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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
Jeremiah 2

 

 

Verses 1-19

Jeremiah 2:1-3. Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD, I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown. Israel was holiness unto the LORD, and the firstfruits of his increase: all that devour him shall offend; evil shall come upon them, saith the LORD.

God remembered what Israel used to be in those good days when the Lord alone did lead them and there was no strange god among them. Now he bids them remember from whence they had fallen, and repent and do their first works lest he come unto them in wrath. Oh, beloved, if you ever lived near to God — if you ever rested your head on Christ’s bosom, and have now wandered away from him and are spiritually cold and dead, begin to chide yourself; for the Lord himself, in the word before us, doth chide you. He calls you to a sorrowful remembrance of the position from which you have descended — the heights of grace from which you have come down. Breathe the prayer that he would restore you again. “Wilt thou not revive us again, that thy people may rejoice in thee.”

Jeremiah 2:4-5. Hear ye the word of the LORD, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel: thus saith the LORD, What iniquity have your father found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?

He asks them whether there was any fault in him — any failure in keeping his promise, — whether he had dealt unjustly or unmercifully with them that they had thus gone away from him and walked after vanity.

Jeremiah 2:6. Neither said they; Where is the LORD that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, that led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and of pits, through a land of drought, and of the shadow of death, through a land that no man passed through, and where no man dwelt?

Ought they not always to have remembered the wonderful wilderness journey where God seemed to multiply his miracles in the midst of their great necessities? Some of you have passed through a wilderness too, yet have you been richly supplied. You have had to admire the constancy of the divine goodness. God has not failed you ever, even in your worst circumstances. Do not let it be said of you that you never say, “Where is the Lord that brought us up out of the land of Egypt.” On the contrary, always fly to him when you are in time of trouble. Remember that this is the way to glorify God. “He shall call upon me and I will answer him “ is one of God’s own promises; and then he adds — “and he shall glorify me.”

Jeremiah 2:7-8. And I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof but when ye entered, ye defiled my land, and made mine heritage an abomination. The priests said not, Where is the LORD? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit.

Was not this very shameful that in Canaan, which God had chosen beyond all countries for its fertility that he might give it to his own people for ever, there they began to set up idols, and altars to other gods? And the priests, whose lips ought to have kept knowledge, and the prophets who above all men were bound to have spoken in the name of the Lord joined the people in their sin. They even urged them to worship Baal — that dummy deity, unworthy of a moment’s respect who should not have been so much as thought of by God’s people. They ought not even to have taken the name of Baal into their lips. Do you not see yourselves here, O backsliders? If you ever knew the Lord and have gone back to the world, if you have submitted yourselves again to the powers thereof, and sinned with a high hand, have you not acted most shamefully towards your God? And ought you not, with a blushing countenance and weeping eyes to return to him and ask mercy at his hands?

Jeremiah 2:9-11. Wherefore I will yet plead with you, saith the LORD, and with your children’s children will I plead. For pass over the Isles of Chittim, and see; and send unto Kedar, and consider diligently, and see if there be such a thing. Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.

How powerfully this is put! No other nation gave up its gods. Though they were no gods, but mere images of clay or gold, they would not change them. They stuck to their idolatries with wonderful pertinacity; but God’s people gave up the true God to worship the demons of the nations round about. And is it not an unhappy thing that there are now some who at least call themselves God’s people who go back to the world and seem to be more in love with it than ever they were? It is a horrible thing that is done. I have heard of a chieftain of an Indian tribe whose nephew was converted to the faith but who, after a short time, fell into sin and renounced his profession; the old chief used always to answer all the teaching of the missionary with this argument: “My nephew tried it and gave it up. He ought to know.” Well, when this was told to the young man it broke his heart, and happily brought him back to the God he had forsaken. Perhaps there are some in the world who are gathering excuses for continuing in sin from the unhappy conduct of such as backslide. “Look at him,” say they, “how hot and zealous he was, and see what he is now.” Can you bear the thought, backslider? If there remains a spark of love to Christ in your soul, you will feel bitterly the sorrow that others should make an excuse for blasphemy and for rebellion against Christ, out of your evil conduct. Oh, pray tonight — “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with thy free spirit.”

Jeremiah 2:12-13. Be astonished O, ye heavens at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD. For my people have committed two evils they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

If a man should change for the better, his selfishness might be a little excuse for leaving his old love, but when he changes for the worse —leaves a fountain for a cistern — a flowing fountain for a broken cistern that holds nothing — why, there is madness in his sin. “Be astonished, O ye heavens and be horribly afraid.”

Jeremiah 2:14-17. Is Israel a servant? is he a homeborn slave? why is he spoiled? The young lions roared upon him and yelled, and they made his land waste: his cities are burned without inhabitant. Also the children of Noph and Tahapanes have broken the crown of thy head. Hast thou not procured this unto thyself in that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, when he led thee by the way?

The people of Israel had got into a dreadful state of poverty and famine and oppression. Their enemies had so destroyed the land that it was full of lions that even yelled in the very streets where once men and women and children abounded. And God says to them, “Is not this the result of your own sin? Was it so when you lived near to me? Have you not brought this upon yourself by your sin?” So, child of God, if you are unhappy tonight — if you are mourning — if you cannot find comfort in the world — no comfort in God either, “hast thou not procured this unto thyself? When thou didst live near to God, when prayer was continual, when thou didst watch thy conduct, when thou didst go softly asking God to guide thee from day to day, was it not better with thee then than now. Then thy peace was like a river and thy righteousness like the waves of the sea. If it be not so now, hast thou not procured this unto thyself in that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God when he led thee by the way?

Jeremiah 2:18. And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river?

For instead of going to the fountain of living waters, they were hoping to be helped by the Egyptians or helped by the Assyrians. Just as there are some Christians who try to drink the muddy waters of sinful pleasure and of carnal lust, they are beginning to think the muddy river very sweet and to like the taste of it. It is a deadly evil when professing Christians begin to do as others do, and to mix with the world and feel pleasure in it. There will be a blight upon you if you turn from God! Misery will dog your steps ere long, if you be indeed a child of God.

Jeremiah 2:19. Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.

A very solemn passage. May we lay it to heart. Not only is there guilt in our sin for which we shall have to answer at God’s judgment seat, but there is evil in it which will come swiftly upon our own heads even here, “Be sure thy sin will find thee out.” The thing thou thinkest will be thy strength, will be thy scourge. What thou dreamest of as pleasure will prove to be thy plague. If thou hast ever known the joy of God’s service all this shall be doubly true of thee: thou shalt never be able again to find satisfaction in the world, and God, the God whom thou didst once delight in, will let thine own wickedness correct thee, and thy backslidings reprove thee, because he wishes thee to come back again to his side, and to drink again of the living waters which thou hast so foolishly forsaken.


Verses 1-25

Jeremiah 2:1-3. Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem saying, Thus saith the LORD: I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness in a land that was not sown. Israel was holiness unto the LORD, and the first-fruits of his increase: all that devour him shalt offend; evil shall come upon then, saith the LORD.

God reminds his people of what they used to be in their first days, when they came out of Egypt. They had very sadly declined from what they then were. They were none too faithful to the Lord then; but they had fallen back even from that condition. Does not this passage come home to some of you who are not now what you once were? May the Lord graciously speak through these words to your ear, and to your heart, if you have backslidden from him in any degree!

Jeremiah 2:4-5. Hear ye the word of the LORD, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel: thus saith the LORD, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain

What faults have you to find with God, that you have left him? What fault have you seen in the ever-blessed Christ, that your love to him should have grown cold?

Jeremiah 2:6-7. Neither said they, Where is the LORD that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, that led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and of pits, through a land of drought, and of the shadow of death, through a land that no man passed through, and where no man dwelt? And I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof; but when ye entered, ye defiled my land, and made mine heritage an abomination.

It is a sad charge against anybody that he forgets the care that God has taken of him in the days of his poverty and affliction. When a man becomes rich, and is surrounded by earthly comforts, it is a terrible thing that he should then forget God; or that, the more God does for him, the less he thinks of God. This is strangely ungrateful conduct, yet the children of Israel acted thus. They were better in the wilderness,-though they were bad enough there,-they were better in the wilderness than they were in Canaan, better on the desert sand than they were in the land that flowed with milk and honey. And there are some, nowadays, who were better in their poverty than they are in their prosperity, and some who were better by a long way in their times of sickness than they now are in their balmy days of health. Alas, that it should be so!

Jeremiah 2:8. The priests said not, Where is the LORD? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit.

It is always ill with the people when the ministers go wrong. If the dogs do not protect the flock, but are dumb dogs that cannot bark, what is to become of the sheep?

Jeremiah 2:9-11. Wherefore I will yet plead with you, saith the LORD, and with your children’s children will I plead. For pass over the isles of Chittim, and see; and send unto Kedar, and consider diligently, and see if there be such a thing. Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit,

God bids them go to the West, across the Mediterranean, to Chittim, that is, probably Cyprus, or to go to the East, away there to Kedar, or Arabia, and see whether any Gentile nation ever changed its gods, which really were no gods. “And yet,” says the Lord, “here is a people that knew the one living and true God, but they have turned aside to idols: ‘My people hath changed their glory for that which doth not profit.’” O friend, if there is no truth in religion, I do not wonder that you give it up! But if you ever knew its blessed sweetness, if Christ was ever precious to you, if you did once enjoy the gospel of his grace, how is it that you have grown cold towards it, and declined from its ways?

Jeremiah 2:12-13. Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD. For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold-no water.

To go away from the flowing fountain to the stagnant waters of a cistern, is great folly; but to go and hew out broken cisterns that can hold no water, but merely mock your thirst, is madness of the worst kind.

Jeremiah 2:14. Is Israel a servant? is he a home born slave? why is he spoiled?

God made him to be his son, not his slave; but Israel went aside from God, and so became a slave, being carried away into captivity by the very nation whose gods the chosen people worshipped.

Jeremiah 2:15-16. The young lions roared upon him, and yelled, and they made his land waste: his cities are burned without inhabitant. Also the children of Noph and Tuhapanes have broken the crown of thy head.

The Israelites went and worshipped idols, and then the very nations whose gods they worshipped invaded the land, and broke the crown of their head, or made them bald, which was to the Jews a mark of mourning or of disgrace.

Jeremiah 2:17. Hast thou not procured this-unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, when he led thee by the way?

You who are depressed in soul, you who have grown spiritually poor, you who are in great trouble of heart, listen: “Hast thou not procured this unto thyself?” Didst thou not make the rod for thine own back by going away from thy God? It was well enough with thee when thou didst trust in him; but now that thou hast turned aside from him, all these evils have come upon thee. “Hast thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken Jehovah thy God, when he led thee by the way?”,

Jeremiah 2:18. And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor?

“The waters of the Nile;” or, as it may be read, “the waters of that muddy river.” The Israelites had suffered so much during their long captivity in Egypt, that one would have thought they would never have wanted to go near the house of bondage again: “What hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor?”

Jeremiah 2:18. Or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river?

You are trying to find pleasure in the world, you are going to the resorts of sin, to seek amusement there. If thou art a child of God, “What hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? Or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river?” What doest thou there, Elijah? Thou hast lost the comforts of religion by thy backsliding; and now thou art trying to make up for them by going into the world’s gaiety. It will never do; thou canst never fill thy belly with the husks that the swine do eat. If thou wert one of the swine, thou mightest do so; but if thou art thy Father’s son, it is only the bread in his house that will satisfy thy hungry soul.

Jeremiah 2:19-25. Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shalt reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts. For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree then wanderest, playing the harlot. Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me? For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much hope, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord GOD, how canst thou say, I am not polluted, I have not gone after Baalim? see thy way in the valley, know what thou hast done: thou art a swift dromedary traversing her -ways; a-wild ass used to the wilderness, that snuffeth up the wind at her pleasure: in her occasion who can turn her away? all they that seek her will not weary themselves; in her month they shall find her. Withhold thy foot from being unshod, and thy throat from thirst, but thou saidst, There is no hope no; for I have loved strangers, and after them will I go.

God compares his erring people, in the delirium of their sin, to these wild creatures that cannot be tamed, but are driven by their ungovernable passions whithersoever they will. Alas, that men should be so sinful that God can only find a parallel to them in the wild asses of the wilderness! See, also, what despair will do for its victims. When a man says, “There is no hope,” then he feels that for him there is no repentance. When he believes that God will not forgive him, then he will not turn from his evil ways. “Thou saidst, There is no hope: no, for I have loved strangers, and after them will I go.” God save any here present who are getting into the clutches of Giant Despair! May they know the true goodness of God, and may that goodness lead them to repentance! Amen.


Verses 20-37

Jeremiah 2:20-26. For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot. Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me? For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord GOD. How canst thou say, I am not polluted, I have not gone after Baalim? see thy way in the valley, know what thou hast done: thou art a swift dromedary traversing her ways; A wild ass used to the wilderness, that snuffeth up the wind at her pleasure; in her occasion who can turn her away? all they that seek her will not weary themselves; in her month they shall find her. Withhold thy foot from being unshod, and thy throat from thirst: but thou saidst, There is no hope: no; for I have loved strangers, and after them will I go. As the thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Israel ashamed; they, their kings, their princes, and their priests, and their prophets, —

And there are many people whose repentance is of no more value than the shame of a thief, when he is found out. Oh, for something better and deeper than this!

Jeremiah 2:26-27. So is the house of Israel ashamed; they, their kings, their princes, and their priests, and their prophets, Saying to a stock, Thou art my father; and to a stone, Thou hast brought me forth: for they have turned their back unto me, and not their face: but in the time of their trouble they will say, Arise, and save us.

Some men never pray except in stormy weather. Their religion is wholly dependent upon their condition and circumstances. If all is going well with them, they bend not their knees before the Lord, but when they are in sore distress, and especially if they think they are likely soon to die, then they cry unto God, “Arise, and save us,” with no more true faith than these idolaters had when they cried to their powerless idols.

Jeremiah 2:28-30. But where are thy gods that thou hast made thee? let them arise, if they can save thee in the time of thy trouble: for according to the number of thy cities are thy gods, O Judah. Wherefore will ye plead with me? ye all have transgressed against me, saith the LORD. In vain have I smitten your children; they received no correction: your own sword hath devoured your prophets, like a destroying lion.

So far from accepting God’s rebukes in the right spirit, and forsaking their idol gods, they even turned upon the Lord’s messengers and put his prophets to death.

Jeremiah 2:31. O generation, see ye the word of the LORD.

“If you will not hear it, see it.”

Jeremiah 2:31. Have I been a wilderness unto Israel? a land of darkness? wherefore say my people, We are lords; we will come no more unto thee?

“Do you not see,” says the Lord to these rebellious people, “how much I have done for you? Have you forgotten the numberless mercies I have lavished upon you? I have kept from you nothing that was really good for you. When you worshipped me in sincerity and in truth, you prospered exceedingly; but when you turned away from me, you made a sad mistake. See, then, the sermons which providence itself preached to you if ye will not hear what my prophets say to you in my name.”

Jeremiah 2:32. Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number.

The very beauty of a believer — his glorious dress — is his God. Then can we ever forget him; or all the precious things of the covenant of grace which he so freely bestows upon us? Can we — can we — have fallen so low as to forget the God to whom we owe so much? Alas, he can still say, “My people have forgotten me days without number.”

Jeremiah 2:33-34. Why trimmest thou thy way to seek love? therefore hast thou also taught the wicked ones thy ways. Also in thy skirts is found the blood of the souls of the poor innocents: I have not found it by secret search, but upon all these.

God’s ancient people had so completely turned away from him, and wandered so far from him, that they had practiced all manner of evil in order to prove their love for other gods. They even went among the heathen, and taught them to sin yet worse than they had sinned before. This was most shameful backsliding, a horrible evil in the sight of God.

Jeremiah 2:35. Yet thou sayest, Because I am innocent, surely his anger shall turn from me.

The most guilty people are often the most self-righteous. The sinful nation, which ought to have pleaded guilty, here says, “Because I am innocent, surely his anger shall turn from me.”

Jeremiah 2:35. Behold, I will plead with thee, because thou sayest, I have not sinned.

That is the great abuse of quarrel between God and men. Many a man still says, “I have not sinned,” although God’s law condemns him, and the very office of the Saviour proves that the guilty one needed to be saved by One who was almighty. Self-righteousness is a thing which God utterly abhors.

Jeremiah 2:36. Why gaddest thou about so much to change thy way? thou also shalt be ashamed of Egypt, as thou wast ashamed of Assyria.

First they trusted to Assyria to save them; and when that broken reed failed them, then they trusted to Egypt; and in a similar fashion, we go from one false hope to another, — from one carnal confidence to another, gadding about to change our way; yet, all the while, refusing to turn unto the Lord.

Jeremiah 2:37. Yea, thou shalt go forth from him, and thine hands upon thine head:

Thou shalt go forth as a captive, with thine hands bound above thy head; or, like one in great pain or sorrow, thou shalt hold thine hands to thy head.

Jeremiah 2:37. For the LORD hath rejected thy confidences, and thou shalt not prosper in them.

May God, in his mercy, save all of us from false confidences, both now and throughout our whole lives!

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Jeremiah 2:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/jeremiah-2.html. 2011.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, September 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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