Jeremiah 12 Commentary

Jeremiah 12 Commentary Image

This Jeremiah 12 commentary is a continuation of our Jeremiah 11 commentary

Jeremiah 12 Commentary
Verse 1

Well, now that the Lord has promised vengeance on Jeremiah’s conspirators, Jeremiah responds to the Lord with praise. … And then a few questions about the way things are in the world – especially in Jeremiah’s time in Jeremiah 12:1.

12:1 ¶ Righteous art thou, O LORD, [when/whenever] I [plead/have complained] with thee:

yet let me talk with thee of thy [judgments/justice]:

Jeremiah has found the Lord to be very patient with him when he’s asked questions or complained before (i.e., “Lord, you’ve deceived them!”).

Jeremiah 12 Commentary
Verses 1-2

So, emboldened by that knowledge, Jeremiah would like some clarification on the following matter.

Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper?

wherefore are all they [happy/at ease] that deal very treacherously?

2 Thou hast planted them, yea, they have taken root:

they grow, yea, they bring forth fruit:

There’s a tree analogy again.

thou art near [in/to] their [mouth/lips] [i.e., they speak of you],

and far from their [reins/mind] [i.e., but they don’t care anything about you].

So, the wicked are doing well – even seeming to be receiving God’s blessing!

Jeremiah 12 Commentary
Verse 3

And then there’s Jeremiah.

3 But thou, O LORD, knowest me:

thou hast seen me, and tried mine heart toward thee:

So, the wicked are doing well. Jeremiah is not, though the Lord knows that he loves him.

Therefore, Jeremiah has a request – regarding especially the people conspiring against him.

[pull/drag] them [out/off/away] like sheep for the slaughter,

and [prepare/set apart] them for the day of [slaughter/carnage] [i.e., appoint a time for them to be killed].

Jeremiah 12 Commentary
Verse 4

And it’s not just for his own sake that he asks for judgement upon these people. He asks for the sake of the entire land. Their evil deeds are ruining everything.

4 How long shall the land mourn,

and the herbs of every field wither,

for the wickedness of them that dwell therein?

The beasts are consumed, and the birds;

because they [i.e., men of Anathoth] said, He shall not see [our last end/what happens to us].

Righteousness exalts a nation. But sin is a reproach to any people. And that’s what was happening in Jeremiah’s day – the whole land was feeling the effects of the sin of its inhabitants.

Jeremiah 12 Commentary
Verse 5

The Lord then responds to Jeremiah’s request. It starts with what seems like almost a rebuke to Jeremiah himself. Or if not a rebuke then something like a reality check for him.

5 If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee,

then how canst thou [contend/compete] with horses?

So, Jeremiah’s to picture himself as a man in a race. He’s run against mere men and they’ve worn him out. Then if that’s the case, what is he going to do when he’s supposed to race against horses, that are much faster than men??

and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, [i.e., if you feel safe only in a peaceful land]

then how wilt thou do in the [swelling/thicket/thick undergrowth] of Jordan?

Now, the Lord wants Jeremiah to consider the fact that the land still has relative peace. And the idea is if Jeremiah feels secure (he “trusts”) in only that kind of place, then what is he going to do when things get really hard in Judah when God brings real and widespread destruction on his people (the lion coming up from the swelling or the thicket of the Jordan)?

Jeremiah 12 Commentary
Verse 6

And things will get really hard. And God tells Jeremiah that the fact that his own brethren have conspired against him to kill him is an indication that things will be getting much worse.

6 For even thy brethren, and the house of thy father,

even they have [dealt treacherously with/betrayed] thee;

yea, they have called a multitude after thee:

And so here’s the Lord’s advice to Jeremiah.

believe them not, though they speak fair words unto thee.

Jeremiah 12 Commentary
Verse 7

And beyond how to deal with Jeremiah’s own fellow Anathothites, the Lord lets Jeremiah in on what he’s going to do to all the people of Judah.

7 I have forsaken mine [house/nation],

I have left mine [heritage/inheritance/people whom I’ve called my own];

I have given the dearly beloved of my soul into the [hand/power] of her enemies.

So, the Lord is going to give Judah over to her enemies.

Jeremiah 12 Commentary
Verses 8-9

Then the Lord goes on to compare his people to a few different animals.

8 [Mine heritage/The people I call my own] is unto me

as a lion in the forest;

it [crieth out/roars] against me:

therefore have I hated it.

9 Mine heritage is unto me as a speckled bird,

the birds round about are against her;

come ye, assemble all the beasts of the field,

come to devour.

So, Judah is like a lion that roars against a man from the forest. I take this to indicate that they are rebellious. Like, they won’t come to him. They hide in the forest and roar. They keep their distance. And they’re violent and deadly. So, the Lord will keep his distance as well.

And because Judah takes such a stance of defiance and rebellion, that nation is also like a bird. And all the birds around her are against her – speaking figuratively of Judah’s enemies.

And not only is it as if Judah is a bird that’s being preyed on by all her “fellow-birds” – her neighbor nations. But also the Lord ended Jeremiah 12:9 calling all the animals in the field to come and eat her.

These metaphorical pictures are all contributing to the same concept – namely, that God has called all of Judah’s neighbors to attack her as punishment for her conspiracies against God and Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 12 Commentary
Verses 10-12

So, the Lord continues speaking of the attacks that Judah faces from their neighbors.

10 Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard,

And I’ll stop here and just note something. So far when we’ve seen this term “pastor” in Jeremiah it’s been used to speak of leaders. And so far I think it’s only been spoken of Judah’s leaders. But here I think – based on the context of attack by surrounding enemy nations – we’re still speaking of leaders – but they’re foreign leaders. That is, leaders of the surrounding countries that are attacking Judah with God’s permission and blessing.

they have trodden my portion under foot,

they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.

11 They have made it desolate,

and being desolate it mourneth unto me;

the whole land is made desolate,

because no man layeth it to heart.

12 The [spoilers/destructive army] are come upon all [high places/bare heights] through the wilderness:

Jeremiah 12 Commentary
Verses 12-13

And behind these spoilers or destroyers or pastors is a power far greater. The Lord himself!

for the sword of the LORD shall devour

from the one end of the land even to the other end of the land:

no flesh shall [have peace/be safe].

13 They have sown wheat, but shall reap thorns:

they have put themselves to pain, but shall not profit:

and they shall be ashamed of your [revenues/harvest]

because of the fierce anger of the LORD.

Jeremiah 12 Commentary
Verses 14-17

And finally the Lord says something very interesting about these surrounding enemies of Judah. And it’s interesting for a few reasons.

14 ¶ Thus saith the LORD against all mine evil neighbours, that touch the inheritance which I have caused my people Israel to inherit;

Behold, I will pluck them [i.e., the nations] out of their land, and pluck out the house of Judah from among them.

So, even though the Lord will use these evil neighbors of Judah to execute his punishment on his people, yet these neighbors themselves will also be punished for their evil.

15 And it shall come to pass,

after that I have plucked them out

So, yes, the Lord is going to exile not just Judah but all her neighbors.

But then look what the Lord promises these nations.

I will return, and have compassion on them, and will bring them again,

every man to his heritage, and every man to his land.

So, just like the Lord would return Israel to her land after he exiles them, so too is he promising to do to Israel’s neighbors.

And so, just to fill out our understanding of Old Testament Scripture, it seems that when that Persian king Cyrus decreed that the Jews should return to their own land back in Ezra 1:1 he very likely wasn’t saying that just to Israel. It’s very likely from both passages like this one in Jeremiah and from other things we know from history – it’s likely that Cyrus was allowing several nations to go back to their land from exile. And this would have been a fulfillment of Jeremiah 12:15! I seem to remember reading that Cyrus wanted to gain favor from as many gods as possible, and so he would release the people who had been conquered by Babylon in order that they might go back to their land and worship their gods and pray to those gods for the king’s welfare.

Now, the Lord continues his predictions about the exiled neighbors of Judah by stating that this return to the land from exile could be permanent – if these nations turn to the Lord. In other words, they too could submit to God’s sovereignty and live, as the message of this book goes.

16 And it shall come to pass,

if they [i.e., exiled neighbors] will diligently learn the ways of my people,

to swear by my name, [“] The LORD liveth [”];

as they taught my people to swear by Baal;

then shall they be [built/built up] in the midst of my people.

This is quite a promise from the Lord – the Lord whom these nations have largely ignored. But God here is promising that if those idolatrous nations will turn to the Lord when he returns them to their land then he will build them up in the midst of his people.

And yet, the Lord needs to give a dire warning for them if they refuse to turn to him.

17 But if they will not obey,

I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation,

saith the LORD.

And this is one reason as to why we don’t have a nation of Ammonites anymore. We don’t Tyrian and Sidonians. We don’t have Moabites these days. I imagine one reason is because when the Lord did return these nations to their lands they didn’t turn to the Lord. They didn’t submit to his sovereignty/authority. And so they didn’t live.

So, there it is. Jeremiah 11-12 – Covenant and Conspiracy.

Jeremiah 11 14 Commentary

Jeremiah 11 14 Commentary: So, the Lord will punish his covenant-breaking people.

And their response will be to turn – not to the true God who’s bringing the punishments – but to the false gods who can’t help them.

And this leads the Lord to again tell Jeremiah to not pray for these people in Jeremiah 11:14.

14 ¶ Therefore pray not thou [Jeremiah] for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them:

for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me [for/because of] their [trouble/disaster].

And we’ve dealt with this kind of command from the Lord in a previous lesson.

And there we saw that he wasn’t interested in Jeremiah praying that the Lord would turn from his punishing his people. I think he’s saying the same thing here.

When disaster comes, the Lord is not planning to relent. The time has come for him to judge and he won’t turn from that once they’ve gone that far.

Still, there were probably a number of opportunities for them to genuinely repent and experience God’s forgiveness.

But once judgment started to fall, the Lord would not go back on that decision.

Return to our Jeremiah 11 KJV article.

Jeremiah 11 Summary

Jeremiah 11-12

We hope you enjoy this free digital Jeremiah 11 summary. Now, when we open to this chapter we enter into a brand new section in Jeremiah, so I won’t go into any background. Instead we’ll dive right into the text.

There are two words that I think pretty-well describe this two-chapter section of Jeremiah 11-12. They are Covenant and Conspiracy.

Jeremiah 11 Summary | Covenant

The Lord begins Jeremiah 11 speaking of the covenant he made with Israel in Jeremiah 11:1-5.

KJV Jeremiah 11:1 ¶ The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,

2 Hear ye the [words/terms] of this [i.e., Mosaic] covenant,

and speak unto the men of Judah,

and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem;

3 And say thou unto them,

Thus saith the LORD God of Israel;

Cursed be the man that obeyeth not the words of this covenant,

4 Which I commanded your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, from the iron [i.e., -smelting] furnace, saying,

Obey my voice, and do them, according to all which I command you: so shall ye be my people, and I will be your God:

5 [i.e., In order…] That I may perform the oath which I have sworn unto your fathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as it [i.e., the land] is this day.

So, the Lord starts off this section by reminding the people through Jeremiah of the covenant he made with them when he brought them out of Egypt. He reminds them of the positive aspects of that covenant. He delivered them from Egypt which country is compared to a hot sweltering iron-smelting furnace. And he promised to bring them into a land flowing with milk and honey – prosperous and pleasant. What’s more, the Lord would be their God. And all they had to do was obey his voice.

Jeremiah 11 Summary | Positive Response

And such words elicit a positive response from Jeremiah at the end of Jeremiah 11:5.

Then answered I, and said, [So be it/Amen!], O LORD.

And that’s how it should have been for all the people of Israel. A positive response to the Lord’s covenant with them.

Jeremiah 11 Summary | Reminder of the Covenant

But as we’ve seen through this book so far that’s not how the people had reacted to the covenant. So God wants Jeremiah to remind them again of the stipulations he laid down concerning this covenant in Jeremiah 11:6-7.

6 ¶ Then the LORD said unto me,

Proclaim all these [i.e., following] words in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, saying,

Hear ye the words of this covenant, and do them.

7 For I [earnestly/solemnly] [protested unto/warned] your fathers in the day that I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, even unto this day, [rising early/again and again] and [protesting/warning], saying,

Obey my voice.

Jeremiah 11 Summary | Obedience

So this is what it comes down to. Obedience to God’s commands. It seems simple, but it proved to not be so.

8 Yet they obeyed not, nor inclined their ear, but walked every one in the imagination of their evil heart:

And this disobedience calls for some form of punishment.

Therefore I [will bring/brought] upon them all the words [i.e., of punishment] of this covenant, which I commanded them to do; but they did them not.

Now, the words of a covenant serve two functions at least. First, it sets forth the blessings for keeping it. And second, it stipulates the punishment for breaking it.

So far then we’ve seen the Lord highlight his covenant with his people. He’s brought it to back their remembrance through Jeremiah and has warned of the punishment for breaking it.

Jeremiah 11 Summary | A Conspiracy

Now, the Lord – still considering the covenant – turns to address a conspiracy on the part of the people. And this conspiracy is twofold. First, it’s a conspiracy against the Lord to break his covenant. And second, it’s a conspiracy against Jeremiah to kill him.

9 ¶ And the LORD said unto me,

A [conspiracy/plot to rebel] [is/has been] found among the men of Judah, and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

10 They are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, [which/who] refused to hear my words; and they [i.e. Judah] [went/have gone] after other gods to serve them:

the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant which I made with their fathers.

Jeremiah 11 Summary | Punishment

And as we’ve already considered – this kind of covenant-breaking requires some sort of punishment.

11 Therefore thus saith the LORD,

Behold, I will bring [evil/disaster] upon them, which they shall not be able to escape;

and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them.

12 Then shall the cities of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem go, and cry unto the gods unto whom they offer incense:

but they shall not save them at all in the time of their [trouble/disaster].

13 [For/This is in spite of the fact that] according to the number of thy cities were thy gods, O Judah;

and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem have ye set up altars to that [shameful/disgusting] thing, even altars to burn incense unto Baal.

So, the Lord will punish his covenant-breaking people. And their response will be to turn – not to the true God who’s bringing the punishments – but to the false gods who can’t help them.

Jeremiah 11 Summary | Verse 14

See our Jeremiah 11 14 Commentary article.

Jeremiah 11 Summary | God is Sad

This thought of judgement and God’s refusal to turn from it seems to make the Lord remember his relationship with his people and kind of lament what they were in the past when compared to what they now are in Jeremiah 11:15.

15 What hath my beloved [i.e., people] to do in mine [house/temple],

seeing she hath [wrought/done] [lewdness/vile deeds] with many [or the vile deeds are many],

and the holy flesh is passed from thee?

when thou doest evil, then thou rejoicest.

Can the sacrificial flesh take away from you your disaster, So that you can rejoice?”

Can your acts of treachery be so easily canceled by sacred offerings that you take joy in doing evil even while you make them?

Let me point out a few things here.

First, the last part of this verse is difficult to grasp from the Hebrew. And I think the way the KJV translates this is just as good as any alternative translation. So, I think it’s saying that since the holy or sacrificial flesh has passed away from them – maybe in the sense that the Lord isn’t accepting it of them anymore – that’s one reason they have no right to be in the Lord’s temple – his house. And then the last thought is the Lord saying that when the people do evil they rejoice.

And even though this verse is essentially a rebuke to Judah telling them that they have no right to enter into his house because of their sinfulness – notice how the Lord describes those for whom this verse applies. They’re “my beloved”.

And God’s not being facetious here. This is how he feels about the very people whom he needs to punish.

Jeremiah 11 Summary | Israel’s History

And one reason for God using this terminology “my beloved” is his history with this people as his chosen people. So, he reflects a little on their history together in Jeremiah 11:16.

16 The LORD [i.e., once] called thy name, A [green/thriving] olive tree, [fair/beautiful], and of goodly fruit:

And it’s for that reason that the reality spoken of next is so jarring. God plants this tree of his people – fruitful and beautiful. And then…

with the noise of a great [tumult/roar] he hath kindled fire upon it, and the branches of it are [broken/worthless].

Jeremiah 11 Summary | Trees

Why? People don’t usually plant a tree and then just turn around and burn it. Because…

17 For the LORD of hosts, that planted thee, hath pronounced evil against thee, [Why?]

for the evil of the house of Israel and of the house of Judah, which they have done against themselves to provoke me to anger in offering incense unto Baal.

So, idolatry is the reason given here to explain God’s burning the green, thriving tree he once planted.

Now, think back a little in this message. We were introduced in Jeremiah 11:9 to the concept that the people were involved in a conspiracy. As we look back over the subsequent verses of Jeremiah 11:10-17 and consider what this conspiracy involved in regard to the Lord, we see that the people’s conspiracy toward God consisted basically of idolatry. They went after other gods. That breaks their covenant they made with the Lord.

We don’t usually think of covenants on a daily basis. But one covenant that affects all of us regularly is the covenant of marriage. In a marriage covenant, the basic idea is that each partner will be faithful to the other. Once one of the parties starts brining other people into that relationship, the covenant is broken. You’ve broken that covenant.

And in a similar way that’s what Israel was doing to God. God kept his end. He was faithful. He wasn’t bringing other peoples into their covenant relationship. But Israel was bringing all sorts of other and false gods into the picture. And that was a problem. And God here identifies it with the term, “conspiracy”.

Jeremiah 11 Summary | Plot to Kill

But it’s not the Lord alone who is the recipient of Israel’s conspiracies. Jeremiah too, as God’s messenger, is also a target of their conspiring. And while the people couldn’t literally physically harm God with their conspiracies, their plans for Jeremiah were indeed deadly.

Jeremiah starts talking about the Lord in Jeremiah 11:18.

18 [And/Moreover] the LORD hath [given me knowledge of it/made it known to me], and I know it:

So, the Lord made something known to Jeremiah. We’ll find out what it was soon. And now Jeremiah starts talking to the Lord.

then thou shewedst me their [doings/deeds].

Jeremiah 11 Summary | Suspense Mounting

What doings? What deeds? He’s going to keep the suspense going for a little while longer.

19 But [i.e., before this] I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter;

So, Jeremiah had no knowledge of what he’s about to express in the next statement.

and I knew not that they had [devised/made] [devices/plots/plans] against me, saying,

So, the people were conspiring against Jeremiah as well and here’s what they were saying of him.

Let us destroy the tree with the fruit thereof,

and let us cut [him/Jeremiah] off from the land of the living,

that his name may be no more remembered.

So, Jeremiah himself is pictured as a tree — just like Israel was earlier. And these men planned to enact a similar fate for him as the Lord had declared upon them.

Jeremiah 11 Summary | Prayer to God

So, the people of Israel have conspired to kill Jeremiah. And so Jeremiah turns to the Lord with this great concern of his in Jeremiah 11:20.

20 But, O LORD of hosts,

that judgest righteously, that [triest/examines] the [reins/feelings] and the heart,

let me see thy vengeance on them:

for unto thee have I [revealed/committed] my cause.

So, Jeremiah actually asks for the Lord to punish those conspirators who were threatening his life.

Jeremiah 11 Summary | God Responds

And the Lord responds in Jeremiah 11:21-23.

21 ¶ Therefore thus saith the LORD of the men of Anathoth, that seek thy life, saying,

Prophesy not in the name of the LORD, that thou die not by our hand:

22 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts,

Behold, I will punish them:

the young men shall die by the sword;

their sons and their daughters shall die by [famine/starvation]:

23 And there shall be no remnant of them [i.e., no one will survive]:

for I will bring evil upon the men of Anathoth, even the year of their [visitation/punishment].

So, get that. Men from Anathoth were trying to kill Jeremiah. Anathoth was where Jeremiah lived and grew up. This was his home town. And it was a town mostly inhabited by priests – men whose career it was to understand God’s word and teach it to the people, among other duties. And these men were conspiring to take the life of one of their very own.

 

Psalm 22 Summary, Meaning

Let’s attempt a Psalm 22 Summary. Open to Psalm 22.

Our adult Sunday School class started considering the book of Psalms in January of 2015. And we continued on in that series for about six months ending at Psalm 20 at which point we turned our attention to the book of Ecclesiastes. Having finished that book we’re now in the book of Jeremiah.

So when the opportunity arose to help Pastor and our Academy students to get on the road earlier today, after seeking the Lord it seemed clear I should take up the study of one of the psalms. And being a fairly systematic kind of fellow I looked at the psalm that comes after Psalm 20, which of course would be Psalm 21. But when I looked at that particular psalm I thought that it might be more appropriate for a teaching time and that Psalm 22 would be more fitting for a time like tonight – a worship service where everyone is expecting more of a preaching emphasis rather than simply teaching.

Now, Psalm 21 is Scripture and it is inspired by God and it is profitable to be sure. But Psalm 22 is overall I think more heart-warming. In Psalm 22 we get surprising glimpses of our Lord Jesus Christ. We get to consider both his death and his resurrection. What could be more fitting to close our Lord’s Day worship together than with that kind of consideration?

So, we’ll give the next few minutes to considering Psalm 22 where we see someone who at some point felt abandoned by God being answered by God. So, From Abandoned to Answered. We’ll travel with this one who felt abandoned by God through his lament or complaint, then through his prayer to God, and then finally through his final praise to the God who answered his abandoned soul.

So, first let’s consider the psalmist’s lament in Psalm 22:1-10.

Psalm 22:1-10 | Lament

Psalm 22:1a | Superscription

We’ll start with the superscription in Psalm 22:1.

KJV Psalm 22:1 <To the [chief Musician/choir director/music director] [upon/to the tune of] [Aijeleth Shahar/Morning Doe], A Psalm of David.>

Psalm 22:1b-2 | Feeling Abandoned

Now, as I say, we’re currently in the lament section of this psalm. In other words, in Psalm 22:1-10 we’re going to hear about what is bothering the psalmist the most at this point in his life.

In particular, the psalmist is feeling abandoned by God, as he expresses in Psalm 22:1-2.

My God, my God, why hast thou [forsaken/abandoned] me?

why art thou so far from [helping me/my deliverance], and from the words of my [roaring/groaning][?/.]

2 O my God, I [cry/cry out] in the daytime, but thou [hearest/answer] not;

and in the night season, and [am not silent/I have no rest/I don’t stop praying].

So, the psalmist feels abandoned by God. And a big part of the proof of this abandonment in his mind is unanswered prayer.

He’s prayed that the Lord would deliver him, but God seems very far from doing that.

He prays night and day. And this praying of his is desperate. He’s crying. He’s not silent – he doesn’t stop. This prayer is passionate and it’s persistent.

And even though that’s the case, the psalmist is not getting an answer from the Lord.

Now, I’d be surprised if we didn’t have anyone in this position in our midst. I think it would be an unusual thing if we didn’t have anyone in here who was feeling this way. I think it’s very likely that we have several people in here who struggle with feeling abandoned by God. You feel like he’s refusing to hear your prayers.

Well, you can take comfort in the fact that you’re not the only one who’s ever experienced this. The author of Psalm 22 did, too.

And you know who else did? Jesus Christ your Lord. The Hebrew of Psalm 22:1 reads “eli eli lamah azabthani”. These very words would be uttered about 1,000 years later by the Son of David, Jesus Christ when he was hanging on the cross. In Matthew 27:46 we have recorded:

KJV Matthew 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Mark 15:34 records the same thing. The point is that the sinless Son of God experienced this kind of torturous reality. God experienced the painful feeling of being abandoned by… God. God the Son reported feeling as if God the Father had abandoned him and refused to hear his prayers.

So, if you’re feeling abandoned by God because he’s not answering your prayers, you can take some measure of comfort in knowing that both the psalmist here in Psalm 22 and Jesus Christ your Lord experienced the same grief.

Psalm 22:3-5 | God’s Character & Historical Dealings

Now, part of what makes this feeling of abandonment so much more difficult is that we know certain things about God – what he’s like and how he operates.

We know his character. He tells us about it in his word. And it’s that character that the psalmist reviews in Psalm 22:3-5.

3 [But/Yet] thou art holy,

O thou that [inhabitest/are enthroned upon/sit as king receiving] the praises of Israel.

So, God is holy. He’s not a sadistic God who would take delight in, say, torturing his people. Neither is he like an idol who has no power to deliver his people. No, he’s holy. He’s set apart from his creation and certainly from the ungodly aspects of that creation since the fall.

So, the psalmist reminds himself – and of course he’s praying this back to the God whom he feels has abandoned him – that God is holy.

And it’s that holiness, at least in part, that moves his people to praise him. That’s why the psalmist pictures the Lord as it were seated on the praises of his people as their king. His throne, in the psalmist’s eye, is actually made of praise.

And no doubt the psalmist’s heart was to praise this holy God of his and to contribute to this metaphorical throne of praise, though for the moment he’s feeling abandoned by this one whom he would otherwise wholeheartedly praise.

Now, the psalmist in Psalm 22:4-5 recalls a few reasons that Israel has praised the Lord in the past. Namely, they trusted God and cried to him and he responded to them by delivering them.

4 Our [fathers/ancestors] trusted in thee:

they trusted, and thou didst [deliver/rescue] them.

5 They cried unto thee, and were [delivered/saved]:

they trusted in thee, and were not [confounded/disappointed].

Psalm 22:6-8 | Not Experiencing That

And yet, this is not the experience of the psalmist. He, like his ancestors, trusts God. But, according to Psalm 22:6-8, he’s not yet been delivered from his enemies like his ancestors had been in times past.

6 But I am a worm, and no man;

[a reproach of men/people insult me], and [despised of the people/despise me].

7 All they that see me [laugh me to scorn/sneer at me/taunt me]:

they [shoot out the lip/separate with the lip/mock me], they [shake/wag] the head, saying,

8 [He trusted on the LORD/Commit yourself to the Lord] that [he would/let him/let the Lord] [deliver/rescue] him:

let [him/the Lord] [deliver/rescue] him, [seeing/for] he delighted in him.

So, the enemies of the psalmist are basically mocking him. He’s apparently in some sort of trouble. Trouble that makes it appear even to them that the Lord had indeed abandoned the psalmist.

And so, there’s something within the natural man that likes to kick people when they’re down. And that antagonism can often reach new heights when its directed against one who’s attempting to follow the Lord and live a life that pleases him.

Sometimes, the sufferings of the godly bring a special pleasure to the hearts of the godless.

We see these very dynamics at work in Matthew 27:41-43. Let me read what Matthew records as happening as Jesus – the sinless Son of God, the most godly man to ever live – hung on the cross as he paid for our sins.

41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, 42 He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. [And then they reference Psalm 22:8.] 43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.

You just wonder – Did these priests and rulers actually know what they were doing when they referenced Psalm 22:8? Did they not know that this quote was from people who were thinking wrong?

Well, these men may have had no idea what they were saying. Maybe they even forgot the context of Psalm 22:8 when they uttered this saying. But this kind of behavior on the part of the godless of kicking a godly man when he’s down – it shouldn’t surprise us when it happens. Jesus Christ himself was a recipient of this kind of brutality. So was the psalmist. Don’t be surprised when it happens to you.

Psalm 22:9-10 | But the Relationship is Real

And you know, one of the hardest parts of this being mocked and taunted when we’re suffering – of having the closeness of our relationship with the God whom we worship questioned in an accusatory way – the difficulty of dealing with that is that so often we ourselves have some insecurity of our supposed closeness to that God.

Right? That kind of taunting of godless people when we’re suffering really aims at making us even doubt the reality of that God and the reality of our relationship to him.

And that’s why in Psalm 22:9-10 the psalmist himself speaks to the Lord and confesses the reality of their relationship. Despite what the enemies are implying – that God’s abandoned the psalmist – he knows that he has a real relationship with the Lord:

9 [But/Yet/Yes] thou art he that [took me out of/ brought me forth from/brought me out from] the womb:

thou didst make me [hope/trust/feel secure] when I was upon my mother’s breasts.

10 I was cast upon thee [from/since] [the womb/birth]:

thou [art/have been] my God from my mother’s [belly/womb].

The psalmist recognizes God’s hand on him since his birth. Really, since before his birth! When he was in the womb, the Lord had been so gracious to him.

It makes me think of Jeremiah 1:5 where the Lord tells the prophet that he’s known him before he was even formed in the womb.

This is also the relationship that the Lord has had with us who are his. He chose us before the foundation of the world according to Ephesians 1:4.

So, what do you do when your relationship with God is called into question by those who mean you harm and want to mock you? You can do like the psalmist did and recall the history of your relationship with the Lord. It’s not perfect, but it’s real.

Summary of the Lament

Well, so far we’ve seen the psalmist’s lament in Psalm 22:1-10. He started with expressing his feeling of being abandoned by the Lord. He recalled that God had in times past delivered his people. But then he notes that he seems to be the exception. God is not currently delivering him. And in fact, he’s got people who are mocking and taunting him for that apparent fact. But he comes back to the bed-rock truth that God knows him and he knows God, no matter what external circumstances might seem to indicate.

Psalm 22:11-21a | Prayer for Deliverance

And so it seems like the trajectory of this psalm is getting more and more positive. And yet, we’re not to the psalmist’s praise section just yet. Before he gets to that, he takes the next ten or so verses praying to the Lord in Psalm 22:11-21.

Psalm 22:11-13 | Strong Enemy

So, we’ll read the beginning of his prayer for deliverance in Psalm 22:11-13.

11 [Be not/Do not remain] [far/far away] from me;

for trouble is near;

for there is none to help.

12 Many bulls have [compassed/surrounded] me:

[strong/powerful] bulls of Bashan [the area east of the Jordan River known for its cattle] have [beset me round/encircled me/hemmed me in].

13 They [gaped upon me with/open wide at me/open to devour me] their mouths,

as a [ravening/prey-ripping] and a roaring lion.

The psalmist begins by acknowledging that trouble is near, but helpers aren’t. No fellow man is there to help him and many are there to harm him.

He compares these enemies of his to animals. Bulls. Strong bulls from Bashan. As if they’re all surrounding him.

Can you imagine being surrounded by strong bulls? Have you ever watched the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain? That’s where they let these bulls run through the streets toward the stadium and all these crazy guys run alongside them. Sometimes these people get gored by these wild beasts! Serves them right! If they’re silly enough to do something like that, they need to be ready for the consequences.

Well, anyway, bulls are strong and fierce. They’re frightening and dangerous. And yet I think many of us would rather face that particular animal over the next animal the psalmist compares his enemies to. Lions.

The psalmist pictures his enemies not only as strong bulls but also as lions who are opening their mouths wide to devour him. They’re hungry and will tear their prey. And in this case, their prey is our psalmist.

Psalm 22:14-15 | Weak Psalmist

Now, the psalmist turns in his prayer from considering his enemies and their strength to now considering himself and his relative extreme weakness in Psalm 22:14-15.

14 [I am/My strength] [poured out/drains away] like water,

and all my bones are [out of joint/dislocated]:

my heart is like wax;

it is melted [in the midst of my bowels/within me/inside me].

15 My strength is dried up like a [potsherd/piece of pottery];

and my tongue cleaveth to my [jaws/gums];

And here’s the worst part. Beyond the psalmist’s own weaknesses, he attributes this turn of events to his Lord whom he loves and is convinced loves him.

and thou hast [brought/laid/set] me into the dust of death.

Psalm 22:16-18 | Enemies

Now, at this point the psalmist changes his focus from himself back to his enemies in Psalm 22:16-18.

16 For [dogs/wild dogs] have [compassed/surrounded] me:

[the assembly of the wicked/a band of evildoers/gang of evil men] have [inclosed/encompassed/crowded around] me:

they [pierced/pin like a lion] [ca-ari – “as a lion”, maybe “dig”] my hands and my feet. [verse not referenced in NT of Jesus’ death]

17 I [may tell/can count] all my bones:

[they/my enemies] look and stare upon me.

18 They [part/divide] my garments among them,

and [cast lots/rolling dice] [upon/for] my [vesture/clothing].

The psalmist has already compared his enemies to bulls and lions. Now he’s comparing them to a pack of wild dogs that circles around him and threatens to kill him.

He pictures the enemies as piercing his hands and feet. He’s apparently so distressed and perhaps emaciated that he can see and count his bones under his skin. All his enemies are apparently looking at him perhaps as if he’s dead. And because it’s as if he’s dead in their eyes they feel that the time is right to divide his clothing amongst themselves.

It really is a rather difficult picture to piece together in the life of the psalmist. Like when did this happen to him and what did it look like? That’s hard to answer.

But it isn’t hard to place these statements in the life of Jesus Christ.

His hands and feet were pierced by Roman nails to a Roman crucifix.

Those Romans really did divide his garments and cast lots for his clothing.

And I would normally be inclined – with what I think I know about Hebrew poetry – to have thought that the actions of “parting” and of “casting lots” was basically the same thing stated with different words. That’s something I’d expect from the parallelism of Hebrew poetry.

And likewise I would have assumed that the “garments” and the “vesture” were two different words identifying the same material.

But if I did that then I would be completely ignoring the point made by the apostle John who wrote the fourth Gospel in our Bible. He says the following in John 19:23-24.

KJV John 19:23 ¶ Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; [So, they each received a part of Jesus’ “garments”. His “garments” were “parted” or divided. But what about his “vesture”?] and also his coat [Which apparently John would identify with his “vesture”.]: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. 24 They [The Roman guards.] said therefore among themselves, [] Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it [That is, instead of “parting” it like they did the “garments”!], whose it shall be [] : [Why did this happen?] that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith [in Psalm 22:18], [] They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. [] These things therefore the soldiers did.

So, no, at least in the case of Jesus’ death on the cross, this statement in Psalm 22:18 is not functioning in the same way that Hebrew poetry usually does. In Jesus’ case, the typical functioning of poetry with its parallelism seems to be applied in a more literal sense. Or the laws of Hebrew poetic literature were temporarily suspended. Or something along those lines!

But whatever the case, Psalm 22 – though it had meaning of its own for the psalmist who wrote it – yet it was written under the supervision of the Holy Spirit who saw to it that it was written in such a way that it could apply to the psalmist’s immediate circumstances of facing these enemies who were causing him to despair – and at the same time it could apply to Jesus Christ down to the very details which would typically be minimized in the mind of a normal interpreter.

Now, back to the psalmist’s immediate circumstances.

Psalm 22:19-21

Remember, the psalmist is still praying to the Lord for deliverance from these enemies of his and their murderous intentions for him. And he actually ends his prayer in Psalm 22:19-21.

19 [But be not thou/Do not remain] far from me, O LORD:

O my strength, haste thee to help me.

20 Deliver [my soul/me] from the sword;

my [darling/only (life)] from the power of the [dog/wild dogs].

21 [Save/Rescue] me from the lion’s mouth:

And I’m going to borrow the phrase “from the horns of the [unicorns/wild oxen] [remim].” at the very end of Psalm 22:21 and put it here and leave the rest of the verse for the next section.

So, the psalmist finishes his prayer asking the Lord to deliver him from the deadly intentions of these enemies whom he once again pictures as dogs and lions. And now here at the end he also compares them to strong horned wild oxen (the KJV’s “unicorns”).

Psalm 22:21b-31 | Praise

Now, something remarkable happens in the five words that we just temporarily skipped. The Lord answers the psalmist and this begins the praise section of this psalm which extends from Psalm 22:21-31.

for thou hast [heard/answered] me [|] from the horns of the [unicorns/wild oxen] [remim].

How did the psalmist know that God heard and answered him? I really don’t know. And this is part of the trouble with interpreting lament psalms.

When did the psalmist write the parts of this psalm anyway? Did he write the lament and prayer together and then put down the psalm for a while and then after he received some definite answer from the Lord he sat down and finished the psalm by writing the praise section? Does he write the entire psalm after its all happened so that the lament and prayer are written at a time in the psalmist’s life when the problems he’s complaining about in those sections are mere – and yet vivid – memories?

I don’t know all the details. But I do know that the psalmist wants to bring us along in the emotion of each of these sections as if it were happening right then and there.

As if when you’re reading this psalm these various things are unfolding at this very moment. So, when we’re reading the lament we need to feel it happening right now – not as if it’s theoretical or as if it was a problem at some point but isn’t anymore. No. The enemies are living and breathing and threatening the life of the psalmist.

And then when he transitions to God’s delivering him and his response of praise, he wants us to be able to forget all about the enemies as if they aren’t there anymore. God’s dealt with them. How? He doesn’t want us to ask that question, I think. He just wants us to glory in the Lord’s deliverance of him.

Psalm 22:22

And glory, the psalmist shall. The Lord has heard and answered his lament and prayer. And so the psalmist pledges to praise the Lord in Psalm 22:22.

22 I will declare thy name unto my brethren:

in the midst of the [congregation/assembly] will I praise thee.

And surely, the psalmist would have performed the actions he’s speaking of. He would certainly praise the Lord among his fellow-followers of YAHWEH.

But this very verse is applied again to Jesus Christ. The author of Hebrews in Hebrews 2:12 uses this verse from Psalm 22 to make the point that Christ is not ashamed to call us believers in him – not his slaves, though we are – but his brothers. The author of Hebrews identifies Christ as uttering the words of Psalm 22:22.

Again, back to the psalmist’s situation in Psalm 22.

Psalm 22:23-24

Now that he’s promised to praise the Lord for his deliverance, he’s going to admonish those brothers of his to praise the Lord themselves. In fact, I think it’s best to see Psalm 22:23-24 as the content of the psalmist’s praising of the Lord to his brothers. This is what he’s going to say to them that will constitute his praising the Lord in their midst from Psalm 22:22. He addresses those brothers of his in Psalm 22:23.

23 Ye [that fear/loyal followers of] the LORD, praise him;

all ye [the seed/descendants] of Jacob, [glorify/honor] him;

and [fear/stand in awe of] him, all ye [the seed/descendants] of Israel.

Why the praise and the glorifying and the fear? Psalm 22:24.

24 For he hath not despised nor [abhorred/detested] the [affliction/suffering] of the [afflicted/oppressed];

neither hath he [hid his face from/ignored] him;

but when he cried unto him, he [heard/responded].

The psalmist will praise the Lord and admonish others to praise him because the Lord doesn’t ignore the suffering of the afflicted, but rather he hears and responds to their prayers for deliverance.

Psalm 22:25

Following that, the psalmist in Psalm 22:25 comes back to directly addressing the Lord with promised praise.

25 My praise shall be [of/from/because of/due to] thee in the great [congregation/assembly]:

I will [pay my vows/fulfill my promises] before [them that fear him/the Lord’s loyal followers].

Psalm 22:26

And when those in the great congregation of true believers hear the psalmist’s praise and when they see him paying his vows to the Lord, they’ll respond according to Psalm 22:26.

26 The [meek/afflicted/oppressed] shall eat and be [satisfied/filled]:

they shall praise the LORD that seek [the help of] him:

[your heart shall/may you] live for ever.

Psalm 22:27-28

And actually this praise will go beyond the great congregation of Israel. It will reach to the ends of the world according to Psalm 22:27-28.

27 All the ends of the world shall [remember/acknowledge] and turn unto the LORD:

and all the [kindreds/families] of the nations shall worship before thee.

28 For the kingdom is the LORD’S:

and he [is the governor/rules] among the nations.

How is it that the Lord delivering this Jewish psalmist from his enemies would result in world-wide praise of the true God?

Again, I have to imagine that this meant something to the psalmist himself. What exactly that is, I do not know.

But I do know that this psalm has been one of the most Messianic I’ve ever read. And so much of it – the verses in the lament and prayer sections – has been pointing to the Messiah’s death. But somehow that Messiah would die and yet after that be able to praise the Lord in the midst of his brothers. That implies resurrection.

And what is it that will enact the kind of dynamics we see in Psalm 22:27-28 – of world-wide praising of the Lord – if it’s not the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – the Messiah not just of the Jews, but of the whole world? – when the king of Heaven’s Kingdom – the Lord to whom this kingdom belongs – came and died for our sins and rose for our justification.

Psalm 22:29-31

And the end of this psalm in Psalm 22:29-31 declares that the praise of this Lord who is king of the kingdom which rules even over the nations will be some day ubiquitous.

29 All they that be [fat/prosperous/thriving] upon earth shall [eat/join the celebration] and worship:

all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him:

[and/even/including] none can keep alive his own soul.

Both the living and the dead will praise the Lord who rules over all.

And this will continue indefinitely as the living pass on their praise of this Lord to the next generation.

30 [A seed/Posterity/A whole generation] shall serve him;

it shall be [accounted/told] [to/of/about] the Lord [for/to] a generation [i.e., that is to come/next].

31 They shall come, and shall declare his [righteousness/saving deeds]

unto a [people that shall be born/future generation], [that/what] he hath done this.

And may the Lord help us to serve him in our generation and to tell the next generation about his righteous saving deeds on our behalf.

Jeremiah 10 Commentary, Devotional, Summary, Sermon

Jeremiah 10 Commentary Image

Let’s turn to Jeremiah 10 for this Jeremiah 10 commentary article…

Jeremiah 10 Commentary
Background

In our last lesson we saw the Lord offering Judah Defeat for her Deceit. And that message was situated within the section that spans Jeremiah 7-10. And we’ve seen that the overall message of that section has been Righteousness over Ritual. And of course, that’s all within the framework of the whole book, whose message is Submit to God’s Authority and Live.

Now, our last lesson ended with God saying that the uncircumcised circumcised will be punished. Who are circumcised in their flesh but not in their heart. And in those last few verses of Jeremiah 9 the Lord mentions several of the nations around Judah at the time.

Those nations, of course, did not worship the true God of Israel. And so, I think that’s the reason why now in Jeremiah 10:1-16 the Lord warns his people to not adopt the idolatry of the surrounding nations.

The sad fact was that they had already done just this – Judah was overrun with idolatry.

So, in these verses the Lord compares and contrasts himself – the true God – with the false gods of the pagan nations around Judah.

Jeremiah 10 Commentary
Idols of Nations vs. YAHWEH of Israel

10:1 ¶ Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel:

2 Thus saith the LORD,

Learn not the way of the [heathen/nations/goyim],

and be not [dismayed/terrified/awed] at the signs [of heaven/that occur in the sky];

[for/although] the heathen are [dismayed/awed] at them.

Jeremiah 10 Commentary
Heavenly Events

So, here is where God begins his comparing himself to the idols of the nations. And as we’ll see, the comparison is not objective. It’s not as if he’s leading us in comparing two vehicles which we could purchase and one has certain strengths and weaknesses and the other is similar. No, the idols hold nothing for the people who worship them. The Lord alone is the true God.

And because the Lord is alone the living and true God, he said what we just read. Israel would not progress beyond him, as if that were possible. Here the Lord is having to tell his rebellious people that the religion of the nations wouldn’t do a thing for them.

The particular religious practice of the surrounding pagan nations that the Lord singled out in Jeremiah 10:1-2 is the attention that they would pay to signs in the heavens. Whether that be comets and eclipses and meteors – things that were more unusual and conspicuous. Or whether that be the changes of the positions of the sun and moon and stars. The pagans would put great significance on these events and even worship those heavenly bodies.

The Lord here tells Israel that this is not a practice which they should be observing. “Don’t be awed by the things going on in the sky in the way that the pagans are. Don’t follow their idolatrous practices in any way – but certainly not in their worshiping heavenly bodies and giving them the same fear that is due to the Lord alone.

Jeremiah 10 Commentary
Against Idols

But beyond the pagan religious observation of heavenly events, the Lord warns his people to not pay attention to their hand-crafted idols either in Jeremiah 10:3-5.

3 For the [customs/religion] of the people [i.e., the nations] are [vain/delusion/worthless]:

for one cutteth a tree out of the forest,

the work of the hands of [the workman/a craftsman], with the axe.

4 They [deck/decorate] it with silver and with gold;

they fasten it with nails and with hammers,

[that/so that] it [move/totter/fall over] not.

5 They [i.e., the idols] are upright as the palm tree, but speak not:

they must needs be [borne/carried], because they cannot [go/walk].

Be not afraid of them;

for they cannot do [evil/harm],

neither also is it in them to [do good/help].

What a ridiculous picture of these supposedly-powerful idols. God brings it down to such an earthly mundane level.

He walks the people through how these worthless idols are made. The guy goes into a forest and cuts down a tree. It’s a tree, man! This is no god! The guy takes an axe to it. His lowly, earthly, man-made axe. This is how he makes his god, his idol. The guy has to decorate his silly idol with gold and silver. The idol can’t do that himself of course, because he really is just a lump of wood. Then the guy who cut down the lump of wood with his man-made axe needs to hammer nails into the thing so that it doesn’t tip over. How powerful can this block of wood be if he needs human help to not tip over??

The idol can’t speak – so if it really is a God how do you know what it’s thinking or desiring from you as its worshiper?

It can’t move around on its own. It actually needs its worshipers to carry it.

So are you really going to fear something like this? A piece of wood chopped down by a man who then carves it and puts metal on it and has to make sure it doesn’t fall over? It can’t talk and it can’t walk. Are you really going to fear this thing, Israel? You shouldn’t!

The thing can’t do any good or any evil. It can’t harm and it can’t help. Don’t fear it.

And don’t learn these ways of the nations that are so worthless!

Jeremiah 10 Commentary
YAHWEH

But the God of Israel isn’t like this, according to Jeremiah 10:6-7.

6 Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O LORD;

thou art great, and thy name is great [in might/for your power].

7 Who would not [fear/revere] thee, O King of nations?

for to thee doth it appertain [i.e., that fear/reverence is due You]:

forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations,

and in all their kingdoms [i.e., and their kings],

there is none like unto thee.

The Lord is completely unique. There is none like him. He’s great and so is his reputation – his name.

Jeremiah 10 Commentary
Who Fears the Lord?

Jeremiah asks “who wouldn’t fear you?” And there are two ways to answer that question.

The first is how Jeremiah wants us to respond. Who wouldn’t fear the Lord? Well, nobody, that’s who! Everyone should fear the Lord.

But what’s the second way to answer this question of “who wouldn’t fear the Lord?” Well, not many in Israel actually did fear the Lord. Not many in our day do.

And that’s a shame because as Jeremiah says, this fear, this reverence, this sense of awe is due him – “to thee doth it appertain” he says. This fear is what we, his creatures, owe him, our Creator.

Jeremiah 10 Commentary
YAHWEH Utterly Unique

Just think about it. As Jeremiah says, there is none like the Lord anywhere. Just look among the nations. Look at their supposed “wise-men”. Look at their kings. As mighty and highly-thought of as they are, they pale in comparison to the might and wisdom of the God of Israel.

Jeremiah 10 Commentary
Idols Again

And in fact, the wise-men of the nations – that we’ve just been talking about – are wise in name only. Jeremiah makes and then justifies that assertion in Jeremiah 10:8-9.

8 But they are altogether [brutish/stupid] and foolish:

the [stock/wood] is a doctrine of vanities [the instruction of vanities is wood – instruction from a wooden idol is worthless!].

9 [Silver spread into plates/beaten silver/hammered-out silver] is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz [i.e., to cover the idols],

the work of [the workman/a craftsman/carpenters], and of the hands of [the founder/a goldsmith]:

[blue/violet] and purple is their clothing:

they are all the work of [cunning/skilled] men.

So, what wisdom can professing wise men have when they worship dumb idols?

Jeremiah 10 Commentary
YAHWEH Again

Now, contrast the folly and worthlessness of those idols to the only-true, all-powerful, ever-living, and – most sobering of all – really angry Lord of Israel in Jeremiah 10:10.

10 But the LORD is the [ie, only] true God,

he is the living God, and an everlasting king:

at his wrath the earth [shall tremble/quakes/shakes],

and the nations [shall not be able to abide/cannot endure] his [indignation/fury].

Jeremiah 10 Commentary
Idols Once More

And as a result of the wrath of this only-real Deity – the Lord of Israel – all the worthless fake idols that are competing with him for the hearts of his people will perish according to Jeremiah 10:11.

11 ¶ Thus shall ye [i.e., Israel] say unto them [i.e., the nations],

The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth,

even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens. [Only verse in Jer in Aramaic; chiasm; poetic]

This statement then apparently was intended to be uttered by Israel to the pagan nations – “ye” would be Israel. This was God’s desire for his people Israel – that they utter these words to their heathen neighbors.

The false gods of the pagans will be destroyed from the very places they had no business in creating. But how sad that Israel never seemed to fulfill this intention of the Lord. From the very get-go they’re worshiping these very idols that can do nothing for them. They get the Law from God and a few hours later they’re engaged in idolatry. They enter the Promised Land and maybe just a few short years later they’re adopting these false gods of the surrounding pagan nations.

And now here in Jeremiah’s day, about 1000 years after the giving of the Law and the entering into Canaan, God is still expressing this desire for them to be to him a nation of priests – of mediators between him and the world. But Israel failed then and it’s still failing. And God is using the Church now in this capacity. How are we doing? He’ll use Israel again in the future. But for now, if we don’t do this, no one will.

Let me mention two interesting features of this verse before we move on.

Jeremiah 10 Commentary
Aramaic

First, it’s the only verse written in Aramaic in the book of Jeremiah. Just this verse.

Jeremiah 10 Commentary
Chiasm

It’s also written in chiastic form – like an “X”. “Heavens” – “Earth”. Then “Earth” – “Heavens”. It might seem like a small thing for us, but if nothing else it makes for a more memorable saying. Changing the order in which the same basic thing is said makes it a little more interesting. You don’t expect it to be said in a different way. But all of a sudden the order is changed!

Jeremiah 10 Commentary
YAHWEH

OK, so the false gods will perish. They had nothing to do with the creation of creation and so from that creation they will perish.

In contrast, we have the Lord, both the creator of all creation and the provider of all provisions on display in Jeremiah 10:12-13.

12 [He/The Lord] hath made the earth by his power,

he hath established the world by his wisdom,

and hath stretched out the heavens by his [discretion/understanding].

That’s his creating creation. Now for his providing provisions in Jeremiah 10:13.

13 When he uttereth his voice [i.e., like thunder], there is a [multitude/tumult] of waters in the heavens,

and he causeth the [vapours/clouds] to ascend from the ends of the earth;

he maketh lightnings with rain,

and bringeth forth the wind out of his [treasures/storehouses].

The Lord of Israel created everything. He also sends the rain and wind that are a means of provision for that creation of his. He does it all!

Jeremiah 10 Commentary
Idols

And yet the pagan nations and the Israelites who were thinking and behaving no differently than them thought that worthless false gods like Baal were sending that rain. And because of that, God in Jeremiah 10:14-15 comes right out and calls people like this “stupid” – well, “brutish” in the KJV, which is basically the same thing.

14 Every man [i.e., who is an idolater] is [brutish/stupid] in his knowledge:

every [founder/goldsmith] is [confounded/put to shame/disgraced] by the graven image:

for his molten image is [falsehood/deceitful/a mere sham],

and there is no breath in them.

15 They are [vanity/worthless], and the work of [errors/mockery]:

in the time of their [visitation/punishment] they shall perish.

So, this is the parting word regarding idols in this section. They will perish and the ones involved in making them will be disgraced.

Jeremiah 10 Commentary
YAHWEH

But in contrast, those who trust in the Lord will not be ashamed – because they worship the one who made all things and is in control of everything, according to Jeremiah 10:16.

16 The portion of Jacob is not like them:

for he is the [former/maker] of all things;

and Israel is the [rod/tribe] of his inheritance:

The LORD of hosts is his name.

And that ends these 16 verses of contrast between idols and the true and living God.

Jeremiah 10 Commentary
Verses 17-25 & Exile

And now, with that first major section of Jeremiah 10 completed, the Lord gets back to threatening his rebellious unrepentant people with exile for the rest of Jeremiah 10.

Jeremiah 10 Commentary
Verses 17-18

The Lord tells the people that he’s going to exile them out of the land in Jeremiah 10:17-18.

17 Gather up thy [wares/bundle/belongings] [out/off/and get out] of the [land/ground],

O inhabitant of the [i.e., beseiged] fortress.

18 For thus saith the LORD,

Behold, I will sling out the inhabitants of the land at this [once/time],

and will distress them, that they may [find it so/be found/actually feel it].

Jeremiah 10 Commentary
Verse 19

Then the people are pictured as lamenting this coming exile in Jeremiah 10:19.

19 [Woe is me/We are doomed!] for my [hurt/injury]!

my wound is [grievous/incurable]:

but I [i.e, once] said, Truly this is a [grief/sickness/illness],

and I [must/am able to] bear it.

I’ll try to explain what Jeremiah 10:19 is portraying the people of Judah as coming to recognize in the future.

Imagine having a cough. This cough continues for a few days. And meanwhile you’re thinking “I can handle this. This sickness should go away in a few more days.” But the cough continues. And it continues. And so you finally go to the doctor. And you expect him to give you maybe some cough medicine. But he breaks the news to you that you have stage four lung cancer. And it’s the kind of cancer for which there is very little hope of survival.

This is what the rebels of Judah would recognize some day. The minor issues – the small-scale enemy invasions, economic problems, the fact that you have a prophet who claims to speak for the Lord bothering you about your sin, and such – all of that was a foretaste of something much more horrible and deadly.

Instead of having a manageable sickness, the people of Judah would come to realize all too late that they have a mortal wound. It’s incurable.

Jeremiah 10 Commentary
Verse 20

The people will also come to realize that — in addition to their own lives — their progeny will be taken from them. And they recognize that this will have a devastating effect on them in Jeremiah 10:20.

20 My [tabernacle/tent] is [spoiled/destroyed],

and all my [cords/ropes] are broken:

my children [are gone forth of/have gone from] me,

and they are not [i.e., coming back]:

there is none to stretch forth my tent any more,

and to set up my curtains.

So, the people are pictured as coming to realize that they have no one to take care of them in old age or take up the family lineage because so many of their children will be destroyed.

And, again, as always, God is using this to plead with the people to turn from the sin that’s bringing God’s judgement on them.

Jeremiah 10 Commentary
Verse 21

Now, it’s hard to tell who’s speaking in Jeremiah 10:21. The Lord and Jeremiah both would certainly agree with the statement made there. But it could also be a statement of the people as they come to understand how awful their situation really had become.

In the future, the people would recognize the reality of Jeremiah 10:21.

21 For the [pastors/shepherds/leaders] are become [brutish/stupid],

and have not sought the LORD [i.e., his advice]:

therefore they [shall not prosper/do not act wisely],

and all their [flocks/people for whom they’re responsible] shall be scattered.

This then is one major reason for the downfall of the people. The leaders – for Israel it was their king, their priests, and their prophets – all of their leaders had led them astray.

How important good leadership is, folks. You and I cannot do without it. We need good and godly leadership. Flocks scatter and do not prosper without a shepherd. And in the Lord’s providence he’s given his people leaders in our life in multiple areas. We do well to heed that leadership.

Jeremiah 10 Commentary
Verse 22

Well, in the future as I say the people will come face to face with this invading army from the north that will exile them from their land. That event is foretold in Jeremiah 10:22.

22 Behold, the [noise/sound] of the [bruit/report – nothing to do with “brutish” above but pronounced the same way, maybe the KJV translators being creative? Only time out of 27 where it’s translated as “bruit”] is come,

and a great commotion out of the north country,

to make the cities of Judah desolate,

and a [den/haunt/dwelling place fit only for] of [dragons/jackals].

Jeremiah 10 Commentary
Verses 23-25

And then to close this chapter and this section in Jeremiah, we have someone addressing the Lord in Jeremiah 10:23-25.

23 O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself [i.e., people don’t control their own destiny]:

it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps [i.e., it’s not in our power to determine what will happen to us].

24 O LORD, correct me,

but with [judgment/justice/due measure];

not in thine anger,

lest thou bring me to nothing.

25 Pour out thy [fury/wrath] upon the [heathen/nations] that [know/acknowledge] thee not,

and upon the families that [call not on thy name/don’t worship you]:

for they have eaten up Jacob,

and devoured him, and consumed him,

and have made his habitation desolate.

Let’s try to get at who is making this statement at the end of Jeremiah 10.

Is it the Lord? No. OK, that was an easy one.

What about Jeremiah? I think that’s as good of an idea as any. The attitude seems right for Jeremiah. He’s acknowledging God’s justice. He’s pleading for God’s mercy. He’s acknowledging God’s sovereignty. He’s rightly angry at the nations whom God is going to use as an instrument of punishing his people.

And isn’t that an interesting prayer at the end of this section? “Lord, I acknowledge your righteous judgement of your people. But Lord, please don’t let those idolaters – those who worship those worthless idols we spoke of in the first part of Jeremiah 10 – don’t let them get away unpunished either.

And toward the end of this book we’ll see a section where the Lord denounces several nations and foretells of destroying them along with his punishing his own people. And we’ll hear him say that he’s going to use Babylon to destroy all these nations. But the last nation the Lord ends up addressing is Babylon itself. They won’t get away unpunished. This prayer here at the end of Jeremiah 10 will be answered by the Lord.

Jeremiah 10 Commentary
Idolatry and Exile

So, that’s Jeremiah 10 – Idolatry and Exile.

And that finishes Jeremiah 7-10 – Righteousness Over Ritual. And of course that’s all within the context of the message of this book – Submit to God’s Authority and Live. Next time, we’ll start the section that covers Jeremiah 11-12 where we’ll hear about Covenant and Conspiracy.