23 February 2016

Jeremiah 14:17-22

“Let my eyes run down with tears night and day, and let them not cease.” (v. 17)

Psalm: Psalm 40:1-10


The first part of Jeremiah 14 includes a community lament related to drought; today's passage includes one related to war (verse 17) and famine (verse 18). Such laments are also found among the Psalms (eg Psalm 44) and usually have a common structure. The language often expresses strong emotions and raw feelings.

The first part of verse 18 may be a reference to the siege of Jerusalem in 588-587 BC, which lasted approximately 18 months and was accompanied by a famine (see 2 Kings 25:3).

Here, the prophet's lament over the situation (verses 17-18) is followed by the people's: they ask "Why have you struck us down so that there is no healing for us?" (v. 19), confess their sins and those of their ancestors (verse 20), appeal to God for help (verse 21), and, amidst acute suffering, express their confidence in God (verse 22).

To Ponder

  • Have your eyes ever run down with tears night and day? If so, what were the circumstances?
  • What situations have led you to offer laments to God? What has been the balance between those relating to more personal or local matters and those relating to national or international ones?
  • What forms have your laments taken and how have the laments in the Bible helped to shape your own? If not immediately, at what stage have you been able to say that you set your hope on God? 

Bible notes author

The Revd Neil Stubbens

Neil Stubbens is a Methodist presbyter who is currently the connexional ecumenical officer. Previously, he has served in the Barnsley, Southport, St Helens and Prescot, and Sankey Valley Circuits.