Jeremiah Chapter 37
Lessons from the text
Prison Can Be a Good Thing?
In this chapter, Jeremiah is placed in prison for his benefit. He did not initially want to go there but was desiring to leave Jerusalem to go to the land he had just purchased in Benjamin. Yet when he realized that he would have to stay in Jerusalem, he preferred the prison over freedom. He knew that his enemies had grown bold against him, and so he feared for his life. Also, the famine was beginning to consume the city, and he knew that it would only get worse. Jeremiah chose to stay in prison where he knew he would be guarded and fed.
Oftentimes, the circumstances of our lives are not what we would pick for ourselves. Jeremiah would have certainly preferred to live in his own house in peace rather than sit in a prison located in a city he that knew , through prophecy, was about to be burned (Jer. 34:2). Yet he was able to see the good in his situation. In prison, he would be provided for.
When life takes an unpleasant turn, stop and consider the situation. Could it actually be for your benefit? Is God using events to redirect you to safety?
Because God holds all authority, He directs all the events of your life. When something “negative” comes your way, recognize that it might not be negative at all. Look for the good in your circumstances. Then you can praise God for our situation regardless of how “normal” people would perceive it. In that way, you will find that you truly are a peculiar person, witnessing of the peace of God even in difficult times (Exo. 19:5-6, I Pet. 2:9).
Verse by Verse Commentary
1-5 The opening verses give the context for the chapter. These events occur towards the end of Zedekiah’s reign for the Chaldeans have already set siege against Jerusalem. Zedekiah was made king by Nebuchadnezzar. Although he had been given the throne, he was not humble enough to be thankful and cautious of his position. Instead, he waxed bold and was arrogant enough to disobey the words of God through Jeremiah and yet ask Jeremiah to pray on his behalf for guidance from God.
6-8 No doubt the Jews saw the Egyptian forces as a source of hope, believing that their former oppressors might have the strength to fend off Babylon. God quickly denies this. He says that the Chaldeans will return with more strength. Jerusalem will, according to the original word of God, be burned at their hands (Jer. 32:29, 34:2).
9 God knows the false hope of man. God alone is able to deliver and save. Looking to any other source for hope will only leave one sorely disappointed. See Jeremiah 2:36, Isaiah 30:15, Isaiah 49:23.
10 Because God has decreed evil against Jerusalem (Jer. 21:10), even if there was only one enemy standing, that one soldier would be sufficient to destroy the entire city. Once God has issued a decree, only God is able to alter or stop that decree from occurring. No matter what one sees, one is to recognize that God’s will shall be done. Do not allow appearances to alter one’s expectations of God’s words to come to pass.
11-16 Although Jeremiah has evaded imprisonment for speaking against Jerusalem (Jer. 26:24), he is now unable to dismiss the accusation of treason. Jeremiah is desiring to leave Jerusalem to go to the land that he purchased from Hanameel (Jer. 32:7-9), yet his actions are perceived by a soldier as trying to defect to the Chaldeans. In a battle of word against word, the princes believe the captain over Jeremiah. Ironically, God allows this to happen to protect Jeremiah; because Jeremiah is in the prison when Jerusalem falls, he is delivered from famine, death, and is given respect under Babylonian rule (Jer. 27:21, 38:9-13, 28, 39:11-12).
17a King Zedekiah has come to acknowledge Jeremiah as a true prophet of God. He understands that Jeremiah has been speaking on God’s behalf and so desires to know what God’s intentions are.
17b Instead of giving hope, Jeremiah replies that destruction is coming. This is a repetition of what he has already said (v.8). Even though Zedekiah recognizes that Jeremiah is the true prophet, he still does not believe God’s message that Jeremiah has been preaching for years.
18 Jeremiah deviates from proclaiming God’s words to deal with his circumstances. The prophet believes that he has been unfairly treated by being imprisoned. As proof of his innocency, he calls to king’s attention to the fact that the false prophets have been proven to be liars while he has spoken truthfully from the beginning.
19-21 Despite his objections, Jeremiah knows that if he is released from prison, his enemies or the famine will kill him. He therefore asks Zedekiah to keep him imprisoned so that he can be protected and fed. Zedekiah is gracious enough to grant Jeremiah’s request.
Thank you for your faithfulness in studying God’s word.
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