Jeremiah 38 Commentary

Jeremiah 38 Commentary

“Sensible people will see trouble coming and avoid it, but an unthinking person will walk straight into it and regret it later.” Perhaps King Zedekiah paid no attention to scripture like this. Perhaps his ascension to the throne had everything to do with his lack of discretion.

Like begets like. His officials are similarly clueless. Bad friends are an obvious conspiracy against godliness. Nebuchadnezzar’s choice of Zedekiah is probably for the same reasons as the officials have for keeping Zedekiah in his position as king. Wickedness thrives on the weakness of character – when dominion counts to zero.

King Zedekiah, his officials, and Ebed-Melek; it is an interesting cast. The great prophet Jeremiah finds himself in trouble again. We are not surprised at all. It is, however, Zedekiah’s weakness of character that shocks us. He is no longer in charge of himself. It is often the case that extreme wickedness is a case for loss of dominion – the near complete absence of dominion. Fear is never too far.

Zedekiah is afraid of his own officials. He is afraid of taking a position. It is not a show of strength against Nebuchadnezzar rather, a show of weakness to make the right decision.

For his message, Jeremiah is thrown into an empty but muddy cistern. The LORD never runs out of tools. Ebed-Melek becomes the means by which Jeremiah gains his freedom and life back. The king knows the prophet has the word of the LORD, but unfortunately for him, it is the same. Jeremiah also repeats what he has been saying to everyone: surrender.

Surrendering or quitting isn’t nice but here it comes with obedience and a sense of submission under the LORD’s word, albeit in punishment. Arrogance is often mistaken for the strength of character. However, it is obedience and submission under the word of the LORD that passes as strength. And what strength for Jeremiah. The often beaten and often imprisoned Jeremiah would live eternally with his ministry having a global audience of millions, from generation to generation.  

And Zedekiah? Well, not too long from now he would see his children no more as his kingship comes to an end in a brutal enemy attack.

Sit back and ponder Zedekiah’s fate. Weakness? Yes. Wicked? Yes. Yet, even at this moment, the LORD spoke a word that would have saved Zedekiah. In moments of extreme weakness, probably the first prayer should be: “LORD, help me make the right decision. I won’t make it all by myself.”

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Published by Joseph Malekani

Joseph Malekani is a born-again Christian with a strong PAOG/Baptist background. He is heavily involved in student ministry with ZAFES – an IFES movement with focus on student ministry in Zambia. He is married to Audrey and they have two lovely children.

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