Jeremiah 9 Commentary
Why is Jeremiah wishing for more tears? Well, he has seen enough wickedness in Israel. But the problem is more serious than we think. Jeremiah references Jacob’s lying to underline Israel’s problem. It is something both endemic and inherent.
Their actions are bad and so are their hearts. Even when they speak softly, their hearts are dark and mean.
Verse 16 uses the word scattering. It is a better word than exile because we can immediately think of the other scatterings in the history of humanity. Adam was scattered from the Garden of peace and tranquility. Cain was scattered and became a wanderer. At the Towel of Babel, men and women were scattered for the same reasons. Jerusalem would be scattered because of wickedness.
Of course, Jeremiah won’t have enough tears for this kind of trouble. So he calls upon the wailing women to help. It is an invitation to the reader to ponder the sad state of humanity. Let them teach their children to wail. Let them know what vanity awaits them for a life outside the rules of the Creator God.
Forget human wisdom. Don’t boast about abundance. Strength won’t count. Again, the scripture is referring to the elements of existence that men and women tend to depend on. Forget your bank account! Only one thing is worth boasting about – the understanding to know the LORD.
Know that the LORD exercises kindness, justice, and righteousness on the earth. Verse 24. Jeremiah is referencing an all-important description of the LORD: “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.” Exodus 34 verses 6 and 7.
The chapter closes with the statement that Israel’s problem isn’t in isolation. It is a global problem. Everyone is affected; entire humanity is in trouble. Jacob’s lying isn’t a special case for Israel alone. The human heart is uncircumcised. We are all in it and we all need to be saved.
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