After describing the lamentable condition of the Lord’s people, the last chapter concluded with a question: “Is there no balm in Gilead? is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?” And as the prophet carries on his discourse in this chapter, he continues to bewail their sad condition. So great was his sorrow over the terrible state of his nation, that in the depth of his distress, he here exclaims, “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!” (verse 1) He desired to weep more so that he might rouse his countrymen to a proper sense of the hand of God upon them. And in light of all the abominable wickedness and treacheries that were so prevalent among these people (verses 2-6), he expressed a desire to just leave it all behind him and go and live in solitude in the wilderness! (verse 2) These people had accustomed their tongues to lies; they were so false to each other that not even one’s own brother could be trusted. But even though they all succeeded in cheating and deceiving their brethren, the all-seeing God observed their sins and marked them down.
In regard to Jeremiah’s wish in verse 2 – although it was a perfectly justifiable desire – we must note that even the solitary desert itself has the potential to be a place for temptation and evil, if we attempt to dwell there apart from communion with Christ and the influences of the Holy Spirit. And if we are in possession of these blessings, it is still possible to live a life of holiness, even in the very heart of a crowded city full of wicked persons, if that is the place where the Lord has appointed for us to be. We must not go out of the fight as long as our Captain wants us to remain in it, in dependence upon Him!
In Zion, the voice of joy and praise had formerly been heard, as long as the people had kept close to their God; but now the prophet complains (verses 12-22) that sin had altered the sound, for now nothing could be heard except the cries of lamentation (verse 19). At one time, the voice of happiness and thanksgiving had been heard in Jerusalem; but now, on every side, there was bloodshed. What a terrible description is here given of the effect of God’s judgments upon a land! No matter how tightly doors and windows may be shut, death still enters when God bids it to do so. Neither cottage nor castle is exempted; it enters the dwellings of peasants and the palaces of princes. There is no escape for either young or old from these judgments of God, except in penitence and faith! Unhumbled hearts, such as those described in verse 19, lament their calamities. But alas! They do not lament their sin, which is the cause of those calamities. When we find ourselves under the chastening hand of the Lord, let us listen to His Word in the inspired Scriptures, mourn with Godly sorrow which works true repentance in our hearts, and seek His amazing grace that freely pardons our iniquities. This alone can bring us true comfort in such times, and it can turn the heaviest afflictions into precious mercies!
As for verses 23-26, these precious words seem to come in like a parenthetical element; and yet they are precious, for they are inserted right here in the midst of a gloomy description of a degenerate and rebellious people! This world is full of sin and sorrow, and it ends so soon in death and judgement. Therefore, how foolish it is for mortal human beings to glory in their knowledge, health, strength, or riches – or in any other thing which leaves them under the dominion of sin and the wrath of God! And when it comes time to render an account for these things in which they have prided themselves, it will only increase their misery. The wisdom and strength of the world will not help us one little bit in the dreadful hour of universal desolation. We must stand with the Crucified One Who exercises “lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness” in the earth (verse 24), and we must glory in His Cross! We must be content to bear His reproach and share in His shame, so that we may become a son or daughter of the Resurrection! That is the only way to escape those terrible everlasting judgments that shall come to pass, and to be brought to stand before our King in heaven. Jesus is the wisdom of God, and the power of God, and the riches of God; and in the knowledge and understanding of Him, there is more than enough to glory in!
As long as we continue to live on this earth, we must worship the Lord, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. We are to be circumcised in heart, and separated from the heathen of this world (verses 25-26). And on the Great Last Day – that Day of judgment for the wicked, and of reward for the righteous – we shall certainly prize this distinction which God Himself has ordained, and which will last forever. We shall surely have no desire to share in the final condemnation of the wicked in that day; therefore, we ought not to seek to mingle with them in close association while we are all still together on this earth. Let us seek this separation diligently, for it will make a difference in our everlasting future. It will decide whether we will spend it with the children of the world and their demonic master; or as the sons and daughters of the Lord God Almighty, Who exercises lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness!
Lord, prevent us from ever being guilty of glorying and boasting in any person or thing, except for Jesus Christ alone – our precious Savior and Redeemer! Amen.
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