24 February 2016

Jeremiah 15:10, 15-21

“I am with you to save you and deliver you, says the Lord.” (v. 20)

Psalm: Psalm 41


The opening verse of today's passage is a heart-rending cry of agony and is in stark contrast to the mood of the account of Jeremiah's call in chapter 1. It marks the start of one of the 'confessions of Jeremiah' that are found in the first half of the book bearing his name. These personal statements lead many to think that more can be known about Jeremiah than any other prophet in the Old Testament.

The prophet's sense of rejection by the people and abandonment by God is so intense that he questions the value of his existence (verse 10). Such a thought is very rarely expressed in the Old Testament because life is understood to be a gift of God; Job 3 is probably the only comparable passage. Jeremiah was convinced that he suffered insult on God's account and he expected God to do something about his persecutors (verse 15). God's words were so important to the prophet that he talked about eating them (verse 16). The result of his dedication, both to God and the people, meant the struggle was deeper and more painful; he even accused God of being "like a deceitful brook" (verse 18). This is an evocative reference to those streams or rivers that flow at certain times of the year but not at others; it is all the more poignant because the prophet had proclaimed that God is "the fountain of living water" (Jeremiah 2:13) and the time when the traveller most needs refreshment is when the brook is dry!

God's response also takes us back to the call of Jeremiah in the opening chapter of the book (Jeremiah 1:8, 18-19): it is the promise of God's presence to give him strength, and to save and deliver him from the wicked and ruthless (verses 20-21).

To Ponder

  • What do you make of Jeremiah's honesty before God and of God's response?
  • How honest are you able to be in your relationship with God? Do you feel that you have to be polite in your prayers? Why, or why not?
  • What do you hear God saying to you when you offer God your deepest thoughts and feelings?

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.