rather, the land.
5. The hind Celebrated by the ancients as tenderly caring for her young; hence giving special emphasis.
6. The wild asses stand upon the high places where they dwell, and gasp for air like the jackals, not dragons. These keen-sighted animals look for any green herb in vain.
THE PROPHET’S PRAYER, Jeremiah 14:7-9, Jeremiah 14:19-22.
7. Thus far the historical background of the picture: now we have the prophet’s prayer in the people’s behalf. All petitions for mercy must, in fact if not in form, open with confession; and so does this.
Thy name’s sake Namely, Jehovah, which implies that he is the Friend and Saviour of his people. See Exodus 34:6. This name is the one all-comprehending promise of good to his people. And so the prayer is, Do not belie thine own name and the hope of thy people, but interfere for our relief.
8. Why… a stranger, etc. Why art thou, our Hope and Saviour, but as a mere casual sojourner who feels no share in the weal and woe of the dwellers in the land? Alas, how often do God’s people make him a transient guest rather than a permanent resident! We invite him to sojourn, and not to abide. We call him to our homes, but do not ask him to make them his home. But in the time of our trouble this is our sad complaint, that he has taken us at our word.
Wayfaring man that turneth aside Rather, as a traveller who pitches (his tent) for the night; in allusion to what was true then, as it is now in this land, that travellers must carry their own tents with them.
9. Astonished The original occurs only here. The meaning is thought to be, taken by surprise; the conception being of one who has lost his presence of mind and is consequently without power. The Septuagint seems to be based on a different reading, and gives “slumbering.” Yet thou, O Lord, etc. How pathetic and how genuine are these words of prayer.
Leave us not Lay us not down, let us not sink.
THE PROPHET’S PRAYER REFUSED, Jeremiah 14:10-18.
10. In Jeremiah 14:10-18 we have Jehovah’s answer, once, however, interrupted by the prophet’s additional pleading, (Jeremiah 14:13.) This answer is a full refusal of the prayer, and a vindication of such refusal.
Thus have they loved to wander And so their punishment answers to their sin, for Jehovah has estranged himself from them.
Therefore the Lord, etc. Quoted from Hosea 8:13.
12. I will not hear… not accept Because their prayers were not real or not reasonable. In the case of many they were merely selfish cryings out against the consequences of sin rather than the sin itself; and in the case of others, though penitence was genuine, it came too late to avert the temporal calamity.
13. Then said I Another clamorous outburst of prayer. As if the prophet would leave nothing unsaid that might serve to put the case into a stronger light. The plea he now makes is important and relevant. The people are deceived and deluded. The false prophets at this time, even more than in that of Micah, (Micah 3:5; Micah 3:11,) promise peace. This would have been a more potent plea were it not true, as had been already charged, (Jeremiah 5:31,) “My people love to have it so.”
14. The prophets prophesy lies The plea is not admitted. This false prophesying was itself the outgrowth of deeper apostasy and rebellion. It is not the cause, but only one of the forms, of the evil.
15, 16. I sent them not A solemn reiteration of God’s purpose to execute his own truth as against all assurances to the contrary. The chariot-wheels of Jehovah’s purposes shall roll on, even though they roll in fire.
I will pour their wickedness upon them it is the animus of wickedness to destroy all good and precious things, even God himself; hence this is the direst of threats.
17. Thou shalt say this word But no message for the people follows. Hence, some would connect this clause with that which precedes, making it equivalent to in this manner hath God spoken. But this is unnecessary, and is opposed to the invariable usage of this formula, which always looks forward and never backward. The true explanation is this: God’s message in this instance is Jeremiah’s pungent and perpetual grief. That which leads him to weep day and night ought certainly to alarm them.
18. Prophet and the priest These stays of the people’s faith, the fountains of influence and objects of trust, will themselves go into exile.
19-21. Do not abhor us Again the prophet turns in still more importunate pleading to God. His burdened spirit pours out more impassioned supplications. The nervous sentences, but imperfectly represented in our version, show his deep feeling.
22. Vanities of the Gentiles Most pathetically does the prayer culminate in this that God would not leave his people to the powerless and worthless, but still most debasing, deities of the Gentiles.
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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Jeremiah 14". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25