12 October 2011

"Then King Zedekiah sent for him, and received him. The king questioned him secretly in his house, and said, 'Is there any word from the Lord?' Jeremiah said, 'There is!'" (v. 17)


The situation gets worse, as Jeremiah had foreseen. Egypt mobilises its forces in alliance with Assyria, in the (vain) hope of containing the aggression of Babylon. Jeremiah declares that the Egyptian intervention will come to nothing, and all will fall before Babylonian might. Though he is a weak ruler, Zedekiah is not the ruthless operator that his nephew was, and he turns to Jeremiah for advice. The prophet's advice, however, brings him no comfort; the king's security guards take things into their own hands and imprison Jeremiah.

Zedekiah's resolve, however, is beginning to crumble, and he secures a private meeting with Jeremiah. Quite reasonably, Jeremiah asks how it could be that Zedekiah's professional court advisers had got it so wrong; they had been assuring the king that the Babylonian threat would evaporate. Zedekiah commits Jeremiah to the care of his personal guards, for his own safety, and ensures he is provided with bread to eat, 'while stocks last'; in a time of siege, famine is an ever-present threat.

To Ponder

The court advisers were guided by what they thought the King wanted to hear - and they were proved wrong. When you are asked for advice, how do you ensure that you are not overly influenced by wanting to please the person who has consulted you?

Zedekiah had to admit that his earlier response might have been wrong. How do you deal with a situation that requires you to make a similar admission?

Bible notes author: The Revd Dr John Ogden

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